Z-Man TRD Fishing on the Shenahdoa River with Priscilla Johnson

Tips for Fishing a Ned Rig with a Z-Man TRD

Despite the increasing popularity of the Ned Rig, I find it is a bait that some anglers have yet to try. I will admit to it not being a go-to for me. But after talking to Priscilla Johnson, I think I might have to reconsider. Priscilla discusses the Ned Rig with us and her favorite bait of choice, the Z-Man TRD. She also shares with us a bit about her favorite kayaks and the mysterious pink pig.

When did you start fishing the Ned Rig?

I started fishing the Ned Rig probably about a year ago. I was kayak fishing at Pohick Bay with some friends from Virginia Kayak Anglers. It was a slow bite day and I had tried so many different lures and techniques. One of my fellow anglers mentioned the Ned Rig so I decided to give it a try.

I was yearning for a bite from any species, big or small at that point. Once I tied on a Z-Man TRD in PB&J, the day took a turn. I was pulling in fish left and right! From that moment on, I was hooked on this bait. Whenever the bite is tough, the Ned Rig never disappoints.

Largemouth Bass Caught on Z-Man TRD by Priscilla JohnsonWhat is the learning curve like for fishing the Ned Rig with a bait like the Z-Man TRD?

There really isn’t much to learn. The Z-Man TRD basically does the work for you. It is an extremely durable and buoyant bait. You basically rig it on a light finesse setup and cast it out. At rest, the bait stands up off the bottom and moves ever so slightly, even when deadsticked. On the fall, the buoyancy allows for a slower, more horizontal, sometimes spiraling descent. Slow presentation is key!

Does fishing this method from a kayak present any differences that are unique to fishing it from a bass boat?

I have fished the Ned Rig with a Z-Man TRD from a kayak, a boat and the shore. I haven’t noticed any real differences or challenges in any of those scenarios. The Ned Rig is extremely lightweight so I tend to use a spinning reel/rod setup for this technique.

What is your favorite rod and reel combination to throw the Z-Man TRD on a Ned Rig?

I throw the Ned Rig using my Ardent Finesse 2000 Spinning Reel and Rod combo with a 6:0:1 gear ratio. The buoyancy and action of the Ned Rig works for you so a fast reel or heavier rod is not recommended.

How about line for the Ned Rig?

I recommend spooling up either fluorocarbon or braided line that is 10 lbs or lighter. This will allow you to achieve longer casts than using a heavier line since the bait is extremely lightweight.

Do you have a preference for jig head for the Z-Man TRD?

For the jig head I go back and forth between Z-Man Shroomz Jig heads and custom jig heads made by Jeff’s Bass Jigs. Weight sizes and colors vary based on the conditions I am fishing. If I will be fishing in water with no or slow current, I’ll use a lighter jig head. If I am fishing rapids or heavy currents for Smallmouth or Striped Bass, I use a heavier jig head to be able to get the bait to the bottom and bounce it along the rock bottom.

Are there other plastics you fish with the Ned Rig?

The Z-Man TRD is the only plastic I attach to my jig heads. The ElaZTech technology is unmatchable.

How important do you find color on the Ned Rig of the TRD and the jig head?

The action of the TRD is irresistible to many species of fish so colors don’t have as much play in them. I have used all the Z-Man TRD colors but my preferences would have to be Green Pumpkin Goby, California Craw, The Deal and White Lightening.

The jig head colors I prefer are Black and Green Pumpkin from Z-Man. I recently had Jeff from Jeff’s Bass Jigs pour and paint me some chartreuse jig heads that I plan to rig with white TRDs for Striped Bass.

Z-Man TRD Caught Smallmouth on the Shenandoah RiverWhat are your favorite Virginia waters to fish the Ned Rig for either smallmouth or largemouth bass?

My favorite Virginia water to fish the Ned Rig would most definitely be the Shenandoah River. I can have a quality and/or quantity day there hooking into not only smallmouth and largemouth bass but other species such as panfish and channel catfish! As mentioned earlier, the weight of the jig head depends on the current of the water. That’s the only thing I change on different bodies of water.

You don’t believe that the Ned Rig is only good for #s but also big fish as well. Why do you feel this way?

While most anglers believe the bigger the bait, the bigger the fish. In my experience, that is true but that doesn’t rule out that they go after smaller bait as well. Especially during certain times of the year or depths of water where they aren’t necessarily chasing bait.

They see this tasty morsel slowly bouncing on the bottom and strike it. Or if casted to a underwater structure and they see it drop while suspended under that structure, they will strike it. I’ve caught 4 plus pound fish using the Ned Rig on multiple occasions. I even saw a post on Facebook this fall of an angler catching a Northern Snakehead on a TRD.

You work with Vibe kayaks. What do you love about their kayaks? And why in your video of fishing the Shenandoah is there what I think is a pink pig in the back of the yak?

Vibe Kayaks has been around for about 5 years. While they are still new to the industry, they have made a name for theirselves. Our Seaghost 130 was voted #1 Fishing Kayak of the Year by Yak Angler this year.

Vibe offers a fleet of kayaks available to the public at affordable prices. Not everyone can go out and spend $1500 on a kayak and rig it with hundreds of dollars in more gear. The Seaghost comes stock with a rudder and a paddle, is extremely stable and comes in a 13 foot and 11 foot model. Vibe doesn’t only make exceptional kayaks, they also listen to the public. They will modify next year’s versions based on feedback and engage almost daily on the Facebook group for Vibe owners. Vibe also offers a lifetime guarantee on their products which the box stores don’t offer on theirs.

Ah, my pink pig. Some of my fellow kayak anglers were fishing along the James River…I couldn’t make this trip…and these stuffed pigs started showing up along the river. They all had one on their kayaks and it seemed appropriate as they were out “chasing hawgs”. My friend, Dennis, didn’t want me to feel left out so he bought me one. It’s my little good luck charm and goes with me on my kayak trips all the time!

Who are your other sponsors and what do you love about representing their products?

I am sponsored by Vibe Kayaks, Ardent Reels, Kistler Rods, Powerteam Lures and TRC Covers. I am a bit particular when choosing to represent a brand as all anglers should be. I believe in all the products these companies offer and use them every day! Vibe Kayaks will also hold a special place in my heart as they were my first sponsorship and have grown to be like family!

So if you are out fishing and see a fisherwoman in a Vibe kayak with a pink pig in the back casting the Z-Man TRD, my guess is that it is Priscilla Johnson. You can also follow her on Instagram @cillajohnsonfishing. She is an excellent representative for her sponsors and a true ambassador for our sport.

Read Another Dock Talk 365 Interview with an Angler who Loves a Ned Rig: Kayak Fishing Oneida Lake with Giuseppe Barbieri