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Plastic Worm Fishing - A Complete Guide

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Fishing enthusiasts at all levels from novice to expert will know that plastic worms are a great way to catch predatory fish. Such is the popularity of artificial worms for fishing that all tackle warehouses and fishing sections of stores are loaded with different kinds of these worms, available in different colors, sizes, shapes, and appearances. People spend great time and effort to learn how to fish a plastic worm because these worms are a very important factor that is instrumental in catching a big bounty of fish. If you want to make your next fishing trip memorable, you should know why such worms are so crucial for fishing, how to fish a plastic worm and how to choose between different kinds of artificial fishing worms available in the market.

Anyone who has done fishing knows the importance of a good lure. Now, a “good lure” doesn’t simply mean getting the most expensive or popular plastic worm, hooking it up to the end of the fishing line, and expecting the fish to come to you. You need to know how to choose the right plastic worm, how to fish a plastic worm, and the different rigging techniques, along with how and when to use them.

Different Kinds of Plastic Worms Available

Before you set out to buy plastic worms for your next fishing trip, you should know the different kinds of such worms available in the market. Of course, you will find most of these varieties in the stores, but the information given here will make you aware of the differences between each of these types of worms. Let us have a look at some of the most popular varieties of plastic worms.

Action Worms

plastic worms action worms
The Ripple Effect (Source)

This type of plastic worm is characterized by its cylindrical body and small ripple-like tail. The tails might have a sickle shape at the end, and might give an impression of a ribbon unfurling at the rear end of these worms. This rippling action creates movement in the water and lures the fish, which then try to strike them. They are available in different colours.

Finesse Worms

finesse worms plastic worms
Fine Lookin'

These artificial fishing worms typically have a straight cylindrical structure, and may have uneven sizes at their two extremities. One end of this worm is usually little more bulbous and thick compared to the other end. Most of the principles of fishing with a plastic worm have to be adjusted for these kinds of worms. Once standardised, these worms are the best bet for fishing in clear water and in lakes with a high fishing pressure.


jigworms plastic worms
The Jig is Up!

Available in different colours, these rubber worms are usually straight, wiggly cylinders with tapered tail-end and a bulbous head. These were traditionally used for catching large-mouth Bass, but over the years, their use has shifted to other species as well. These worms are suitable for fishing in a vertical structure like creeks.

Jumbo Worms

jumbo worms plastic worms
The Jumbo Kind

As their name suggests, these worms are bigger than the other types of worms. They are particularly favoured by large predators. Their structure is usually a thick wiggly cylinder with tapered ends. The different colours of this kind of worms enable their usage in different kinds of water.

What is in a Tail

Now that we know the broad classification of plastic worms, let us have a look at their sub-types, depending on the structural attributes of their tails.

  • French fry: The name describes the structure of the worm perfectly. These kinds of worms usually do not possess a separate tail. Instead, the whole worm appears like a French fry.
  • Ribbon tail: As their name suggests, these worms have a ribbon like tail that creates an illusion of a ribbon unfolding and rippling through the water as they move.
  • Straight tail: These worms have a gradually tapering tail. These types of worms are usually the first ones to be tried and work very well for sluggish fish. Also, these are the worms of choice when the fishing hook is wide.
  • Paddle tail: The name itself speaks about the structure of the tails of these worms. With a striking resemblance to paddles, the tails of these worms make them effective in shallow waters or surface fishing.
  • C-tail: These worms have a tail in a structure that resembles the alphabet C. Upon rigging and using these worms as bait, their tails create water movement and attract the fish.
  • Curly tail: These worms have a similar tail shape as the ribbon tail styled worms, but much shorter.

Basic Principles of How to Fish a Plastic Worm

Successfully using plastic worms as baits to catch fish is not rocket-science, but it does require patience to get the technique right. Simply knowing how to fish a plastic worm is not enough, one needs to practice the fine nuances of this skill in order to perfect it. Let us have a look at the crucial factors which play a role in catching fish by plastic worms:

  • As mentioned above, plastic worms come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and textures. Choosing the right kind of plastic worm that works for you might take some time. You may have to try a few kinds of worms before realising which ones work well enough.
  • The next major thing to fine-tune is the rigging technique. Having the right worm without the right rig will be futile. There are different kinds of rigging techniques like the Texas rig, Carolina rig etc., described a little later in this article, from which you have to figure out the best one in your hands.
  • Fishing equipment should not be neglected. Your tackle, rod, hook size and sinker weight have to be perfect too. Not to forget the fishing line and type. All these play a role in catching fish.
  • Next to be considered are your fishing conditions. Fishing in grass or rock, deep or shallow conditions, all require different optimum set up.

