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12 Ways To Fish A Worm

Part One – Bread and Butter Rigs




By Margie Anderson


May 7, 2009

There is an almost unlimited number of ways to fish plastic worms, but in this series of articles we’ll cover the how and where of fishing a dozen basic worm techniques. Bread and Butter Rigs will cover the three most basic techniques.  Second will be three ways to rig and fish swimming worms.  Three basic finesse rigs will be the subject of the third installment, and the final chapter will cover three different jig techniques for worms.

If you become proficient with these three techniques below, you can cover just about any type of structure at any depth.  Plastic worms are timeless bass baits because they flat catch fish.  They’re relatively cheap, come in an almost endless variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and can be fished from the surface to the bottom at any speed.  In short, a plastic worm is the perfect bait.


Texas Rig
As a fledgling bass fisherman, the most crucial skill to learn is fishing a Texas rig.  Once you develop the “feel” for a bite on a worm, you are on your way to becoming an intuitive angler.  A Texas-rigged worm can be fished anywhere, under any condition, but it excels in tight quarters.  Are you faced with thick weeks or submerged trees?  A Texas-rigged worm can slither between the plants and shimmy over branches, especially if you peg the sinker.  An un-pegged sinker gives you better feel, but when you are fishing the lure over a lot of obstacles, a pegged sinker will snag less. 

On Texas-rigged worms, the point of the hook is just inside the “skin” of the worm, so it doesn’t grab everything it passes over, yet it is still easy to set the hook.  Here are detailed instructions and photos on how to fashion a weedless Texas rig:

Texas-rigging a Worm
When you’re fishing cover like submerged trees or weeds, you’ll want the point of the hook to be just under the skin of the worm so that the rig is weedless, but easy to set.  To tie a Texas rig, simply slip a bullet sinker onto your line, pointed end away from the rod tip, and then tie on the hook. 

Worm and offset Worm Hook

Insert point of hook 1/4" into top of worm

Bring point through side of worm head

Twist hook around so point is toward worm

Pull hook down so eye is just outside head

Measure hook against worm and place finger and thumb on worm just where hook bend reaches.

Bend worm up and insert point into worm just above where fingers are.

Pierce worm straight across with hook

Worm should be straight with bend inside

Push worm up toward point of hook to create slack

Insert point just under surface of worm

Top view of skin-hooked Texas rig

Side view of skin-hooked Texas rig -- point is just inside worm -- makes it weedless but very easy to set when bit.


For a 7-inch worm, McCracken uses a 3/0 EWG Gamakatsu hook. It’s a good idea to size the hook according to the length and thickness of the worm – with finesse worms you’ll use a smaller, lighter hook and usually a lighter weight.  Most anglers prefer to use the lightest possible weight. 

In fact, the bigger the worm is, the lighter the weight you can get away with because the worm itself has quite a bit of weight to facilitate casting ease with a baitcaster.  Fishing a giant worm with an eighth-ounce sinker is a dynamite way to catch big bass in deep water.  

Cast the Texas rig out past the structure and give the line plenty of slack so the lure falls straight down.  If you keep the line taut, the worm will pendulum toward you and may miss the structure altogether.  Once it hits bottom, reel up the slack, then use the rod tip to move the worm a little.  Reel up the slack, keeping your thumb and forefinger on the line to detect any bites.  If you see the line move sideways or feel anything, including weightlessness, set the hook!  The bite will vary wildly – a fish may slam it and take off, peeling line off like mad, or he may simply pick it up and mouth it a little before spitting it out.  To be a really excellent worm fisherman, you need to concentrate so much on the worm that you can almost see what it is doing down there; feel it crawl over the rocks. 

When you drag a worm over an obstacle, give it slack so it falls straight down next to the tree or rock.  Shoving the rod forward while peeling off a bit of line works well, but don’t be tempted to push the button to let the line free-spool. If a big bass bites right then, you won’t be able to set the hook.  Fish tend to hold tight to structure. If you let the lure swing away from the structure they may not chase it.  Drop it on their noses, and be ready!

Carolina Rig
A Carolina rig is very much like a Texas rig, except the weight is positioned up the line away from the worm.   This allows the worm to float and dart up off the bottom.  Carolina rig weights are typically heavy and noisy.  They bump along the bottom and the worm darts forward when the weight is moved.  Stop the weight, and the worm bobs up (if it’s a floater) or begins to settle slowly to the bottom. 

A Carolina rig is great for covering a lot of territory, especially if you’re fishing deep.  Nothing covers a long point better than a Carolina-rigged worm.  Because the worm stays up off the bottom, the Carolina rig is also an excellent choice when fishing over submerged weedbeds.  The heavy weight penetrates to the bottom while the worm dances just above the weeds.

Since the weight can be as far as four feet (or more) away from the hook, casting a Carolina rig can be difficult.  For me, the best way is to hold your rod to one side and sling the rig out.  With a big weight (up to one ounce is common), the rig will sail way out there.  Let it drop on slack line so it falls straight down.  Once the weight is on the bottom, keep the rod out to the side.  Use the rod to move the line:  pull back on the rod, and then reel up the slack as you move the rod back to starting position.  Once the line is taut again, pull the rod back to move the rig again.  If it feels heavy, spongy, or different in any way, set the hook by sweeping back strongly while reeling like mad.

Since you are apt to have a lot of line out with a Carolina rig, a very long, stout rod and a high-speed reel are invaluable.   You have to be able to keep up with the fish or risk losing it.  Many anglers like stout fluorocarbon or braid for the main line because it doesn’t stretch.  Mono is better for the leader because it’s buoyancy allows the worm to float up better.

Wacky Style
Everyone calls this a wacky “worm” but truth is, most guys use a Senko when they’re fishing wacky style.  A Senko lends itself to this particular rig perfectly, because a wacky rig is simply a regular worm hook that is stuck right through the middle of the worm so that an equal length of plastic is hanging out from either side of the hook.  There is no weight.  A Senko has plenty of weight and an incredible action when fished wacky.  A kut-tail worm also works very well.

This technique is pretty easy, just cast the Wacky rig out and let it sink out of sight.  Twitching the rod tip causes the Senko to jump and wiggle a little, then sink back down with both ends flapping around like crazy.  The bass just can’t resist it.  Wacky rigs are dynamite around any kind of vertical cover – boat docks, stumps, submerged trees, pilings, etc.  If you have the patience, they are incredible baits to fish in deep channels and along bluffs. 

When you’re fishing a Wacky worm, keep your eye on the line.  Odds are you won’t feel much, but you’ll see your line twitch or move to the side or even go slack as the fish comes toward you with your worm in its mouth.  If snags are a bother, check out the weedless wacky hooks that look like bait hooks.  They practically set themselves.

Part Two