Author Archives: Greg

Building & Tweaking Bladed Jigs

Mornings on the Water (MOtW April 2024)

Building & Tweaking Bladed Jigs

A DIY Guide for Building Lures that Catch Fish!

Creating your own bladed jig can be a lot of fun. But more importantly, it’s a surefire way to optimize your angling success. Here’s everything you need to know about making your own bladed jigs. Plus, included are some tricks & tips to fine-tune your lures to make them even more effective!

What is a Bladed Jig?

Before we delve into the specifics of component selection, let’s discuss what a bladed jig is. In essence, a bladed jig (also commonly known as a Chatterbait), is a versatile fishing lure that combines the best qualities of a spinnerbait and a jig. The defining feature of a bladed jig is its vibrating blade that mimics the motion of small fish, making it an effective tool to attract predatory species. The blade is attached to the front of the jig and wobbles back and forth as you pull the lure through the water.

Why You Should Start Making Your Own Bladed Jigs

Bladed Jigs can be an angler’s secret weapon. They’ve gained widespread popularity due to their versatility and effectiveness in a variety of fishing conditions. These lures imitate the motion and vibration of small baitfish, making them irresistible to fish seeking a quick meal. They are often used in windy conditions or when visibility is impaired. When fish can’t locate a lure by sight, they key in on the vibration the lure emits.

Bladed jigs can be spendy, often topping $10 in the stores. But the good news is that you can assemble your own at a fraction of the cost of a store bought one. And that’s not all. You can also choose your own colors and create a lethal lure you know will catch fish in your local fishery. Fish in heavily fished areas can become accustomed to common baits. Your unique bladed jig might just be the key to getting those fish to bite. The best news is that it’s very easy to assemble your own! Anyone can do it.

How to assemble your own Bladed Jig

Step 1: Grab the necessary tools. All you need is a pair of standard Long Nose Pliers and a pair of Split Ring Pliers. The Split Ring Pliers will help you load the split ring onto your blade and jig eyelet during the assembly process.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

Here are the components you will need:

  1. Bladed Swim Jig Head: Choose the style, color, weight and hook that works best for you.
  2. Jig Dancer Shaker Blade: There are several styles and colors to choose from.
  3. Split Ring: Size 3 or Size 4 – Connects your blade to the jig head eyelet. (see tip below)
  4. Duo-Lock Snap: Size 3 – This connects to the front of the blade, where you tie your line.
  5. Silicone Skirt: A Skirt helps hide the hook, flares out in the water, and brings lure to life.
  6. Trailer: *Optional* – These enhance the action of your lure. Use 3½” to 4½” baits.

Step 3: Assemble Your Bladed Jig (See Figures 1 – 6)

  1. Add the Duo-Lock Snap to the front of the Blade: This is where you will tie your line. Fig 1-2
  2. Attach the Blade to the Jig: Use a split ring to attach the blade to the jig head’s eyelet. Ensure the convex side of the blade (if using a bent blade) faces away from the jig head to create the bladed jig’s distinctive action in the water. Fig 3-4
  3. Add the Skirt: Push the skirt over the hook and up onto the jig head collar. Make sure it flares out to mimic natural bait. Fig 5
  4. Add your Trailer: Thread your chosen soft bait trailer (craw or minnow) onto the hook. Fig 6

And voila! You have created your very own bladed jig.

 Optimizing your Bladed Jig for peak performance

Choosing the right components can significantly impact your success rate. If you’re interested in upping your game with a bladed jig, consider the following key factors when building your Bladed Jig:

BladeThe blade is the heartbeat of the bladed jig. It’s responsible for creating the vibration and flash that attracts fish. Many bladed jigs have hex-shaped blades, but they can also be oval or round. In clear water, consider a silver or gold blade. In darker, murkier water, a black or painted blade could be more effective. Flat blades can give off more vibration, whereas bent blades are a great choice for an all-around effective lure in multiple fishing conditions.

