11 ways to fish a Stick Worm (7 Rigging Techniques and 4 Sneaky Bite-Producing Tweaks)

Mornings on the Water…

[MOtW] April 2023

11 ways to fish a Stick Worm

(7 Rigging Techniques and 4 Sneaky Bite-Producing Tweaks)

It’s decided! You are finally going to give the “wacky rig” a try this weekend and you just spent 30 minutes in the Stick Worm aisle at your local tackle shop. Eventually you were able to make your selections from the mind-boggling selection of colors and come home with a few of your favorites. Or at least colors that a pro angler from another state said were thebest. Now you’re second guessing the colors you picked. That’s OK. We are pleased to inform you that what you are experiencing is completely normal. Welcome to the Stick Worm circus!

WHAT IS A STICK WORM?!? (also known as a Senko, Sink Worm, Trick-Stick, Stik-O, Dinger etc. – the list goes on)

Ever since some dude with the last name Yamamoto came out with a piece of plastic that looks like a stick, anglers have been loading up and catching fish on this remarkable lure. I must admit I was slow to jump on the band wagon. I had immediately dismissed the Stick Worm as something that appeared to devoid of any “action” and consequently not suitable for enticing bass. Why would a bass want to eat a stick? It took a few years for me to realize my mistake. My loss! But better late than never, I guess. What I found when I finally tied one on was that bass simply can’t resist the “stick”. Not sure why, but I’m sure not going to argue! There are so many ways you can fish it, and it catches fish when nothing else seems to work. [Stick Worm Link]


Today, every soft plastic outfit worth the ink on their packaging carries a Stick Worm. Are some better than others? Probably, but they all seem to fool bass. With new additions and variations appearing every year, sizes tend to range from the smaller 3” baits all the way up to 8” monster sticks. Most baits run between 4” and 6” long and the 5” seems to be the perfect size. The color selection seems endless. Some brands offer as many as 50 colors! Apparently, when fish wake up in the morning, they decide that today is a “lizard green with pink and blue flake day” and eat nothing else. You’d better have that color in your tackle box! Personally, I use just 2 or 3 colors. Not quite sure why you would need 50, but I guess the more choices the better. Right? [Stick Worm Colors]


Some of these Stick Worms come with scent impregnated in the plastic. Some don’t. This is a matter of personal preference, but I prefer scented baits. For me, the bass hold onto a scented bait longer allowing for better hooksets. I’ll take all the help I can get. I add scent to my plastic worm bags and let them marinate in the scent for a week or two for the best results. Just a few drops of a good scent are all you need to get your Stick Worms smelling “ripe”. And many baits already come pre-scented.


So what is the best way to rig a Stick Worm? Let me start with an important disclaimer: I’m sure there are lots of ways to rig this lure that will not be mentioned here. Everyone has a different twist, and I have no doubt that they work. But the following are a few of the most common and the most productive ways to rig and throw your Stick Worm. I’ll start with the more common rigging techniques, and then move to some lesser-used techniques and finally, include some cool Stick Worm “tweaks” that can really make a difference on a tough-bite day.

Wacky Rigging – Wacky Rigging a Stick Worm is arguably the most common rigging method and certainly one of the most effective. With the Wacky Rig, the hook is positioned in the middle of the worm, or just offset from the middle. You can run your hook through the plastic, but a better way to rig it is using a Wacky Ring, made for this purpose. These little rubber rings fit snugly around your worm and hold your hook securely in place. Wacky Rig Hooks are made specifically for this technique, so you might as well use one. I use hook sizes 1, 1/0 and 2/0 predominantly. You have a choice of standard or weedless. Use the weedless only when necessary. An inexpensive, nifty little tool called a Wacky Rigging Tool will allow you to effortlessly thread the rubber rings onto your Stick Worms. If your main line is braid, use a 36” to 48” fluorocarbon leader and you will catch more fish. The beauty of the wacky rig is that it sinks very slowly. It excels in shallow water situations, under and around docks and near structure. You can add weight to a wacky rigged worm as needed to modify your fall rate. Nail weights inserted into the tips, or a small worm weight positioned above the hook are common ways to add some speed to your sink rate.