Plastic Worm Fishing Rig Equipment

plastic worms fishing rig equipment
Things Needed for a Rig

The different pieces of essential equipment that you will need for successfully fishing with plastic worms are:

  • The fishing line
  • The leader
  • The pointed hook
  • Plastic worms or other plastic lures
  • Sinkers
  • Beads

How to Fish a Plastic Worm: Different Rigging Techniques

The question “How to fish a plastic worm?” can be answered in many different ways. There are so many kinds of fishing equipment and tools that there is no single answer for this question. Not only plastic worms but also other fishing tools and equipment like hooks, leaders and sinkers are available in different varieties. The combination of each of these varieties works differently for different situations. However, there are few rigging techniques that are considered to be the gold standard of fishing with plastic worms. These are described in the following sections.

The Texas Rig

plastic worms texas rig
Texas Rig (Source)

Perhaps the most commonly used rigging technique that works for most cases is the Texas Rig. Additional knowledge about the kind of water and ideal sinker weight for those conditions is required before starting, which we will be covering later in the article. Here are the steps to make a Texas rig:

  • Insert the fishing line into the tapered end of the bullet type sinker.
  • Tie a fishing knot in a fishing hook of the appropriate size and width.
  • Insert the pointed hook on the top end of the worm up to a little less than a centimetre depth.
  • Bring out the pointed end of the hook from the side wall of the worm.
  • Bring the whole hook out gradually and twist it along the wire, so that the eye of the hook is placed right on top of the head of the worm.
  • Hang the worm while holding the fishing line from the top. The hook will also hang alongside the worm.
  • Put your index finger and thumb on the worm, just at the place where the pointed end of the hook is.
  • Bend the worm gently so as to allow the pointed hook to penetrate the worm at an angle of ninety degrees.
  • Insert the complete pointed end in the worm until the worm makes a straight line between the eye of the hook and this point of reinsertion of the pointed edge.

The Carolina Rig

plastic worms carolina rig
Carolina Rig (Source)

This technique is a modification of the Texas Rig technique and is very useful for most applications, except for fishing in highly weeded areas. In order to cast a Carolina Rig, here is what you do:

  • Remove about 4 feet of the fishing line and keep separately to be used as a leader later on.
  • Insert the main fishing line into a sinker, and then into a glass bead.
  • Tie a barrel swivel to this end, and then tie the leader line that you had prepared in the first step.
  • Tie a suitable fishing knot to hold the fishing hook at the end of the leader line.
  • Now insert the pointed hook on top of the worm and proceed just like in the Texas Rig.

The Wacky Rig

plastic worms wacky rig
Wacky Rig (Source)

This type of rigging is especially good for jumbo worms and other big sized baits. Compared to the other kinds of rigging techniques, this type is really easy. There is just one thing to keep in mind when making such a kind of rig- there should be no other weight on the line or hook.

Here is how you do it:

  • Hold the worm and pierce the pointed hook right in the middle of the body.
  • Insert the hook and bend it so that it comes out from the opposite side of insertion.
  • Twist the hook to point upwards.

The Split-shot Rig

plastic worms split shot rig
The Split-shot Rig (Source)

This type of rigging technique is based on the Texas rig with the only modification of adding a split-shot, which is a round structure with a slit in it. This serves to add some weight on the line. Here is how you go about it:

  • Rig the worm just like you would do in a Texas rig.
  • Once you are done, you have to insert the split-shot about 2 feet above the hook.

This technique is recommended for winter fishing trips. The colours of worms that work extremely well with this kind of rigging techniques are watermelon green, pumpkin range, and shades of purple, black and brown.

Livingit Tip

The weight of the split-shot shouldn’t be more than the main line, and it should be just enough to let it gradually sink to the bottom or close to it. A good way to judge if the weight is enough is to wait for 30 seconds for the bait to hit the bottom. If it takes too long, add a split shot, and if it goes down too quickly, remove one.

How to Choose the Ideal Plastic Worm for Fishing

how to choose plastic worms
Take Your Pick

Now that you have a fair idea about the different types of plastic worms available for fishing and how to fish a plastic worm, let us have a look at the factors to keep in mind while choosing the plastic worms we are going to use. It is normal to get confused because of the sheer variety of such worms available, but keeping the following points in mind will definitely help you make a decision.

Choosing the Colour of the Plastic Worms

The colour of the worm should be chosen keeping the colour of the water in mind. It is obvious that the worm should be visible to the fish otherwise it won’t strike it. When the fishing waters are dark or have a stained appearance, choosing a bright coloured (Neon Green, Red, Orange, Yellow etc) plastic worms will work better. Similarly, when the colour of the fishing water is lighter and its appearance is clear, then you should opt for darker, more natural shades (silver, blue, grey etc) of plastic worms.

Choosing the Weight

The weight of the fishing bait will determine how fast or slow will it sink towards the bottom of the water body. A very fine balance between how fast and how slow the plastic worms sink is the key to catching fish. They should sink fast enough for the fish to notice them, and at the same time, their sink should be slow enough to attract the fish and let them strike. The weight will depend on a lot of factors, some of which are as follows:

  • Water temperature
  • Season
  • Number of weeds
  • Activity of fish in that region

Choosing the Size of the Worm

The selection of the worm of a particular size will be influenced by how visible it will be in the water you are going fishing, and how fast do you want it to sink. In general, clear waters have a pretty good visibility and there is no need for choosing big worms for fishing in these conditions. Similarly, stained water bodies will necessitate the use bigger plastic worms that are identified as a target by the fish.

