HOW I APPROACH FISHING NED LURES FOR WRASSE
Updated: Feb 22, 2021
I’d like to introduce myself. Some of you may have come across me via various social media platforms as “The Constant Angler”, aka Adrian Evans. Having my own YouTube, Facebook and Instagram pages is all a relatively new experience to me. I never in a million years expected the response I have received, let alone being asked to write an article for such a respected group as the Lure Anglers Society. My command of the written word is not one of my strong points so please go easy on me.
Fishing wise, I have over the last 45 years been obsessed with almost all forms of the sport, whether that be standing on a windswept shoreline blasting out big baits on Pulley rigs for Cod or BFS fishing with light lures for Chub and Perch. Like a lot of Wrasse anglers I was originally inspired by the scribblings of Keith and Kevin White from Jersey. They were nothing but an Inspiration to myself and many other anglers and it is definitely their fault I now have this obsession. I love how easy it is to grab your gear and go, stay mobile and search out the fish. I also love the variety of colours Wrasse have; no two fish are exactly the same. These fish are such stunning, beautiful creatures and really something to behold; adding to this the savage nature of the bite as well as the sheer intensity of the fight and the whole experience often leaves me shaking afterwards. My current PB stands at 5lb12oz but I have hooked fish much bigger that have evaded capture, diving back into their rocky holes. Isn’t it always “the one that got away” that drives our obsession? I am no expert, just somebody who has years of experience and is constantly fishing or thinking about it hence “the Constant Angler”. I expect many of you are the same?
I am using standard Wrasse fishing equipment i.e a rod between 7 - 9ft, able to cast lures up to around 30 grams, a spinning reel in either a 3000 or 4000 size, 20lb braid with a 15lb Fluorocarbon leader. I almost always use EWG hooks in Sizes 1 to 3/0. You can use a lighter or heavier set up as long as it is balanced and suited to the size of the fish you are targeting.
Firstly I should explain to those of you who are unaware what Ned fishing is. Ned fishing is a technique derived from the American freshwater Bass fishing scene and recently adopted by Perch fishermen over here in the UK. It involves dragging, rattling and hopping a generally buoyant lure, mounted on some form of stand up jig head, whilst maintaining close contact with the bottom. Essentially presenting the bait tail up/claws up. This is not always the case as it very much depends upon the design of the jighead and how buoyant the bait actually is. The retrieve I use is basically the same but maybe with more pauses, I use longer pauses in colder water as the fish are more lethargic and will take more time to commit to taking the bait.
So getting to the point of the article, when did I start using Ned lures for Wrasse? Well for a while now Wrasse anglers have been using Ned lures for Wrasse but not necessarily realising it. Many of the Zman lures so popular today with Perch anglers are also used by Wrasse anglers. The classic Ned lure, the Zman TRD (basically a short, buoyant, fat, stick bait) is a great Wrasse lure. Craws such as the Zman Punch Crawz are an all time classic Wrasse lure. Over time other companies have developed lures and one of my current favourites is a 3.25 inch Black Glitter Ned made by Rooney’s Fishing Supplies. Karl Rooney who makes these lures, spotted one of my Wrasse videos where I had been extolling the virtues of a Pink Laminate Senko, but bemoaning the lack of availability here in the UK. He very kindly offered to make me some Pink Laminate Ned lures that he thought might work. Of course I gladly accepted his offer and over the last 6 months I have come to realise what a great bait they are. Relatively recently, Karl sent me some of his Black Glitter Ned Lures to try. There are some lures that the minute you take them out of the packet you just know will work. The look and feel of the bait reminded me of a Lugworm; leading me to believe they would be a killer bait. I feel due to their dark appearance they may also resemble many of the Black coloured Gobies we find in rock pools. Who knows but my hopes proved correct and over the last couple of months I have caught lots of Wrasse on them. They now have a permanent spot in my lure bag and I am hoping that they will catch me many more, as they appear to be a tough bait that catches fish of all sizes.
Fig 1: A Custom Tartan Coloured Ned made by Rooney’s Fishing Supplies, Rigged on a Texas Rig catching a 3lb plus November Wrasse!
