LOUISIANA: Wacky Worms to Put Largemouth in the Boat

It may look like you’ve snagged a piece of debris, or maybe you forgot to reset your bait after the last strike, but the truth about wacky rigs is undeniable — these seemingly random arrangements catch fish when many other lures fail to impress picky bass.
Despite its unconventional appearance and a seemingly random arrangement, the wacky rig can be an effective presentation in many different scenarios. Hooked dead center, a wacky-rigged worm undulates, wiggles, shimmies and shakes — all to the delight of lurking largemouths — with not much more than a cast.

A very user-friendly bait, the wacky worm is truly a bait for all seasons.

“You can use a wacky worm anytime, anywhere. You don’t even have to be able to cast very far. If you can get it out there, you can catch fish,” said Toledo Bend guide Glen Freeman, adding that the wacky rig is his go-to bait. “I (use) it whenever I can’t get bit on anything else. The slow movement as opposed to how you’d work any other lure is what attracts the fish.”

Of course, there are plenty of occasions for going wacky from the start. Freeman’s prime wacky-rig scenario is what he calls a “slick bank” — one with little obvious attraction.

“These are the places that most people don’t fish because they’re looking for grass or other structure,” he said. “The fish don’t see a lot of baits in these places, so when you throw a wacky rig, it’s very effective.”

BASS pro and 2005 Bass Masters Classic Champion Mike Iaconelli agrees.

“Wacky rigs are especially effective in spring, from the pre-spawn to the post-spawn periods,” he said. “But this also works in the summertime. When it gets hot, bass go to deep water, shade or current. If you have any of those scenarios, a wacky rig will be (productive).”

Wacky worms do a good job of imitating actual invertebrates, but the quivering motion also looks like the natural movement of various forage — from a dying shad to a crawfish scurrying across the bottom.

“I think the real key is that it’s something subtle, something natural,” he said. “For fish, it’s such an easy meal. It’s such a natural appearance — they just have to suck it in.”

Good thing is that this enticement is predominantly self-generated.

“It’s a bait that does the work for you,” Iaconelli said. “It’s not a bait that you have to work (actively) or give a hard pump to impart the action. About 70 percent of the bites that occur with a wacky rig occur on the fall, when you’re not doing anything.”

Indeed, the fall of a wacky rig is the whole show, and savvy anglers have developed several tricks for making the worm fall just the way they want it to.

That sinking feeling

Now the subject of weighting wacky rigs fosters much creativity, and variations run the gamut of external to internal options. Desired sink rates vary with depth, and the amount of weight needed varies with worm size. Sometimes a dense soft-plastic stickbait like the classic Senko does the trick, while other scenarios favor light finesse worms.

Freeman likes the Yum Dinger for spring’s prespawn through post-spawn period. For summer patterns, he’ll switch to a Yum Houdini worm. With the Dinger, he’ll add a 1/16-ounce bullet weight above the hook. For the lighter Houdini worm, he’ll insert a small nail into the head.

“That will give the baits just a touch of a nose dive, but when you pull back on it, the bait will flatten back out, so you have the best of both worlds,” he said.

David A. Brown
Louisiana Sportsman Magazine

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