Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats, Russ Bassdozer

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Don't leave home without it...
Not your credit card, your worms

By Russ Bassdozer

It's the most productive lure. Practically every time you go fish, you'll hear someone else telling you about yet another lure that is the world's best lure to use. But day in and day out, a worm is the best. Always has been. Probably always will be too. Don't leave home without it!

How to amass an arsenal of worm baits. Generically speaking, a 6 inch straight or ribbontail worm is the most productive and best-selling size and style of lure in the history of bass fishing. Especially on a Texas rig. It's classic!

Now you add a few 4 inch worms for larger numbers of smaller bass, mix in some 7 to 10 inch worms for slightly bigger bass than average. Some fat ones, some skinny ones...a few 3, 4 and 5 inch single tail GRUBWORMS, throw in a couple of sizes of Yamamoto Senko worms, which are soft plastic jerkbaits - you've just amassed a simple but deadly arsenal of baits for all seasons and locations!

Name some names. There are tons of good worms out there and I have probably used most of them at one time or another. They're all good. Heck,I can't think of a worm that is NOT good! However, the ones I mention here are the ones I have in my worm bag when I go out fishing nowadays.

1) Small: I tend to use small worms on Carolina or Split Shot Rigs...some of the ribbontail or curly tails on light jig heads too. The straight 4" Slider Worm in black with a blue or chartreuse tail tip. Relative to other thin 4" worms, the Slider Worm is a slightly fatter, softer worm that exhibits a floating sort of action. Another straight tail is the Yamamoto Cut Tail. It's got a fatter and denser body than other worms. You can fish it real fast! I also like Kalin's straight 4" Western Worm, which is thinner, harder, and more pointed on both ends. It sinks and darts a little more sharply than other worms, especially when you flick the rod tip. I like the one with a black/red flake back, clear belly, and chartreuse fire tip. At times, I also use Kalin's ribbontail 4" Salty Lunker Worm in black/red, white, or smoke/metal flake. For a small worm, the Salty Lunker's ribbontail generates good vibration, and does not get ripped off that easily by short striking fish. On the other hand, the Yamamoto 4 inch worm (#4) has a more compact, thinner diameter "curly" tail. It's a real finessy bait.

2) Medium: Choice for 5" to 6" worms...eegads!...there are so many good baits in this size range, either straight or ribbontails....I like to use some of the zipper-style worms, such as Mister Twister's Exude Fry. Try some of the fry styles or ringworm styles often used for Carolina rigging. Don't forget Zoom Trick Worms and other floating worms...not just on top,but on Texas, Carolina or split shot rigs as well. The more buoyant plastic formulation makes these floating worms rise and fall. Yamamoto's Single Tail Mini (#2) is a medium GRUBWORM - I don't think there's another shape/size worm out there like it! The Yamamoto 6 inch worm (#6) has a more compact, thinner diameter "curly" tail. It's a real finessy bait.

3) Large: Would you like to catch some fours to eights? They're big-sized bass and their mouths are much bigger than yours! So go get some BIG worms. We're talking about the classic 10" Berkley Power Worm (#MPWA10) with a ribbontail. We're talking the thin, slinky 11" Mister Twister Phenow Worm (#11P) with a small sickle tail. And, yes!...we're talking about the fat-bodied 8" and 10" Yamamoto grubworms. These three brands of worms have varying widths, shapes, tail actions.

How to pick the right worm hook. There are a few rules of thumb for selecting the right hook to complement your worm:

1) Use an Offset: Start off with an offset bend hook to Texas rig or Carolina rig a worm.

2) Match Lengths: Start two sizes smaller than the worm is long. Start with a 4/0 in a 6" worm, a 3/0 in a 5" worm or grub, a 2/0 in a 4", a 1/0 in a 3" worm - two sizes smaller than the length to start with as a rule.

3) Match Widths: Look for the hook's gap or "gape" (the space measured between the hook's point down to its shank) to be two to three times wider gap on the hook than the worm's body width. That's two times the diameter of a skinny worm and three times the diameter of a fat worm as a starting point.

4) Other measures: Now beyond these simple rules of thumb for size and gap, there are a few other measurements that really start to make different brands and models of hooks radically different from each other. First and most important on offset hooks, there is the vertical height between the top of the kink (the offset) up to the point of the hook. Second, measure the horizontal length from the kink back to the hook point. These measurements - from the kink UP to the point and from the kink BACK to the point - also have a bearing on what size of bait and what size of bass you can most effectively target with an offset hook. Suffice it to say that more generous proportions of these offset measurements UP and BACK from the kink allow you to use increasingly larger and fatter baits - and hook increasingly larger and fatter bass - or vice versa.

5) Match Bend & Throat: There are other aspects of a hook too, such as its BEND (the curved portion of the hook) and its THROAT (the horizontal length from the point to the very back of the bend). The measurements we talked about above (size, gap, distance up and back from the offset to the point) are more important to SET the hook and work together to ensure initial, deeper penetration of the point. On the other hand, bend and throat take over after you hook a fish, and provide better HOLDING POWER during the fight. If a fish throws a deeply-set hook, you should suspect that either the THROAT, the BEND, or the combination of throat/bend is at fault.

