Spine-tingling topwater blow-ups, jaw-jacking shallow-water hook sets — yeah, that’s part of bass fishing. But this sport’s not all highlight-reel moments. But, then again, sometimes, something happens that sets the fishing world on fire.
Enter the Damiki Rig. It was the belle of the ball at a recent Bassmaster Elite Series event on Tennessee’s ultra-clear Lake Cherokee, and worth serious consideration on tough bites this spring. Similar to the “moping” technique used for suspended walleye, the Damiki rig is generally comprised of a jig head and a 3- to 3 1/2-inch fluke or shad style bait, like the Damiki Armor Shad from which the name originates.
Head styles may be arrow-shaped, like the Lake Erie-style; or round, like VMC’s Moon Eye jig. With any choice, the key is a 90-degree line tie, which ensures the horizontal alignment critical to this presentation’s deal-closing authenticity.
Essentially, this finesse rig mimics a small baitfish holding vulnerably in the water column. When bass — smallmouth, largemouth or spots — turn finicky, such easy meals are hard to refuse.
Elite pro Seth Feider calls the Damiki Rig’s a good bet in cold, clear and/or highly pressured fisheries where you might reach for a dropshot. A couple differences make the Damiki rig a better call and Feider first notes the ability to vertically target fish at any depth.
“It’s not that much different than drops-shotting, but it’s more effective on suspended fish,” Feider said. “If the fish are glued 1-2 feet off the bottom, I don’t know if it would be much different, but when the fish are 15 to 30 feet off the bottom, that’s when the Damiki rig shines.”
Also, the Damiki rig’s streamlined package allows more precise targeting to specific spots and, more importantly, to specific fish. Bass anglers call it “video gaming, where you literally watch your bait descend to specific fish. Taunting long enough often pushes finicky fish over the edge.
Dead-sticking a Damiki rig will tempt fish, but don’t hesitate to shake it like a dropshot. Feider found that keeping his bait about five feet above the fish helped weed out the window shoppers from the serious customers.
“It’s a very interactive way of fishing, especially off the graph,” Feider says. “You can really get a feel for what they’re doing. You can almost tell if they’re going to bite immediately. If you drop to them and they stay flat-lined, they don’t bite. Even the ones that come up to it, if they come up slow, they don’t bite.
“The ones that bite come up to the bait so fast that you actually feel the bite before you see them reach your bait on the graph. He’s coming faster than the sonar can translate it.”
You’ll want at least a few feet of clarity for fish to spot this do-nothing presentation. A little wind also helps by breaking up the surface and minimizing the fish-spooking presence of a boat parked overhead.
For particularly tough fish, try tight-lining the Damiki rig. Cast and let the bait pendulum through suspended fish. Gathering slack to keep the line straight effects the proper look.
With either presentation, use medium spinning tackle with 10-pound braid and 10-12 feet of 6- to 8-pound fluorocarbon leader. This setup offers the right blend of sensitivity and stealth.