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Worm Fishing Tips: 12 Pro Secrets You Need to Know

Fly fishing came into vogue in the early 20th century, and with it came the criticism of worm fishing: it was too easy. The debate was considered so important that in 1904, Atlantic Monthly published a feature article titled “Fishing With a Worm”. The author was the magazine’s editor, a prominent scholar named Bliss Perry, who advocated for worm fishing – catching trout in brush-choked streams, for example – and celebrated skill and sport that such an enterprise involved.

But the world of fishing has changed since Perry’s Alder-Tangled Brook Trout Stream. Like any other bait, the effectiveness of a worm depends on its presentation. HG “Tap” Tapply made this point almost half a century ago in one of his Field and flow Columns. “A worm is such a shapeless creature,” he wrote, “there doesn’t seem to be much a fisherman can do with it except hook it on a hook and throw it in the water.” But as Tap demonstrated, a fisherman can do a lot to make a worm more appealing. I’d like to think he would have approved of the following 12 tips for better worm fishing. I think you will too if you try them.

1. Add a Spinner or Bead to your Worm Fishing Rig

photo of spinner and beads for worm fishing
Add a small spinner and beads to draw a fish’s attention to your worm. Bass Pro Shops

The smaller the trout stream, the better the worms work is an axiom that has not changed in the more than 100 years since Perry wrote his article. Anglers of his day simply stuck their rickety fly rods into tangles of alder trees and dropped a weighted worm into a deep hole. Today most of us prefer spinning rods for such work, and to me a simple worm flipping in the current looks naked. A fingernail-sized spinner with a few red beads strung in front of your bait, makes the worm’s spinner irresistible to trout.

2. Know When to Go Small for Worm Fishing

There is some logic to using a big bait in hopes of rousing lethargic cold water fish. But water temperatures in the 30s and low 40s leave metabolic rates low, and fish nibble on the ends of worms and caterpillars. You will attract and catch more fish with a smaller bid. For trout, perch, and sunfish out of ice, try using half a garden worm. Even classic gluttons like bullheads might prefer leaner cooking when the wind is cold or the race is just getting started. A piece of night owl on a #2 hook makes a perfect snack for catfish.

3. Best Time of Day for Worm Fishing

Night owls aren’t generally considered the bait of choice for selective fish, but if the local trout stream or bass pond has you rated 3 wood, here’s a trick worth trying. Step out in the first light of day with ultralight spinning gear and launch a nightcrawler on a bare hook. Morning is prime feeding time, and the slow, weightless descent of the bait leaves 5 inches of protein wiggling in plain sight for quite a while. After making the plaster, keep the bail open and place the rod in a forked stick. The line will fall off the rod in slow loops as the worm settles in, but more often than not the slow loops will get fuzzy and the morning will suddenly get rather interesting.

4) The Best Jigs for Live Worms

photo of jigs for worm fishing
Dark colored jigs seem to work best when paired with a nightcrawler. Bass Pro Shops

When smallmouth bass scatter along rocks and weeds in their post-spawn funk, try turning to the enticing synergy of a combination of jigs and worms. You can fish deep and cover a lot of territory, and the crawler seems like the perfect touch for that transitional period, when the little mouths haven’t locked in their favorite fodder yet. The dark jigs – black, brown and purple – seem to match the color of the night owl. I usually use a whole ‘crawler, prefer the marabou dressing, and drop the rod for two or three seconds when I get hit.

5. Catch Brookies on Red Wigglers

Is their size 1-2 inches? Perhaps the fact that red wigglers frequent the wooded ground along the banks of brookie streams? Perhaps the tannin-tinged water enhances their coloring. Biologists call these little red worms Eisenia foetidabut generations of brook trout anglers would say the important thing is where to find them – in a pile of manure or leaves, under a log – and where to use them – wherever brook trout are wild and hungry. .

