How to Fish the Wacky Worm

bass fishing

how to fish the wacky worm

Wacky Rig for Bass


The wacky worm is probably the most underutilized technique among the presentations that produce the best action under many circumstances. The wacky work doesn’t really look like much in the water. Bass will react to the wacky worm when nothing else seems to work. This is why you should learn how to fish the wacky worm. This isn’t just for small fish. The wacky worm will catch big bass too. Even more, it’s a great way to catch the biggest bass in the area when the pressure is high. That goes for angling pressure as well as barometric pressure.

The wacky worm is something a lot of anglers just don’t use therefore the bass is confident that the wacky worm doesn’t have a hook and will strike. Some anglers don’t think a bass knows what a hook looks like but I can assure you, by personal experiences, they know. I have watched bass bite a wacky worm right at the hook without getting the hook in its mouth. I mean a very small finesse hook too. When this is happening you are close to figuring it out. You will catch a few fish, but by going to an even lighter line, smaller hook or smaller worm you will catch more bass on your wacky worm. It’s a fact that smaller hooks and lighter lines catch more bass, especially on highly pressured lakes.


Setting the hook is a science when it comes to wacky worming but first, you have to know you have a bite and that isn’t always easy. There is no substitute for practice and practice you must when it comes to fishing the wacky worm. You will, after several bites, notice when you get a bite. Most of the time, with this presentation, the bite is so subtle you may not even know until you feel the fish on the end of your line.

To be consistent with the wacky worm you have to learn to feel the fish before he spits out your hook. When you know the fish is there you have to reel up any slack while at the same time pulling back on your rod to allow the small hook to penetrate. Small finesse hooks usually never completely go through the bass’ mouth. Especially the tough mouth of a 4 or 5-pound bass and if that bass is a smallmouth be ready for some leaps and hard pulls and because of the light line and small hook a limber rod is important for wacky worming.

A good rod for wacky worming is a medium heavy rod. The St. Croix Triumph rod is my favorite for fishing the wacky worm. It’s limber at the tip but strong enough to haul a giant out from under a dock when more pressure is needed even with 8-pound test line. Use 6-pound test in open water, but around cover you should go to 8 or 10-pound fluorocarbon. It’s scary when you hook a 5-pounder around a dock or big tree.

You have to apply enough pressure to get the bass out. If the line breaks you know that if you had pulled harder to get the bass away it would have broken off anyway. I always say you have to hook up to land the bass. If the light line gets you hooked up then it’s a no brainer. Use the light line and let the chips fall where they may. Hopefully, that light line will get you enough bites that you can get a few in the boat.


The wacky worm presentation is like any other. You have to let the bass tell you what they want. Sometimes they want a little jiggle in the worm sometimes they want it to lay on the bottom for several seconds. By far my favorite worm for wacky rigging is the 4-inch Senko. I have tried other worms and the Senko just has more action and even has its own jiggle when free falling.

The Senko will undulate with the slightest twitch of the rod tip. The worm rigged wacky bends a lot when pulled which seems to entice strikes. Especially, when they want a dead-stick style presentation. You just pull the wacky worm slowly through the water column by raising your 8-foot rod. Then you let the Senko sink on a slack line. Watch for any movement in the line and I mean the slightest twitch could mean a big bass has sucked in your Senko and is just sitting there with it. Learning to feel a bite is crucial to the wacky worm presentation and the key to success.


The hook you use is important too. Believe me, when you’re using a finesse presentation it’s for a reason. You don’t want to use a giant hook. If you have to use light line and light action to get a bite it’s usually because the bass are reluctant to bite. If you use a big hook you just took the finesse out of your presentation. With it go the bites. There’s a drawback to using small hooks. The same is true for light line and is just part of the presentation that is getting you the bites you need.

I prefer bigger hooks with a shank over the small finesse hooks without a shank. I believe affects the hook ups on finicky bass. I’ve tried larger hooks, but the bites all but evaporated and this is one reason I know the small hook makes a difference, even in dirty water. I’m working on a set up to allow me to use a EWG hook in my wacky worm rig. It’s in the test stages so for now the little finesse hooks are the ticket. Even though losing fish is common. Especially with the big bass 4 pounds and up due to their tough mouths. If my set up works out with better hook ups I will be sure to share that info with my followers. Check back often for any updates on this wacky worm lesson. GOOD FISHING!

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About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.