Hackney: Remember the mighty worm

I’m asked from time to time about worm fishing. It’s an exciting topic and one I really like to talk about because worms are one of the most versatile, if not the most versatile, bait in your tackle box. That’s especially true when the water’s warm.

You don’t hear so much about worms these days. I suppose that’s because they’re somewhat old-school. That doesn’t matter to the fish, though. Most of them out there have never seen a plastic worm. That’s a good thing. It means they’ll bite it when they do see it.

A good place to start is the Texas rig. I’d guess it’s accounted for more bass in the livewell than any other lure out there. One of the best professional bass fishermen ever, Larry Nixon, used it to win a ton of tournaments and countless dollars. I haven’t seen Larry in a while, but the last time I did he was still using it and the bass were still biting it.

It’s a simple and inexpensive rig, too. The most important thing is to make sure the worm hangs straight and that the hook is perfectly aligned from where it goes in and out of the plastic. The easiest way to do that is to measure off the seam where the worm was poured. If you don’t do that, you’ll have horrible line twist.

Another great thing about a Texas rigged worm is that you can fish it anywhere. It’s totally weedless. When I fish one I usually try to target heavy cover but that’s certainly not your only option. Bare flats, rock, sand, gravel and underwater structure are also good places — deep or shallow.

To be honest with you I don’t throw one as much as I once did. That’s because of the realities of professional bass fishing. Worms are good for numbers. In a tournament I’m looking for five big fish. But, when I am looking for numbers I definitely toss out a Texas rigged worm.

Another great way to fish a worm is put a small worm weight up front, Texas rig a hook in its nose, and work it like a crankbait. This is especially effective when the water’s hot and the fish are shallow.

I fished that rig early in my career when most of my tournaments were in the South and had great success with it. I’d hate to say how many bass I’ve caught swimming one alongside a log. Try it this summer on your home waters. You’ll be surprised at how effective it can be at times.

Another great way to fish a worm is weightless, on top. Just put a hook in it and snake it over the top of anything you can find that looks like it might hold a bass.

Don’t forget about the wacky rig, either. It might not always catch giants but it’ll put a few on the end of your line when things are really, really tough. It’s good in 6 inches of water, and it’s good in 60 feet of water. The biggest thing about a wacky rig is not to fish it too fast. It’ll do its thing without any help from you. Think flutter and fall.

Now’s the time to grab a bag of worms and a couple of offset hooks. Don’t let the summer get away from you.