Your "SkinnyRig"...
Don't Leave Home Without It!
by Ken Cook


I tend to use nicknames and "SkinnyRig" refers to any of my medium action spinning rods rigged with light line. It's a lot easier than saying, "6 1/2 foot medium action IM6 spinning rod, Mitchell SC30 reel and 8 pound Shakespeare mono with a 1/16 ounce weight and a 4" worm." As Paul Harvey says, "Now for the rest of the story."

I grew up here in Texas and began my serious bass fishing with "broomsticks and 20 pound line". Qualifying for my first national championship tournament in 1975, I made the 900 mile trip to Watts Bar on the Tennessee river and received a rude awakening. Although we (the Texas group) caught a few fish, we were soundly spanked by the other guys who were using lighter action rods and twelve pound or lighter line. Lesson learned, I returned to Texas, rigged a medium action rod with twelve pound line, 1/8 ounce weight and 4" worm or lizard and proceeded to tear the bass up on the local lakes. As the years progressed and lakes and techniques changed, I found myself "back to the basics", those heavy rods and line. Heavy brush and boat dock fishing meant a return to heavy line for flipping jigs and T-rigging. Long casts with Carolina rigs also required heavy gear to get the fish out of the cover. The lighter rigs began to collect dust.

Fast forward to the early 90s. The California guys are "finesse fishing" their deep, clear lakes with 8 pound (or less) line and small baits. I dust off the lighter stuff, buy some Weenie Worms and experience moderate success in open water scenarios, but it's back to the big rigs for most conditions.

Another brief fast forward to the mid 90s. An "immigrant" from Alabama joins the local club and begins wearing us out with, "AW, not again!", LIGHT tackle. Fishing behind some of our better fishermen (supposedly to learn the lakes), he's putting some nice limits in the boat and finishing well in most tourneys. How many times do you have to slap me with a 2x4? Well...not quite as often as a mule, but close.

Over the last three years, going to the SkinnyRig has put several five pound class fish in the boat for me and, more importantly, put LIMITS in the livewell when nothing else was working.

Now that the history lesson is over, many of you are saying, "What's the big deal? It's just a light Texas rig. We've been doing that all along!" Well...that may be true, but I thought I'd offer the what, why, when and how of what I've been doing for those who haven't done it and in hopes there's something the "old hands" may have overlooked.

The Bait: Although any small size and type bait (worm, grub, craw or spider grub) both can and will work, I primarily use a 4" ringworm or Zoom's dead ringer (which is slightly different). Visibility of 2 feet or more is best, but I've fished heavy stain and done well. Zoom's Purple Passion is my #1 color choice, closely followed by Watermelon Seed. In both cases, I dye the tails chartreuse unless the fish convince me otherwise.

Purple Passion


Watermelon Seed

4" Worms
The Line: I use 8# mono 80-90% of the time and 10# mono or 12# braid for special conditions. Although the 12# braid is smaller diameter than the 8# mono, I can achieve a slower fall with it. I also use it when I believe my chances of getting a fish out of the cover with 8# mono are nil. This is where the rub (pun intended) is.
The Rigging: I Texas rig a Gamagatsu 1/0 light wire hook (58411) and a 1/16 ounce bullet weight, rarely going higher. Split shotting or some other rigging method could well work, but I haven't tried them for this application.
Gamagatsu & Weight
The Tackle: Spinning - a 6 1/2' medium action graphite rod and a reel that has an excellent drag. What? Medium action? Yes, the rod must be chosen to have enough backbone to exert some control on the fish, yet have a soft enough tip to work well with the reel's drag.

The Conditions:

  • Obviously, you can fish a SkinnyRig anytime and do well. Even when you have a good bite going on standard tackle and baits, it can be used for the second bait in to a likely spot, to get a hit from a fish you just missed or just as a change of pace. Conversely, when the bite gets tough, it's definitely time to dig it out of the rod box and go to work. I always have mine on deck and ready to go.
  • I have found that areas I would normally overlook or make a cursory pass on while trolling toward a "good spot" are often not only productive, but the "right place to be". So called nothing banks with no obvious cover or vegetation will often hold fish susceptable only to light line techniques.
The Technique: Presentations and methods of working a bait are numerous as fleas on a dog and I've been known to use most, if not all of them. My most consistent success is with dead sticking the bait: letting it settle, sit for a bit, then a brief twitch to get it moving again. Although I cast, pitch and flip, flipping accounts for most of my fish. Flipping? Eight pound line? You bet! Grass edges, stumps, brush piles and boat docks are my primary targets. Although I've done it and gotten away with it, I rarely place the bait in the middle of a brushpile as I would with heavy line, but let the bait drift around the edge(s). I've found that boat dock fish tend to grab this little morsel and head for deep water with it, rather than running farther under the dock. This sure makes the job easier but I've sweated a few quality fish out from under docks too. Breakoffs are going to happen, but a bite and a breakoff are better than no bite at all!

Is a SkinnyRig the best thing since sliced bread? Obviously not, but I feel that it is an absolutely necessary tool in every Angler's arsenal!


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