Patience, preference key when fishing with worms

Photo Provided
Aaron LaGrange poses with a large bass that he caught with a plastic worm.

Column by Larry LaGrange

My last column talked about fishing plastic worms correctly. They have to be the number one bass lure of all time, probably because they look like something most fish love to eat.

First, get the right rod. I like a six and a half to seven-foot high quality, soft tip rod with good backbone. Use the rod to move the lure. Go from the ten o’clock position to nearly twelve very slowly. This is the biggest mistake I see other anglers make. When the strike comes, their rods are too low and the fish feels the resistance.

Result — the fish feels the pressure and drops the bait. Do it right - keep the rod high, and when you feel the tick or thump, lower the rod, reel up the slack quickly, and set the hook powerfully. Don’t get into a feeling contest with the fish. If it’s of any size, the bass has inhaled the bait.

Next, use the right hook for the worm. Again, don’t get stingy: buy the best hooks you can find. Usually a 2/0 is good, but smaller or bigger could be better. I have used weedless hooks with the wire guard in some situations, but I prefer the Texas rig, which involves the hook embedded into the worm. Use large gap hooks for better results in driving through the worm into the fish’s jaw. Red hooks might make some difference. Use the smallest slip sinker possible for the depth you’re fishing. If you can get by with no weight when fish are shallow, this is a fun way to catch bass. It’s also easier to detect strikes with no sinker.

Be very precise when you run the hook into the worm. Come down about a quarter inch into the head, turn the hook, crimp the worm slightly, and insert the hook so that it penetrates the plastic and comes out the other side in skin hook fashion. Then you don’t have to drive the hook through the worm on the set. Check your bait often to see that the hook is staying put. On flat tail worms, the lure should glide. On curly tails, you need to run the hook exactly into the worm’s seam so that it runs straight. A twisty worm results in fewer bites and twisted line.

The right worm is a matter of preference. I’m partial to Producto flat tails, Culprit curlies, and Shim-e-Stik straight tails. Size does matter. One of my biggest bass ever came on a worm I had pinched down to about four inches. The most fun you can have with a large worm is throwing it as an unweighted surface bait. When you get a hit on this rig, hookups can be better than with a frog or even a buzzbait. Just wait about three or four seconds after the big boil before you set the hook. Make sure the fish is there. Sometimes it seems fish roll on the bait without taking it right away. If you set too quickly, you’ll miss and jerk the worm away from the fish. It’s unlikely you’ll get it to hit again. A different soft plastic lure, like a creature bait or a different worm, might get that second bite if you’re quick. This is a benefit of having two rigged rods handy.

Slow down, and then slow down some more, and focus. In worm fishing, you can’t be doing much of anything else besides concentrating on the lure and the feel. When I’m with a good bass fisherman, we don’t talk much. Tell yourself that a nice largemouth is studying the bait, trying to decide if it’s real. Pause and let the worm soak at times. It will still be doing gyrations on the bottom even when you’re not moving it, and sometimes that’s what it takes to get strikes. Often I have made a cast and gotten a backlash, or reached over to get a drink or whatever, only to come back to the cast with a fish on.

On the other hand, nothing’s guaranteed in bass fishing. About a month ago a friend and I were fishing a lake that has nice bass, but little was happening until he tried a buzzbait late in the day. I told him I would catch them just as well on a floating worm and would probably get a bigger fish, but that didn’t happen. He continued to get strikes on the noisy buzzer while nothing disturbed my large flat tail worm snaking along the top. I finally switched to a buzzbait and caught one three pound bass, and I was happy to get that one. On another trip, my son caught five bass each better than four pounds on a pearl Berkley Realistrix swimbait. I caught only little guys on the worm.

What was that commercial years ago: “Try it, you’ll like it”? The plastic worm is not a chunk and wind deal that you can mindlessly throw and retrieve. It takes awareness, patience, and a good touch. If you give it a fair try, you will have success in time, and all good things take time.

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