The Fantastic Swimming Worm

The Fantastic Swimming Worm

The swimmin' worm is an oldie, a real forgotten goodie, that kicks fish butt. It's especially effective for largemouths and smallmouths, but also at times for walleyes. With a reduction in armaments like line and hooks size, it works for all kinds of panfish, too. Pike, schizo to begin with, go into seething full-blown manic episode in the presence of "the worm." I suspect muskies will, too, but haven't gotten that far yet.

The swimmin' worm, I've found, is at its best fished in relatively shallow water, or fished shallow over deeper clear water. At its simplest, cast it out and reel it in. It's also deadly to swim it up to cover, or just past cover, and kill it, letting it hover and then sink. For walleyes, it can be good fished shallow after dark. Or troll it in deeper water, behind a sinker, as you would a spinner rig--just forget the spinner. For pike, you need only hold the rig a foot or two above the water at the side of the boat, waiting with a net in your other hand.

Prerigged "bent worms" that produce a swimming motion remain popular in some area, but tying and rigging your own swimmin' worms is easy and allows further fine-tuning of the presentation, once you get the basic hang of it.


A swimmin' worm "swims" because it's rigged with a slight bow in it. The basic swimmin' worm rig is a six-inch straight worm--sinking or floating--rigged on tandem hooks about two inches apart. Impale the head of the worm on the lead hook and run it up the hook shank. To get the bow, lift the tail end of the worm so there's a loop in the lower end of the worm, then run the lower hook straight through the lower portion of the worm to keep the loop in place.


Rigged perfectly straight, a straight six-inch worm makes a great soft jerkbait. Rigged with a slight loop, the bait has a subtle roll. Rigged with a more pronounced loop creates much more twirling or rolling action. Finish off the rig, which should be about 12 inches long, with a swivel, to reduce line twist. Use lead shot to sink the rig a bit if you want to reel it faster. Of course, it can also be worked on the surface.


The easiest way to make the rig is by tying a sproat hook onto a piece of 15- or 20-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon, leaving enough tag end to tie a trail hook so it hangs no more than about two inches below the lead hook.

A slightly more effective swimmin' worm rig can be created by using a salmon-style hook like the Eagle Claw L7226 (size 2/0). These are snell-style hooks. Snell the lead hook onto a portion of leader, leaving enough tag end to tie a regular knot to the bottom hook so it hangs no more than about two inches below the lead hook.


Extremely bright worms--bubble gum, sherbert, methiolate--often work well in combo with the swimmin' rig. Then again sometimes traditional colors work best. Experiment. You're bound to have fun because this rig works so well so often. Fantastic always, but forgotten no more.

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