Bass Fishing with Live and Artificial Worms Explained – Nightcrawlers vs Soft Plastics

Bass Fishing with Artificial Worms and Live Worms: Nightcrawlers vs Soft Plastics

Fishing and worms are just as intertwined as poker and bluffing.

Good technique and a good rig are key.

We are here to help you, whether you are just starting or looking for a refresher. Below is a detailed discussion on various worm techniques used for bass fishing. It also includes a guide to the best tackle and the best techniques.

Have you been intrigued by this?

Continue reading to find out more about bass fishing with Worms

Bass Fishing with Soft Plastic Worms

The soft plastic worm is the most popular technique in both amateur and professional photography.

There are many options for rigging a worm. You can use it to spook fish or to catch aggressive bass. Soft plastic worms can be used for erratic acrobatics, gentle flutters of the tail, or more subtle acrobatics.

Best Worms to Use for Bass Fishing

Let’s take a look at some common worm methods and the best soft plastic choices for each.

Senkos that are weightless

Negatively buoyant and neutrally buoyant jerk baits have a reputation for being erratic, tight turns, and slow drifts. This is no doubt about their effectiveness.

But, until you see a wriggling worm perform its tricks, you won’t be able to appreciate the full potential of these actions to summon hungry basses.

It’s a great way to get bass on pressured lakes. It drives bass crazy.

Hooking a Yamamoto Senko, 7 inches in length, with a 3/0 Gamakatsu offset hook is unbeatable. It’s Texas-style, but light, and almost impossible to beat. My favorite color is “Black Blue Glitter”, but I also keep “Watermelon Black Red Flake,” and “Green Pumpkin Black Flake” on hand.

A good worm is a weightless rig that offers unparalleled erratic action.

Although Yamamoto Senkos may not be as strong as Zoom’s Magnum Finesse Worms, there is something about their movement that cannot be matched.

There are two ways to use weightless Senkos.

First, let the Senko settle down to the bottom. Next, reel up any excess line and give it two hits with your rod tip. The Senko will then swim erratically. You can then let it settle again.

The second step is to use the weightless Senko crankbait and rip it through the water in quick, crazy runs, before letting it settle.

Both work!

These bad boys can be fished with a stiff rod or baitcasting reel, provided you can cast them. However, most anglers prefer a medium spinning rod with a great 2500-size reel.

To reduce the visibility of my braid and to provide some shock cushion at the working end, I prefer to use a mono leader to run it.

Strange Rigging

This wacky rig places the hook on the worm and splits it into two halves to increase vibration and flutter. This technique has been discussed in detail before. Please visit our complete guide to wacky rigging: The Ultimate Finesse Worm Technique: Everything You Need About Wacky Rigging.

This classic, wacky rig can be done easily and is incredibly effective.

Wacky rigging is the best finesse rig you can use on the water. There are more options than rods. Classic, Neko, weedless, or jig heads: The idea is to always place the hook in the middle of the worm so that the ends don’t get in the way.

Let’s just focus on the most famous example of this technique, the classic wacky rod.

It’s easy to rig an O-ring with a Gamakatsu Finesse Wide Gaup Hook and an O-ring. The magic lies in the slow descent and the fluttering lift. For this technique, I prefer a 5-inch Senko with the usual color range.

A good spinning setup is preferred by most anglers, just like other finesse techniques. It allows for easy casting and high sensitivity.

Texas Rigged Worms

My introduction to worm fishing, like most people, was the Texas rig.

This weedless rig can be used with the right soft material. It uses a free-sliding weighted head and a nose-hooked, worm.

Texas-rigged Worms are easy to cast and weed-busting.

The worm’s nose is weighted to keep it on the bottom. It also allows for quick descent in deep waters. The right worm will wiggle and wiggle its tail, but it will keep its tail up. You can send the Texas rig swimming by giving it a gentle pop, or just let it fall.

Both are good for the money.