SkirtThe skirt provides the bulk of the bait’s visual appeal. Choose a color that matches the natural prey of the fish you’re targeting. For example, if you’re fishing in an area with a lot of bluegills, opt for a skirt featuring bluegill colors, like green, blue and orange. Choose a skirt that naturally flares out to give your lure a more natural profile.

Jig Head and HookThe jig head’s weight is crucial to consider, as it affects the depth and speed at which the bladed jig can be fished. Lighter weights (1/4 oz – 3/8 oz) are good for shallow water, while heavier weights (1/2 oz or more) are better for deeper waters. The hook should be sharp and strong enough to handle the fish you’re targeting.

Soft Plastic TrailerAdding a trailer, such as a crawfish or swimbait, can increase the lure’s effectiveness. The trailer adds additional movement and mimics a fish’s natural prey more accurately. Consider the color, size, and action of the trailer to match the conditions and target species. See tip below on adding trailers.

 How to fish your Bladed Jig

Now that you have built your fish-catching weapon, it’s time to put it to the test. What is the best way to fish your Bladed Jig? This lure is so effective, that by simply casting it out and retrieving it you will catch fish. But you can improve your odds even more with a few simple tips on how to vary the “retrieve”. There are likely more retrieve techniques, but these are the most popular.

Steady Retrieve – Here you simply retrieve your lure in a steady, even manner. This is the simplest way to fish a Bladed Jig. However, year in and year out it consistently fools fish.

Erratic Retrieve – This technique involves adding short pauses to your retrieve. In addition to pausing the retrieve, try speeding it up and slowing it down, so that the retrieve is not steady or even. Sudden, erratic movements often trigger fish into a strike.

Burn Retrieve – Here you are retrieving your lure as fast as you can. Fast moving lures often trigger fish that won’t fall for slow moving lures. Here you are looking for “reaction” strikes. Burning your Bladed Jig also helps your lure go into “hunt mode”, creating the often irresistible, erratic movements fish can’t ignore.

Yo-Yo Retrieve – This technique is ideal for deeper water when fish are holding near the bottom. Simply put, the Yo-Yo technique involves using your bait more like a Yo-Yo, letting fall to the bottom and then quickly reeling it up, then letting it fall to the bottom again. Fish are equally as likely to hit the lure as it flutters to the bottom as they are to hammer it when you rip it up off the bottom. Try this next time you are out, when the water temp is warming up!

Pro Tweaks for better performance!

Split Ring Size – The Split Ring is the smallest component in Bladed jig assembly but might be the most influential. The size of this small part plays a big role in the movement of your lure through the water. Using a size #4 Split Ring will allow your lure to operate in a more consistent, in-line trajectory (a steady, side to side wobble). Using a size #3 Split Ring will cause your lure to “hunt” on retrieve, with a more erratic trajectory. This becomes especially noticeable as you increase your speed of the retrieve. The faster the retrieve, the more erratic the hunting action. It’s important to note that trailer length also greatly affects the hunting action of your lures.

Flat Blade vs Bent Blade – Blade shape matters. Use the flat blades to create more aggressive blade vibration. The flat blades are great when you want to fish a slower presentation in stained / dirty water. Use the bent blades when you are employing a faster retrieve and looking for a more consistent wobble motion. Rule of thumb – Flat blades in spring and fall and mirky water. Bent blades in summer in clear water conditions.

Metallic Blade vs Painted Blade – Generally speaking, use bright painted blades (red, or white, or chartreuse) in the spring and in low-visibility conditions. Black also seems to work well in dingy or dark water. Use metallic blades (nickel, gold etc) in clear water and sunlight. We have also found that natural colors like Green Pumpkin work well in clear water. Use blade decals to diffuse overly reflective blades, enhance bait patterns or to add color and pizzazz.

Trailers Affect & Enhance Lure Action – We rarely fish a Bladed Jig without a trailer. A trailer will affect the swimming movement of your bait as much as anything else. Use trailers to your advantage. Due to the movement of the jig head, trailers tend to swim behind the lure in a very natural way, turning a good bait into a great bait. You can use swimbaits, minnows, craws or just about anything else you want. Keep in mind that longer trailers could inhibit the erratic “hunting” action of your lure. Try some of your favorites and see how they perform on the back of your Bladed Jig!

