By Capt. Steve Chaconas
Almost forgotten since the domination of the Senko, floating plastic worms rigged weightless remain one of the best finesse baits for pre-spawn and spawning bass on just about any fishery. Wacky-rigging appeals to the visual senses of a bass. The vulnerability of this bait also makes it effective.
Whether you call it a floating worm, a finesse worm, or wacky worm,
hook it in the middle for a better presentation. The bait falls slowly and each end will quiver, giving fish time to swim from 30 feet away if the water is clear enough. The best way to use these baits is cast and let it sink on slack line.
Sunny days and clear water are best so fish can see baits better. Cast to where fish might be, not generally deeper than 6-7 feet. Dead stick the bait, letting it sit for about 6-7 seconds.
Watch the line, but also feel to detect a bite. When you pick up your bait it will feel heavy or your line will have moved. Reel up the slack slowly and use a straight up hook set.
Calm days and sunny skies during pre-spawn, spawn, and fall are the best times for this technique. The wacky rig is a subtle presentation used when fish are spooky. In pre-spawn, fish shallows and let worms sink around cover leading to the backs of coves. Throw ahead of cruising bass.
For sight fishing during the spawn, cast past the bed and let it sink, shaking the worm to the bed. In the fall, target the backs of creeks looking for trees and brush piles. Pay attention to the depth or the type of cover they are around and how long a bait sits before getting a strike.
Look for fry guarders in the backs of coves or pockets. Make long casts and sneak up on your target like grass edges or where they can guard fry around moss or a bush. The wacky rig is also a great follow-up bait for missed topwater strikes. Casting to a missed strike will usually result in a catch.
A common mistake of anglers fishing wacky style is working the bait too fast. Wacky worms are not twitch baits, they are subtle finesse presentations. Only move a wacky worm a few short hops or twitches to entice a bite. Then reel it in and hit the next target.
Strike zones are 3-4 feet from the cover. The rate of fall is adjusted with the size of the hook, start with a 2/0 and move up. Avoid weights since they affect the action of the worm. Slower drops will attract a fish from greater distances.
Use spinning gear spooled with 10-15 pound test fluorocarbon because it is nearly invisible and offers more abrasion resistance. Fluorocarbon line also sinks to allow the bait to fall more naturally. Shorter 6’6” rods enable casting accuracy and skipping baits under docks and cover.
In stained water, use white, pink or orange baits. They are also good for clear water sight fishing so you can see the bait disappear when a fish takes it. Use watermelon with red flake in clear water. Choose natural colors like green pumpkin and watermelon seed for most conditions.
Floating worms offer agitated finesse presentations to fish others miss with the Senko style baits.