Bass fishermen around the nation will tell you hardly anything compares with the sudden, jolting strike of a bass smashing a topwater fishing lure. But surprisingly few of those same anglers seriously consider fishing a soft floating plastic worms on the surface.
Actually, plastic worms can be used very successfully as topwater lures. And a small but specific category of soft plastics known collectively as “rats” are designed for use only as topwaters.
When plastic worms are used on the surface, they’re generally known as “floating” worms. But in truth, many who do use them really work them from the top down to perhaps 12 inches underwater.
The technique gained its first followers around North Carolina’s Currituck Sound in the early 1970s. But owes much of its present popularity to a Kinston, North Carolina, an angler named Danny Joe Humphrey. He gained national publicity with his topwater tournament successes in 1987 and ’88.
Today, Humphrey manufactures special plastic worms have special design for topwater fishing, but practically any worm can be fished this way.
Floating worms offer several distinct advantages over other topwater fishing lures.
The most popular size for topwater worm fishing is a 6- or 7-inch straight-tail model. Although, longer worms can and are used on occasion. Especially when, large bass are being targeted, for example. A wide gap 2/0 hook works well with a 7-inch worm, and most anglers use 10-pound test line.
Rig it with the hook embedded, as you would Texas-style. Larger, heavier hooks will actually tend to drag the worm under. This means you have to retrieve the lure faster to keep it on the surface. And also, one of the keys to this technique is fishing slow.
Also, you can use floating worms for the shaky head in topwater fishing and somewhat for the drowning water fishing.
With the light line, most prefer open face spinning tackle. To prevent line twist with spinning gear, tie in a swivel 12 to 14 inches above the hook, as with a Carolina rig, but leave off any weight. Your best rod selection will be a medium action 6- to 612-footer.
Floating worms really shine in shallow water with heavy cover, around boat docks and piers, and over scattered vegetation. Like nearly all topwater fishing, most success seems to come when you establish a cadence to your retrieve-a steady, repetitive series of jerks and pauses-rather than a straight cast-and-wind back presentation.
Woo Daves, the winner of the 2000 Bass Masters Classic world championship, also recommends working a floating worm with your rod 90 degrees to one side, rather than pointing the rod tip directly at the lure.
“There are two reasons for this,” explains Daves, who has made a career of plastic worm fishing. He said,
“It’s easier to establish that retrieve cadence when you point the rod to one side-you’re moving your rod side to side rather than up and down. And also that it forces you to pause before you set the hook.”
“You can’t set the hook immediately with a floating worm because bass often hit the lure in the middle where a fast hook-set will miss them entirely. Instead, when a fish does strike, point your rod tip down at the fish, let the bass swim away until your line tightens, and then set the hook with a sweeping set rather than a quick jerk.”
Not surprisingly, the techniques of grass bed fishing that made the floating worm so popular at Currituck Sound more than thirty years ago can still be used today. The best places to aim your casts are where the vegetation makes a point or where there is an open hole or channel leading into the greenery.
If the vegetation is still below the surface, consider letting your worm slowly sink until it is just above the grass before you begin your retrieve.
About me: Hi, I'm Alex N. Ferroni, One of the creators of The Safariors blog and former camping trainer at Tripspot Magazine. I wish some other outdoor, hiking, hunting, fishing and camping enthusiasts have made this blog to share our thought. We are learning a lot through each trip, and we want you to learn that too!