The Damiki Rig is an incredible technique for catching COLD water bass! In this blog post, I’m breaking down the basics of the Damiki Rig, and how effective it is for cold water bass. If watching is more of your thing, jump to the bottom of the post to watch our Damiki Rig Bass Fishing Quick Tips video instead!

For those that are willing to brave the cold, bass fishing in northeastern waters late in the season can be well worth the effort. The bass may slow down, but they don’t shut off. If you can practice the highest level of patience, the time spent will be well worth the effort! Even if you have to deal with snow and ice to make it happen.

There are a number of techniques that excel at catching numbers AND quality for cold water bass. We already covered blade baits pretty extensively in the first blog from Dennis Hart. But what about when the bass aren’t exactly feeding down, and you still need to keep things slow? Enter the Damiki Rig. The other cold water bass slayer. 

What Is A Damiki Rig?

The Damiki Rig is a jig head with a 90 degree line tie rigged with a small minnow type bait. A typical setup uses a 1/4 oz ball jig, rigged with a 3″ long bait. Simple enough, right? The beauty in this technique is the utmost simplicity in the setup. Any jig head with a 90 degree line tie – where the hook eyelet is at 90 degrees to the hook shank – will suffice.

Damiki Rig Magic Flick
This exact Damiki Rig setup with a Beast Coast Fishing Magic Flick in Bank Roll has already put several 4+ lb smallmouth in the boat over the last 4 weeks! Battle scars are just as pretty as a new bait.

How To Fish A Damiki Rig

The most common method for fishing a Damiki rig is to fish it vertically, similar to how most fish a drop shot. When you see a fish on your sonar, drop the bait down and stop it ABOVE the fish. This is the most critical aspect of what makes fishing a Damiki Rig successful. You’re not bringing the bait to the fish. Rather, you’re offering an easy meal without smashing them in the face with it. This subtle finesse approach gives the fish plenty of time to see the bait, pick it’s position to attack from, and eventually eat.

How far above the fish you stop and hold the bait requires some experimentation. In warmer weather conditions, bass are a lot more aggressive. They will come up from about 30 feet below the bait to inhale immediately. In colder weather conditions like we are facing now, holding the bait 5-10 feet above the fish is a great starting point. It’s close enough that they don’t have to expend a lot of energy to get it, but not so close that you spook them away.

What Do You Do Next?

When the bait is down, just stop. Do nothing. Hold your bait steady, and that’s all that is needed for the vast majority of situations. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it really is that simple. This is an ultra finesse approach to catching fickle bass that are looking for a small, easy to snag meal. Just presenting the profile in the right color combination is all that is needed. The real magic comes in the pause…

Early in this post, I mentioned fishing with the highest level of patience. This wasn’t an exaggeration. To get the most out of the Damiki Rig, you have to hold the bait in position for long stretches. You will be stuck standing there, elbow locked, anywhere from 10 to 90 seconds – or even longer – until a bass will commit and bite. I have watched one fish circle a bait 6 times for a total of 93 seconds after I stopped the bait before finally eating it, but when she did, she THUMPED it. 

Damiki Rig smallmouth
Two beautiful late November smallmouth on the Damiki Rig! Caught by author & site owner Sean Snover in Vermont.

What If The Bass Follow, But Don’t Bite?

While watching your sonar, if the fish are coming close to the bait – but not getting right on it – this is where the experimentation comes in. First, start with adjusting the distance you stop the bait above the fish. I have been having incredible luck with the bait 5 feet above the bass recently. If I can’t get them to close on it, I will bring the bait up to 10 feet above their head. That increased distance is usually the difference maker.

If that doesn’t work, then when the bass gets very close to the bait, I will very SLOWLY raise the bait, pulling it away from the bass. By slow, I mean moving it up 1 foot in about 10 seconds. To me, this creates the look of a fleeing but very weak bait fish. More often than not, this helps to push a fickle bass into committing to eating the bait.

