Lain’s professional career started in the San Diego area fishing the regions numerous lakes. From there he moved on to the ever-popular Diamond Valley Lake located in Hemet California. Recently Lain retired to Lake Havasu City Arizona where he enjoys fishing both the main lake and the Colorado River including tournament fishing against the stout competition Havasu attracts.
Discussing finesse rigs, Lain explains some of the attributes of the Neko Rig. “In open water, the Neko set-up is an excellent presentation, but when you’re fishing in cover, frequently you’re going to snag the exposed hook, break off, and have to retie,” says Lain.
Lain goes on to recall his fishing partner who swears by the open hook Neko Rig. “My partner spends half the day retying,” laughs Lain.
The Chicken Rig
Why is it called the Chicken Rig? Lain has done research, and based on his findings he located the source, Gary Yamamoto. While crossing paths at a Lake Mead US Open Lain discussed the rig with Yamamoto. Yamamoto experienced excellent tournament success fishing the Chicken Rig. Yamamoto’s first set-up employed the Yamamoto Baits Kut-Tail Worm, and the rigging involved a Backwards Weighted Whacky Kut-Tail – BWWK. “Bwwk pronounced Bwak, say it with me, Bwwk Bwwk its a sound a chicken makes, and that’s why it is called a Chicken Rig.”
“The Chicken Rig is a cross between the Neko and a Texas Rig, providing the best of both worlds.” It’s a weedless set-up, so it’s perfect for fishing in cover elements such as brush, weeds, dock pilings, and tulles. You can use your favorite finesse bait; a Daiwa Neko Straight, a Roboworm, a Daiwa Neko Fat, a Yamamoto Pro Senko, just about anything you like.
You can throw the Chicken Rig directly into cover elements and ‘wiggle’ the presentation through the nasty stuff and produce a bite. Drywall screws, carpenter’s nails, or specialty weights, insert your favorite nail weight into the back end of the worm. Weight size is determined by the individual conditions, the rate of fall, and the depth an angler find themselves fishing. When targets exceed a twenty-foot depth Lain will opt for other fishing rigs like a drop shot or a shakey head.
Using a wide gap hook, you rig the hook backward starting towards the middle of the worm bringing the hook point through the plastic behind the nail weight. Finally, Tex-Pose the hook point, and the set-up is weedless. Your hook size will be based on the size of the bait, in most applications Lain is using size 2/0 and 3/0 wide gap hooks.
Lake Havasu and the Buoy Pattern
On Havasu, during the Pre-Spawn staging, any buoy that marks a high spot, a hazard, or a no wake zone, bass will sit in the shadow of the buoy. “Long casts with the Chicken Rig will produce a lot of bites when running the Buoy Pattern.” The Buoy Pattern occurs all over, not just Havasu. Wherever you find wave attenuators, dock pilings, and other floating objects, the Chicken Rig will allow you to fish directly through all the ropes, cables, ladders, and gnarly hang-ups in these locations.
Fishing finesse patterns when it's hard to find productive clean water is a standard tactic. This is especially true in multiple-day tournaments. The Chicken Rig is an excellent method for pressured bass. When you can fish behind other anglers, and you’re not snagging cover, not blowing spots out with the trolling motor, and are not retying you’re making more casts.
“That’s the game changer.” More casts means more opportunity for more bites. That can be the difference in winning a tournament or catching a limit, and missing out on a check, especially when the conditions are difficult.
Tony Lain uses a Daiwa 7’-1” Tatula Elites Series Medium Action Brent Ehrler Drop Shot Spinning Rod. Lain says the rod’s action is more like a shaky head rod than a drop shot rod. “That’s important when moving the hook through the plastic on the hook-set.” Lain pairs the rod with a Daiwa 2500 series spinning reel.
Lain spools up with high visibility chartreuse 10-pound J-Braid for the main line. Depending on the conditions he will use as low as a 5-pound fluorocarbon leader. At times as high as 10-pound test, with 7-pound Sunline Sniper being his go-to line.
6.3:1 is Lain’s preferred spinning reel retrieve ratio. He has learned from Havasu’s smallmouth that many times bass will pick up a bait and swim quickly directly towards him. If your gear ratio is too slow, you’ll never catch up to the fish, and you’ll miss them every time. “Whenever I’m fishing a finesse technique, line watching, or fly lining, I want a fast reel to pick up the slack and get them coming to me.”
Line Visibility and Long Leaders
Lain runs his leader length, so the connection knot is between the reel spool and the next rod eye guide. Never wind a leader connection knot into the reel spool. The cut tag ends of the knot are going to catch and create a nasty backlash.
The long leader length works in concert with high visibility braid. The long leader keeps the bait away from the chartreuse braid, and the fish don’t care about the braid color. The color of the braid allows anglers to see it on top of the water easily.
Couple high-visibility with the 10-pound diameter and the floating braid will noticeably twitch and pop with the slightest influence from a bass. Often this visual aspect is the only indication that a fish has your offering; this is critically important when your bait is falling after a cast. “I can only wonder how many fish I’ve missed because I couldn’t see the bite with straight fluorocarbon.”
The Follow Up
“The Chicken Rig is always on my deck.” There are many situations when you have a blow-up, or an attack and the fish misses the lure. If you’re prepared, you can quickly cast a follow-up bait to that fish and catch it. The same thing applies when you’re playing a fish to the boat, and other bass are following the hooked fish. If you and your partner are ready, you can catch the follower with a follow-up rig. “I’ll hand my team partner my rod with the first fish, and pick up the Chicken Rig, throw out and double up.” “Usually the second fish is the bigger fish.”
The Bonus Catch
Lains says if I’m crank baiting and I boat a fish, before I manage that fish at the livewell, he’ll cast out the Chicken Rig, dead-sticking the worm. When handling the fish is over, and he checks the Chicken Rig, numerous times a fish will be on, a bonus catch! “Always have a line in the water.”
“The Chicken Rig is a Weedless Neko Rig.” Wow, Tony Lain is definitely in the Big Bass Zone. Thank you, for the excellent information packed tutorial.
Tony Lain partners with these fine companies; Anglers Marine, Daiwa, Lowrance, Mercury Marine, and Ranger Boats. You can follow Lain’s fishing videos on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuazE2AH11ZNOCYlyIfoyaw and Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/tony.lain
The products mentioned above are available at https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/