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Worm Fishing 101

By Katie Sloan
In Bayou Outdoors
Aug 28th, 2017

The old saying that there is “more than one way to skin a cat” could not be more true when it comes to fishing.  If you talk to 100 anglers, you will get 100 different perceptions on what is the go-to bait or lure in the summertime.  We all have our preferences but one thing shows the “proof is in the pudding.”

I recently made a late afternoon trip to a honey hole of mine.  I have fished this area hundreds of time and find myself reaching for the same trusty presentation.  On this day, I decided to change it up and try some alternative presentations.  To my surprise, I had one of the best afternoons ever as I landed 19 bass and never moved my boat.  I returned the next day and expanded my area and landed 26.  All on lures I have fished my whole life:  A Texas rigged worm, a Wobblehead and a whacky worm.

Years ago, there were basically two rigs for worm fishing.  There was the standard Texas rigged worm where the worm weight is tied directly above the hook and fished on the bottom.   Problem is bass don’t always hang right at the bottom.  So somebody on the east coast figured out that if you put the weight a distance above the worm and hook, and use a light plastic worm, you can catch fish suspended above the bottom.  It is called a Carolina Rig.  This rig is very popular in deep lakes that have either standing grass, structure or ledges.  It is a great lure for finding brush tops and the options are endless when it comes to lure selection.

Then there is the whacky worm.  It was named this as the inventor also had a line of worms that just looked “whacky” when pulled through the water.  This presentation can be done with a straight worm, Senko or any “do nothing” worm. The worm is hooked in the middle, and when retrieved, it looks like a creature “crawling” through the water.  When you add a worm weight (or a paneling nail) to one end of the worm, the worm will dive when the retrieve is stopped.  This is great for bedding fish as you can literally jig this lure up and down in the same spot which drives them crazy.

My all time favorite hot summertime lure is a Wobblehead.  I have fished this lure since the early days when it was made by Cotton Cordell.  The only problem then was the hook would not stay in place.  This was remedied when Mike Savage from Monroe bought the Company

and replaced the rivet that held the hook with a new system that works really well.  A Wobblehead is not hard to fish.  It is a chunk and wind lure as long as you have the worm hooked correctly and have a reel with the right ratio for speed control.  You can overfish the lure which makes it spin.

I won’t get into the other variations of worm fishing, but I will back up and give you some tips on how to fish these worm techniques and have good results.

With a Texas worm, the biggest issue is that most anglers try to fish it way too fast.  If you have a reel with a 6.3 to 1 ratio, remember that the lure moves 6.3 inches every time you wind the reel.  The faster the reel, the more the lure moves.  Texas rigged worms are fished with the ROD….not the reel.  The reel is simply to keep a tight line and for a hook set and retrieve.  Cast the worm, let it fall to the bottom.  Keep your rod at the 12 o’clock position.  Drop to 6 o’clock (on a tight line) and raise SLOWLY back to the 12 position and steadily wind up the slack.  When you feel a bite, drop the rod back to the 6 position and set the hook straight up while winding.  For this rig, I like a 4.0 or 5.0 off set hook.

With a Carolina rig, my preference (being right handed) is to cast and put the butt of the rod on my right side.  I then retrieve with a slow sweeping motion to my right.  The hook set is a sweep to the right as I wind hard.  I do this as I have found that setting a hook on a Carolina rig straight up can cause a whipping action on the hook.  This can pull the hook away from the fish.  By keeping the action in a straight line, I don’t lose as many fish.  For this rig, I use an Owner 2.0 or 3.0 offset hook.

The Whacky Worm is a very easy worm to fish.  The same method we used for the Texas rig applies here with one exception.  I start at the 12 position and only go down to the 10 o’clock position while constantly twitching the rod tip.  Strikes are usually a hard, vicious strike or many times they will pick it up and swim to the side with it.  A high speed ratio reel is needed here as they love a whacky worm in the summertime and will hit it and take off.  I catch a lot of them that pick it up and swim straight at the boat.

Wobblehead fishing is not hard at all.  You can catch a how-to video on YouTube by typing in Wobblehead or my name.  This video was made in 1996 for Bass Pro Shops and will show you exactly how to fish it from A-Z.   I would recommend a 5.4 to 1 ratio reel, 12 pound test line and a good worm rod.  There is no fun like Wobblehead fishing.  Remember to find the grass and fish the edge.  It is not made for fishing around heavy structure as it will hang up in mid air.  The lure tends to roll over when it hits structure but the payoff is big bass and lots of them.

The secret to any worm fishing is simple:  Fish slow, then slow down.

Don’t waste some prime fishing time by laying up in the air conditioning because it is hot.  The day I caught these beauties were the days where we had over a 100 degree heat index.  I assure you that if you will try these tips, you will find success.  Remember to hydrate, wear sunscreen and always wear a life jacket when you are running the big motor.  Good luck and I’ll see you on the water.

Article by Dan Chason