The size of the worm also affects its sink rate. In general, bigger worms displace more water and are slower to sink. Thus, you might have to add sinkers and other weights to the line, depending on the desired sink rate you want to have.

Plastic Worms with Tail vs No Tail

Tailed worms have a different visibility and floating characteristic than those without tails. Hence, the choice of tailed or non-tailed plastic worms will depend on factors like:

  • The visibility of the worm in the fishing water
  • The density of weeds in the water
  • Water temperature
  • Clarity and cleanliness of water

Tailed plastic worms tend to create different swirling water movement and this increases the likelihood of them getting spotted by the fish. Therefore, such worms are best used in conditions where visibility would be low.

Why Do Plastic Worms Make Such a Great Bait

plastic worms as bait
Curiosity Kills the Cat Fish

Come to think of it, worms are not aquatic creatures. They are terrestrial organisms and spend their whole life cycle on the ground. They hatch eggs in mounds and soil and remain on the solid ground for the whole of their life. Given that they don’t need to go into the water, they are not very good swimmers either. All these facts imply that they are not the natural food for any kind of fish.

Even then, quite a few fish get attracted to earthworms, even the plastic ones! If you know how to fish a plastic worm, you might be able to catch more fish than someone who uses other kinds of fishing baits. Why do fish eat worms? There is no real reason to this question. Several scientific experiments have resulted in the same conclusion, without any concrete explanation to why fish have this food preference.

One such experiment, called the “Berkely experiment”, put bass fish in special tanks and were given the plastic versions of their staple food and later, plastic worms. While the bass showed no interest in the plastic versions of their normal food, they were quick to fall for the plastic worm bait. With this experiment, the scientists found that fish, at least the bass fish, are 10 times more likely to eat plastic worms than plastic shaped like their normal food. What they failed to discover is why the fish do this.

Is it that they are curious and try to see if the new object is edible out of reflex? Or is it somehow hard-wired into their brains to go after worms? Is it something genetic or is it related to evolution? We may never know.

Final Points to Keep In Mind

So, this article has provided you with all relevant details and terminology that you should know before you go fishing with plastic worms. It might still happen that despite all your research and homework, you end up catching no fish at all. On the contrary, beginners luck may shower upon you and you might come home with a big bounty. Sometimes, the best Texas rigs are beaten by the simplistic Wacky rigs. The point being, there is no sure-shot way to catch fish.

Here are a few considerations that will enable you to modify your techniques and tools for fishing and serve to help you improvise.

  • Invest in Good Quality of Fishing Rod

An ideal fishing rod will let the person feel the fish as it strikes the plastic lures on the hooks. Therefore, it is worth spending on a good quality, highly sensitive fishing rod. Go for models that have a sturdy backbone so that you have support to pull out even the bigger fish from their hiding. Typical fishing rods to be used with plastic worms are about seven feet.

  • Pay Special Heed to the Type of Worm

There is no single type of worm that guarantees good results. Therefore, you must invest in a few types of plastic worms for fishing as explained earlier. Consider the characteristics of the fishing waters before rigging the worm. Different seasons and different waters will require different worms.

  • Maintain a Taut Fishing Line at All Times

The whole purpose of a fishing line is to let you know when the fish strikes the bait. If you have a slack in the fishing line, you will not be able to judge the point of time when the fish strikes the bait. Therefore, keep your fishing line taut and maintain a little tension in the line for getting a quicker feel about the movement of the fish.

  • Optimise the Sink Rate

Different water bodies will have different characteristics. The sink rate of the worms should be optimised for each fishing trip. A single gold standard does not exist for sinking rates. Add or remove weights to the line after a few attempts, when you have a better idea of the activity of fish in the region.

  • Use Hooks of the Right Size

People often use a bigger hook for fishing than is needed. Sometimes, it is better to try a few sizes of hooks and see which size is optimal for fishing in that region and those circumstances.

  • Use Different Casting and Pitching Hooks

It is a common practice to use the same hooks for casting and pitching, but it should be avoided, even if it gets you fish.

  • Try Different Kinds of Fishing Line

Usually, fishing lines are made of either monofilament or Fluorocarbon. Both these materials have their own set of properties. The experience with both these varieties may be drastically different; hence it is advisable to try both types.

Summing Up

A very important thing to remember is that fishing is not an easy task. It requires a lot of patience and practice to know the nuances of the technique. Even with all things done correctly, there may be occasional bad days at fishing. The solution is to keep trying and developing the skills. With time, your troubleshooting skills will improve and you will be able to fish in all conditions.

With the above discussion and tips, your next fishing trip will be a different adventure for you. It must be kept in mind that small modifications in fishing tools can make a huge difference in the bounty.

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