(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
Before he joined the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2020, Pennsylvania pro Destin DeMarion made his name on the Opens circuit, and especially through his expertise fishing for smallmouths on the Great Lakes. On those massive but fertile fisheries, dragging a tube has long been among the most effective ways to win tournaments, but the young pro believes that the rise of the Ned rig has made the tube virtually obsolete.
“I might tie them one once in a while but I find myself rarely using them,” he said of the former gold standard for bronzeback lures. “It’s not really a go-to bait for me anymore and truly the Ned Rig has replaced that in my arsenal.”
The reasons for that are several. It’s not that the tube doesn’t get bites anymore – it clearly does – but rather that the landing percentage is comparatively low. Meanwhile, the Ned Rig gets not only the same quality fish, but he believes it attracts more bass overall. Furthermore, it’s exceptionally versatile and variable.
“The fact is now there are so many different baits you can put on that jighead,” he explained. “The Ned Rig is really a simple presentation and it can be as subtle or as aggressive as you want it.” He employs a number of different baits in a wide variety of colors and sizes, and varies his retrieve to meet the mood of the fish. That could mean extreme variances from hard pops of the lure to deadsticking it for extended periods.
Because he’s often using the Ned Rig in comparatively deep water, he likes an “upsized” head, usually 5/16- or 3/8-ounce, and has to have them custom-poured by a friend to get the right hook inside. “I’m an Owner guy through and through,” he said. He wants a hook that gets easy penetration from a distance, but is not so thin that he bends it out.
He typically fishes it on a 7-foot, medium-action rod, but will occasionally go up to a 7’2” medium-heavy, especially in deeper water where it’s harder to get the hook buried. Z-Man products get the call when he wants buoyancy, but he’s also partial to certain Berkley MaxScent soft plastics. While smallmouth are visual feeders, they’re also intrigued by scent, and even after drawing them in from a distance it may take a little bit of extra convincing to get them to commit.
Most of his plastics are in fairly natural colors. That means a lot of green pumpkin variations (often with purple metalflake) when gobies are around, and more translucent shades in clear water when the dominant forage types are smelt, alewives and shad.
If you want to learn some of DeMarion’s Great Lakes Ned-Rigging system, including his favorite braid-to-fluorocarbon combinations and the brand of line that he is certain stands up to zebra mussels better than any other on the market, check out his full video filmed at this year’s Bassmaster Classic, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.