I know it's a classic, fishing faux pas to share your best fishing secret, but this is not really a secret. And, even though I'm about to divulge a giant producer, I know that the vast majority of you won't give this a shot. However, it's extremely underutilized and you should!
If you're not fishing a finesse worm for summer bass, you are not catching as many fish—or as big—as you could be!
The setup is simple. I like a 7-foot medium spinning rod, or my favorite is a 6-foot, 6-inch Fenwick Aetos paired with an Abu Garcia LTX, which is the coolest finesse baitcaster available. Check it out!
Floating finesse worms that are made with the revolutionary Elaztech are extremely durable. The floating aspect is what the fish simply cannot resist.
Line is simple: In clear water I use 8- to 10-pound fluoro, or in stained water with lots of structure such as wood I'll go with 14-pound Nanofil with an 8-pound fluoro leader.
The Nano is critical because super-light presentations with light line can be difficult to accurately cast with a baitcaster. I've backlashed my reel so many times trying—until I discovered Berkley's Nanofil. Great stuff!
Terminal tackle couldn't be simpler: a 2/0 to 4/0 straight-shank worm hook with a 1/16- to 1/4-ounce bullet weights. I prefer the fatter bullet weights as it slows the fall of the worm. It's also important to note that keeping the weight unpegged will trigger strikes as the rig falls. As the weight separates from the worm it gives the impression that one thing is chasing another thing, which in turn gets the bass fired up.
A 2/0 to 4/0 hook matched with a 1/16- to 1/4-ounce bullet weight is all it takes to get these little worms in the strike zone.
The meat? I've searched far and wide for the right worm when a good friend introduced me to Strike King and Z-Man finesse worms, and believe me, these are the real deal! There are no substitutions. Texas rig these worms and the fish will crawl all over it, rest assured.
Sometimes a sinking finesse worm plays over a floater. Experimentation is key here--and half the fun.
Z-Man makes a floating finesse worm that is a bit fatter and it sees a tremendous amount of deck time for me. When all else fails, I rig one of these up and bass just jump in my boat … well, not really, but I have the utmost confidence in this rig.
They key to this rig is the worm floats. The floating component matched with the hook and bullet weight really creates a subtle, slow-falling bait that neutral to negative bass find hard to resist. The worms are available in 4- and 7-inch versions and each has their place.
For me, the 7 incher gets the nod more times than not, but if the fish are really finicky, the 4 incher can be dynamite. Many anglers I've fished with—or against—refuse to use a rig this small. I'm not sure why, but on numerous occasions, I've put over 20 pounds between my best five bass in the boat using a small worm. They really work!
The retrieve can be varied, and of course, let the fish tell you how they want it. In most cases, I'll let the worm hit bottom and give it a strong, single upward snap. Then I'll shake the rodtip vigorously for about 5 seconds before letting it sink to bottom again. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.
Recently, I was fishing bedded smallies in Green Bay when I pulled the magic worm out. The bite was certainly difficult—the fish were striking at baits defensively and not eating it. So, I cut the worm down to about 3 inches and started sticking fish left and right. The fact that this presentation stood on it's head in the middle of a smallies bed was more than they could let go.
Where does this work best? Around wood, deep inside turns littered with various vegetation, along riprap, smallie beds—of course—and just about anywhere that the bass bite is struggling. The bass really love these things.
Bottom line? It's small and doesn't look like a big-bag producer, but it really is. You have my personal guarantee that if you add this to your finesse arsenal, you will catch more fish. If not, well… I'll be using it and still stacking ‘em up like cordwood.
On this particular day I put over 23 pounds in my boat between my five best fish. All on a simple Texas-rigged Z-Man floating worm. These things play!
Here pro bass legend Gary Klein explains how this "sissy-fishing technique" has won him a lot of money.