Years ago I wrote that trout worms catch fish. That hasn’t changed. I’ve caught everything from cutthroat trout to white crappie and even rock bass on trout worms. I have also caught a lot of largemouth and smallmouth bass!
Just going by the name alone this might sound surprising. But as with most things in life it pays to look beyond the labels and simply examine things as they are. A “trout worm” is basically a small rubber worm. And rubber worms have been catching bass since they were invented.
So what makes these particular lures different or special? Trout worms are small and light. They can be manipulated in a way to create a lot of action without even moving the lure a whole lot. This is the ultimate kind of finesse fishing and it fits right in with the now popular approaches like the Ned rig.
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When to use trout worms for bass
I think trout worms are best for two kinds of bass in two different situation. The first is smallmouth bass in moving water like creeks and rivers. The second is largemouth bass in the shallows. Especially if they are in spawning or getting ready to spawn.
Trout worms can be fished year round. Normally you would want to fish them when actual live worms are active. For the most part that means from the spring to the early fall. I wouldn’t hesitate to throw them during a warm spell during the late fall or winter either.
Water temperature also matters. If you are fishing some place with warm water then don’t hesitate to throw a trout worm in December or January. Fish under a warm water discharge in Tennessee aren’t going to behave like fish in a small northern pond that is capped with ice.
How to catch bass on trout worms
You can catch smallmouth bass in moving waters for much of the year. I use them from spring well into the fall. Natural colors like brown and black seem to work best. But I have also caught a ton of smallmouths on pink worms. One way to fish trout worms for smallmouth bass is to fish trout worms for trout.
What I mean is, you fish the trout worms the same way you would if you were fishing for trout. So you rig them on a 1/64 oz jig head, peg an EZ Float on the line, cast upstream, and let the worm drift naturally with the current. Alternatively you can get more active and jig the worm back to you. When jigging a trout worm you can fish it on a jig head or wacky rig it. Both will work for smallies.
When it comes to largemouth bass, trout worms work best when the fish are up in the shallows. Whether they are spawning or looking to spawn a trout worm works wonders. Before I go further into this keep in mind that bass spawn to make more bass. So you don’t want to bother them too much. In some areas you might not even be allowed to fish for bass when they are spawning. So keep that all in mind.
In this situation it pays to use really bright colors. You want the worm to look obtrusive so that the bass will view it as an intruder. So you might go with a brightly painted jig head and a worm in a bright but contrasting color. Something like a chartreuse worm on a pink jig head is great. You throw the worm up in the shallows and you twitch it across the bottom. You want to make it look alive without moving the worm too much. You can do this by twitching your rod tip without reeling in. Largemouth nass that are spawning or looking for a place to begin spawning will often small your worm aggressively. It is an underutilized tactic.