Michael Neal’s Setup for Damiki Rigs and Mid-Strolling

There is no doubt that utilizing forward-facing sonar with Damiki rigs and hover rigs has been the hottest technique in bass fishing over the past year. No matter the season, it has become a top technique across the country. Whether it is the Bassmaster Elite Series or MLF Bass Pro Tour, professional tournaments have been dominated with this technique.

At the first MLF Bass Pro Tour event of the 2024 season, a jig head/minnow combo was a factor for 9 of the top 10 anglers’ success. At the first Bassmaster Elite Series event of the 2024 season, that same technique was a factor for every top 10 angler. While some of the youngest anglers in the sport are excelling the most with these techniques and beating more seasoned anglers, BPT angler Michael Neal has made sure to learn all he can about this new technique.

He has had great success with Damiki rigs including a 3rd place finish at Cherokee and Douglas Lakes in 2023 and a 3rd place finish at Smith Lake in 2022. He also has used it in many of his high finishes in recent years. Success comes from having the right equipment, and Neal shares what setups he is now using for these techniques.

Michael Neal prefers a longer spinning rod when using Damiki rigs, specifically the Denali Kovert series 7’6” medium action multipurpose spinning rod. He believes the longer rod improves his casting distance for the smaller jigheads utilized in this technique. Once a fish is hooked, the extra rod length gives him better control over big fish when utilizing light line.  

For anglers who prefer shorter rods, he suggests the Denali Lithium Pro series 6’10” medium lite action finesse spinning rod. He spools his spinning reels up with a 10-pound test Sunline Overwatch braid tied to a 7-12-pound test Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon leader depending on the water clarity. He uses a short fluorocarbon leader to give his jighead better action. For his Damiki rig, he uses anywhere from a 1/8 to 3/8-ounce jig head paired with a 3–5-inch forked minnow-style bait depending on the size of the forage in the lake. He uses an 1/8-ounce head for fish shallower than 10 feet, a 1/4-ounce head for the 10–20-foot depth range, and a 3/8-ounce head for anything deeper than 20 feet.