Tucker says the floating worm shines during the times surrounding the spawn, but he is quick to point out that bass react differently to the offering during each of the three phases: prespawn, spawn and postspawn. During the prespawn and when bass are bedding, the Missouri pro often rigs his floating worm wacky style, with the hook impaled through the middle of the worm. With a wacky rig, he can slowly twitch and shake the worm to entice strikes because the bass are less likely to chase a fast moving bait.
Postspawn is when Tucker says the floating worm shines. "Once the bass lay their eggs, I'll Texas rig the floating worm and work it more like a jerkbait," he explains. "The bass must think the worm is something chasing after fry." In both cases, pre- and postspawn, Tucker believes the floating worm generates reaction bites.
In the postspawn, bass also strike the offering out of defense. For this reason, he uses the floating worm during the postspawn as a way to locate aggressive bass. "If I'm throwing a floating worm and working it erratically, it will pull the fish off of the bed and show me where it is located," he says. "A lot of times the bass won't bite the floating worm but it will come out and look at it."
Once he has identified where the bass is located, Tucker will change to a bottom bait to catch the bass. In today's soft plastic market, there is an increased emphasis on natural and realistic colors. Tucker, however, believes outlandish colors like merthiolate, bubble gum, banana and orange swirl can outproduce natural hues. "Certain colors flash more, and that generates a reaction bite," he explains. "Plus, with a bright color, I can see it better in the water." While the bass tend to react more to bright colors, Tucker isn't afraid to throw green pumpkin or watermelon colored floating worms if their brighter counterparts are not producing. "There have been times when the bass wouldn't look at a bright color but would absolutely hammer a natural color," he allows.
Tucker fishes floating worms with a small swivel added approximately a foot in front of the hook. The swivel reduces line twist and also allows him to use a heavier leader if the bass are inhaling the offering.
During the Elite Series stop on Smith Mountain Lake, where Tucker finished in the Top 25, the heavier leader was key to landing postspawn bass on the floating worm. "At Smith Mountain I dropped down to 6-pound-test line with 8-pound test for my leader," he explains. "When a big fish inhales that worm, it will break your line with 6-pound test. That extra abrasion-resistance with the 8-pound leader allowed me to really lean into the bigger ones without breaking off."
When ultraclear water doesn't require a light line presentation, Tucker spools 8- to 10-pound-test fluorocarbon on his reel paired with an American Rodsmith Megastrike 6-foot, 9-inch spinning rod. The fast tip and strong backbone of the rod allows him to achieve solid hook sets with the Gamakatsu Superline hook he prefers to use with the floating worm. "Even with the light line, I don't use a light wire hook because I don't want the shank to flex," he says. "The key is that you want the bass to load up on the bait before you set the hook."