The Wacky Worm
When you first see a wacky rig, it seems like something a novice would come up with—it’s about as basic as it gets when it comes to marrying worm and hook! But the fact is, the wacky worm catches fish. It’s the perfect worming style for beginner bass fishermen because it’s extremely easy to rig, and even easier to fish. What’s more, old pros frequently rely on this rig to attract heavily pressured bass that are ignoring other presentations.
There’s one very easy way to rig a wacky worm, and a few ways to improve that rig. Some say the best way to hook a worm is to simply jam the point through the center of the bait. That works, but you’ll go through worms fast—after some use, even high-quality worms tend to break right where the hook is inserted.
Shortly after people started to use the wacky rig, lure manufacturers recognised the problem of worm breakage and did something about it. These days, most wacky rig enthusiasts choose to augment their rig with O-rings.
O-rings are small rubber rings that you can slip onto the body of the worm, allowing you to attach the hook to the ring instead of threading it through the soft plastic of the worm. Another way to use an O-ring is to pierce the worm as usual, but with the O-ring in place to reinforcement the spot. A commonly available O-ring tool is used to slip the O-ring into position halfway down the worm’s body.
One difference you may notice if you put the hook through the O-ring is that the hook runs parallel to the worm instead of perpendicular to it. This won’t affect the presentation, but some fisherman feel that it impacts your ability to get a good, solid hook set. If you choose to address that concern, you can cross two O-rings to help position the hook the way you want it, as shown in the photo.
You can also buy weights specifically designed for wacky rigs, and they can help keep the worm perpendicular to the hook as well. While this rig is at its best when fished with no weight at all, sometimes a little bit of weight will be called for. For example, if you’re trying to contend with wind or fish where the bass are holding deep, some weight will help you stay in contact with your worm.
There are multiple ways to weigh down your wacky rig, but most have drawbacks. Nail-weights inserted into the worm tear up the plastic, and split shot negatively affects the presentation. The specialised wacky worm weight shown in this photo is by far the best option. It will get your bait sinking faster, but it also helps keep your worms intact because its design prevents the hook from tearing through the plastic. These weights are included as part of this Wacky Worm Kit on Amazon.
The Wacky Worm Kit is great for beginners or anyone new to this technique because it comes with everything you need to rig wacky worms. Watch the video below to see the kit unboxed and get a full run down of what’s inside.
Best Wacky Worms
The Senko worm from Gary Yamamoto is by far the most popular worm to use with a wacky rig. The stick-bait style worm is available in multiple sizes, from 3″ up to a 7″ model. Usually, fisherman choose to fish with the 4″ or 5″ version.
When an angler needs to decide how to rig a Senko, the bait’s versatility comes into play because it can be used so many ways. But there’s something about the Senko’s chunky, cigar-shaped body that makes it the perfect worm for wacky rigging.
The Senko’s popularity soared the moment they were introduced, and consequently, almost every manufacturer of soft plastics developed their own version. One notable example is YUM Bait Company’s popular YUM Dinger. When selecting a worm for wacky rigging, you can go with any bait that’s categorised as a soft plastic stick bait, and you’ll find an endless array of sizes and colors.
Top Wacky Hooks
The wacky rig has been so popular for so long, many of the larger hook manufacturers have developed a complete line of hooks specifically intended for use with wacky rigs.
Most of these hooks look like circle hooks, similar to the ones you might use while fishing with live or cut bait. Some feature a weed guard and some don’t, and both types have their place.
When you’re fishing around weeds, the best hook for a wacky rig will definitely be one with a weed guard. One great weedless hook for wacky rigs is the Finesse Wide Gap Hook from Gamakatsu. Like all Gamakatsu’s products, they are of the highest quality, but also kind of pricey. A weedless wacky rig hook that costs less but still offers awesome performance is Berkley’s Fusion19 Hook.
If there are no weeds present, or anything else to snag on, like wood, then you should use a hook with no weed guard. The hook point will be free to penetrate the fish’s jaw more readily, which will improve your hook sets, and they cost less than their weedless cousins. You can purchase a non-weedless version of both hooks mentioned above, the Fusion19 and Finesse Wide Gap hooks.
How to Fish a Wacky Rig
When the bait first hit the scene, some anglers didn’t know how to fish a wacky worm. It’s a finesse fishing tactic that can take some getting used to. You need to use light tackle, so many fishermen choose a spinning rig with light line.
That doesn’t mean the wacky rig won’t work with heavier gear. In a pinch, your standard baitcasting rod used for other worming techniques will suffice when fishing a wacky rig.
But practically speaking, the wacky worm technique is custom made for spinning gear because the rig is so light, and the presentation style requires the subtly that spinning gear enables.
Best Wacky Worm Rod
A spinning rod that measures 6′ 6″ or 7′ with medium power and a fast action is the ideal rod for wacky worming. The Mojo series of rods from St Croix are a fantastic choice for this style of fishing and are suitable for most other worm techniques. Attach any good-quality spinning reel spooled with monofilament or fluorocarbon line, and your wacky rig is complete. The mono vs. flouro decision centers on the fact that fluorocarbon sinks, which some believe helps the presentation, but most anglers agree that mono is fine for wacky rigging.
Wacky Worm Fishing Techniques
It is easy to fish a wacky worm—as simple as casting the bait out and letting it slowly sink to the bottom. You have to be patient and wait for it to fall all the way down because most fish will hit your bait while it is falling into their area for the first time. If the worm makes it all the way to the bottom and no fish has hit it, you can simply pick up your rod tip to lift the worm in the water column, then allow the bait to sink again. A few subtle twitches won’t hurt, and will often induce the fish to bite, but be sure not to twitch too hard as this will move the bait out of position.
Almost all your wacky rig bites will come as the bait sinks, and if you have too much slack in the line, you won’t feel the bite. For that reason, you must reel in the slack line as you lower the tip of the rod. The fall of the worm should not be on an angle—a perfectly vertical drop is critical to a lifelike presentation. The key is to keep just enough tension on the line so you can feel the bite, but not enough to inhibit the bait from falling exactly straight. The correct amount of tension is often referred to as a “semi-slack line.”
Watching the line closely will help you notice strikes. In some cases, you’ll see the line move even though the strike is not transmitted to your rod at all. Whatever alerts you to the strike, it’s critical with a wacky rig that you set the hook immediately. A drawback to using a wacky rig is that, sometimes, a fisherman won’t notice the bite until the worm and hook are in the bass’ gullet. Releasing a bass unharmed in that scenario is not always a given.
A weightless presentation with a wacky rig is the most subtle and attractive because it involves a tantalizingly slow rate of fall that drives fish crazy. Use this technique whenever you can, because it’s extremely effective on bass.
Nevertheless, there will be times when you have no choice but to add weight to your rig. Usually the need is due to wind or the fact that you’re fishing deep, but sometimes, the faster descent of a weighted rig will be exactly what the bass are looking for. When the worm falls more quickly, it’s more likely to trigger a reaction strike. Added weight can give a wacky worm more action because the faster sink rate makes the tips of the worm move more erratically.
Try out the wacky rig the next time you’re on the water. It’s a fantastic technique that can catch bass when other tactics fail!