"I make my own plastic worms in the 12- to 14-inch range," he says. "I make both straight and ribbon-tail versions and use the straight-tails when the bass want a lure that's moving really slowly."
When it comes to colors, Long keeps things simple.
"I like translucent colors in clear water, and my favorite clear water color is cinnamon neon blue. If the water's got more tint to it, I'll go with chocolate neon blue or chocolate with a blue vein."
Just as with the big stickworm, Long prefers to fish his plastic crawlers without any weight, though he occasionally opts for a 1/8-ounce sinker in extremely deep water.
"I 'pop' the worm a lot," he says of his retrieve. "I'll just lift it sharply and let it slowly fall back to the bottom. A lot of times I won't move it for five minutes. I think a bass can sense there's something going on with the bait because there's a line attached to it and a living being on the other end. I believe we transmit something through the line that makes that worm seem alive and triggers the bass."
Most of Long's worm fishing is done with a 5/0 Owner or Gamakatsu offset round bend hook that he bends very slightly inward — toward the shank. By reducing the "bite" of the hook, he's better able to keep the point inside the worm and away from cover that might dull it.
For more on how Mike Long uses big worms to catch trophy bass, check out this video.
If you think the first job of a trophy angler is to remove every last possible piece of terminal tackle from the presentation equation, then Mike Long's attitude will surprise you.
"I use a lot of black duo lock snaps with all kinds of baits," he says. "I don't like them for jigs or plastic worms, but for baits that trigger a reaction strike they're great and save you time and line."
A surprising amount of Long's fishing is done on remote waters that require him to hike or bicycle in. For those waters, tackle is at a premium and he may have only one or two rods and reels with him. Changing out lures quickly to fit an immediate need is essential, and a snap is the ultimate in convenience. They also save line.
"It's easy to tie a Palomar knot around a snap and waste very little line — maybe just an inch or two," he says. "If you try to do the same thing around a big swimbait, you might lose a foot or more each time you re-tie."