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How To Fish The Donkey Rig: The Most Fun Setup In Bass Fishing

The fall is the perfect time to start working one of our favorite, outside the box, innovative setups: The Donkey Rig. Essentially, the Donkey Rig is a dual-fluke setup used to imitate multiple shad on the run. It is made up of two leaders, two hooks and a pair swivels.

How To Set Up A Donkey Rig
donkey rig setup

One swivel goes to the end of the mainline, with an 8-12 inch leader tied to one of your hooks. The other swivel is tied to a 12 to 16 inch leader, and moves on it’s own up and down the leader line. This varied line length reduces twist, and is the basis of the erratic double-fluke action bass in the fall can’t resist.

Using bigger (4/0 or 5/0) hooks give a little added weight to allow you to cast past your target and reel back through, avoiding spooking finicky bass.

Donkey Rig Soft Plastic Choices
donkey rig soft plastics

When choosing flukes, also known as soft plastic jerkbaits, you can mix and match colors to find what’s working. Another tip to test is working in floating and sinking plastics. If one sinks and the other floats, the erratic action will get even wilder.

Try choosing lifelike shad colors to skip the rig under docks, where bass are feeding on schools of baitfish. Because of the bigger hooks you are using on this rig, opting for a bigger soft plastic is also a good choice. Color changing lures like the Smartbaits Mighty Minnow will adjust to water temperature and keep bass on their toes depending on the depths you are fishing.

How To Fish The Donkey Rig

donkey rig action

When bass are feeding at the surface and you’re swimming this rig through the surface, mix up your twitch/twitch/pause cadence until you start to produce bites. If bass are suspended and schooling, you’ll still want to fish the Donkey Rig like a regular jerkbait, mixing up your twitches and pauses, but allowing it to sink a few feet and working it back to the boat beneath the surface. Ben Milliken of Milliken Fishing gives some more tips on the Donkey Rig and other cold water tactics here:

“It’s absolutely one of the funniest ways of fishing. If you’re not catching any, you’ll amuse yourself the whole day because the action is so erratic and so different.” – Mark Menendez, creator of the Donkey Rig, via Bassmaster

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