Complete Guide to Bass Fishing with Rubber Worms

best rubber worms for bass fishing
Bass Fishing with Rubber Worms

Bass fishing with rubber worms scares a lot of fishermen. They go to the store, and see thousands of rubber worms in every color, size, and shape. Many fishermen don’t even know where to start.

Well, this guide will help you. I will cover absolutely everything that you need to know about fishing for bass with rubber worms. This includes stuff like the color, putting the worm on the hook, selecting the proper hook, and even how to reel in your line.

As I said, bass fishing with rubber hooks is more complicated than you might expect.

What Exactly Are Rubber Worms?

First things first, the rubber worms you see at the store are actually made from a form of soft plastic called plastisol. This is cheap, easy to mold, and comes in a huge variety of colors. That makes it the perfect material to turn into fishing worms. Most anglers refer to fake worms as rubber worms, plastic worms, or artificial worms – it just depends on who you ask.

Anyway, anglers often prefer rubber worms because they usually perform better, and are more affordable, than other types of bait.

The Best Rubber Worms for Bass

There are currently hundreds of different types of rubber worms on the market, so it’s impractical to cover every single one. Instead, I will recommend some common types of worms, how to use them, and when to use them.

Straight Tailed Worms

In my opinion, straight tailed worms are the most versatile worms available. Every bass fisherman should have straight tailed worms in their tacklebox. These are the worms that are just a straight piece of plastic. They don’t have any fancy tails or large bodies.

You should use straight tailed worms in clearer water when the fish aren’t as active. Many anglers prefer using them in cooler water for this reason, but you can still use them in warm water. The lack of action on the worms means they don’t displace much water, which is why I recommend them for clearer water where the fish can actually see the worm.

You can still get some nice movement on straight tail worms, but it does require some special reeling techniques that many people don’t know. Also, make sure to rig a straight tail worm to a shaky head or drop shot rig (covered later).

The straight tail makes these worms much less likely to get caught in vegetation, so you should use these worms in water with vegetation or other debris. Here’s my favorite watermelon candy worm on Amazon.

Ribbon Tailed Worms

Ribbon tailed worms are another popular option for bass fishing. These worms have the same body as a straight tail worm, but they have a tail that resembles a ribbon, hence the name.

The tail gives this worm nice action in the water, which makes it perfect for murky, grassy, or deep water. All the action also makes it great for when the bass are more active.

You can find pretty much any color, size, and style of ribbon tailed worms on the market. In my experience, color and style doesn’t matter as much as many anglers think.

Presentation is usually more important than color or style. As for size, 6-10 inches is about the right size for a ribbon tail worm to catch average sized bass. You can still catch big bass on smaller worms, but you won’t catch little bass on bigger worms.

Paddle Tailed Worms

Paddle tailed worms look a little different than a ribbon tailed worm or straight tailed worm. They sometimes have a straight body that you find on the other types of worms, but other times they have a fat body that resembles the shape of fish. As the name implies, all paddle tail worms have a tail that somewhat resembles a paddle.

Despite these differences, the performance and use conditions closely resemble a ribbon tailed worm. First, the paddle tail works great in lower visibility, or at night, because the tail actually vibrates as it moves through the water. All that vibrating will attract bass.

Rigging these worms is fairly simple, too. I recommend using a shaky head jig. As for where to fish these?

The best spot, in my opinion, is alongside coverage or a grassline. The vibrations will really draw out the bass from their hiding spots.

What Color Rubber Worms Do Bass Like?

Most anglers completely ignore the type of worm and jump straight to color.

That is a mistake. The type of worm is much more important than the color. Don’t get me wrong, color is still important. It’s just not nearly as important as the type of worm and presentation of the worm (I’ll get to that later).

Anyway, bass will bite pretty much any naturally colored worm if presented properly. With that said, shades of purple, red, green, or brown work best for catching bass. In fact, purple seems to consistently catch bass in all conditions.

Light colored worms (in the common shades) perform better in clearer water.  In murkier or tannic water, you should stick to darker colored worms (in the common shades). It’s a little counterintuitive if you’re a beginner, I know. But that is what works best.

Plus, worms are not expensive. You should have a lot of different shades in your tackle box if trying out a new spot. Some bass will even hit the weird unnatural colors like pink or neon green, so those are sometimes worth trying out if nothing else works.

Is Buying Worms With Flakes Worth It for Bass Fishing?

It just depends on the bass and conditions. I tend to use worms without flakes in clear conditions because the bass can already see the bait. The flakes can help the bass spot the rubber worm in murkier conditions, though.

The flakes don’t make a huge difference overall, but every small part does help when it comes to bass fishing.

Are Scented Worms Any Good for Bass Fishing?

Yes. Scented worms work well for catching bass. They work especially well with a drop shot rig or in murky water.

The Different Rubber Worm Rigs

Properly rigging a rubber worm is, in my opinion, the most important part of using them. Simply put, if you can’t properly rig a soft plastic worm, then you are going to have a bad time fishing for bass. You should definitely not skip this section.

It’s also fairly complicated, and you have so many different ways to rig a worm. This section will cover some of the different ways to rig a worm for bass fishing.

