The floating worm

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James Overstreet

During the year I’m going to highlight some of the older lures and techniques you don’t hear so much about anymore. They deserve more attention than they get. Not everything that’ll catch a bass was invented in the last two years. 

Bass are on the move right now, or will be shortly. Now’s the perfect time to start fishing with a floating worm. 

As an aside I have to say that I don’t know why it’s called a “floating worm.” The worms I’ve used for this technique over the past 20 years don’t float. Regardless, I’m going to call it a floating worm. Slowly sinking worm just doesn’t sound right.   

So anyway, I like this bait anytime from the early prespawn on through the postspawn. Bass seem to like it as long as there’s something going on with their reproduction cycle. The very best time, though, is right after they come off the beds. The males will kill it then, and the females eat it when they won’t look twice at anything else.

A floating worm rig starts with a worm. Any straight tail worm that’s between 5 and 7 inches long will work. I usually fish with a Berkley Havoc Larry Nixon Bottom Hopper, but there are dozens of other choices around that’ll catch them.

There’s only a couple of color choices when it comes to this technique. I start with natural colors that match the local forage. If they don’t produce, I go with shock colors, something bright and unnatural looking.  

Under normal circumstances I’d rig a worm of this size with a 3/0 offset worm hook, and I’d rig it perfectly straight. For this technique, though, I use a 4/0 or a 5/0 and I put a kink in my worm. Note that I said a kink, not a twist.

The way to do that is to run the hook in and out in a straight line along the worm. The easiest way to do that is to follow the seam. When I run the hook back in I run it farther back in the worm than normal so that there’s a kink or hump in it. The idea is to create erratic action without it spinning in circles.  

This is a spinning rod and reel technique. My main line is braid, 15-pound-test. My leader is fluorocarbon, 10-pound-test, and it’s short. Anything between 4 and 8 inches is good. 

I put a big — inshore saltwater size — swivel between the lines. That’ll help take out twist, and it’ll add a little weight to the worm. The bigger hook helps with this, too. 

Fishing a floating worm is simple. Make long casts, let the worm sink a little, twitch it a few times and then repeat the process all the way back to the boat. It’s almost like working a jerkbait or walking-the-dog. You can cover lots of water in a short period of time doing this.

Where I fish it is equally simple. I fish it anywhere. Large expansive flats are good, so is isolated cover, and let’s not forget wood, rock and boat docks. You get the picture, right? Throw it anywhere you’re fishing in the prespawn through the postspawn. 

Just because the floating worm is old, and just because you don’t hear much about it anymore, doesn’t mean it won’t work. Bass haven’t gotten any smarter over the past 10 or 15 years. 

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website at, mikeiaconelli.com.