Bass fishing took a big step forward shortly after the end of World War II. As the stories go, Ohio bass anglers Dave DeLong and Nick Creme independently worked out ways to make soft plastic bass worms. DeLong reportedly poured his first worm in 1946, Creme in 1949. These early editions were slow to catch on, as anglers favored plugs, spinners, and spoons. But as soon as folks tried the imitation nightcrawlers, they caught bass.
The worm boom took off in the 1960s as production of Fliptail Worms, Mann's Jelly Worms, and other designs tracked the meteoric rise in bass fishing popularity that lasted into the late 1980s. The anonymous genius who invented the "Texas Rig" deserves much credit for this popularity. This simple rigging twist allowed baits to be dragged through dense cover without snagging, making the worm a bass fishing essential.
The coming of lizards, craw-worms, and tubes, then soft stickbaits like the Slug-Go, and finally the Senko genre, largely relegated worms to the garage or attic toward the turn of the 21st century. But as happens so often in the fishing lure industry, what's old becomes new.