Is the rigged wacky style really the only bait you use when bass fishing?
I am asked this question whenever I am in a group of anglers, and it also pops up on my email. My answer is very simple — “Yes.”
My “bass kit” is strictly made up of Stik-O Worms, 2/0 and 3/0 kahle hooks and quarter-ounce bell sinkers. Why? Because they work.
I, too, was skeptical when I was shown the wacky worm 10 years ago, but fortunately, I tried it on the shore by Lake Lonely. I made five casts under the bridge with it, and caught two largemouth and lost a third. And ever since that day, it has put me in the pay line of a number of bass and open tournaments.
I believe that this wacky worm technique is the hardest for a veteran bass angler to try, and the easiest for a beginner. Why? Because it is so simple. You cast it out and just let it sink to the bottom. I absolutely mean, do nothing other than watch your line. Over half the hits on the wacky worm occur while it is floating freely down. That line twitch or line tightening is the fish inhaling the worm. Put your rod tip down reel in the slack, and set the hook on your fish.
You are not going to catch a fish every time, so when it reaches the bottom, let it sit motionless for about 10 seconds and then, using your rod tip, give it a few soft jerks and slowly swim it back with a stop-and-go retrieve.
I actually learned this stop-and-go reeling method from a 10-year-old I had in my boat. He had a difficult time being patient and letting it fall all the way to the bottom. He would let it fall for a few seconds and then start reeling it in. I corrected him several times until he caught a three-pound largemouth and several other bass reeling it.
If you are wondering about that bell sinker in my “bass kit,” it came from a very good friend, Frank Jeske, who passed away a while ago. He taught me another method of wacky worming. He was winning quite a few tournaments when he told me his secret. He would tie on a bell sinker to the end of his line, and, about six or seven inches above the sinker, tie on a 3/0 kahle hook and worm pierced through the middle with the point exposed. He told me not to be afraid to toss it into the weeds. Just let it sit there a few seconds and then just twitch the line with your rod tip, which will activate the worm.
It works, and it is especially good when there is a lot of wind and waves. Those of you who fish the moving waters for smallmouth on the Mohawk River will find that sinker is very useful in your presentation.
I use a seven-foot graphite spinning rod with a medium heavy action, a spinning reel with at least a 5.1:1 gear ratio and spooled with 20-pound green XPS 8 Advance Braid. For the drop shop, I use a seven-foot bait casting graphite rod and fast-retrieve baitcasting reel spooled the same braid, but in 30-pound test. The combination of graphite rod and braid give you the maximum feel when Mr. Bass bites.
For those of you who like to fish top water and pull a rubber frog over the weeds, keep a wacky worm nearby. When that bass blows up on your top water offering, throw that weighless wacky worm back to the swirl/hole in the weeds, often times, they are still in the area and hungry.
Try the wacky worm, and let me know how you did.