What I’m about to tell you is going to sound a little crazy, but hear me out. I’ve been sitting on this for quite a while, but I figured it was finally time to let the secret out and clue you all into some of the most productive trout lures I’ve ever come across.
You ready for this? Okay, here goes nothing… Pink plastic worms.
There, I said it. Not what you were expecting, eh? Well, I’m here to tell you that trout – particularly rainbows – go absolutely nuts for them. I’ve been using pink worms for steelhead since 1998 with great results and it was a pretty easy and logical progression to sneak them into some of my favorite trout waters.
What I’ve found is both stream and still-water trout eat these things like they’re candy and the really funny thing about the whole deal is I’m not sure why. On the other hand, who cares why fish like pink plastic – the bottom line is they do!
I’ve tried a bunch of different brands, shapes and sizes of worms over the years and have concluded that the 4-inch bubble gum worm put out by Mad River Outfitters (707-826-7201) is the best bait currently available.
It’s roughly the size of a mini-crawler and has the added bonus of being impregnated with shrimp scent. This worm has a large enough profile to get a fish’s attention but doesn’t have such a large presence that it will overwhelm wary trout. Lake Fishing: When fishing lakes, a hot way to fish plastic worms is to rig it “bottom walker” style. Here’s how to do it:
First, tie a three-way swivel to the end of your line. To one of the remaining two swivel eyes, attach an 18- to 24-inch section of line with a snap swivel on the other end (this is your weight dropper). To the remaining swivel eye, tie a 36-inch leader and then slide a pink size No. 12 Corkie up the line and finish off the leader with a size No. 4 Gamakatsu baitholder hook. Next, thread your worm onto the hook and slide it up the leader (using a worm threader, start at the tail or skinny end of the worm). You want the worm to be completely above the hook and as straight as possible. The Corkie will come to rest against the “head” end of the worm and its main job is to give the bait some added buoyancy.
What you end up with is the worm and Corkie on the long leader and your lead hanging from the dropper line. Cast the contraption out and let it sink. Using a very slow, steady retrieve, bump the sinker along the bottom. The Corkie will float the rig up off the bottom, where the fish will best be able to see it. When a trout picks up the plastic, let it chomp on it for a bit and then set the hook.
If you’re into trolling, try dragging a threaded pink worm 12 to 15 inches behind a dodger.
Pink worms are super early-season trout baits when the water’s up. The ticket to using plastic in moving water is to make it look like it’s drifting naturally with the current. To do this, start by threading the worm onto a No. 4 baitholder (as with lake fishing above) and attach a pink Fish Pill (a painted Styrofoam ball that helps float the bait) to the shank of the hook.
Attach just enough weight (Splitshot, Slinky or pencil lead) to get your rig down near the bottom and run a 3- to 4-foot leader between the sinker and the worm. The idea here is to drift your worm along the bottom with the current. Cast slightly upstream and allow the rig to sink. When the sinker starts tap-tap-tapping along the rocks, you’re where you need to be. With your rod tip, follow your line as it travels downstream and set the hook if you feel anything suspicious or the worms stops drifting.Bites can range from subtle taps to violent take-downs.
Stick with It
If you’re anything like me when I first started chasing steelhead with pink plastic worms, you’ll be a little skeptical at first. It’s hard to stick with something that’s so wacky-looking and outside the realm of accepted trout offerings, but give them a try sometime for more than a few casts. I know you’ll be happy with the results.