Finally – Experimentation is key!

Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all Bladed Jig. The “best” Bladed Jig will depend on various factors, including the fishing conditions, the species you’re fishing for, your personal preferences and maybe most importantly, the mood of the fish you are targeting. It’s essential to experiment with different Bladed Jig components and presentation methods until you find the combination that yields the best results for you. Now go have some fun!!

 About the author

Andrew Taylor has been tinkering with fishing lures for almost 40 years. Andrew, who lives in Minnesota with his wife and 4 children, founded in 1992. About 10 years ago, he sold the company to Jim and Ron Stevens of Springfield, IL. Andrew stayed on to work with the new ownership, and currently is head of Marketing and Product Development. Through his work, he gets to spend a lot of time on the water testing products.

Mornings on the Water (MOtW) is a compilation of the experiences and insight gained over the years while on the water. He prefers early mornings when the water is still, the birds are just waking up and the fish are hungry. And most people are still in bed.

A few of the author’s Bladed Jig favorite patterns.

 Spring – 3/8oz Hot Spring Craw Pattern – #4 split ring for tighter tracking – Gold Tiger Blade – Pintail trailer.

 Summer – 1/2oz Bluegill Pattern – #3 split ring for a more erratic, hunting action – Gold Blade – Turbo-Tails Craw trailer.

 Fall – 1/2oz Natural Baitfish Pattern – #4 split ring for tighter tracking – Black or G.P. Blade – Pintail trailer.


Click here to watch a How-To video on making your own Bladed Jigs by pro angler Jim Crowley.



Pitching the “Change-Up” to catch more bass


MOtW – Pitching the “Change-Up” to catch more bass.

September 2023

The other day I got into a nice school of bass at one of my favorite spots. I was working a flipping jig tipped with a craw trailer and the bass were all over it. The hot bite was good for over a dozen bass in about 45 minutes. Then the bite went cold. Ice cold. Like someone had flipped a switch. For an additional 20 minutes, I continued to throw my jig with no takers.

Then, somewhat by accident, I learned a valuable lesson. I found a snag, and in my attempt to free the lure I broke off my jig. Time to move to another spot. But before I moved on, I decided to pick up my Drop Shot rod that was rigged and ready and make a couple more casts. Mostly to test a new bait I had in the boat. I wanted to see what it looked like in the water.

First cast with a Drop Shot I get a bite. A good bite. I feel the bass take the bait and move away, slow and heavy. It was one of the better bass I caught in the spot. Right where the jig bite had dried up 20 minutes ago. My Drop Shot rig produced another 6 bass, in quick succession over the next half hour. And they were all good size. I was stunned. I had almost left that spot. These last group of bass had ignored my jig but were all over my Drop Shot presentation.

Finally, the Drop Shot bite faded. I fished the spot for another 15 minutes and couldn’t get any more bites. Time to move. I had some more spots to check. I was preparing to leave when I saw my Crappie rod rigged with a small hair jig. Why not? So I picked up my crappie rod and made a couple of casts into my hole that had already yielded close to 20 nice bass. Second cast my rod loaded up with the biggest bass of the day. I had trouble boating it with my light crappie tackle, but with a lot of patience I got her in the boat.


That was the last bite in that spot, but it left me a changed fisherman. The experience taught me a valuable lesson. In fact, it taught me several valuable lessons.

SLOW DOWN – I’m reminded of the Simon & Garfunkel lyrics “Slow down, you move too fast. You’ve got to make the morning last…” (Feelin’ Groovy). Most anglers move way too fast. All too often I see guys with the trolling motor on “High”, flying along making the occasional cast. As if they are in a race to get to the other end of the lake. When you move fast, you miss fish. When you miss fish, you miss schools of fish. When you miss schools of fish, you miss out on big opportunities for enjoyment. At least for me, the reason I am out there is for the enjoyment. I like finding fish and I like catching fish in bunches.

