If you could only throw one bait for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Below is a guest-post by Justin Ball, Tournament Angler
Justin is a Pro-Staffer for Land-Um Tackle, whose Trapper Hooks are made by ADDYA Outdoors


People frequently ask “if you could only throw one bait for the rest of your life, what would it be?” I find that I always answer that question with the same response, the trick worm. As I see it, the trick worm is the ultimate in versatility and can get bit in every situation. I normally fish mine weightless on a 1/0 Trapper hook or a 2/0 regular worm hook, and around lily pads I may even use a 3/0 extra wide gap. But that’s just personal preference and a little bit of insanity.  I hope in the ensuing article I can help you understand this bait a little bit better.


Justin Ball
Justin Ball, Professional Angler

The trick worm can and will catch fish of any size, at any time, in any body of water, without discrimination.  It’s just a matter of locating the fish you are looking for, and isn’t that always the tricky part?  So if you can do that and know a few basic techniques, I don’t see any reason why you can’t catch good fish like these on a trick worm.


Now, the trick worm can be fished in almost any way you want, I mainly throw it weightless on a Texas rig, but I also throw it wacky rigged, on a shot (regular and wacky), weighted, and even on a Neko rig when nothing else wants to work.  And not only is the rigging versatile the action is too. From letting it die, twitch and fall, jerking and pause, racing, or even walk the dog, you can do it all.


When I fish a trick worm, it is all about the water flow to me. Here in Northeast Florida we have a tidal river and fish that relate highly to it. So the first thing I do is position myself up current from the structure I am fishing and negotiate the current speed and my sink to flow rate.  Once I have figured that out, it won’t be long till I am throwing them over the rail.  From there it is a matter of color and action.  When it comes to color, use whatever color you use for your other plastics for that particular piece of water. I tend to use watermelon red, junebug red, black, and recently a friend has turned me on to the black sapphire.  As for action, I find that in tidal waters or water with a natural flow, less is more. Let the current give your bait the action. It looks more natural that way, yet a slight twitch periodically isn’t a bad idea. But make sure you have slack line so that the bait can sink and flow at a natural rate. From there just watch your line, you won’t feel the strike in a lot of cases, but you will see a Doppler effect radiate from your line when the fish hits the worm, or you will see a fall rate a lot faster than it should be. Then I hope you know what to do next, if not you are on your own.


Now, I’ll be the first to admit that is about 75% of what I do on a regular basis.  Yes I am stubborn and set in my ways, but it works for me. You can also use the wacky approach in the same conditions, it works just as well.  Just you tend to get snagged up a bit more. Yet, you do get a better hook up rate with an exposed hook.  Now, if the basic horizontal wacky approach isn’t working, insert a brad nail into the tail of the worm.  This will cause the worm to stand vertical.  Also known as a Nero rig, this wacky technique changes the orientation of your bait 90 degrees and can be the difference between night and day when fishing heavily pressured fish.


Justin Ball, Pro AnglerWhen fishing deeper with a trick worm, I prefer the drop shot rig.  If you don’t know what that is, it is where you have a small hook anywhere from 12 to 24 inches from the end of your line and small weight at the end. That way you can finesse your bait a bit off the bottom, while still being able to feel the bottom. Drop shotting a trick worm is a great way to fish grassy bottom, cold clear water, and heavily beaten up fish. Once again I feel that less is more in the approach. Just keep bumping or dragging your weight across the bottom and lightly shaking your tip to dance your worm. If that won’t work, try this little known trick I’ve been taught. Not sure what it’s called but take a screw lock shaky head and twitch the worm along the tops of the grass, and occasionally snatch it real hard. This is a reaction strike technique to get bigger fish when the drop shot rig is only catching dinks.


Finally, during bedding season a trick worm can be just as deadly as anything else you have in your tackle box.  I go with the basic weighted Texas rig approach, and depending on water clarity I may or may not insert a small rattle in the tail.  You can sight fish for breeders in clear water by just throwing the trick worm past the bed and slowly pulling it into the center of the bed and killing it.  But in dirty water, I like to add a small rattle in the tail and fish close to dock or bridge pilings, edge of rock lines, laydowns, or by feeling for submerged debris.  Cast as close as you can to these items, and slowly shaky your rod tip. If that doesn’t work, fan your casts out to about 3 foot from the object at about 1 foot intervals. This way you make sure you are not casting on one side or the other of the bed. This can result is some big stringers, or a lot of wasted time. So I wouldn’t use this on tournament day unless I already had a limit and was looking for that kicker to put me over the top.


I hope you found this article informative, and that next trip out you grab a trick worm and give it a toss.  The trick worm is an excellent little bait, and I’ve tried and succeeded in all these techniques and ideas.  

—  Justin BallNational Pro Staff Manager, Land-Um Tackle Co.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *