That’s a question I get all the time, and it’s a good one. They’re both similar at first glance but they behave very differently and they should be used under very different conditions.
Here’s how I make the decision…
If I want my presentation to look vertical, I go with a Neko rig. This is typically in deeper water and along some kind of vertical cover or structure. The kind of places I’m thinking about are deep docks, deep and steep riprap and along bluff walls.
My bait for the Neko rig is mostly a straight tail worm or a stickbait. My favorite worm is The Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General. My favorite stickbait is the Berkley Powerbait Bottom Hopper Worm. (I know they call it a worm but I like to think of it as more of a stickbait.)
I’ll arm it with a VMC Ike Approved Weedless Neko Hook, #1 or #2. I attach my hook with a VMC Neko Ring.
I put the ring about three-quarters back towards the flat tail of the worm or the narrow end of my stickbait. I always use a nail weight — that’s what gives the plastic a sharp, vertical fall at a slight angle — in the tail end of the lure. And when I say the tail end that’s what I mean. It’s all the way back.
If I want my presentation to look more horizontal, I go with a wacky rig. It’s at its best when the water is more shallow and flat. I’m thinking about large flats, spawning or otherwise, and small flat spots along the bank that are bordered by sharper drops. The backs of creeks are good places for a wacky rig, too.
I like the same lures that I talked about above. They may look the same to us when we’re sitting in a boat but they look totally different to a fish as they’re falling through the water column. The Neko rig is dropping down at an angle with speed. The wacky rig is floating down with a mostly horizontal attitude.
My hook’s the same, too, and I attach it with the same exact ring. The only difference is that I place my ring in the middle of the bait when I wacky rig.
One final thought about this: VMC sells a tool that’s called the VMC Wacky Rig Tool. Spring for one. It’ll make your rigging much easier and save you a lot of valuable fishing time.
There you have it — a fairly simple answer to a frequently asked question.
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