MIKE IACONELLI: Top Secret! The Cat Rig is the Cat's Meow of Baitfish-Imitating Rigs - Major League Fishing
MIKE IACONELLI: Top Secret! The Cat Rig is the Cat’s Meow of Baitfish-Imitating Rigs
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MIKE IACONELLI: Top Secret! The Cat Rig is the Cat’s Meow of Baitfish-Imitating Rigs

Image for MIKE IACONELLI: Top Secret! The Cat Rig is the Cat’s Meow of Baitfish-Imitating Rigs
Top Secret! The cat rig is my latest super-secret rig from my bag of tricks. Photo courtesy Mike Iaconelli
March 1, 2020 • Mike Iaconelli • Angler Columns

Our next part of the Top Secret! series of new, fish-catching, rigs is called the cat rig.

I named it that because when you get done building this baitfish-imitating lure it’ll move like a cat — subtle on the fall with just a little shimmy, and it stays perfectly horizontal in the water.

Those of you who follow what I do know that’s super important to me. Anything that imitates a baitfish should always be horizontal in the water.

It’s weedless, too.

Cat Rig Components

Ok, with all that out of the way let’s build one. We’ll start with a list of the component parts. But you should read the whole blog before you start! That way you’ll know where you’re going. That’s important, you know. 

  1. My hook is usually a VMC Ike Approved Weedless Wacky Hook in sizes 2 through 1/0. Match the hook to the size of the fish you expect to catch.
  2. You’ll need a 1/16-ounce VMC Neko Weight (most of us call them a nail weight). You might want to add a couple of other sizes, too, depending on how deep the water is that you’re fishing.
  3. You’ll also need a VMC Neko Ring and a Wacky Rig Tool to put it on your minnow (most of us call it an “O-ring”).
  4. Finally, you need a minnow. I use Berkley designs. I’ll go into more detail on these later.

Let’s Build a Cat Rig!

We’ve got all the parts we need so now it’s time to build this bad boy.

  1. Start by modifying your hook. I take the wire weedguard, point it straight at me and cut it in half right in the middle of the bend. That lets me spread out the two sides and move them down a little bit. That way I get the best of both worlds — it stays weedless but the wire doesn’t interfere with my hookset.
  2. Now it’s time to pick your minnow. There are three from the Berkley lineup that I like. The first and second are the PowerBait Minnow and the PowerBait Pro Twitchtail Minnow. Pick the one you like the best. They’re both good. But, if you’re fishing for smallmouth or need a strong scent, go with the Maxscent Flatnose Minnow. The smell is strong, long-lasting and the fish really like it.
  3. Slip the O-ring up over the minnow so that it’s just a little less than half-way back from the nose. Make sure the chin section of the bait is open. The best deal on O-rings is with VMC. They have black and clear, and a tool that makes putting them on easy.
  4. Now comes the top-secret part: Push the nail weight straight into the chin of the bait from the bottom until it almost pushes through the top. It should be about a 1/16-inch back from the nose. Cut off some of what’s sticking out of the bottom of the chin BUT leave just a little bit of the nail sticking out. It should be just enough so that it’ll scrape the bottom when you drag the bait along but not so much that it’ll hang. 
  5. Last, we need to add the hook. Slip it under the o-ring but do it so that the point is facing the tail. It’s a sort of reverse wacky rig. The idea is to have the hook pointing backwards. We don’t do it that way very often but it’s important with the cat rig. It makes the lure weedless and it helps make for better hooksets.

Fishing the cat rig is easy. Cast it out, let it shimmy to the bottom and then hop it or drag it along. It’ll stay horizontal so it’ll look like the real thing, and the nail weight will scrape whatever it comes into contact with so it’ll make some noise. That’ll keep things interesting.

This is a super creative minnow bait rig. Make it a part of your arsenal!