A Pro’s Guide to Rigging a Plastic Worm for Bass Fishing
Plastic worms are a must-have bait for any bass fisherman. They give a lifelike action and are available in hundreds of different colors. Best of all, plastic worms can be rigged several ways, making them incredibly versatile.
Made from a soft plastic material, plastic worms can be fished to represent anything from an actual worm to baitfish, crayfish, and other prey species. Plastic worms have been popular among bass anglers for many years due to their ability to catch fish consistently with the correct presentation.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular plastic worms, discuss how to rig a Senko Worm for bass fishing, and share five killer ways to rig up plastic worms.
With this knowledge, you’ll never run out of ideas for rigging and presenting your plastic worms again.
Top Three Plastic Worms
While there are countless brands and styles of soft plastic worms, three come to mind as the best overall.
The most obvious choice is the classic Yamamoto Senko Worm. This soft plastic stickbait was designed by Gary Yamamoto in 1996 and has been a staple plastic worm bait ever since. No experienced bass angler would ever leave home without a pack or two, and you shouldn’t either.
With a ribbed design and basic stick shape, a large part of the Senko Worm’s effectiveness comes from its simplicity. The rest comes from its action, which drives bass crazy and makes it an incredibly reliable lure. The Senko Worm can be rigged using all five of these presentations and many more.Another excellent plastic worm option is a ribbon tail worm, like the Berkley PowerBait Power Worm. The action provided by the tail of this plastic worm is incredibly enticing to aggressive bass. The Power Worm can be rigged several ways, but it really shines on a Texas Rig, which can be weighted or weightless. This lure is a proven performer, available in a wide array of colors and with the added benefit of coming with the PowerBait scent.
Last but not least is the Zoom Finesse Worm. The small profile of this plastic worm makes it one of the best finesse baits available. It’s great for targeting finicky bass and is a dependable option for smallmouth fishing. Although the Zoom Finesse Worm offers versatility in its rigging possibilities, it stands apart from the others when on a Drop Shot Rig. The small and subtle presentation of a Zoom Finesse Worm works wonders for producing bites, even on the most challenging days.
Rigging up Plastic Worms
As we’ll explain, there are many ways to go about rigging a plastic worm for bass fishing. Selecting the right hook for each rig is essential, as using the right style will significantly improve your success rate with the respective rig.
You’ll want to use a 1/0-5/0 offset worm hook for Texas and Carolina Rigs, which can be standard or extra wide gap. An offset worm hook gives the lure a more natural appearance and allows for a weedless presentation, preventing potential snags.
For the Wacky Rig and Drop Shot Rig, 1/0-3/0 drop shot hooks are ideal because they simplify the process of rigging the lure onto the hook. The small hook size also helps the lure remain suspended in the water column without weighing it down.
The Shaky Head Rig uses a specialized weighted hook that enables weedless rigging. Shaky Head Jigs from Strike King are a great, well-balanced option to help the lure stand up on the bottom.
Essential hooks and tackle for these top-rated plastic worm rigs
1. Texas Rig
The Texas Rig is one of the most widely used and oldest plastic worm rigs in bass fishing. Using an offset worm hook, the plastic worm is hooked through the nose, and then the hook is inserted back into the worm’s body. This allows for a lifelike and, more importantly, a weedless rig that can be fished with a weight or entirely weightless.
Cast it into areas you suspect bass are hiding. Let it reach the bottom, lift the rod tip up, reel down the slack, and repeat until you make your next cast.
You can also “hop” a Texas Rig along the bottom with quick twitches of the rod tip.
Plastic worms on a Texas Rig also work well when making short, accurate casts toward heavy structures. Give your rod a gentle twitch to give the rig some action. Senko Worms are especially useful in areas with thick vegetation/structure, as they lack appendages that might get snagged.
Texas Rigs are also great around shallow structures. These areas include rocky shorelines, laydowns, docks, and regions with dense underwater vegetation.
For weighted Texas Rigs, I recommend using a 7’6″ medium-heavy casting rod paired with a mid-gear ratio baitcasting reel. This versatile setup ensures casting remains simple while providing support for flipping/pitching and maintaining a robust backbone for solid hooksets.
If you’re using a weightless Texas Rig, go with a 6’6″ -7″ medium spinning combo, as it may be difficult to cast such a light lure on a baitcasting setup.
2. Carolina Rig
The Carolina Rig is another time-tested plastic worm rig that will catch boatloads of fish. Comprised of seven simple components, the Carolina Rig is a unique option that excels when bottom fishing in offshore areas.
To fish a Carolina Rig, make a long cast and slowly drag the rig along the bottom with a low and slow sweeping method using your rod. Alternatively, you can use the lift-and-drop method by lifting your rod tip, letting the rig drop, reeling the slack, and repeating until you make your next cast. Doing so will move the rig up and down the water column, presenting it both above and within structures like submerged weed beds.
When using a Carolina Rig, look for rocky areas, weed beds, or any other feature in deeper areas away from shore.
Any of my top three choices for soft plastic worms will perform very well with the Carolina Rig, but the Berkley Power Worm is an exceptional choice. The ribbon tail produces additional action in the water that catches the attention of hungry bass.