Feeling The Damiki Rig Bite

You may be surprised to hear that most bites on a Damiki Rig are a jarring THUMP. Think a jig or spinnerbait bite. When a bass commits to eating the Damiki Rig, they don’t just bite it, they inhale it. A short strike is easier to detect on this technique, where you can feel a more subtle bump from the bass biting the tail of your bait. If you feel that, it’s a gamble on attempting to set the hook. From recent experience, the light bumps are just that, and setting the hook too early results in nothing but a missed opportunity. Hold steady and wait for the elbow jarring thump before setting the hook!

My Preferred Damiki Rig Jighead

My go-to jig is the Free Style Jig Head from Lead Free Bass Jigs, in ⅜ oz with a 2/0 hook. They are offered in a variety of weights, as well as hook sizes from 1/0 to 3/0. The 2/0 hook is ideal as it works well with baits that range from 2.5 inches up to 4 inches in length. That one hook covers a LOT of options. But again, any good quality jig with a nice bait keeper and 90 degree line tie will work fine.

The lighter the jig head you can get away with, the better when it comes to cold water fishing. Slow is the way to go! If you can effectively work a light jig head in deep water, always aim for the lowest weight possible. On windier days when I’m targeting fish in 40 feet of water or deeper, I will start with a ⅜ oz weight, and go lighter from there as needed.

Damiki Rig Jighead
The Free Style Jig Head from Lead Free Bass Jigs

My Go-to Damiki Rig Baits

For baits, my first choice will always be the Magic Flick from Beast Coast Fishing. This bait is incredible on so many different techniques, it should come as no surprise I utilize it for my Damiki Rig. The Magic Flick comes in two sizes, but I stick with the original 3.5 inch length for this technique. I always aim to match the hatch first before experimenting with more natural colors. In the northeast, it’s hard to beat Bank Roll, The Truth and JG’s Dirty Perch for your top color choices. Bank Roll and The Truth work exceptionally well in lakes loaded with shiners and smelt. And JG’s Dirty Perch is a dead ringer for the perch eaters.

There are many other excellent bait choices as well. For the budget minded, the Zoom Super Fluke Jr. and Tiny Fluke are great value baits that excel on the Damiki Rig. Additional options on the higher price end are the Megabass Hazedong Shad, and the Keitech Easy Shiner. All of these baits come in a myriad choice of colors and sizes, but it’s easiest to match the hatch of your favorite fishery. Be prepared with multiple color choices until you dial in what they’re feeding on!

The Magic Flick in Bank Roll from Beast Coast Fishing is a phenomenal choice for clear water!

Damiki Rig Gear Choices

As the Damiki Rig tends to excel with lighter weight, this technique does require lighter duty gear to get the most out of it. A spinning rod setup using a 6.5 to 7.5 foot long Medium-Light to Medium power rod is perfect for such a light presentation. When the air temps drop below freezing, braid to a fluorocarbon leader can be difficult to manage. The braid tends to freeze and can become somewhat stuck in your reel.

I only use braid to fluorocarbon leader on my spinning rods. But, if air temperatures drop below freezing, I will tie on an 80 foot long leader of 8-lb test fluorocarbon. This way I don’t waste any braid and I don’t have to worry about line freezing in my reel. The longer leader makes for smoother & faster drops when I mark a fish, and I want to get down fast. There’s a lot of leeway in what you can choose here, so pick something ideal for vertically dropping light weights!

Parting Thoughts

For such a simple technique, it really is amazing the quality of bass that it is capable of catching. Just recently, we caught five smallmouth bass on the Damiki Rig that went well over 4 lbs. One of those was just under 5 lbs too, at a hefty 4.86 lbs. It does require a level of patience that most anglers simply don’t possess, but I can promise you, the effort is well worth the time spent. It’s not easy catching bass of any kind this late in the year in the northeast. But the Damiki Rig certainly does make it easier. 

If watching is more your style, then check out our Damiki Rig Bass Fishing Quick Tips video below! In it, I break down the basics on this amazing technique!

As always, thank you all very much for your continued support! If you found the article and/or video helpful, please share it! Anywhere and everywhere helps. Tight lines, and good luck out there!

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Jason Huberty
Jason Huberty
2 years ago

great stuff Sean!

Gordie
2 years ago

Great job explaining the bait and the technique Sean!

Mike
Mike
1 year ago

I need to learn the Damiki rig this winter

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