How to Fish with Worms: Beginners Guide

April 16, 2020

How to Fish with Worms: Beginners Guide

With the number of options for lures these days, sometimes it’s hard to pick what’s right. Chartreuse spinners, silver spoons, vibrating Rapala – at this point what can’t you fish with? But even these fancy options don’t always work. Sometimes it’s best to fall back to the tried and true: fishing with a live worm.

I have fond memories growing up of going to the bait store with my dad and buying a box of live worms for fishing. There’s something special about opening that paper cup filled with dirt and fishing out a worm to use as bait. But do you remember how to actually fish with worms? If took me some time remembering and some thorough research to compile this how to fish with worms guide. Although may seem simple as first, there are many techniques that will take your work fishing game from amateur to professional. Read on to learn how to be an expert with fishing with worms!

What Kind of Fish Like Worms?

Before deciding you’re going to fish with worms, its worth making sure the fish you’re going for actually likes eating worms. Many types of freshwater fish (troutbassperchsnakehead, etc.) are perfect for worms. Depending on the size of the fish you are trying to catch, you will need to adjust the size worm you use (small for small fish, nightcrawlers for larger).

For saltwater fish, you most likely should consider a different type of bait or lure. Small minnows, crabs, and other sea creatures should work well (see our guide for baitfish traps if you want to catch your own).

What Kind of Tackle is Best for Worms?

Since the type of fish you’re going for is most likely freshwater and less than 10 lbs, we recommend using medium-light to ultra-light tackle. This will help you not spook smaller fish and also make the fight much more fun. For hooks, it also depends on the size of the fish you are going for. We recommend a standard size 1 or 1/0 to start out. A hook that is a bit larger will help hold on to the worm and make sure it doesn’t wriggle off in the water. For line, we suggest using light monofilament. The lighter the line the harder it is for the fish to see, which is important for fishing with worms.

For rods, we recommend looking at our trout rod buying guide to pick out a rod that suits your needs and budget. For reels, our ultralight fishing reel buying guide is an excellent place to start as well. Both of these guides provide the best rod and reels for medium/small freshwater fish (which is exactly what you are going for).

How to Rig the Worm

Now that you have the appropriate tackle to fish with worms, it’s time to learn how to make a worm rig and add the worm on your hook. Here are the recommended supplies for starting out fishing with worms.

Bobber and Weight Setup

Most people think the only way to fish with a worm is to use a bobber, but this is not the case. Often times just fishing with a small weight will also do the trick

Fishing with a weight: After you rig your worm properly, attach a small split shot weight around 2 feet up the line from the hook. This will allow you to cast your worm farther and will help the worm sink to where the fish are faster. You can use bigger weights if you want to cast farther or are using heavy tackle. Since you don’t have a bobber to help show you when a fish is biting, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your line and not let too much slack accumulate. If you feel a tug, don’t be afraid to apply pressure and begin reeling.

Fishing with a bobber: When fishing with a bobber, all you need to do is shorten the length of the split shot to the hook to one foot, then add a bobber another foot up on the line from the split shot. This will make sure the worm sinks a few feet below the surface. Check out our bobber fishing for trout article if you want more details on how to properly set up your bobber rig. Keep a close eye on that bobber – if you see any movement, begin reeling in and apply pressure to hook the fish.

Hooking the Worm

  1. First, start by washing your hands. You want to make sure your hands don’t have any unnatural scents on them, as fish have a very sensitive sense of smell. Dip your hands in the nearby water and wipe them off on some grass or let them air dry.
  2. Depending on the size of the worm, different techniques may be used. For larger earthworms, hook them in two places to help position them on the hook. You can also thread the hook through the top of the work so the shaft helps hold it straight. For smaller worms, thread the needle only once through the top then out again about halfway down the worm.
  3. The more times you hook the worm, the less likely it is to fall off. But it will also kill it faster/prevent it from wriggling as much (which looks less natural). If you only hook it once, it will look more natural but has a higher chance of falling off. We recommend trying both and seeing what works best.

Alternative Methods

Some fishermen swear by other methods of fishing with worms. One of our close friends loves adding a worm to the hook of his favorite spinner or using bit and pieces of worm on a spoon. He believes that the pieces of worm add smells that entice fish to bite more. We’ve also heard of lake fishermen using heavier weights and jigging worms close to where deeper fish live. Have another method we didn’t cover? Feel free to share it below in the comments!

Final Thoughts

Fishing with worms is one of the oldest techniques in the book, but also a lost art. It works great for all types of fish, from fishing for trout in ponds to walleye in lakes. We hope that after reading this article you try out some of the methods we outlined. End up catching a monster using only a worm? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy Hunting!

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