Top Finesse Tactics for Minnesota Bass


When bass fishing in Minnesota in today’s environment, if finesse is not part of your game plan, you are starting to get left behind before you even get started. In days past, you were able to depend on power fishing to put bass in the boat day-in-and-day-out .But that is now all starting to change. As a general note, Minnesota lakes have always had pretty clear water, but with more and more lakes starting to get zebra mussels in them, today’s water clarity is increasing. Having a finesse plan puts more odds in your favor every time you hit the water for bass and other gamefish.

In this article, let’s talk about four top finesse tactics to target Minnesota bass with this season.


Drop shot rig

Drop shotting has been around for nearly 15 years, and it is still a viable way to take bass when you are faced with tough-bite conditions. It came onto the U.S. bass scene from Japan, and it was mainly used to target deep-water bass during the cold-water months when the bite was extra tough. That situation has changed through the years, as have drop shot tactics, and you can now catch bass all year long from shallow to deep. Over the years, bait companies have gotten behind the drop show craze and have supplied bass fishermen baits to help expand this tactic.

The biggest change in drop shot fishing, though, was caused through a line-choice change. In the very first years of drop shot fishing, 4- to 6-pound monofilament was mainly the line of choice, and as fluorocarbon line started to hit the market, some anglers that went down that road. Fast-forward to today, and the majority of bass fishermen are using braid as a main line choice and tipping that with a fluorocarbon leader. The biggest reason for the change is the added line sensitivity; with the minimal stretch factor of braided line, you get added sensitivity and a better hookset, equaling more bass in the boat.

Drop shot fishing is many times based off of a 7-foot, medium-light to medium-action rod, matched with a size 20 to 30 spinning reel filled with 10- to 15-pound-test braided teamed with a fluorocarbon line leader option. Grab a handful of drop shot baits and you are ready to go.


Ned rig

You could say that the Ned rig has been around Minnesota bass fishing for years, and you are right. The way many remember, it is a 4-inch ringworm and a mushroom jighead. Really, all that has changed is the bait that is going onto the jighead nowadays.

Back when Connie Peterson brought the Gopher Mushroom Jig head to market, it was a jig that had a light wire hook. It could be thrown in and around weeds and with a snap of the rod tip, could be ripped from the weeds to explode, sail and flutter. In today’s Ned Rig fishing, many are still using the same mushroom-style jighead but are adding different plastics options. Some, like myself, are using smaller plastics options like 3-inch Big Bite Tricksticks. Many times, I will use cut-down pieces from used 5- or 6-inch Tricksticks. For those of you that like the durability and the floating options of the Z-Man TRDs, that is their choice of baits.

When it comes to equipment, just like drop shot fishing, the Ned Rig equipment is the same.


Neko rig

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Of all the finesse options that we are going to talk about the Neko rig is the newest kid on the block. The Neko is rigged unlike many of the other finesse rigs making it a unique attraction to start. You are rigging the bait in a way not many bass have seen before, so I think this is part of the attraction to this presentation. The Neko is head weighted and fished on a straight shank hook that kind of acts as a weedguard as you move the bait along the bottom. I also believe that the presentation of the bait generates bites by how it moves and what it looks like adding a key to get bites.

When it comes to weight the Neko rig is nose rigged with a weight if I am fishing in weed conditions I will use a nail weight that is slid up into the nose but if I am fishing my Neko rig on rocks I will go to a nose weight that sits out side of the plastic as it gives me better feel as I move the Neko rig across the rocks. I also have a choice when it comes to hooks between a Neko rig with or without a weed guard. Match your hook to the conditions that you are fishing your Neko rig in.

When it comes to equipment your Neko Rig match the equipment you are using for your Drop Shot and Ned Rig presentations.


Wacky rig

The wacky rig came onto the finesse scene after the drop shot and has had a similar impact. The wacky rig is an easy rig to fish and can be adapted to the situation that you are fishing. You can fish the wacky rig weighted or unweighted. When it comes to bait choices, many are wacky rigging Tricksticks. But you can also rig finesse worms, and some companies make specialty baits that fit this rigging tactic.

Rigging baits wacky style is easy: Bend your worm it in half, run the hook through the middle and you’re ready to go. With this basic rigging option, however, you are going to go through a couple bags of baits during your day of fishing. Thus, the O-ring setup came to market. Slip a simple O-ring over the worm and move it into the middle of the bait. Then insert your hook under the O-ring and you are ready to go. The advantage here is, you are extending the life of the bait that you are using and not burning up a bait with every bite. You should be able to get maybe 5 to 8 bass out of every bait.

I was also shown a way to get more bites per bait from Shin Fukae. He cuts off a 1/4-inch piece of heat shrink tubing and slips this over the bait. He then lightly heats the shrink tube with a Bic lighter, shrinking the tube in place (being careful not to overheat the tubing to melt the bait). Then insert your hook. This creates an even stronger hold on the bait, allowing you to hook up to 15 or 20 bass on a bait before it must be changed.

This tactic can be fished on the same equipment that the other finesse tactics, making it easy to fit into the finesse pattern.

I hope this helps you put some finesse options into your bass fishing this year. Or perhaps add a tactic that you have not been using before. As water situations are changing in Minnesota with the invasion of zebra mussels, finesse tactics will play a bigger part in catching bass when conditions get tough.




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