COMMENTARY| There’s probably no more thrilling way to catch a largemouth bass than with a Texas-rigged soft plastic (a.k.a “rubber”) worm. A big part of the thrill comes from the anticipation of every cast and deliberate retrieve of working the worm slowly along the bottom in and through structure like rock and brush.
If you’re not ready, a big bass can literally jerk the rod out of your hand when it strikes, but it’s not always a powerful hit that indicates the size of the bass. Sometimes the contact feels more like a tick of the line than a pull, and the angler had better be ready to detect the difference between a sinking rubber worm bumping into debris or being sucked into the mouth of a potentially big bass.
Texas rigging is a way to weedlessly hook a rubber worm by running a worm hook with an offset shank from the head to the middle of the worm. With the point of the hook turned into the middle of the worm, the point of the hook is not exposed until the angler pulls hard enough against pressure to pull the hook point through the worm and into the mouth of the fish.
The other part of the Texas rig is the slip sinker setup used. By using a worm sinker that slides along the line in the water, the presentation of the worm is magnified by delayed action: the worm sinker sinks first upon each lift of the line then the worm trails behind the sinker, diving to catch up to the sinker when it hits the bottom. The sudden motion is often the difference to trigger action that might otherwise not happen when using other types of lures.
Set the Hook Hard
While true with all bass when using a Texas-rigged rubber worm, setting the hook hard is especially true when the bass at the other end of the line is on the bigger side of the spectrum. Using at least a four-ought worm hook is recommended because the larger size increases the chance of setting the hook into a bigger bass with more mass and density along its lip and sides of its mouth.
With bigger bass, higher-pound test line is better, but big bass can still be hauled in effectively with six or eight-pound monofilament test line if handled properly. Testing the knot periodically is important with mono line to ensure that the line is not nicked from dragging across the bottom and structure. Braided line is much more resistant to breaking and a Palomar knot is much less likely to be compromised than the cinch knot used with mono.
Don’t Let the Bass Jump
The launch of a hook bass out of the water can be a mesmerizing sight. As the fish furiously shakes its head from side to side, the hook set of a Texas-rigged rubber worm is vulnerable. The bigger the bass the more important it is to keep the line taut, especially when the fish breaks water. Any slack in the line increases the chance that a bass will throw the hook when it shakes its head.
As majestic as it is to watch bass (both largemouth and smallmouth) surface, the one time a big bass is lost because of slack in the line during a jump will be a missed opportunity that will stick with an angler for a long time.
Patience and Focus
Rubber worm fishing is a much slower method of bass fishing than crank retrieval of lures. The more methodical worm fishing requires an enhanced awareness type of focus that keeps the angler prepared to react instantly despite the slower pace of retrieval. Without that focus and readiness, strikes will be missed. The fish do not have hands, and any strike is the trigger to set the hook because it confirms that the bass has the lure in its mouth.
Patience is also important beyond the scope of this slower method of fishing. The worm itself is made weedless, but the sinker is not. The sinker is prone to lodge in between rocks and deep into the middle of brush. Usually the rig can be cleared from the potential snag by pulling the line in the opposite direction that the sinker traveled into the snag. Sometimes the lure can’t be freed and the line must be broken.
Despite the occasional difficulty encountered when fishing a Texas-rigged rubber worm, the rewards are worth it more often than not. Catching big bass with this method is even more rewarding because the point of contact when the hook is set is so immediate and sudden that the ensuing fight with a truly big bass is one that won’t be soon forgotten.