The Culprit Original Worm, Zoom’s Trick Worm, and Zoom’s Worm are my favorite worms for Texas rigs. Each has its own advantages.

The Culprit has a curly, long tail that flutters madly. It’s difficult to match if you want your worm to stay more or less planted, but still, get the tail moving.

The erratic tail lift, flutter, and speed of the Zoom trick worm are a stunning sight underwater. You can bet that I will be using a trick worm when I’m ripping up my Texas rigs, and letting them fall.

You can cast a Texas rig using a stiff rod with baitcasting tackle and the added weight of the bullet. Most anglers who rig their worms Texas-style use a medium-heavy or heavy baitcasting rod such as the St. Croix Premier Series Trigger Rod.

Drop Shot

A drop shot rig is a powerful tool that can be used to kill worms. We have written a lot about it.

Drop shot rigs are essentially a way to suspend a weight under a hook and not affect the action of the soft material. A drop shot rigged worm can move freely and can wiggle at a distance from the bottom.

Drop-shotting is a great way to enjoy all types of worms. You’ll find Senkos and trick worms as well as curly tails. If you are looking to keep your worms weedless, I recommend the Gamakatsu 1/0 drop shot hook. One of their offset hooks is ideal in this case.

For two reasons, I usually use a 1/8-ounce pencil weight for my drop shot rigs.

Their shape is more resistant to being hung up and snagged than traditional teardrop sinkers. The pencil weight’s unique eye makes it easy to rig. It will not only pull your line free but also break it if it is caught.

These pencil weights are great for drop shot rigs.

As with many anglers, I prefer a medium-light spinning rod for drop shots because it is more sensitive. G. Loomis’s IMX PRO820S DSR is a perfect choice. This bass is as popular as a 10-pound one, so it can be difficult to find a stock rod. The St. Croix Mojo Bass is almost as good.

They are both well worth it!

Pair them with a high-quality reel of 2500-size and you’ll never go wrong.

Worms on Jig Heads

Let’s talk about soft plastic worms that are rigged onto jig heads. There are jig options available that your grandfather wouldn’t recognize, perhaps because bass fishing has never seen such radical change.

Standard jig heads

You can get a strike from even the wariest bass by tipping a standard jighead with a good hook.

It is easy to do: Attach a 1/8 ounce Palomar knot to your line. Simply attach a Strike King Super Finesse Worm, or a Culprit Original to the hook. You can cast longer and faster with a heavier jig.

The fish Bullet Jig Head is one option. This jig head comes with an offset hook and allows you to rig your worm weedless. Fishing heavy cover is easy thanks to the ease of this jig.

This style of jig head can be rigged easily for heavy cover.

This combo is easy to use: just take the jig from the bottom, reel it in, and then let it settle. You might find that bass will hit the bottom on the fluttering fall.

Wacky jig heads

A wacky Jig’s head is asymmetrical, giving it a dance-like effect. A wacky head on a jig helps get them moving, regardless of whether they have a Yamamoto Senko 7-inch or big curly tail.

Reaction Tackle’s Weedless Version is my top choice for a wild head. It allows me to work grass and submerged plants without getting hung up.

A weedless, wacky jighead is something I love… and so does a bass!

Swim jig heads

Big bass is more likely to adhere to heavy covers. Cutting edge jigs can help you get rid of the nasty stuff like a pro.

Booyah’s Boo Jig has a unique head shape and weedless whiskers. It is ideal for fishing logs and other gnarly covers.

I usually reach for the 1/4-ounce jighead, pairing it with a Zoom Trick Worm. This combo is my go-to for darting turns of direction and erratic bounces. I do some hard pops in weeds and grass before it settles to the bottom.

Both methods are extremely productive.

Booyah’s swim-jig heads look amazing in the thick stuff.

Heavy cover is the best place to jig. Bass will swallow even the smallest jigs, so you need to have sensitivity and a strong hookset. Cast iron rods are ideal for pulling a monster through thick and nasty weeds.