Neko Rigging – The Neko Rig is similar to Wacky Rig, using the same rubber ring and hook styles for rigging. The difference is that a Neko Rig is weighted at one end, causing the weighted end to “lead” down toward the bottom while bait is sinking, giving the bait a leading end (head) and a trailing end (tail). It also allows angler to bounce the bait along the bottom providing a very natural looking presentation. Generally, the rubber ring is positioned closer to the weighted end of the worm. Whereas a Wacky Rig slowly “flutters” down the water column, a Neko Rig “swims” down and is then fished along the bottom. Neko Rigs are not only effective in shallow water, but deeper water as well. If fish are hitting your bait on the fall, you can slow the fall rate by using lighter weights. Experiment until you’re happy.

NED Rigging – NED rigging basically means that you are fishing your Stick Worm on a NED jig. NED jigs are made to bounce along the bottom with the worm in an upright position, inviting the fish to bite it. Generally, shorter worms are used in the NED Rig setup, often measuring 2.5” to about 4” in length. Many are made specifically for this technique and include NED in the name. You can always cut a longer worm to the desired length as needed. Choose a floating worm! This technique is deadly for smallmouth bass but should not be ignored when targeting walleye or largemouth. If fish are bottom feeding, then this technique shines! It is also a very good technique for fishing rivers and deeper pools.

Drop Shotting & Dead-Sticking – For this technique, a neutrally buoyant worm is ideal. A neutrally buoyant bait will just sit there and wait to be inhaled. Even inactive fish will sometimes suck in a lure that is just sitting there, doing nothing. The Drop Shot technique is a great option for dead-sticking. This set up places the sinker below the hook (at the level you choose), so the bait is suspended off the bottom. In the fish’s face, right where you want it. If you are fishing with braided line, use a 36” to 48” leader. I like Co-Polymer for Drop Shotting, but Fluorocarbon works well too. Drop Shot hooks are commonplace and designed specifically for this technique. Some people prefer a worm hook, rigged Texas style. A Palomar knot, with the tag end running back through the hook eye (from top to bottom) keeps the hook tilted out and in position, keeping your worm clear of the line. Drop Shot sinkers are placed below the hook on the tag end to complete the rig. A good starting distance from hook to sinker is about 12”to 15”. I use 1/4oz and 3/16oz sinkers almost exclusively, but deeper water will require more weight. The Stick Worm can be hooked through the middle of the worm (Wacky style), or through the nose of the worm (Drop Shot style) or with a worm hook (Texas style). Any way you rig it, bass will not be able to pass this offering up.

Texas Rigging – Maybe the most common way to fish a worm for bass, Texas rigging provides an incredibly versatile option for fishing your Stick Worm. Texas rigging is preferred by anglers fishing heavy weeds and structure due to its weedless nature. You can fish both shallow to deep water effectively. Essentially, all you need is a worm weight and a worm hook. Vary your weight and hook size depending on how deep you want to fish and the size of the bass you are targeting. To Texas rig your worm, insert your hook point through the front end of the worm and poke it out about ¼” down and feed the hook through until the worm is positioned up on the neck of the hook. Then measure where the hook needs to pass back through the worm and proceed to run the hook through the worm until the worm sits naturally in the bend of the hook and the point of the hook is resting against the worm. Some anglers then lightly penetrate the worm’s skin with the point of the hook to hide it and make it even more weedless. If you want to keep your worm weight from sliding up and down the line, use a rubber bobber stop.

Weightless Texas Style – This is one of my favorite ways to rig the Stick Worm. And it might just be the simplest of them all! For this technique, all you need is a worm hook. I prefer the wide gap models, but some anglers use a traditional round bend worm hook. Both styles work. Again, you will catch more fish if you tie your worm hook on a 36” Fluorocarbon leader.  I use the Uni knot to tie the hook to the leader. See the Texas Rigging segment above for how to rig your worm on the hook Texas style. This set up is well suited for fishing shallow, weedy areas you simply can’t fish with other rigs. And those are the places, my friends, that the bass tend to hang out. You can throw the Texas rigged Stick Worm just about anywhere you want to throw it. And you will be rewarded on a regular basis.

