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Bass fishing is among the most loved outdoor activities in the US, with over 11 million fishing enthusiasts looking for the perfect catch throughout the year. For some, bass fishing is about a relaxing camping weekend by a serene lake.
For others, it is a compelling race to catch the largest bass! So, it is not surprising that everyone looks for another, better way to cast and lure in more fish.
Weightless rigs for bass fishing are one of these lesser-known techniques that might be a game-changer in your next camping trip! Because of the unweighted lure, you can reduce noise and splashes, mimic the natural movement of worms, and avoid startling your bass.
Here you can learn about the best tackle, lures, and techniques to see the best results from a weightless rig!
What is a Weightless Rig?
If you have gone bass fishing before, you know that your tackle will make a difference in your fishing experience. While weights and sinkers are must-haves for most anglers, they are not necessary when fishing bass in shallow, calm waters!
Weightless rigs are still not as common as other types of rig setups, but they can be particularly efficient when trying not to startle the fish and create a natural effect under the waterline.
Weightless rigs - also known as free lining rig - are a type of rig setup that only include the line, the hook, and the lure. Setting up a weightless rig is a straightforward process, and this technique is suitable for most bass fishing locations with calms, clear, or lightly stained waters.
However, to master this technique, you will need practice and patience - especially as the lack of weight on the line might shorten your cast and make it less precise.
At the same time, a weightless rig can be extremely beneficial when fishing for bass because of this fish’s habits. Indeed, bass won’t lower themselves down the water column to eat, and they will prefer to eat upwards.
Benefits of Weightless Rig Fishing
A weightless rig won’t sink to the bottom in the same way that a weighted one will. Instead, it will slowly glide and flutter, which will remain for longer in the water column.
There are several benefits to this choice, including:
- A slower descend of the bait will prevent the bass from being startled or spooks
- A slow-moving bait becomes visible by the bass from far away
- A bait that stays for longer in the water column increases your chances of catching a bass
- The lure mimics the natural movement of worms or lizards
All these benefits shouldn’t make you think twice: it is time to try out a weightless rig for bass fishing!
Best Weightless Rig Setup
At its core, fishing a weightless rig is easy: just set up a line, a hook, a lure - without any weight or sinker. However, sinkers are important elements in rig setups.
They can help you increase the precision of your cast and allow you to reach further spots. It is important to refine your technique without them, set clear expectations, and be ready to practice! Here is what you need to know about setting up your tackle for weightless rig fishing.
Best Rod and Reel for Weightless Rig Setup
Your rod and reel are both essential components of your setup. Of course, selecting the right reel and the right rod can make a difference. But it is even more important to select them so that they balance with each other.
For your rod, make sure it has these features:
- 6-7½ feet - Longer rods are often not allowed in competitions; you should consider sticking to these measurements.
- Use a lighter rod - the bait or lure will also be lightweight, so you should avoid any cumbersome or overpowering rod that causes you to lose precision.
- Use a spinning rod - baitcasting rods are usually too big and heavy for weightless rig fishing. Stick to lighter and stiffer spinning rolls that allow you to cast your line further out and are easier to handle.
For your reel, follow these guidelines:
- Find balance - your reel must be in balance with the rod and of similar weight.
- Smooth action - when weightless rig fishing, you have more chances to catch your bass during the bait’s descent. Make sure your reel offers you a smooth enough action to make the whole movement seamless and increase your chances of bringing home a keeper.
- A strong and reliable drag system - when caught, bass tend to put up a fight, and they can take a toll on your rig if your reel isn’t strong enough to reel your catch in.
If you have invested in a sensitive and medium action rod, all you will have to do is find a reel that matches these characteristics.
Lines for Weightless Rig Fishing
The last element to look into is the line. It is impossible to determine the weight of your line without knowing where your fishing location is. Indeed, some waters are home to large, 10lbs bass that will require heavier lines to be reeled in safely. Instead, some other fishing locations only home smaller fishes that won’t require a heavy line.
While the weight can change, there are some characteristics to consider:
- Opt for Monofilament lines - these are not the strongest lines, but they have a larger diameter and tend to sink, which can help you when your lure needs some extra help to get to the bottom.
- Consider fluorocarbon lines - fluorocarbon lines are invisible, which means that the bass won’t see them below the waterline. These lines are also much stronger, which allows you to battle with some larger bass easily.
Generally, an 8lbs line will work when fishing bass, but make sure to ask about the size and habits of the fish in the area to pick the correct line.
How to Fish a Weightless Rig
As we have seen, the theory behind fishing a weightless rig is easy - but the practice is less so. Here are some habits of bass to keep in mind:
- Bass tend to feed upward and will rarely move don the water column to feed
- They tend to dwell in areas with a thick cover or by docks and piers, often near a shaded area
- They can be startled easily by splashes and jigs
- They put up a fight when trying to reel them in.
So, you don’t need to cast your line so far, but your technique counts. Here is what to keep in mind.
Casting A Line With an Unweighted Lure
Casting a line with an unweighted lure is not so challenging, especially when you don’t have to aim further. However, before casting, it is essential to check the spool tension knob.
The spool tension knob controls the descent of the bait or lure.
And, because the descent is the moment with the highest chances to catch a bass, it needs to be smooth.
After loosening up the knob, hold the rod with your dominant hand and hold the bait with your other hand. Your dominant hand will flip the line and, as you do so, the bait will slide out of your hand. Not throwing the bait increases your cast accuracy.
Weightless Rig Fishing Technique
Because it does not have a weight attached to it, the bait will take around 1-2 seconds for each foot of water to descend. However, as we have seen, bass eats upwards. So, consider regularly flicking the rod tip to move the bait and bring it back up the water column. Then, let it flutter downwards again.
When to Fish a Weightless Rig
The best months of the year for fishing bass are the ones between late winter and late spring. With weightless rig fishing, you can continue fishing from the morning to the evening without waiting for dusk or sunrise times.
In terms of locations, here is what you should keep in mind:
- Weightless rig fishing is most suitable for shallow waters and banks, no deeper than 4-5ft. Some fisher also uses this technique in deeper waters, but the unweighted bait will take long to get to the bottom.
- Calm waters are ideal, as currents can easily drag the light lure along.
- A shaded area with vegetation is usually where bass dwell. A weightless rig allows you to minimize noise and target the best area.
Best Lure for Weightless Rig
Now that you are almost ready to cast your unweighted line, you should look into the best lures for weightless rig fishing. Generally, because of the reduced weight, soft plastics and live baits are the most popular choices. They work well with bass fish, and they don’t create noise or movement when hitting the water.
Some of the benefits of soft plastic lures include the fact that they are weedless and can mimic the natural movement of a worm or a lizard. Because they are so realistic and easy to use, they work well with weightless rig fishing. The best options include:
- Senko worms
- Wacky worms
- Curly tail worms
- Finesse worms
- Lizards lure
- Live baits
Because they are so light and weedless, these baits and lures allow you to fish in any location - from rocky bottoms to weeds beds.