The versatile IKA- Dan Wells
At first glance the Ika looks like a do nothing skirted hula grub that has had the tails ripped off. But in actuality the Ika is one of the most versatile soft baits ever created! Even with the standard rigging technique of weed lees Texas style the bait will catch fish. However it’s the many different ways of rigging the Ika that truly makes the bait amazing.
I personally prefer three different rigging techniques for the Ika and each one has a time and place but also I adjust the size of the bait first to match my conditions and the species of bass I am currently hunting. As with any soft plastic bait I select colors to match the hatch of what I feel the bass are currently feeding on, but because of the slow fall that the Ika has it can imitate much more than just crawfish on the bottom.
Color and size-
Color is simple! If I am fishing the Ika around docks, grass or anything else where I feel there are a lot of Blue gill I will use a color like Green Pumpkin w/large black flake (297) and maybe color a 1/8” of the bait chartreuse to imitate a blue gills tail. When fishing the bait on or near the bottom I choose colors like Blk/red flake or Watermelon with blk/red flake(208)to imitate a crawfish, and when fishing the bait for schooling fish or fish busting on shad I like smoke with large silver flake(135).
Size is also simple, match the size of the bait present! Remember that early in the spring most bait fish are a lot smaller then they will be in the fall after a summer of growing. So if you have no visible forage to match and its early in the year I would start with 3” Ika and then progress to the 5” big Ika in the fall. And of course if you are primarily fishing for big large mouth stick with the 5” and if you are fishing in a lake dominated by spotted bass the 3” is my main choice.
The Ika’s unique shape allow it to do many things and be rigged many ways, these are the three stand bye’s for me, but remember to always experiment and find new rigging methods that works for you.
The Neko rig is essentially wacky rigging a soft plastic in the center and then weighting one end with a nail or screw in style weight. Out west we have been doing it for years with a senko but the Ika is just as deadly when Neko rigged. Start by using an O-ring tool to slide a rubber O-ring keeper on to the mid section of the bait. Next Insert your nail or screw in style weight into the non skirted end of the Ika, now choose a good finesse hook with a large gap and hook it between the Ika’s body and the rubber O-ring hook point facing up and now you have a Neko rigged Ika.
The great thing about this rigging method is when you are shaking and hoping it on the bottom the weight in the nose and the shape of the Ika will cause the bait to fall away from you and then resting nose down on the bottom. Also the skirted end of the Ika sticking up creates a lot action without having to move it far from the fish!
Finesse is the key with the Neko rig, don’t over power the action. Let the Ika sit there and give it little pops and twitch’s, the skirt will do the work and get finicky fish to bite.
When most people rig an Ika weightless Texas style they insert the hook point through the non skirted side first, I really like to rig it “up side down”. If you Texas rig the Ika inserting the hook point through the skirted end first so the bait appears upside down it will fall slowly away from you. Having the bait falling away from you can be very use full while skipping docks, pitching to weed lines or other forms of cover. It’s one more little trick to get your bait just a bit further back into the cover where others don’t. When you rig the Ika reverse Texas like this you have just created one of the best baits there is to skip with. Take advantage of it. The weight and shape of the Ika make it very easy to skip for great distances and there are a lot of fish way behind the cover that don’t see many lures and they sure don’t see many Ika’s.
If you are having some trouble skipping the Ika under docks using a casting set up, a good tip would be try skipping the bait on a good spinning rod. Get a good spinning reel spooled with either braided line or 15lb-20lb mono and a Dobyns 704SF spinning rod, this set up is very user friendly simply because you can really load the tip and put some power into the cast without having to worry about a backlash from a casting reel.
Rigging the Ika reverse can also be great for bedding fish because when you shake, twitch and hop the bait it will want to fall back into the nest aggravating the bass even more. Just switch to a color like red or chartreuse that is easier for you to see and your ready to sight fish!
Not many people look at the Ika as a heavy cover flipping bait, but I promise its one of the best! The design of the bait alone makes it great for heavy cover simply because it slips through the “junk” very easily. The fat body shape and not having appendages allows the Ika to slip right through cover that other baits would get tangled up in.
I do prefer the 4” Fat Ika for punching the heavy cover because it is a compact bait that still keeps a healthy profile. When rigging the Ika for flipping/punching I do rig it normally by having the skirted end at the bottom. The skirt at the bottom does create a better action while flipping because when the bait crash’s into the bottom the skirt flares and also when you pull the bait up just beneath the canopy and shake it, the skirt really undulates and creates a lot of movement. Remember when flipping the Ika into heavy cover for big fish to be prepared with the right equipment! 1oz – 1.5oz pegged weight, 4/0 heavy wire flip hook, 65lb-80lb braided line, 7:1 gear ratio reel and a Dobyns 805 Flip/punch rod! With this set up and a 4” Fat Ika, I fear no cover and no fish!
Hopefully now you see that the “do nothing” Ika, is really a “do a lot of everything fish catching machine”! Good Luck!