There’s no way around it, I’m definitely not the most fashionable guy in the world. If I don’t get at least five years out of a pair of jeans I’m livid and not so long ago I realised that nearly every t-shirt I own says Costa del Mar on it. It’s something that hasn’t bothered me for a long time – they say it’s because as you grow you realise what you’re comfortable with and what your own style is. To be honest I think I realised a few years back that if you can’t polish a turd you most certainly shouldn’t try to dress one in haute couture or whatever they call it in Europe. Besides, these trends come and go so quickly it would be easy to end up with a wardrobe full of last year’s tat.
Fortunately the world of angling is a little more sedate, trends tend to stick around a little. I do try to keep up with what’s going on but even in a small industry like ours new ideas and styles can creep up behind you pretty quickly. The whole drop shot thing did just that to me. I dropped the ball for a few years while fly fishing took over and all of a sudden every man and his dog is stood stock still on the canal shaking a 7′ rod like he’s got his toe wedged in an electrical socket. Never again I said, so when Barry rang me and told me he was having great success fishing worms Wacky and Neko I congratulated him on his achievements before asking him to explain what the hell he was on about.
Simply put, Wacky and Neko rigs are two very similar ways of fishing long, straight worm shaped baits. With a very wide gape hook tied to the end of your line or leader you can choose to either fish the bait “Wacky” that is without any additional weight, or “Neko” which sees the addition of a weight to the worm itself. You can rig either way by taking the hook right through the body of the worm or by using a small rubber band which will help to avoid losing the baits.
Having listened to Barry’s excellent explanation I decided that I NEEDED to be on trend with this stuff and out popped my wallet. Some VMC Mystic Wacky Hooks, a pack of Lunker City Wacky Weights, some small bands and some Reins Bubbling Shaker Lures in Bubblegum and Natural Shell were all I needed to have a crack at a new way of fishing – excellent! I watched a couple of YouTube videos to ensure I was at least capable if not confident in what I was doing and headed straight down to my local canal fully expecting a chastening and frustrating evenings education.
The locks in this area are usually packed with fish so I figured that I would focus my attention on these heavy features. I rigged the larger Natural Shell Bubbling Shaker with the Neko weight and tested it in the shallow water at the edge to get a feel for how it behaves. I found that by using a very slow and steady wind and really vibrating the rod tip it was possible to inch the little lure along the bottom while the ultra buoyant tail shakes and shimmers – it looked good to me!
Twenty minutes later I was set to throw the whole lot in the canal. Nearly every cast had bought what felt like a solid take but they were all tail nips and as I ran out of patience my thoughts turned to the Bubblegum version which is an inch smaller and far more slender. I rigged that one up in the same way and cast it in the same place expecting the takes to come thick and fast. Not even a touch, it was totally bizarre. I figured they were being put off by either the colour of the lure or that the action had changed. Sure enough when I checked in the edge the smaller lure with the same 3.5g Neko weight behaved very differently. On Barry’s prior advice I snapped the ball part of the Neko weight off leaving just the pin section embedded in the lure – this looked much better in the edge and the Perch agreed too.
Since then I’ve not looked back, the results have been incredible. In and around locks, down the edges, under bridges – the Neko has worked everywhere. By shimmying those little worms along the bottom of the canal I’ve picked up more perch than I had done before in my favourite spots. It’s particularly deadly inched slowly along the bed inside deep locks – twitching the lure a few feet up before letting it sink back down. You get a lot of takes on the drop too so really watch the line on the water as the lure sinks. One in five of the fish I’ve landed have hit the lure as it falls.
It’s not a method without its limitations however. I have fished these baits almost exclusively along the deck and as such I’ve lost a few rigs – that bare hook will find any snags down there and the Neko weight only assists in pulling the hook in to bad places so avoid snaggy areas. I’m yet to try the VMC Mystic Wacky Weedless hooks so I can’t comment on how well they work – stay tuned on these though. I would also advise anybody having a go at this to be very careful when buying the Neko bands. My little elastic things were fine on the chunky 4″ bait but on the 3″ they looked awful so I stopped using them. Fishing the Neko without bands is a recipe for disaster as fish tear the soft baits off the hook on the take or throw them during the fight. I’ve lost a lot of worms and weights since I picked this method up!
In all the time I’ve fished these baits I’ve only felt the dreaded “pike pluck” once – they don’t seem too fussed by the Bubbling Shaker which for me is a real positive – I can use light fluorocarbon leaders in confidence. I did however lose a small bream on one – those guys are tough to get your hands around when you don’t have a net!
I’ve really enjoyed fishing the Neko so far, partly because of its success but more because it’s a cast and search method. Drop shotting is lethal when you’re on the fish but as a searching method I find it pretty turgid whereas with the Neko you can cover water but also fish it slowly to great effect once you’ve dropped on a shoal. I’m definitely still learning how to get the very best from the Neko rig but I can assure you that as a method for picking up numbers of perch it is deadly – on my last trip I rigged Neko style before I even thought about the tiny shads. If you’re trying to keep up with what’s happening in the lure angling world then this is one rig you’re gonna need to know – get on it!