Carolina Rigging – Stick Worms make great Carolina Rig trailers. If you want to fish a deeper hole, or you have a fairly clean bottom and want to drag a lure over it, a Carolina set up is ideal. Here, a sinker is set up a couple of feet in front of the hook. The sinker (often brass or tungsten and often in the 1/2oz to 3/4oz range) is threaded on your main line, followed with a glass bead or two to create a clicking sound. Then a swivel is tied to the end of the main line to act as a stopper for your weight. The swivel also helps reduce line twist. A 2 to 3 foot Co-Polymer leader is tied to the swivel with your worm hook on the other end. I use an EWG hook tailored to the size of my bait. Generally, a 3/0 or a 4/0. You want your trailing bait to be off the lake floor, so using a neutrally buoyant worm is helpful. Rigging the Stick Worm Texas style is usually preferred to reduce hangups.


Once again, I am sure there are many more sneaky tweaks savvy anglers use to catch fish. The following are four that I have found to produce strikes when the standard presentations just aren’t working. Fish might have small brains, but they do figure stuff out when they are repeatedly exposed to the same presentations over and over again. Sometimes, a small change-up is all that is needed to trigger a strike from lure-weary fish. Try some of these tweaks next time you’re out and the bite gets tough.

Slit-Tail Tweak – I learned this one while out with a guide in Florida. Seems trivial, but it made all the difference the day we used it. Here, all you do is take a pair of scissors and carefully make two cuts in the tail. Cuts should be about 1” to 1.5” long. Cut the tail into quarters, essentially producing “tube-like” tails that add some subtle action to your Stick Worm. Experiment with length of cut to achieve the best action possible. This tweak is especially effective if fishing the Neko, Texas or Carolina techniques. If they have seen enough of the stick, give ‘em a stick with tails! Sometimes that’s all it takes to get them to bite.

Spinner Tail Tweak – This one requires some planning in advance, but it is very worthwhile to have some of these nifty little rigs in your tacklebox (buy some or make some up ahead of time). Basically, you need a small spinner blade on a swivel, attached to a fine wire screw, called a screwlock. To rig, simply screw the screwlock into the tail end of the worm and the blade will “follow” the lure and spin, adding some flash and vibration to your presentation. For this technique to be effective, your lure needs to be moving, so I recommend adding this to the tail end of a Neko rigged worm. Imagine your worm making its way to the bottom with a blade fluttering down behind it? Sounds irresistible, and very often is! This tweak also works well with Texas and Carolina rig setups, if you keep the bait moving. Sweeping the bait up quickly and then letting it flutter back down can be very effective when fishing deeper water. The spinner blade needs to be relatively small. Look for smaller blades that are made of thin material for best action. Or use a plastic lure flipper as your blade.

Floatzilla Tweak – If you haven’t seen the Floatzilla floats yet, you will soon. What Floatzilla has done is attach a small float to a screwlock. They have a few different versions, but they made two specifically for Stick Worms. Simply screw one of these into the tail of your worm and it will make your lure stand up in the water. If you are working the bottom with your lure, the float will ensure the lure is up off the bottom and in the face of the fish. Use these floats whenever you need to get the tail of your bait up in the water column. The Floatzilla excels for NED rigs but can be used in all kinds of presentations. Use your imagination and get your presentation off the bottom!

Rattle(s) Tweak – If you are fishing in a low-visibility situation, consider adding rattles to your Stick Worm presentations. Adding rattles can be done in a variety of ways and will help fish locate your lure. I insert small glass rattles right into the body of the worm and, if I really want to raise the decibel level, I add a couple of rattles attached by a rattle strap (see pic). Every time you twitch your rod tip, the rattles will broadcast the location of your lure. Fish seem to appreciate this when they can’t see your lure! There are many types of rattles and many ways to attach them. Be creative and you will put more fish in the boat!


Remember that guy back in high school that was good at all the sports? That is what we have here. A bait that excels at almost everything. Don’t be like me and let the plain, stick-like appearance fool you. This is a tried and tested, fish-catching weapon that you can fish all day long. And you can fish it all season long. It casts well, even unweighted. You can find Stick Worms that sink, ones that float and ones that are neutrally buoyant. Use these qualities to your advantage. Best of all, bass can’t leave them alone. What’s not to like?

Please share!

One thought on “11 ways to fish a Stick Worm (7 Rigging Techniques and 4 Sneaky Bite-Producing Tweaks)

  1. Frank

    Great article regarding soft sticks!
    In the last year, I came up (after reading your article), smaller versions of the STICK. The stick is nothing more than a stick-shaped lure with no action tail whereas the stick BODY provides it all!


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