Swimming a Texas rig: Oldie but goodie

I caught an astounding 25 pounds, 1 ounce in one day on Lake Toho by using a technique that’s often overlooked — swimming a Texas rigged worm.

After five days of practice, I knew what I needed to do in order to keep myself around the quality of fish that could potentially win the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open #1 presented by Allstate on the Kissimmee Chain. Several weeks earlier, a friend from Florida gave me a good lead about a strong worm bite on the Kissimmee Chain.

Fishing a Texas rigged worm is no secret. It’s one of the most basic and old-school tools an angler learns when he/she begins bass fishing. It seems to me like across the country, many anglers have forgotten about the good ol’ Texas rigged worm.

The state of Florida, however, is a different story. Every year, countless numbers of big bass fall victim to this simple rig.

The Texas rig was designed to be fished on the bottom with a slow dragging and hopping technique, but in Florida, the Texas rig has taken on a new form.

Every lake in Florida is loaded with submergent and emergent vegetation. This incredible amount of grass can make figuring out lakes in Florida a struggle for even the most experienced anglers. It didn’t take long before swimming a worm was my favorite technique for covering the mass amounts of grass quickly and efficiently while figuring out which specific stretches where holding good numbers and quality of largemouth bass.

The technique is simple, cast the worm as far up into the grass as possible and then begin to slowly wind the bait back, letting it tick the grass as you retrieve it. If the bite seems slow, just slow down your retrieve and, occasionally throughout the cast, pause — allowing the bait to fall down deeper into the grass.

My worm of choice for this presentation is the Zman Sawtail WormZ. This bait has the perfect size profile, the perfect tail action, and — best of all — is virtually indestructible! Going into the tournament, I had only one pack of 6-inch Sawtail WormZ (junebug). On the Monday of practice, I got 12 bites, catching 10 quality fish all on one Zman worm.

On Day 1 of the tournament, when I caught 25-1, that was all on a single worm.

I rigged the worm with a fairly heavy 3/8-ounce Bass Pro Shops Tungsten Worm Weight, accompanied by a 5/0 Gamakatsu Superline EWG Hook. The heavier weight allowed me to get the worm a little deeper in the thick Kissimmee grass I was fishing, and my 7-3 Heavy TFO Tactical Series Rod helped to get the fish out of the grass and in the boat.

The final key to my success with this worm was the 20-pound-test Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon I was using in the relatively clear water. A co-angler behind me was using the same technique and not getting the quality of bites I was with the Sawtail WormZ, the heavier weight and the virtually invisible line.

If you haven’t tried swimming a worm, try it — no matter where you live. If the lakes you fish have grass on them, then they deserve to be fished with the Texas rigged worm swimming technique.

It has been an exciting first month of the 2015 season with a solid 18th-place finish at Lake Toho and the airing of the show “Sweetwater,” which I co-host with my good friend Miles “Sonar” Burghoff.

I’ll see you on the water!