Recently I was motoring over to one of my favorite stretches of docks, and as I approached, I saw another boat moving through the area I wanted to fish. As I cut the motor, I noticed the guy in the boat hook up and boat a nice bass, right where I was planning to fish. He was moving along at a good clip, and to my surprise, didn’t even slow down. He was pitching a jig and covering water. He did not make a second cast into the spot he hooked the fish. He just kept moving. I watched as he cruised down the shoreline, hitting the docks with one cast, sometimes two, like he was late for an appointment. Soon he was out of sight, around the point. I moved in and put the trolling motor down, glided quietly into position. As I had hoped, there were a lot more bass to be had. Two hours later, I was still working the same 150 yards of shoreline and still boating bass. There was no need to move. My other spots could wait for another day.

DON’T BE ONE-DIMENSIONAL – Too many anglers settle into lure and rigging routines that cost them fish. One good afternoon with a particular lure, and now that is the got-to lure going forward. Experience has shown that bass are triggered by different lures. If you find a spot where fish are biting, why not boat as many as you can? Try several different baits and techniques to make sure you aren’t leaving any active fish behind. Changing the texture, action, speed, depth, shape, size and cadence of your presentations will trigger different fish in the group. There are a lot of different approaches you can try. You’ll surprise yourself with the added success that throwing a “change-up” could bring.

FISH EAT WHAT THEY WANT TO EAT – Let the fish tell you what they want. Sure, there are guidelines of what you should throw under certain conditions, but many times, something unexpected is what gets a fish to bite. If bass aren’t hitting a jig when they should be, don’t be afraid to try a different approach. Just because yesterday’s jig bite was hot, doesn’t mean today it will be. Be prepared to change things up and try new techniques. Bass can be picky eaters at times. One lure gets them to bite while another lure is ignored.

BE PATIENT – Don’t give up on a productive spot too quickly. Make sure you have exhausted all your options before you move on. If the area has shown it holds fish, hit the area comprehensively with a variety of presentations. Be patient and be persistent. Chances are there are more bites to be had. Sometimes the quality fish are the last to bite.

BE PREPARED – Have your rods and rigs tied up and ready for action. You will be much more likely to throw a different rig if you have it tied up and ready to go. Have a strategy of how you are going to cover each spot and hit your more productive spots with at least three distinct techniques. You won’t know that the bass are keying on finesse baits until you throw one.

I have lost count of the times that I have started out my morning with a wacky worm and finished the day throwing a drop shot rig. Not to mention the bladed jig, spinnerbait, hair jig, frog and Texas rig all thrown at some point in between. Next time you are out on the water, be prepared to pitch a change-up. You will likely put more fish in the boat!

Drop Shotting for Largemouth Bass

Mornings on the Water… [MOtW] June 2023

Drop Shotting for Largemouth Bass

My New Favorite Technique

 If you have never fished for largemouth bass using the Drop Shot technique, then you are missing out on one of the most effective ways to put bass in the boat. The more I throw it, the bigger fan of the Drop Shot technique I become. Drop Shotting flat out catches bass. This isn’t news to many of you. But it might be news to some. I always have a Drop Shot rod rigged and ready to go every time I go out. And it is usually the first one I grab.

For years, Drop Shotting was largely considered a technique reserved for suspended fish in deep holes.

Or a finesse technique for inactive fish. While the Drop Shot is certainly effective for fish holding in deeper water, it also shines in shallower water. And you don’t have to fish it slowly either. Let’s talk about all the reasons you should have a Drop Shot set-up in your boat at all times.

What is the Drop Shot technique?

The Drop Shot technique refers to a set-up that positions the hook above the weight, allowing your plastic lure to sit up off the bottom. The distance the hook sits above the weight depends on how far you want your bait to work off the bottom. Generally, a distance of 6” to about 18” is used by most anglers, but you can change that as your situation requires. Use a length that gets your bait out of the weeds and into the direct line of sight of the fish you are targeting.

Why is the Drop Shot so effective?

