My go-to bait for bass, no matter what pattern they’re in, is a plastic worm. Largemouth or smallmouth, lazy or aggressive, a worm has always been my most productive lure choice for bass. There are many different ways you can fish plastic worms, but let’s key in on the top four presentations that will get fish in the boat.
1. The Texas Rig
By far the most well-known way to fish a worm is the Texas rig. A simple composition of a bullet weight and an offset hook, the Texas rig keeps the worm in contact with the bottom and helps it move through weeds smoothly. It’s also a great option for targeted fishing of isolated cover such as timber.
Fish a Texas rig with short pulls of 6-12 inches, hopping the worm along the bottom and through cover. I prefer to use bullet weights between 1/4-3/8 ounces for a slower fall, but if you’re fishing heavy weeds, you may need to opt for a big 1/2 ounce weight.
2. The Carolina Rig
The Carolina rig is similar to the Texas rig, although there is a leader (typically 12-48 inches) following the weight that allows the worm to fall very slowly.
It also allows you to drag the worm across the bottom more quickly than a Texas rig and is a better option water conditions with less dense cover. A lot of anglers prefer to use this rig as a search strategy for fish in deeper water.
You can use a heavy sinker between1/2-1 ounce to effectively fish in depths over 15 feet. Some fluorocarbon line, like this line, is a great option for your leader due to its great clarity. Also, don’t forget to add the plastic bead, to the rig (seen above). This keeps the sliding weight from damaging your knot.
3. The Drop Shot Rig
The drop shot rig is a great choice if the bass you are fishing for are suspended (i.e. not hugging the bottom). Your worm will sit up higher on the line at a fixed depth of your choosing (my preference is somewhere between 12-20 inches). You’ll tie a size 1 or 1/0 straight shank hook onto your line using a Palomar knot.
Make sure the hook barb faces upwards towards the rod tip. Leave enough excess line to add your drop shot weight at the desired length. For most applications, use a weight between 1/4-1/2 ounce (although you can go a lot bigger if you’re fishing 40+ feet deep).
I like fishing this rig for deep smallmouths because I can easily fish it within a feeding school using a vertical presentation. Looking for schools of baitfish and bass on my fish finder, I’ll toss a drop shot rig over the side in 15+ foot depths. I usually shake it in a jigging motion and leave it to rest, periodically. Some anglers prefer to cast these rigs and drag them like Texas or Carolina rig. The versatility of the drop shot rig is one of its great strengths.
4. The Wacky Rig
As the name implies, this rig looks a little goofy. Simply hook a worm (typically a stick worm like a Senko) through its thickest part in the middle to allow the ends to dangle. This is crucial because it allows the ends to twitch as you retrieve it, mimicking a wounded baitfish.
The most common use of the wacky rig doesn’t add any weights, but if you’d like to fish a little deeper, find yourself some nail weights to stick in the ends. I prefer to use it in shallow water along the edge of cover around spawning time in the spring.
Twitch it very lightly in a repetitive way to mimic a struggling a baitfish and then let it fall for a second or two. Spawning bass are very observant of what’s going on above them and a wacky rig hangs nicely in their strike zone.
What’s your favorite way to rig a worm? Let us know in the comments below.