Texas Rig

The Texas rig, also called a T-rig, is the most common way to rig a soft plastic worm for bass fishing. It’s easy to rig, weedless, quite versatile, and you can rig any worm to it.

Rigging it is simple. All you have to do is put the top of the worm through the hook, run the hook through about an inch of the worm, and pull the worm to the eye of the hook. You then flip the hook so the pointy part of the hook is pointing towards the worm. After you have flipped the hook, attach the end of worm to the hook. Make sure the entire worm is taught.

The most common mistake is not having a taught/straight worm on the hook. You definitely need the worm to be straight for it to properly move through the water.

I know, it’s difficult to visualize. Here is a video explaining how to rig a Texas rig:

Where to use a Texas rig?

You can fish anywhere with a Texas rig. Simply add a weight to fish the bottom or go weightless to fish the surface.

I recommend all beginners start with a Texas rig since it’s so versatile, and it’s weedless. Remember, bass hang out in vegetation, so you it’s nice to have a weedless rig.

Some bass fishermen do perfectly fine only using a Texas rig with straight worms, which says a lot about how well this rig works.

Final Verdict: You have to learn a Texas rig if you want to fish with soft plastic worms. It really is that ubiquitous in bass fishing. I recommend using this as your go-to rig.

Read our full guide on how to fish the texas rig here.

Drop Shot Rig

A drop shot rig is fairly similar to a Texas rig, but it has one major difference – the weight is placed below the hook. This allows you to fish the worm in one spot off the bottom.

It’s easy to rig up a drop shot rig. Basically, tie a normal Palomar knot, but with a long tag. Next,  attach a ⅛ ounce split shot weight, or any type of weight, to the end of that tag. I recommend a tag that is over six inches. Some bass fishermen use long tags that are 3-4 feet. The ideal length just depends on the vegetation and structure that the weight will sit in.

I don’t recommend rigging a Texas worm in this case. I prefer to nose hook the worm since it allows for much more movement, and that movement will make the worm look much more appealing.

Note: Only use a straight tailed worm with a drop shot rig. It just doesn’t make sense to use one with a tail with this setup.

Where to use a drop shot rig?

The drop shot rig works best with a straight tail worm when fishing a rocky or grassy bottom in clear water. It also works well in murkier water since it has plenty of movement, but it has more of a clear water reputation.

You can also fish it in spots that you would normally get snagged if you tried dragging your worm across the bottom.

Final Verdict: I like this rig for those tough to reach fishing spots or when the bass aren’t very aggressive. You can read more about the bass life cycle and try to determine how aggressive they will be when you go out.

It does take some practice to get the proper movement on the worm. However, the movement will eventually come after enough practice. And you will see just how great this rig is for catching bass.

Carolina Rig

The Carolina rig is very similar to the drop shot rig. But you move this horizontally across the bottom rather than vertically. You can also use any type of worm with this rig, but straight tail worms seem to work best.

The first step of tying the rig is to slide an egg weight or bullet weight to your line. Next, slide a bead onto the line and then a tie swivel to the line. After that, tie a 15 to 18 inch fluorocarbon leader (with a hook on it) to the end of the swivel if fishing in the winter. You want a longer leader in the summer – 3 to 6 feet is plenty long enough. Finally, Texas rig the worm to the hook.

As I said, it’s easy. It just requires some knowledge.

Where to use a Carolina rig?

The Carolina rig works best for covering large areas you aren’t too familiar with. It is weedless, so you don’t have to worry about vegetation getting stuck in your hook. However, your rig will get snagged on rocks if you use a heavier weight.

Final Verdict: Use the Carolina rig to drag straight tailed worms (stick worms) along the bottom of an area with little structure. If you’re fishing grass, use a ¼ ounce weight to prevent snags. Otherwise stick to ¾ ounce weight.

The Wacky Rig

The wacky rig is one of the more interesting rigs. Basically, you put a straight tail worm horizontally on your hook and fish it vertically. It actually does a pretty decent job imitating an earthworm that writhing around in the water. Here’s how to rig it:

Simply bend the worm in half and hook it directly through the center. That’s it.

You can fish this weightless or with a weight. I recommend weightless in the winter and weighted in the summer. You definitely need to let it sink to cooler water in the summer. Bass usually won’t come near the surface when it’s hot.

Where to use a wacky rig?

This rig works great near structure in clear water because bass can easily see it. The clearer the water the better this rig will work, though. It is pretty awful in murky water since the bass can’t see it. You’re wasting your time if the water is too murky.

It also works great if you are lucky enough to see a bass in the water, or if you’re fishing for bass from a dock.

I’d also recommend this wacky rig tool on Amazon. I use it and it will help you rig it up and increase the life span of your worms.

Final Verdict: It’s an easy rig to setup, and it’s quite effective if used in the right conditions. I don’t really recommend outside of the most ideal circumstances, but it definitely has its place in your rig repertoire.

