Skip to main content

Make It Happen With The Hover Rig

Make It Happen With The Hover Rig

It’s a familiar look with a different form; an innovative take on a proven fish-getter that accomplishes the same objectives, but with greater versatility.

It’s called the hover rig and if it reminds you of the Damiki rig (aka Moping), that’s the idea. Both presentations allow anglers to engage suspended fish with the enticing image of a vulnerable baitfish, and while Western pro Luke Johns fishes both, he appreciates the greater control his hover rig affords.

An effective deal-closer during the extremes of winter and summer, the hover rig also delivers anytime the fish are heavily pressured.

“When the fish are active and chasing, this is not the first rig I’m going to pick up,” Johns said. “But when it’s a tougher bite and the fish don’t want to chase anything, the hover rig can be very effective.

“Typically, bass fishermen like to cover water; we like moving baits, but with this rig you can just hang a bait in front of the fish’s face and keep it in the strike zone a lot longer than (most baits). It takes very little effort for them to actually eat it.”

Here’s the skinny.

Rig It Right

For comparison, we’ll start with the traditional deal. When he’s vertically dropping to difficult fish holding in the water column, Johns likes a Picasso Speed Drop jig. The key feature—a 90-degree line tie.

“When you’re dropping it straight down, your bait is hanging horizontally, whereas, if you have a line tie that’s too far forward on the jig head, your bait will be hanging at an angle,” he said.

While this typically heavier Damiki style rig gets down quickly to the fish, Johns finds it harder to maintain that perfectly horizontal posture on a long cast. When he’s making anything more than short pitches, Johns goes with the hover rig.

For this modified version, he uses a 1/0 to 3/0 Owner jig hook, also with a 90-degree line tie. Inserting the point into the bait’s back, about a 1/4- to 1/2-inch from the head, he’ll thread the hook through the bait and bring it out, so the line tie ends up flush with the bait.

Placing the hook behind the bait’s head allows room for a nail weight. He prefers tungsten, as he can achieve the desired weighting with a smaller form.

“Depending on water depth and how fast you’re trying to get your bait down, you can tweak that nail weight size,” he said. “I typically go with a 1/16-ounce.”

Recommended


Bait Bits

The hover rig setup works with a variety of minnow and fluke style baits, but Johns prefers the Yamamoto 5-inch Shad Shape Floater. Some like to present a hover rig near the bottom, but he typically uses this deal when he’s fishing higher in the water column.

“No matter what soft plastic you throw, you want it to be a floating formula,” he said. “You don’t want a heavy salt formula, or it will sink away at an angle.

“You want the bait as natural as possible, because baitfish won’t be sitting at a 45 degree angle. They’re going to be sitting horizontally and you want to match that.”<?p>

As for bait colors, Johns is all about matching the hatch. If he’s using the hover rig, it’s because fish are in the negative mood, so authenticity is the way to go.

Benefits & Considerations

While various companies are making specialized jig heads for this hover rig technique—some with weighted shanks—he prefers the nail weight option for its immediate diversity.

“The thing about Damiki rigging with the jighead is you’re stuck with certain sizes and you have a fixed hook, so you can’t (vary) where you’re rigging your bait,” he said. “When you’re using that jig hook, you can pick where you position in in your bait, and you can pick where you position the nail weight independently.

“Also, you can tweak your nail weight sizes a lot faster and easier, rather than cutting off a jighead and retying with another size. You can basically tweak your bait on the fly a lot more effectively with the hover rig.”

Another benefit he points to is the long-cast performance. When he’s launching his bait toward spooky fish, he finds his hover rig will more consistently maintain that ideal horizontal posture.

“When you twitch your rod tip, the hover rig has a back-and-forth shimmy and it almost hunts around on a longer cast,” he said. “With a Damiki rig, that traditional jighead doesn’t allow the freedom of movement through the water column.

“With the hover rig, you can make a long cast and work it effectively all the way back to the boat.”

He suggests experimenting with hook placement and nail weight size and positioning to create different actions. Just don’t overdo it, he said.

“When you start to move that hook around too much, you start to lose that horizontal presentation.”

Tackle Tips

Johns fishes his hover rig on a 7-foot medium to medium-light spinning rod with a 2500 reel and a braid-to-leader setup. An 8- to 10-pound main line will handle whatever he hooks, but it’s the terminal section that typically proves crucial.

“You want very finesse leader because this bait is hanging there for a long time, so the fish have plenty of opportunity to analyze it,” Johns said. “Leader size depends on water clarity and how active the fish are, so if they’re really pressured, I’ll use 6-pound fluorocarbon, but if I can get away with 8-pound, I’ll throw that.

“You’re using a light wire hook, so you don’t want too much pressure or you’ll straighten the hook. This is an easy rig with which to hook the fish. It’s similar to a dropshot or wacky rig; you don’t do a hookset, you just do a reel set.”

And that leads to Johns’ final piece of advice—line watching.

“Having a brightly colored braid helps a lot since you fish the bait on a semi-slack line,” he said. “This is helpful because it allows you to see the strikes that you can’t feel.”




GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Learn

3 SIMPLE and EASY Catfish Rigging Tips with Captain Ross Robertson

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Destinations

CATFISH FEVER!

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Learn

How To: Rigging for fall catfish

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Gear

The PERFECT Rod to Carolina Rig With G. Loomis GLX Bass Rods

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Destinations

In-Fisherman Classics: Stalking Giant Flatheads AFTER DARK

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Destinations

In-Fisherman Classics: Big Cat Safari - Finding Spring Channel Catfish

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Fishing

New Podcast! Life on the Lower Niagara River with Capt. Frank Campbell

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Learn

In-Fisherman Classics: Where to Find Post-spawn Walleyes

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Learn

In-Fisherman Classics: What Are the Top Walleye Baits Of ALL TIME?

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Destinations

In-Fisherman Classics: Big Mississippi Flatheads with Chris Winchester

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Learn

In-Fisherman Classics: Walleye Location Secrets

Smallmouth legend and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jay Pzrekurat talks about his two favorite smallmouth rigs from baits ...
Learn

TOP 2 Smallie Rigs with Jay Pzrekurat

In-Fisherman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top In-Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now