Bass Tactic Inspired By America’s Heartland

Author Mark Fong (below) swears by a set-up inspired by Missouri bass angler Ned Kehde. The lightweight lead head jig rig should be a staple in all tackle boxes. (MARK FONG)

The following appears in the October issue of California Sportsman: 

By Mark Fong 

One of the hottest set-ups in the bass fishing world today is the Midwest finesse rig. 

Known also as the “Ned rig” for its creator, Missourian Ned Kehde, the set-up is, in its simplest form, a small, lightweight, mushroom-shaped leadhead jig weighing anywhere from 1/16 to ¼ ounce and matched with a diminutive soft plastic offering. 

While there are many different plastic bait styles that work well, perhaps the most popular is a cigar-shaped stickbait. Anglers typically choose between a small 3-incher or a standard-sized stickbait that has been trimmed down to a length between 2½ and 4 inches.



Jighead worms have been around for a long time and have caught untold numbers of bass, but I do have to say there is something special about the Midwest finesse rig that just plain catches fish. It has a subtle yet appealing profile that excels when conditions make for difficult fishing. Based on its skyrocketing popularity, it is clear that I am not the only one to think this way. In fact, the rig has become a staple for tournament anglers everywhere.

The rig is very easy to fish: simply swim it, drag it, shake it or deadstick it. The choice is yours. Best of all, the rig generates lots of bites, making it the ideal choice for beginning anglers or kids.

In response to its success and popularity, many tackle companies now offer specific jigheads and plastics geared for the Midwest finesse rig. I have had good success with a homemade leadhead jig matched with a shortened Yamamoto Senko. 

There are many productive colors, but I like shades of green or brown. I will stick with green pumpkin, baby bass or watermelon when in doubt.

There is more to this technique than just the bait; a medium-action spinning combo will help to maximize your success and enjoyment. I use a Cousins Tackle Raze RSK 752S 7-foot, 6-inch spinning rod; and pair it with a 2500-series spinning reel filled with 15-pound FINS 40G Braid connected to a leader of 6-pound Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon Line. Braid casts well, is super sensitive and strong, and the fluorocarbon leader is abrasion-resistant and super stealthy.

If you love to catch bass and have not yet fished the Midwest finesse rig, you owe it to yourself to tie one on.