Mention plastic worms to most bass anglers and they visualize slim-profile baits 6 or 7 inches long – the kind that were the soft-plastic staple for decades. All Bassfans know about them, but in recent times traditional plastic-worm fishing has slipped quietly into the background, while tubes and finesse plastics gained momentum as prime tournament tools.
Master worm fisherman Larry Nixon, thanks to recent performances in Tour-level events, has helped pique new interest in the slithery baits. He challenged for the first-day lead at the Wheeler FLW, and finished 4th at the Lewisville Bassmaster Elite 50. He credited 10-inch plastic worms for key bass in both events.
The Big Difference
Ever-increasing fishing pressure is generally regarded as an important factor in bait choice, and the trend has been to go with subtle, less intimidating offerings. Nixon said anglers can go in the opposite direction to find another option that can pay off big-time.
"The 10-inch worm is a lure fish don't see a lot of anymore," he said. "In certain situations, it's really the best choice."
He said water color and the size of the fish where he's fishing help him decide when it's time to rig up a giant worm.
"In stained or dark water that has heavy cover and a good number of quality fish, I go with the 10-inch Power Worm," he said. "It's got a big profile that's really appealing to those fish. It'll work in any lake with heavy cover and big fish. If you think you have a chance to catch several fish over 3 pounds, then the 10-inch worm is a pretty darn good bet to produce."
He used big worms to help separate himself from the pack at Lewisville. He sacked 24 pounds the first 2 days with hefty plastic worms. The key was his bites were better than the keepers most of the field caught.
"The 10-inch Power Worm has been one of my best producers in Texas and elsewhere in the summer for years," he said.
Rings Dinner Bell
He bases his theories about 10-inch worms on the notion that bigger fish prefer a meal rather than a snack.
"A big fish's appetite is such that it would rather eat one big meal, and expend less energy, than chase down a couple of smaller meals," he said.
And he added that big worms are at their best in nasty cover.
"You need that cover – heavy vegetation or heavy wood. I find places where I can swim that big worm around. The big profile really catches their attention and they thump it pretty good."
Best Months Ahead
Nixon said oversized worms typically produce best in warm water.
"I start using it more in late spring and then all throughout the warmer months when the fish start keying in on the shad and other big baitfish."
His standard big-worm setup starts with a 6'6" or 7' medium-heavy baitcasting rod. He uses a 4/0 or 5/0 hook tied to 17- or 20-pound Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon line.
"I start with a 1/4-ounce weight and go up depending on the wind, depth and rate of fall I'm looking for," he noted.
He also said it's important for anglers to consider what they're trying to achieve with their lures. For example, the 10-inch worm works in heavy cover because fish can detect it better than smaller offerings like the 7-inch worm he'd use in more open water.
"You're not trying to finesse them. They see that big ol' worm swimming by and they just have to go get it."
Those who fear a 10-inch worm would reduce their chance for keeper-size fish can rest assured its appeal spans the size spectrum of most bass.
"I do catch pound-and-a-half fish just as fast as the big ones when they're in that cover," he said.
> Nixon's worm gear includes Fenwick Techna AV rods and Abu Garcia Torno 3006 reels.
> He said he misses the days when he could use a pistol-grip rod. "I loved those things. They were great when I needed to make short casts in cover because they are so accurate. But with my wrist problems, I just can't make one-handed casts anymore." He's had surgery to repair damage created by decades of hard fishing, but tenderness lingers.
> BassFan caught up with Nixon while he was home for a few days after the Lewisville E50. "My stuff is a mess, so I'm fixing up my tackle and stocking up for the next E50 up north at Lake Wissota," he said. After the June 15 tournament in Wisconsin, he'll load up and travel east to the FLW Tour finale on the Potomac River, which starts June 22.