6. Go to the Bottom for Walleyes

Walleyes take a wide variety of worm fishing rigs in their range. Whether you’re dragging slowly or drifting with the current or the wind, one thing is certain: the sinker had better hit the bottom. And distinguishing the bottom from a bite can be tricky. The trick is to bring the upper back to the strike (maybe a foot) and feel the life at the end of the clamp line. If he is there, place the hook with a sweep rather than a jerk. Every once in a while you’ll find yourself hooked on those slow, hearty tugs and feel the weight of a beautiful walleye.

7. Worm Fishing Under a Bobber for Big Bass

Back then, no bigmouth angler worth their salt would go without a few floats in their tackle box. A bobber allowed for precise presentation, usually just above submerged weeds. Thus positioned, a nightcrawler has become deadly bait for the bass. The trick was (and is) to drift along a transition in weed height or density, dragging the worm behind the boat and using as little weight as possible and a quarter-sized float so the fish does not feel resistance when needed. the bait. Try it at first and last light. Full sun disperses largemouths and emboldens bluegills, which tear up floating caterpillars.

8. Spoon-Feed Trout with a Worm

picture of trout spoons
Replace the treble with a single hook on a Phoebe or Little Cleo spoon and add a garden worm. Bass Pro Shops

A spinner with a worm works great when trout are active. But on days when you need a slower presentation, consider using a spoon. Replace the treble hook with a swivel, a 2 foot leader (3 feet in clear, calm water) and a size 6 hook with a garden worm. The spoon adds a bit of weight to the cast and will float and flash much better on a slow drift than a spinner, which needs more speed to work. If you are fishing from the shore, try casting and retrieving with a stop and start action. This is an old Adirondack method for squaretail trout from a bygone era, but it still works anywhere spring trout feed along the shores.

Related: Seaguar Fishing Line Is Up to 50% Off Right Now.

9. Always Fish for Worms in Open Water

Cloudy water brings out the best in a worm. Perhaps the rain that causes the water level and turbidity to rise occasionally drives a worm into the stream or lake and increases the general interest of predators in them (although I don’t recall having already found a “wild” worm in the stomach of a fish). More likely, the murky water continues to feed fish concentrated on the bottom where your worm is likely to be. Worm-friendly species like bullhead, brown trout, and walleye tend to be productive feeders in low visibility. And unlike mirror-faced minnows, worms present these predators with a dark, solid form. So the next time the river promises to be a bit high, pick a few caterpillars from a garden or nearby golf greens the day before you set off. Chances are you’ll be glad you did.

10. Pinch a Thumb of Nightcrawler

When heavy walleyes move to large water banks in late summer, try chasing them with a bucktail jig and a 1-inch pinch of nightcrawler. The bait coats the tip of the hook, deflects weeds and provides a taste of prey. With nothing dangling or flapping, it stays secure no matter the current, casts or ambitious panfish. A “sweetener,” as the ancients called it, can make all the difference, not just to walleyes, but to the occasional muskellunge as well.

11. How to Drift a Worm the Right Way

Whether you’re wading or fishing from a boat, drifting worms are one of the best search strategies for large rivers. For trout, a 4-inch spade-dug garden worm is the right size; for bass, walleye and rainbow trout, a nightcrawler may be a better choice. The key is to drift the bait through the feeding and holding areas, as fish in the current will not chase the bait, as they might in calm water. Use just enough weight to tick off the rocks. Strikes will occur as a sharp thump rather than a pull or thump. Fishing the transitions: mouths of tributaries, bank layers and edges of large basins.

12. There’s no Shame in “Fly-Fishing” with Worms

Like the late Ed Zern, Field and flow‘s great comedian, once said: Fishermen are born honest but they get over it. His saying applies to a number of angling maneuvers, including the matter of adding a piece of worm to a wet fly. Maggot and worm are at their best in the whitewater pockets of late spring streams. Some anglers believe that certain patterns work better than others in this role – the woolly worm, black gnat, royal coachman and professor, among others – but personally I don’t think the type of fly matters. At this point, you’re not really fly fishing anyway.

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