So what are the benefits of Ned lures? I feel the buoyancy of the bait itself is key. Additionally, the more buoyant the bait is the more the bait will sit up or negate the weight of the hook, so as to be presenting the bait more naturally. This definitely aids with attracting and getting the hook into the mouth of a Wrasse. They are generally compact baits (bite size even); they appear to catch smaller and larger fish. I am catching more smaller fish, which I am sure were attracted to my larger baits, but were biting off the tails or struggling to get the baits into their mouths. Now when I am missing bites I change to a Ned lure. Did I mention Wrasse have teeth? Don’t worry, Wrasse are very placid once on the bank and are usually hooked in the scissors leading to easy hook removal, especially if you use barbless hooks. I recommend doing this as it reduces handling time and damage to the fish (personally, I crush the barbs on my hooks).
So what rigs can we use for Ned lures?
Fig 2: Shows the 6 rigs listed below, from left to right
Standard Ned Head There are innate problems with fishing a traditional Ned Jighead in and around the rock and weed infested ground we find Wrasse; you will lose tackle. Standard Neds have an exposed hook point. When Wrasse fishing this is generally not advised as an exposed hook point will snag and lead to tackle losses.
Weedless Ned Head: I suppose we could fish a weedless Ned. This is something I intend to explore more over the Winter months when pitching baits to relatively clear ground. I really like the way Neds presents the bait “stood up”. This I feel is a key benefit of the setup and one we must try to replicate.
Texas Rig: The buoyant nature of the bait makes a good rig even better. They work well with standard Texas rigs. I tend to use Texas or Egg weights between 7 and 14 grams. Fishing this way you will catch Wrasse and limit tackle losses.
Cheb Rig: Used by Perch fishermen to present baits in an upright posture or at least allow the bait to move more freely. Perfect for Ned lures and used effectively by lots of Wrasse anglers myself included. I love the fact you can change baits/hook size . Although I do not find them to be as weedless as a Texas Rig.
Jika Rig: As the hook is more free to move it also presents the bait more effectively in an upright position. The Jika Rig is my preferred option when fishing over deep kelp infested ground where I wish my lure and weight to stay together and not get hung up in different areas on the descent, never reaching the bottom together. Yes it is great with Ned lures.
Split Shot Rig If conditions are not too bouncy and fish are at close range I like to finesse things a bit. It is then I turn to the split shot rig. Basically I place a swan shot or two onto the line above my hook. Place it close to the eye and you can use it to counterbalance a buoyant bait rather like a Carp angler might balance a pop up. If the lure is not that buoyant then moving it say 6 inches up the line will cause the shot to catch on the bottom, giving an erratic action to the bait and hopefully catching the eye of a fish.
Nothing extraordinary here but that is the beauty of Ned baits, they can be used for a variety of fish, in a variety of situations, over all types of ground whether it be salt or freshwater.
Fig 3: Another Beautiful Wrasse falls to the Christmas Coloured Ned!
Going forward there is definitely room to experiment. I am already experimenting with a Texas rig that has a split ring and hook arrangement such as the Jika Rig. I also can see the benefits of Ned baits on a so-called “Tiny Child Rig” or “Chicken Rig”.
So to sum up. Ned lures catch Wrasse. You can fish traditional Ned rigs for Wrasse but expect high tackle losses. The compact and buoyant nature of Ned lures allows us to present lures effectively, on various rigs in and over the most formidable, weed infested, tackle hungry ground that big, beautiful, bold biting, hard fighting, Ballan Wrasse reside in!
Being a Wrasse angler that also fishes for Perch I can't help but notice that the two disciplines are not that dissimilar. I love the fact that more and more Perch anglers are now trying their hand at lure fishing for Wrasse. If you haven’t already, give it a try. They are the most wonderful, hard fighting creatures. That initial shock down your line as a Wrasse stuns the bait is electrifying! Did I mention they pull a bit! Those big scalloped Pectoral fins combined with a large solid Tail, allow them to quickly dive for cover and leave you at times struggling to gain control!
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Thank you for taking the time to read this. Obviously this is just how I do it and I'm sure you will have your own ideas. I’d love to hear your feedback, good or bad. Good luck with your own fishing, let me know how you get on. Happy Wrassing!