Posted on June 04, 2012
By Terry Brown
Put a bass fisherman in an area of flooded willows, grass or newly inundated buck-brush, and even the most relaxed angler will become excited. Spinnerbaits, lizards and jig-and-chunk combos are the usual fare, but as fishing pressure increases across the country, the need for the exotic can pay big dividends.
Tubes have gained popularity in recent years and the "old standby" craw worm still has a large following. Casting accuracy is crucial and punching grass with heavy pegged weights and straight shank power hooks has gained momentum in recent years too.
The floating worm, a much more finesse approach to pressured bass, is making major strides as the bait of choice for not only spawning but post-spawning bass.
Across the country, a growing trend among the bass fishing fraternity has the floating worm as a can’t-miss, early season bait. Both spawning and post spawn bass look at the floater as an easy meal as it can be fished slowly, and it's great rigged either Texas or wacky style. Colors like bubblegum, merthiolate and sherbet have found places in the angler’s arsenal, along with the stand-by pumpkin, Junebug and chartreuse pepper.
Each bait has its own special rigging technique like “wacky” (rigged with a straight shank hook in the center of the worm with the hook point exposed), split-shot, swivel, and even weightless. Roofing nails, cut up coat hangers and even pieces of 10 gauge copper wire have found their places as weight alternatives inside these nondescript plastic creations.
Several companies like Eco-Pro Tungsten have special wacky rigged weights for this application too. Special circumstances call for special products. Unique hooks, weights, rigging and retrieves give the bass a natural look they don't see as much.
A well-kept secret on the BASS and FLW Tournament trails is pitching a weightless floating worm. It allows anglers to approach and tempt bass that would shy away from other bulkier offerings, especially in cleaner water. Flippers with heavy lines, pool cue rods and heavy baits were once the rulers of these uncharted waters. But as fish get more pressured by power fishermen, the opportunity to finesse big bass arises.
Pitching a weightless worm around the toughest of cover is allowing anglers to get to fish that couldn’t be gotten to before with any other technique. Low hanging branches, sticker bushes, buck-brush and densely vegetated willows made presentation impossible and even if the bait could be placed in the optimum area by skipping it, hook setting was still impossible.
Long rods, either spinning or baitcasting, 8-17 pound clear fluorocarbon line and 10- to 50-pound braid depending on cover and No. 1, 2 or 3/0 straight-shank worm hooks work well with a diametrically balanced worm like the Zoom Trick Worm. A fast reel like the Revo Premier 7.1:1 with some cranking power is essential.
The Zoom Trick Worm is a versatile and well-balanced straight worm that has enough bulk to be cast long distances but with just the right amount of salt in the bait to allow it to sink slowly and wiggle on the fall. The shape of this worm is the key. A slow taper from the head of the worm to a conical tail section allows the bait to dart when twitched. The thin profile allows the hook to penetrate the worm easily for better hook-ups.
With the warm winter this year, we have had a heavy growth of coontail and water willow in our local lakes. Areas we used to flip and pitch near the bank have now become matted grass lines with points, pockets, cuts and holes. Rigging the Trick Worm Texas style weightless or with a very light weight allows it to be cast over heavy cover reeled to openings and dropped in the holes.
Bright colors are significant as they disappear when bit allowing the hook to be set without necessarily feeling the fish. It is imperative to get the bass’s head coming to the boat on the hookset.
Although still not as universally popular as a jig and chunk or a spinnerbait, the “floating worm” has its place as a specialty offering for shallow fish, and many anglers add a little green to their pocketbooks with it as well. Once a bait that got stares for its unorthodox colors and shape, it is now functional part of angler's tackle boxes for pressured bass.