Shaky Head Rig

The shaky head rig is, in my opinion, the easiest rig to rig up. You will need to purchase special shaky head jig heads, though. These jig heads are weighted and have a spring-like mechanism on the front to attach your worm. Here is how to rig a shaky head:

Screw the rubber worm onto the jig head. Next, attach the end of the worm to the hook to make it weedless. Make sure the worm is straight. You’re now ready to fish with a shaky head rig.

As I said, it’s very easy to rig, which makes it perfect for children and beginners.

There are a few things you should know about the shaky head rig. First, you want to keep the weight pretty light. I know, they sell heavy shaky heads, but you shouldn’t need a weight over ¼ ounce. And even that is only necessary for getting the rig to sink quickly in deep water.

Where to use a shaky head rig?

The shaky head bounces off the bottom with the tail up, which imitates a bottom-feeding fish feeding. With that in mind, you shouldn’t use a shaky head on a rock bottom. I recommend using them in an area with a sandy bottom near some structure. You should still expect to deal with snags and lose a few rigs, but the amount of bass you catch makes it worth it.

Final Verdict: It’s an easy to rig to use and set up. It isn’t so versatile since you can’t use it in rocky areas, but you can use it in just about any water condition with all the different types of rubber worms. I recommend purchasing a few ⅜ ounce jig heads before your next bass fishing trip.

How to Fish a Rubber Worm to Catch Bass

You need to retrieve your rubber worm after each cast. They don’t move on their own like live bait. Unfortunately, many beginners have a retrieval technique that spooks bass, or it just doesn’t look very natural. This section will cover the retrieval technique for each type of rubber worm rig.

How to Fish a Texas Rig

Texas rigs are the easiest rigs to retrieve. I like to cast, let the bait sink to the bottom, lightly flick the rod a few times, and reel in the slack. If nothing hits, I continue with that pattern until I’m past the structure that I’m fishing.

Sometimes the line goes slack, which means the bass bit and is swimming towards you. In that case, quickly reel in the slack and set the hook by jerking back the pole.

That about covers it for retrieving a Texas rig. Just go slow and slightly flick the rod towards you. It’s the easiest rig to retrieve. Most beginners should be fine.

This is a fantastic rig all throughout the bass spawning period, but especially the pre- spawn.

How to Fish a Carolina Rig

The retrieval of a Carolina rig is a little more complicated. Cast out the line, let the weight sink to the bottom, reel in the slack, and lightly jerk the rod towards you. Let the weight settle for a few seconds, and then repeat the process until you are finished.

The Carolina rig works great for covering huge areas. And bouncing the weight off the bottom looks realistic, so you will fool plenty of bass in clear conditions.

You do set the hook a little differently with a Carolina rig, though. You pull the rod sideways instead of straight back. Don’t freak out if you set the hook by pulling the rod straight back out of habit – you still might hook the bass. The odds of setting the hook are much better when you pull it sideways, though.

How to Fish a Shaky Head Worm

Retrieving a shaky head worm is also easy. A common misconception is that you need to shake it all the time. In reality, you don’t need to shake it all that much. Simply drag it across the bottom by pulling the rod towards you, shake it a little at the top, reel a bit, lower the rod, and repeat until you finish that spot.

Not using much shaking in your retrieval allows you to get a good feel of the bottom, which definitely helps in bass fishing.

Really, all you need to remember is to not do too much shaking. It doesn’t look good, and you don’t get a good feel for the bottom.

How to Fish a Drop Shot Worm

Fishing a drop shot is not that common, but it’s a really great way to catch bass. And it is not as hard as everyone says.

Basically, just drop the weight to the bottom and lightly bounce it up and down. You can also drag it along the bottom; though, you might get snagged if you’re fishing a rocky bottom. I like to make sure the weight goes into the vegetation. Bass won’t get spooked by it, so you will definitely catch more if you let it sink.

I know some bass fishermen only fish a drop shot worm if they see a bass on their fishfinder. But I find that unnecessary. These days I fish a drop shot in any location that I think I will find bass.

Bass Fishing with Rubber Worms – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What type of fishing pole should I use with a rubber worm?

A 6’6” – 7’ bass fishing pole is great if you are using a rubber worm.

What type of reel should I use with a rubber worm?

You should use a normal spinning reel if you plan on fishing with rubber worms. I recommend a 7:1 gear ratio. You can surly find one in my list of bass fishing reels here.

What type of line should I use with a plastic worm?

Fluorocarbon line (6-pound-test to 12-pound-test) works best with plastic worms. It’s almost invisible underwater, doesn’t stretch, and sinks faster than monofilament. Obviously, don’t use fluorocarbon if you plan on fishing the surface.

Final Thoughts

Well, that about covers for it everything that you need to about bass fishing with rubber worms. Did it surprise you that I focused more on technique than the actual worms?

It shouldn’t. The type of worm you choose, while still important to bass fishing, is actually much less important than proper spot selection and technique.

I’ll put it this way, you need a variety of plastic worms, rigs, retrieval styles, and good location selection to have a good day of fishing on a somewhat consistent basis.

If you remember one thing from this article; it should be these quick tips:

  • Lighter worms in clear water.
  • Darker worms in dark water.
  • Avoid straight tails in murky water.
  • If you don’t know how to rig your worm, then you can’t go wrong with a Texas rig.


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