Fishing with trout worms and other lures

Rainbow trout on pink berkley trout wormI’ve received a few good comments and questions on my Trout Worms Catch Fish post. Although I replied there, I thought it would be a good idea to expand into a full post to increase visibility. I have done some light editing, thrown in a few additions, and formatted it as a question and answer style post for clarity.

Thanks to the folks who wrote the comments that form the basis of this. Apologies in advance for putting my poetic license to use.

When do you fish trout worms?

Trout worms work year round. I’ve caught fish spring, summer, fall and winter with them.

What kind of weight do you use when fishing trout worms?

I usually fish them on a small collarless jig head in 1/124, 1/80 or 1/64 ounce, and then add 1 – 3 micro split shot (in a size like BB2 or BB3) up the line as needed. It sometimes take more weight than you would think because you want the worm to get down into the strike zone quickly to give you more of a chance of hooking up. If the worm is just floating around in the first few inches of water for half of the drift, you’re missing a lot of opportunity. If you don’t want to fish the worm on a jig head just use a hook as you would live bait and affix the split shot on the line in the same way.

How and when do you attach weight to the tag end of the line?

If you tie on a leader with a blood knot (as I often do) you can leave one of the tag ends and put the split shot on it. That allows you to pull free if the weight snags up on the bottom. That’s a popular way to drift fish on the Great Lakes tributaries and it works anywhere. That sort of rigging is usually not used with a float.

Do trout worms work as well on native and holdover fish as they do on stocked trout?

I’ve caught plenty of native, wild, and holdover brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout on trout worms.

What color trout worms do you recommend?

Pink (either “Bubblegum” or “Pink Shad”) is usually the best all around color, and it is especially effective for stocked fish. I tend to catch more browns with the natural colors like “Natural” (brown), “Smoke” (grey) and “Rainbow Sparkle” (black with glitter), but they’ll hit pink, white and yellow too. I’ve done very well on brook trout with pink, Natural and Avocado Red Fleck. Colors like “Cheese” will sometimes catch fish when no others will.

For smaller trout, do you find it better to fish the plastic worm whole or to break it in half?

I would use the full 3 inch worm. In fact, I never cut the worms down, even for the smallest trout. They’re little enough to be eaten even by tiny minnows, as you’ll surely find out at some point. I will sometimes tear a small piece off of a worm that has been chewed up from a few catches so I can re-rig and use it again, but that’s about it.

Can you keep fishing Berkley trout worms longer than say stickbaits before the trout wise up?

I can often take a few fish in a single hole with trout worms. Sometimes changing up the color will get me more fish after the original stops drawing strikes. For example, I might catch two fish on pink then switch to white or chartreuse and catch another. In any case, I almost always keep moving along a stream when fishing. Sometimes fishing your way upstream and then back down will get you even more fish out of a hole on the return.

Have you tried the Power Nymphs or any other Berkley offering and do you switch up if so?

I’ve only fished Power Nymphs a few times, always in pink. They look like they’d be great but I’ve only ever caught chubs with them in trout streams. To be fair, that’s probably largely because I usually would fish a trout worm first. And I have had banner days fishing them for crappies.

How about Trout Magnets? Are they worth tracking down?

Trout Magnets aren’t much different than short soft plastic lures like “Crappie Busters” / “Beetle Spins” (with the spinner blade taken off) to be honest. The manufacturers are just very good at marketing. If you want to know how they fish but can’t get a hold of any, try fishing some other 1 or 2″ straight soft plastic lure on a small jig head. They’re not bad, but I would almost always fish a trout worm or hackle jig (see below) over a Trout Magnet.

I’m able to cover a lot of water with stickbaits, and I have a lot of fun using them. I don’t like fishing with spinners. What else do you recommend for trout?

One of the best options are hackle jigs. They are usually either hand tied or made by someone locally, though there are some companies with wide distribution like Weldon Tackle (with the Mini Foo and Mini Eye) and Lindy (with the Little Nipper). These work great on all trout, in all kinds of waters. Blacks, browns, greens, reds and yellows are the best colors. Fish them like you would a trout worm. Tip the hook with live bait like maggots if you desire. I’ve caught more fish out of single holes with these than probably any other lure.

Trout worms tend to work best in moving water, but they can work very well in still water too. In a decent current you can cover a lot of water with them pretty quickly, but in slower stuff you’ll usually need to work each likely holding area methodically.

If you’re looking for a quick searching lure stickbaits definitely work, as do spoons and spinners. You’ve said you don’t like spinners (I don’t necessarily like them either, but the Blue Fox Flash Deep works very well and never gives me a problem with line twist). Why not try some spoons? Little Cleos are great. They come in a number of colors and sizes and can be fished with a steady retrieve, jigged, or jerked through the water.


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