Why the Ned rig’s inventor says it’s time to retire long rods
In the 1950s, legendary Kansas angler Chuck Woods created the first Ned rig predecessor, the Beetle, and used it to great effect. Then Missouri’s Harold Ensley fished a jig worm—another Ned rig precursor—to win the World Series of Freshwater Sport Fishing in 1960. Also from Kansas, Drew Reese followed that up in 1971, using a jig worm to finish seventh at the first-ever Bassmaster Classic. The primary tool for throwing all those rigs? A short spinning rod made by the late Ray Fincke.
According to Kehde, Fincke’s most famous stick was a 5′ 4″ finesse spinning rod he called the Stinger. He made it from an ultralight 4′ 6″graphite blank, gluing on a 19-inch length of fibreglass blank to add more power to the butt section. Fincke also fitted the butt with a nine-inch cork handle.
Originally, Kehde and his lauded fishing friends equipped their short sticks and spinning reels with four- and six-pound-test monofilament line. These days, they use spiderweb-thin, four-pound gel-spun and four-pound fluorocarbon leaders. This allows them to make deadly accurate, yet delicate, presentations, as well as impart subtle waves, nods and motions—something that’s difficult to do with the longer rods most Ned-riggers use nowadays.
Listening to Kehde outline the myriad benefits of short spinning rods, including their featherlight weight and manoeuvrability in tight quarters, I can’t help but question the supposed sensitivity of today’s long rods. Kehde agrees.
“I have never been aware of the so-called sensitivity phenomenon until I began field-testing the prototype short rods Drew Reese designed for Z-Man, which will be introduced this year,” Kehde says, noting he’s also field-tested an array of spinning rods from other manufacturers. Most were long, expensive and reportedly state-of-the art, including one made especially for Ned-rigging.
“It was 6′ 7″, and I told the company I couldn’t rate its sensitivity because I couldn’t feel it,” says Kehde. “But Reese’s new Ultimate Ned Rig Rods for Z-Man (above) are as light as a feather. They are magical. And they’re so sensitive I can’t find any sensible words to explain them.”