Jigging rods tend to be heavier than the power spectrum. I, therefore, appreciate both medium-heavy and heavy rods for this technique.

The Ugly Stik Elite is a great choice for budget-minded anglers. This Stik is a fantastic jigging rod with a lot of backbone and sensitive fast action. It won’t break your bank. The Dobyns 766 FLIP will be your best option if you have the money.

Dobyns 766 FLIP may be the most popular jigging rod.

Pair your rod with a quick baitcasting reel. My pick is the Shimano Curado K, which has a 7.4:1 gear ratio. This reel has been reviewed before and is a winner.

Our review of the Shimano Curado Kin is 7.4 to 1! It is ideal for jigging.

You’ll need a very strong and sensitive line. I recommend braids like Sufix 832, PowerPro. Some anglers will run tests up to 60-65 pounds, but I prefer a 20- to 30-pound test.

Bass fishing with live worms

Although not many bass anglers use live bait to chase largemouth, there is no reason why you shouldn’t. Be aware that live baits can be taken by everything, so it’s important to keep your eyes on your favorite species.

This is a good explanation for the preference for soft plastics. However, most serious fishermen will still defend their preference for artificial options due to their superior effectiveness, ease of use, and variety of techniques.

These are all good reasons to choose soft plastics.

Soft plastics can be very effective and once you know how to fish them, it’s easy to catch a trophy bass. Soft plastics are also easy to use and require little care. They are also very easy to rig correctly, as we have seen. The range of soft plastics that are suitable for different purposes is amazing. There is a method that will work in every situation.

It’s true, however, that live worms can catch bass. Let’s see how it works.

Slip Floats

A slip float is the best way to rig live worms for bass.

Slip floats allow your line to slip or slide through the bobber, unlike a traditional bobber. It will suspend your hook at an easy-to-set depth but also allow you to reel in the whole length. This allows for a controlled, precise cast.

Slip floats are so dangerous because of this casting advantage.

Bass Pro Shops Premium Balsa is my preferred option for a slip float for crappie and other panfish. There are four sizes available, but I prefer the heavier one: the 1 1/8″ x 5 5″ and 1 1/8″ x 5 5″.

Do not underestimate the power and versatility of a simple slip float.

You’re now ready to rig your float with a few Northland Fisher Tackle Slip-Knot stops

Without a stopper, slip floats won’t work!


Given the size of the bass’s mouth, you may feel compelled to use a larger hook. But resist this temptation.

Live worms can be a great finesse technique. A smaller hook will catch more bass than one with a bigger hook.

My favorite? A #4 Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot Hook. It’s extremely sharp and tough, making it an excellent choice for live worms. You’re nearly ready to go!

Live worms require a small, sharp hook.

To cast enough weight, you will need to add a split shot.

You will need to play around with the amount. Too little and you won’t be able to get anywhere; too much and your slips will sink.

Take a look at these tips

Although they are strong casting rods and powerful baitcasting gears, most bass anglers don’t know how to cast light terminal tackle.

You’ll find that finesse techniques work best when paired with medium-light spinning rods, such as the St. Croix Avid series. A 2500-size spinning rod from Penn, Pflueger, or Cadence will make a great setup for largemouth fishing.

Best Spinning Reels For Bass Fishing


Live worms rely on scent and flavor to attract bass. They are terrestrial creatures and can’t breathe underwater, which leads to rapid death.

It’s okay to do that – any action you want can be achieved by just a gentle tug of your rod tip from time to time.

Slip floating bass requires you to use likely covers such as logs, stumps, or vegetation. Place your hook at the correct depth, usually a foot or so above the bottom, and cast close to, but not onto, the cover you are hunting.

Keep your rod in the air now and again, but don’t forget to hold on!

Last Thoughts

The culprit or Mother Nature can make worms that are extremely effective against the bass. There are many options for soft plastics and I would not overlook the potential of live bait.

We are open to all options.

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.