Break Out the Wacky Worms for Sweet Water Bass
Wacky worming has taken freshwater bass fishing by storm over the past several years. In fact, there are some anglers who fish plastic worms almost entirely for bigmouths without ever using another technique. While we would all be happy to see you become more well-rounded black bass sharpies, it’s hard to blame anyone for relying so heavily on this one approach. It’s simple, it’s easy and it is amazingly effective on both largemouths and bronzebacks.
Most worming techniques for bass stress the importance of a gentle touch, precise depth control, keeping tight to the bottom, and watching always for the slightest twitch of the line to indicate a bite. Wacky worming, on the other hand, is so simple it's hard to get it wrong. Even beginners have luck with the technique, although veteran anglers do have an advantage having had years to refine their skills and bass detection senses.
A 5” Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits Senko rigged with a weedless VMC Wacky Jig.
The most simplistic form of wacky worming is to thread a size 1 or 2 beak or octopus style hook once through the collar of the worm, cast out and then let the lure do all the work. The less you try to give it any action, the better your catch rate is likely to be. As the worm settles toward the bottom on a slack line, both ends suspended equally from the centered hook. Watch carefully and you’ll see they gently shiver and shake. Just before the worm settles into the weeds or reaches the bottom, simply lift it back toward the surface, take up a little line, and then allow it to free-fall once again. It's as simple as that.
Most wacky worming strikes are registered by the line simply moving off in a strange direction, but bites are also discovered when anglers attempt to lift the worm and the rod takes on slight set. The method works especially well in shallow depths of six feet or less, but can be used in deeper water with or without a weighted hook if you have the patience to allow your offering to sink all the way to the bottom.
Wacky worming works anywhere more traditional worming works. Try it along outside weed edges at the mouth of a cove, in deeper open water off points, along drop-offs, around stick-ups and, especially, near lily pads and phragmite edges. Skip your worm under docks, pitch it into an opening in the weeds or use a long, stiff rod to simply reach into a tangled blow-down and let it drop between the branches. If bass are present, your next headache will be figuring how to get 'em out before the line breaks.
While wacky worming will work with virtually any soft plastic worm on the market, those designed specifically for the technique do offer a significant edge. Pick up a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits Senko Worm, for example, and you’ll instantly realize it is heavier than traditional style plastic worms. It is also thicker, has a barely discernable straight tail end, and appears stouter. The extra weight helps get it down to the bottom but the width slightly slows that decent providing bass a longer look as the lure slides into the depths. Your job, then, is to simply allow the worm to settle toward the bottom as it nearly imperceptibly shivers at both ends. This is a classic “do nothing” approach. To make your presentation as natural as possible, allow the lure to fall on a fully slack line before lifting it back up into the water column only to let it free-fall again.
In terms of gear, you can go with either spinning or casting outfits spooled with 8- to 12-pound test line under normal circumstances. If fishing in heavy cover, add a 4-foot, 15- to 20-pound test fluorocarbon leader. As for hooks, there are a legion of wacky worm options ranging from offset and weedless models to simple finesse-style wide gaps. Most work fine, although you may want to opt for a version with a weed guard if working shallow, weedy ponds or shorelines with copious amounts of submerged timber and brush. Figure a size 1 to 2/0 Gamakatsu finesse wide gap hook as a good starting option and feel your way from there. Other popular wacky worm hooks include the weedless VMC Wacky Jig and the Daiichi Bleeding Bait Red Hook.
As for which worm is best, a 5-inch Senko is tough to beat in black, watermelon or pumpkinseed patterns. Other favorites include Berkley’s Heavy Sink Worm, the YUM Dinger, Big Bite Baits Pro Series and Charlie’s Worms SaltBangO. All of these are either scented, salted or flavored.
Does a wacky worm imitate a real worm? That’s hard to say. Although shaped more like a cigar than nightcrawler or red wiggler, there is an obvious similarity. Then again, with those ends quivering on the decent and a somewhat chunky appearance, perhaps they imitate small baitfish as well. This much is certain: if you are new to sweet water bass fishing, there’s no easier way to connect with your first lunker in local waters than to drop a wacky worm into the drink.
- The White Water Outfitters Staff
- Bryce Poyer