Fisherman’s Handbook: Pro-Angler Wade Middleton Talks Up Benefits of Shaky Head Bait

by Jon D. B.

“The shaky head! How many fish has a shaky head caught?” Middleton begins. For PursuitUp and Bass Pro Shop’s Fisherman’s Handbook series, pro-angler Wade Middleton cites the many benefits of rigging up good ol’ shaky head bait.

As Wade will tell you: “There’s literally thousands of combinations on the hook and ball that make up a shaky head out there. You’ll see them pointed, round, squared, and different things.”

From “big hooks to little hooks,” the shaky head rig is a time-tested angler’s favorite. The setup gets its name from the way in which we work this rig: shaking the rod tip. As Outsiders know, this jerking movement will make the bait (typically a worm-type lure) “shake” and mimic the movements of a living creature underwater.

As Middleton cites, it’s a subtle movement that both appears natural and brings in the bass. Whether fishing with “Mega shaky heads, as some people call them, or little bitty light wire ones,” Wade stands by the shaky head as an all-time favorite rig.

The pro-angler is far from alone in his appreciation of this old-school bait, too. The shaky head is an immensely popular worm rig which most anglers utilize via a synthetic worm rigged onto a jig-head hook. It may not be the most sophisticated setup in your arsenal – but it may prove the most effective by far for bass fishing.

WATCH: The Shaky Head is ‘Just a Presentation that Works’

“It’s just a presentation that works,” Wade continues for his Fisherman’s Handbook series. “It’s kind of, in my opinion, an offshoot of the Texas rig, in a way. You’re putting it on there, you’re threading the bait on, and then you’re taking the hook and mostly [bearing the hook] to throw it out there with that weight.”

“You’re trying to get it, whether it’s shallow, mid-depth or deep-depth presentation, you’re getting it into a strike-zone and leaving it there,” Wade adds. “That’s not to say you don’t get some bites on the fall, because you most definitely do,” he laughs. “Especially around brush or around docks.”

The shaky head really shines, though, “when you’re just out there pullin’ it or shakin’ it on the bottom. It just generates a lot of bites!”

For anglers, the most popular of these rigs tend to be either a keeper or screw lock setup. Weedless rigs, however, will always come down to preference. Every bait and lure company, big or small, has their own version of the shaky out there. But no matter which you choose, the presentation is the same: weighted head leading a long, squirmy body.

In the end, the moral of the story is that there’s few more proven bass fishing rigs out there than a good ol’ shaky head.