For a Carolina Rig, go with a casting rod up to 7’6” long with medium-heavy power to help you make longer casts. For your reel, a high gear ratio baitcasting reel is extremely helpful for bringing bass back to the boat quickly and without losing them in the process.
A Carolina Rigged Power Worm
3. Wacky Rig
The Wacky Rig is appropriately named – whoever came up with it was obviously desperate for a different presentation. The Wacky Rig is simply a soft plastic worm hooked right in the middle of its body. This rigging style gives the worm a ton of action and does an incredible job at catching fish, even when all other efforts have failed.
Due to its even shape, the Senko Worm lends itself well to the Wacky Rig. When displayed on a Wacky Rig, both ends can move freely in the water, giving a natural appearance that bass can’t resist. The Wacky Rig is typically weightless, but you can add a split shot weight a few inches above the hook if you want it to sink a little faster.
Uniquely, when paired with a Senko Worm, the Wacky Rig can be skipped across the water for an appealing topwater presentation. This isn’t possible with any of the other presentations listed here.
For best results, use a Wacky Rig in shallow areas close to rocky areas, fallen trees, docks, or along the fringes of cattails or lily pads. The Wacky Rig is one of the best for pond fishing but is just as valuable on large bodies of water.
Due to the light weight of a Wacky Rigged plastic worm, it can be difficult to cast it on a baitcasting combo without experiencing backlashes. I recommend a 7’-7’6” medium power spinning rod paired with a 2500-3000 size spinning reel and 8–10 lb fluorocarbon line.
4. Shaky Head Rig
The Shaky Head Rig offers a unique presentation for rigging a plastic worm for bass fishing. Using a specialized shaky jig head, the soft plastic worm is threaded onto the head on a small springlike wire. Then, the hook is placed through the worm’s body for weedless applications.
The efficacy of the Shaky Head Rig comes from its ability to bounce off the bottom and stand up vertically when paused, actions that can effectively draw in a strike. Plus, the unique design of the shaky jig head allows for a weedless presentation, which is helpful for areas with thick vegetation.
Senko Worms are often used with this rig and work well, but the Berkely Power Worm is also an excellent choice. I strongly recommend using a Shaky Head with a teardrop-shaped hook, such as the Strike King Tour Grade. By doing so, the rig can sit more naturally on the bottom, enhancing its presence and making it more appealing to bass.
To fish a Shaky Head, cast the rig, make short pops with your rod tip, pause for a few moments, and repeat until the next cast. This will bounce the rig along the bottom, and the pause will give the bass an opportunity to strike.
Rocky areas with diverse rock sizes and boulders offer an optimal environment for shaky head fishing. This type of rocky terrain provides ideal hideouts and ambush points for bass and attracts crayfish, which nestle in the rock crevices, making them a hotbed for bass activity.They are also useful around nearshore structures such as docks and laydowns. Since the hook is embedded in the lure, you can safely use a Shaky Head Rig around aquatic vegetation without fear of getting snagged.
For Shaky Heads that weigh ¼ ounce or more, I recommend using a 7’6″ medium-heavy casting rod combined with a baitcasting reel that has a moderate gear ratio. If you’re using a lighter Shaky Head Rig, consider opting for a 6’6”-7’0″ spinning combo. This setup can help reduce the risk of backlashes, which are more likely to occur when using a baitcasting reel.
5. Drop Shot Rig
Each of my top three soft plastic worms can be effectively used with a Drop Shot Rig. However, my favorite is the Zoom Finesse Worm, mainly due to its compact size, which enables it to remain suspended horizontally in the water, thereby achieving the most natural appearance.
Attach the line to the hook using a Palomar knot and leave at least 6” of tag line. At the end of the tag line, tie on your drop shot weight. You don’t have to use a strong knot for the weight – if it gets caught, you want to be able to easily break it free if required.
To rig the worm, thread the hook through the nose of the plastic worm, and you’re ready to fish.
To fish the Drop Shot Rig, drag it slowly along the bottom or slightly lift and drop the rig off the bottom every 20-30 seconds. Sometimes, if bites are tricky, the less you move the rig, the better.
Rocky areas, submerged vegetation, and other offshore structures are great locations for a Drop Shot Rig. The rig should be presented just off the bottom, a very compelling presentation if bass are suspended right above the bottom or structure.
You’re unlikely to need a weight greater than ¼ ounce when drop shotting, so a spinning combo setup is recommended. I prefer a 7’ or 7’6” medium power spinning rod with a 2500 or 3000 size reel and 8–10 lb fluorocarbon line. This setup gives you enough sensitivity to feel subtle bites that can happen when fishing a Drop Shot, and fluorocarbon is harder for the fish to see.
A Finesse Worm on a Drop Shot Rig
Knowing how to rig a Senko Worm for bass fishing is essential. These five killer presentations for plastic and Senko Worms, coupled with my top three recommended worms, will equip you to handle virtually any fishing scenario. The flexibility afforded by these presentations allows you to experiment and determine what works best on the given day, ensuring an enjoyable bass fishing session!