If I could have only one type of lure in my tackle box for largemouth bass fishing there’s no doubt in my mind what it would be. I’ll take plastic worms every time. They are the most versatile in terms of the depths you can fish them in, the speed at which they can be retrieved, the type of cover in which they can be fished, and the array of colors and sizes in which they come. Add those things up and throw in the fact that they can be effective nearly every day of the year and you have my reasons. My guess is that plastic worms are responsible for more tournament wins and more fish caught than any other single style of lure.
The history of this tackle box staple is interesting and goes back at least to the last half of the 19th century but burst on the scene with astounding success in the early 1950’s with the advent of Nick Crème’s Wiggle Worm followed a short while later by Tom Mann’s Jelly Worm. From that point the industry boomed and spawned all kinds of new ideas. On today’s market you can find all manner of variations that include straight tailed worms, curly tailed worms, scented worms and colors across the spectrum.
In addition to the variety of baits that are available there are lots of different ways to rig worms to fit different situations. Some of the most popular are the Texas Rig, the Carolina Rig, a drop shot rig and a weightless rig. All of these are useful in certain situations and none are difficult to learn. If you have these four tricks in your bag catching bass can be much easier.
Let’s take a look at these four methods and keep in mind that there are fishermen who may take these same rigs and change them up a little to suit the conditions under which they are fishing.
The Texas Rig is one of the oldest methods but is still one of the best and is at its most effective in shallow to moderate water depths. Tie a small barrel swivel to the end of your line and then cut a leader of about eighteen inches and tie it off on the other end of the swivel. This cuts down on line twist that worms inevitably will cause. Once that is done select the size of bullet shaped lead you want and slip it on the line. The deeper you are going to fish the bigger the weight needs to be under most circumstances. Remember (as my mentor Steve Cisson always tells me) to use as small a weight as you can get away with. Water depth and wind conditions will dictate this more than anything else. Once you have done that just tie on a 2/0 or 3/0 hook (my favorite sizes) and rig your worm selection in a weedless fashion.
Another popular worm rig is Carolina style. This set-up is also easy to put together. First use at least a half ounce bullet weight or egg weight on your line then add a bead below it. Once that is done tie a barrel swivel on below it. The bead protects your knot from the lead that will be bouncing on it. Now add at least two feet of leader and tie on your hook. Add your plastic worm and again rig it to be weedless. This combination is at its best in deeper water and can be helpful in finding structure as well as fish. Most people use a longer rod with a Carolina Rig because you will typically have more line out and need the longer rod to make a strong set once you get a bite.
One of the simplest rigs is to go with no weight. This is typically a shallow water and heavy cover tactic. When I use this method my favorite is the trick worm. Zoom makes the best ones in my opinion (love that Bubblegum color). I’ve still got the barrel swivel tied on and the worm is hooked to make it weedless. You can cast this into any kind of shoreline cover or any shallow area that has structure like stumps or grass beds. That worm will just flutter down real slow and once it’s down a foot or two a simple twitch will make it jump and dart in a way that can be irresistible to bass. You will often get violent strikes using this rig but be ready to set the hook quick especially in heavy cover if you want to get him out of there.
The drop shot rig is one of the newest ways of presenting worms and other plastic baits. It’s probably the hottest one with tournament fishermen right now and it’s the one I have the least experience with. The pros say that this is their go to strategy when fishing is tough. Using a Palomar knot you tie your hook about eighteen inches above the end of the line and then add a weight to the end of your line. This results in a rig that has your bait riding above the bottom in either a weedless or non-weedless fashion as you choose. I have not seen barrel swivels in this set-up. Tying the knot is a key here and there are detailed instructions at www.bassresource.com/fishing/drop-shot.html as well as an illustration.
Regardless of the conditions or time of year, always have your worm rigs where you can get to them. They are not the only lures in your tackle box that will catch largemouth bass but they may be the most dependable day in and out.
If you have questions let me know. This article certainly doesn’t cover every aspect of worm fishing but it will help you get started and will give you some options for your next trip.
Alvin Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org