Before it was called the Wacky Rig, Twinking was a hard sell to most mainstream anglers. Photo 1979 May/June Bassmaster Magazine.

In today’s post, Wacky Rig or Twinking, we’ll take a look at possibly the first public notice of a rig that has become synonymous with finesse fishing over the last 25 years.  While doing my research for the 1979 Bassmaster Trail pieces that are currently posting, I ran across this piece in the Florida Invitational tournament reports.

As you might expect, I read a lot about bass fishing history.  I’d hate to guess how many books and magazines I’ve read over my life, especially in the last two years since researching material for this site.  Through all that material, I can honestly say I have never come across an earlier piece on what has become known as the wacky rig.

Touted as Rayle’s Rig in the article, published in the May/June 1979 issue of Bassmaster Magazine, the rendering cannot be mistaken as today’s wacky rig.  Although the secondary headline states, “Twinking: Yankee Style Wormin’,” if you read the article, it states that Brian Rayle, the guy who unveiled the rig at the Florida Invitational, was taught the rig by fellow New York basser Dan Stadler who was taught by a Florida guide some years before.

The effectiveness of the rig was proven not just at the 1979 Florida Invitational, where Rayle was able to catch fish behind his pros, finishing in the 17th spot, but also at the 1978 New York Invitational where Stadler placed 28th out of 207 competitors.  So why did it take so long for the Wacky Rig to gain popularity amongst mainstream bass anglers?

I think part of the answer is seen in the title of the article, “Rayle’s Rig Prompts Laughs.”  Bass anglers, especially back in the day, are creatures of habit.  If it’s not a Texas Rig or Carolina Rig, it won’t work, was the attitude.

Take, for example, how long it took for drop-shotting to become mainstream.  Anglers were first introduced to it in the 1970s by Rich Zaleski through Bassmaster Magazine.  The rig never made it past the magazine it was printed in.  Then western anglers were re-introduced to it at the U.S. Open in the early 90s when Japanese anglers used it to catch the super spooked fish of Lake Mead.  Only a few western anglers took notice, Aaron Martens being one of those anglers.

The Wacky Rig was the same way.  It looked too childish to be taken seriously.  The other thing working against it was the fact you must throw it on spinning gear – also known as sissy rods.  No died-in-the-wool bass angler would be caught with a spinning rod in their boat.  The rig died on the vine.

Possibly the first article done on the Wacky Rig, called "Twinking" back then, from the May/June 1979 issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

The rig was reborn again in the early 1990s when the Lindners talked about it on their In-Fisherman TV series.  Not only did they talk about the Wacky Rig’s effectiveness, but also described how to weight one end of the worm to give it a different action and make it cast easier.  Today that for of the rig is known as the Neko Rig.

Today you’re hard pressed not to find an angler without a rod rigged with some form of the Wacky Rig on it.  It only took 40-plus years for it to be accepted by the bass fishing masses.

Today’s anglers are more apt to try different rigging techniques than anglers of the past.  Chalk it up to the near-instant technology transfer of the internet and video hosting sites, or maybe we’ve just become more open minded.  Whatever the case, “Twinking” has finally become a non-laughable technique.