There are probably many reasons that contribute to the success of the Drop Shot when fishing for bass. But I am going to highlight what I think are the 3 most compelling reasons. The first reason is that the Drop Shot set up positions your bait in the strike zone pretty much 100% of the time. The rig is designed to keep your bait just off the bottom and right in the fish’s face. This gets you more strikes. Second, the action of your lure is improved by not being incumbered by a weight attached or adjacent to it (unlike a jig or a Texas rig, for example). Your offering is able to swim, twitch, fall, and rise freely and more naturally, like it was intended to do. Thirdly, if those two reasons alone aren’t enough to sway you, then consider that the hook-up percentage with the Drop Shot is very high. You hook and land most of the fish that hit your lure. Baits are generally on the smaller size (3” to 5”), so bass engulf them and swim off, making the hook set a piece of cake.

When should I throw a Drop Shot?

There is rarely a bad time to throw a Drop Shot. It will be easier to list the few situations a Drop Shot might not be ideal. I avoid using the Drop Shot around docks, as the trailing length of line going to the sinker can easily get tangled around posts and supports, possibly costing you a fish. It is also not a good set up for extremely weedy locations. But absolutely use it in and around sparse weeds and on weed edges. It is far more weedless than you might think. It is probably not your best option for very shallow water (< 2’) although I have caught fish with it in 1 foot of water. However, a Drop Shot should be considered as an effective presentation in many situations.

Working your Drop Shot.

The Drop Shot was originally conceived to be fished slowly. But it is also deadly when fished with a faster cadence. I have developed a retrieve that I call “hopping”. It has been absolutely the most effective bass technique for me over the last 2 summers. I cast it out and let it sink to the bottom on a slack line. I get a lot of hits on that initial fall, so watch your line for twitches as your bait sinks. Once the sinker hits bottom, I wait a couple of seconds, then shake the tip of the rod while the line is still slack. This imparts far more action in your lure than you might imagine. Then I begin “hopping” the lure back to the boat. I use a “Hop-Hop-Pause” sequence. By “hop” I mean hopping the sinker up off the the bottom. Some days you need to pause longer than other days. Or some days your hops need to be more vigorous. Let the fish dictate your retrieve cadence. For whatever reason this retrieve technique proves irresistible to bass.

How you set the Hook matters!

When fishing a flipping jig and you get a bite, you have really lean into it to set the hook. Not so with a Drop Shot rig. The most important detail when setting the hook in a Drop Shot set up is to first make contact with the fish. When a bass takes your bait, they often swim toward you or to the side, so when you get a bite, reel in and lower your rod tip until you have direct, positive contact with the fish (meaning that your line doesn’t have any slack or bows in it). Once you have “found” the fish and can feel its weight, lift your rod in a controlled, firm way while continuing to reel in. Keep reeling and that will keep your line taught and the fish securely hooked. The hook will easily penetrate, and you won’t have torn a large hole in the fish’s mouth which could allow fish to throw it. Practice this controlled hook set and you will boat many more fish! Over-zealous hooksets will lead to lost fish.

How to set up a Drop Shot rod.

Rigging a Drop Shot is straightforward. I use a 7” mod-fast action rod with a 2500 series spinning reel. If you are fishing with braid as your main line, you will need a fluorocarbon (or Co-Polymer) leader. I recommend a relatively long leader length, about 4 to 6 feet in length. See knots section below for best knots to use. Once your leader is on, you are ready to add your hook and weight. Tie on your Drop Shot Hook leaving a tag end long enough to run down to your Drop Shot Weight. There are several knots that can be used to tie on your hook and the jury is still out for me as to which one is best. They have all failed me at one point or another and all seem to have their pros and cons. I’m still searching for that perfect Drop Shot hook knot. Finally, attach your Drop Shot Weight to the bottom of the tag line, adjusting the distance from your hook to your liking. I usually place my weight about 12” down from the hook to start with, occasionally going to as short as 6” and as long as 18”. Remember that the bigger the gap, the harder the rig is to cast effectively.

Hooks, Weights and Line for Drop Shotting.

