You’ve smashed plenty of smallmouths on tubes, right? So have I, and, frankly, in the early season when the water is cold, tubes have always been my go-to. That was until Shimano pro-staffer Matt Parylak showed me the ways of the Ned Rig on the Delaware River, which we both call home water. A creation of Z-Man Lures, the Ned Rig starts with a Finesse TRD. This small soft-plastic looks like a Senko, but get whacky rigging out of your head, because the TRD floats. That, however, is the magic. Matched with a Z-Man Shroomz jighead—which has a flat nose—the TRD sits perfectly vertical on the bottom. In the early season, subtle movement gets sluggish smallies chewing. You can practically dead-stick the Ned Rig and the current will move it enough to get you bit, but shake rod-like when you’re working a shaky head, and you’ll get bit even more.
Video: Ned Rigging for Early-Season River Smallmouths
Tubes had always been the author’s early-season go-to—until he discovered the Ned Rig.