The neko rig is one of my all time favourite finesse presentations. Mechanically it is a slight tweak on a whacky rigged worm. The important differences are the addition of a nose weight and that the bait is attached with the hook pointing along the bait rather than perpendicular to it.
I knew as soon as I found the first youtube clip that it had to work for our perch.
There are several ways of neko rigging. The simplest is to push a nail weight into the nose and hook the worm with the point closest to the tail. These worms have an air pocket in the tail which help them stand at rest and allows the tail to wiggle enticingly in their faces. These soft plastic worms are very soft and a nitrile rubber O-ring helps the lure stay attached. I usually just nick the lure behind the ring for added security.
Nail weights like these make for a lovely subtle presentation as they are hidden inside the lure and I use them in very clear water.
The other nail weights with a head are good for feeling what the bottom is like - with a good rod blank, braid and a short fluorocarbon leader you get better feedback - I've found I often get more perch on sections of stoney bottomed canals rather than the softer silty ones. Once I've found even a small patch of canal bed like this I will give it more attention before moving off.
I use a purpose made neko tool which makes it very easy to get the O-ring in exactly the right place even on the fattest soft plastics. A small selection of different sized rings, weights and a few different sized hooks and you are good to go!
The Damiki nail sinker with the domed head is a perfect match for the Damiki air pocket worm.
Even pin tail lures like the Fish Arrows can be rigged neko style. The hook attachment point combined with the weight below means the front of the lure acts like diving vane on a crankbait giving the lures a super fast shimmy which works well in warmer water. It works equally well with split tail and paddle tails.
Again for extra security an O-ring can be used. The SW versions are made from a tougher plastic and can easily be used without the ring.
Where the fine silk weeds render any so called weedless rig useless the combination of round headed nail weights and a hook with a weed guard are just about the best for dragging through these fine filamentous weeds.
These neko masters give an alternative method of attaching a hook. They increase the shimmy or wobble of the lure when using a faster retrieve.
For larger baits like this 5'' Fish Arrow and where you want a bit of extra weight to cast further or work deeper these neko punch sinker stoppers allow larger weights to be attached.
Almost any soft plastics can be rigged in this way and one of my favourites is a neko rigged cray.
These sickle shaped hooks are perfect for the crays
So why use the neko rig in preference to other presentations? I guess the first and most important in my perch fishing is that it is incredibly snag and debris free for a presentation with an exposed hook point. The line and the lure simply lifts over the majority of obstructions. Even when there is a lot of silk weed or leaf litter the rig comes back clean.
Also used with an air pocket bait or buoyant lures like the Zman elaZtech range the lure stays upright on any substrate leaving the lure moving slightly even when static.
When using a little 'hop' the mechanics of the lure lift it up more rather than forward which means it can be worked in tight little fish holding areas for longer - getting their attention without being dragged away too quickly.
The weight on the nose means it flies like a dart and can be cast accurately into the tightest of spots. It also drops close to vertically leaving it right next to the feature cast at rather than dropping away from it.
The whole lure is free to collapse on the hit and with the exposed point the hook up ratio is very high which is really important on tough days where bites might be few and far between.
The tight wiggle or shimmy imparted even to straight baits when retrieved is unique and on the day will outfish more traditional paddle tails.
The neko rig is just outstanding in cold weather when it can be worked very slowly, short slow drags and the occasional hop to get it noticed work really well. It works in murky water when fish are feeding on or close to the bottom, it works on active fish in warmer water when they want to chase, it works......well you get the idea... it just works full stop.
If you remain to be convinced, check out a couple of these youtube links to see the neko rig in action!