I use braid as my main line (PowerPro 30lb to 40lb) and

Fluorocarbon as my leader line (Seaguar 12lb to 14lb). I stay away from the lighter tests as I have little patience for fish breaking off. If I am fishing highly pressured fish or gin-clear water, I might be forced to downside leader test. But if the fish are biting with my current set up, why tempt fate with ultra-light line? Losing a big fish can haunt you for days! As for Drop Shot Hooks, there is a wide variety to choose from. Some anglers prefer a worm hook and rig the bait Texas style. If you are fishing very heavy cover, this could be advantageous as it is the most weedless set up. But in my opinion, Texas rigging affects the baits action, nullifying the biggest asset of the Drop Shot set up – the natural presentation. I prefer nose hooking with a Drop Shot Hook, and hiding the point in the bait to reduce line twist and to make it a little more weedless. I use hook sizes #1 up to about a #2/0 mostly. Match the hook size with the bait size you are using. My favorite hook style is the Gamakatsu 504, but there are many options, and they all work well. As for weights, I strongly recommend the sleek pencil style weights that don’t get hung up very often (amazingly) like the wider weights do. Choose tungsten for better sensibility or lead for cost savings. Both work and the bass sure don’t care. Go with the lightest weight you can get by with. I usually start with a 1/4oz or 3/16oz size.

Best Plastic Baits for Drop Shotting.

There are literally dozens, if not 100’s of Drop Shot plastic lures on the market. How to choose from such a large variety? My suggestion is to purchase about half a dozen of the ones that look the most interesting to you and start experimenting with them.

You will soon find colors, sizes and body styles that prove effective in your local waters. For starters, look for neutrally buoyant baits. Floating baits can be effective too. Slow-sinking baits will work if you are fishing the rig fast. If I had to pick my 5 top baits, these are the five I would go with: The Big D Darter from LurePartsOnline, KVD’s Dream Shot, the Roboworm, Missile Baits Bomb Shot and Zoom’s Trick Worm. All these are deadly when fished on a Drop

Shot set up. And there are many more good ones. The list goes on and on. My go-to colors are Morning Dawn and Green Pumpkin. I start with a lure in the 4”-5” length range and then upsize or downsize from there. There have been days that I could only get a bite on a small, 3” lure. Other days they are crushing anything and everything I throw out there. Be flexible and experiment.

Your Drop Shot Knots can make or break your day!

Good knots are extremely important! Learn to tie good knots and you will land the big one when it hits! I use 2 different knots to attach the leader to the braid. The best knot is the FG Knot*, but it can be hard to tie, especially in a boat. The other knot, one that is just about as good and can be easily tied in the boat, is the Albright Knot*. Both of these knots have a sleek profile and slide through your guides easily. As for tying on your Drop Shot hook, I have used the Palomar Knot* for the last couple of years, but have had mixed results (several heart-wrenching breakoffs) and am actively searching for a better knot. I have tried several new knots and am not convinced my search is done yet. Each knot seems to have its pros and cons. To minimize the knot fatigue issue, I have to re-tie often. But re-tying is tedious and eats up a lot of leader line each time. And who has the discipline to stop fishing and re-tie when the fish are actively biting??

*These knots can be learned through tutorials easily found on You-Tube. Watch them, learn how to tie them and practice until you are good at tying them. You will be glad you did. If you lose a fish, it shouldn’t be because of a bad knot.

Final Thoughts on the deadly Drop Shot technique.

If you have never thrown a Drop Shot for bass, maybe it’s time to give it a try. I can honestly say that if I was going fishing and had to pick just one rod set up for bass, I would grab my Drop Shop rod. It has consistently outperformed other techniques over the last couple of seasons and has been the most versatile of them all. It is also extremely effective as a “follow-up” technique when you fish other presentations. In other words, throw a Drop Shot after your jig bite has stopped. You’ll likely pull in a couple more fish from the same spot that would not bite the jig. I have caught these “bonus fish” on a number of occasions when the bite went cold. Even though the Drop Shot is considered a finesse approach, I’ve caught many of my biggest bass using this method. Drop Shot presentations might be smaller, but the bass that eat them are certainly not! Next time you are out chasing bass, try the Hop-Hop- Pause method to work your Drop Shot rig. You’ll be glad you did!

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?