Why go into so much detail? Simply because the hook dimensions must match the size of bait, rod, reel and line. So, always keep an offset hook's dimensions in mind. Select a hook to match the size of your bait, the tackle you will use to deliver the bait, and the size of bass you expect to catch!

How to put the worm on the hook. Now that you have amassed an arsenal of worm baits, and you have all the right size hooks to match them, you now have a choice of four ways to rig the worm on the hook as presented below

The best way depends on how heavy the cover is that you are fishing at any given moment. But you always start out the same. That is, put the bait onto the offset eye portion of the hook as you normally do for Texas or Carolina rigging. Rig the hook so the eye is buried an inch or two back on the bait if possible (Not always possible on short baits...just leave as much room as you can). It's important that the front portion of the hook eye is not jammed immovably against the weight. So leave some room between the weight and the eye of the hook when you rig the bait. Why? Because when you set the hook, if the eye of the hook is pressed up against the weight, and the weight is pressed up behind the fish's tightly-clamped jawbone, then you only move the entire bass/weight/hook forward without penetrating any mouth tissue on the hookset. By leaving an inch or two of slack, you've ensured enough room to move the hook and have it get set before it jams up behind the weight

Now that you've buried the eye of the hook in the head of the bait, then take the point end of the hook, and do one of the following:

1) Tex-posed. For thin cover, put the point into the bottom of the bait and all the way out the top of the bait. The barb on some Texas rigging hooks (like the Mustad Mega-Bite) curves downward a bit, so it will lie flat outside of and on top of the bait, and this is called "Texposed", which means it is an exposed point Texas rig. Texposed really works a bit better on big fat-bodied ribbed grubs or on wide-bodied lizards. Worms and tube baits are a bit too thin-bodied for lots of Texposed rigging, but it does have its applications for tubes and worms, especially where the water is mostly open, with few snags or weed patches.

2) Tex-skin on top. For moderate cover, follow the directions for texposing the hook. Then, insert the hook point and barb just under the skin on the plastic bait's back. You kind of have to pull the plastic forward in front of where the hook comes out the top of the bait, and stretch it forward a bit. While it is still stretched, insert the point just under the skin, and then push the stretched plastic back to cover the barb area. The only way to describe it is that the hook point should appear just under the bait's skin exactly as if you got a splinter in your thumb or your big toe, just under your skin.

3) Tex-skin on the side. For moderate to heavy cover. In this variation, you do not insert the hook through the bottom of the bait. Rather, let the hook dangle down, with the hook bend underneath the bait's body, and the hook point alongside the bait. Now scrunch the bait forward a bit with your fingers, insert the hook point into the side of the bait, and then slide the bait back so that the point and barb are under the skin on the bait's side. You can bury this under the skin just a little deeper than the Texskin top rigging. Sometimes I use the heavy wire 3/0 offset shank Tru-turn hooks for this (not to sure you can get these anymore).

4) Traditional Texas rig. For the heaviest cover, this is your good ol' put the hook in through the bottom of the bait, and have the point sitting just under and ready to come out the top surface of the bait. Works best with thinner-bodied baits where you do not have to drive the hook through lots of plastic on a hookset. Sometimes, you can push the point out the top, then pull it back underneath. This kind of opens up a channel for the hook to slide out, but you really don't want to open this channel too much. Never pull the entire barb out, then try to cover it back up with the plastic. It just won't work. If you pull the entire barb out, you will have made the open channel too wide, and the hook point will poke out too easily and get stuck when you pull the lure over snags.

Above all, you need to leave some slack in the body of the lure when you rig it. You cannot have the bait stretched too tightly onto the hook. Tautness in the lure body is what makes for poor hooksetting. You have to leave the slightest amount of slack in the body between the offset eye and the embedded point. The slackness makes for a good hookset. This is a feel that only comes with doing it right. Leaving slack does not mean that the lure should look like it has a bend or curve caused by the way you rigged it - it should look perfectly straight - but when you press down on it with your index finger right where you want the fish to bite it, there should be some looseness, some slack give in the lure body. You want the fish's mouth to depress the bait's body down easily in the section ahead of where the hook point is waiting. Once the hook point starts to grab hold in the fish's mouth, you really want the entire bait to easily pull down off the front offset portion of the hook, and out of the way where it won't interfere with a good hook set. This is kind of hard to describe in writing, but very recognizable once you get the hang of doing it.

Split Shot Hook. All the above applies to Texas or Carolina rigging an offset hook. Offset hooks are best for weedy, brushy, woody areas. But for open gravel, rocks, and structure, you can Texas or Carolina rig with an exposed hook...especially for some of the weightless, wacky and splitshot rigging... the Yamamoto Split Shot hook is one of the best tools to use, and it breaks all of the rules just mentioned above! Maybe that's why I like it so much. Most anglers have never heard of it - yet. You can click here to find out more about it and how to rig it: The Split Shot Technique is The Advantage by Jerry "Bubba" Puckett, editor of Inside Line magazine.

Hope it helps you worm your way out of here!

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