Fishing With Bloodworm & Jokers: Are They The Best Winter Bait Ever?

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If you are wondering what bloodworms and jokers are, you are about to stumble upon some of the best coarse fishing baits around. Bloodworms and jokers are such effective baits that they have even been banned at many fisheries and in match fishing, too – which says a lot! 

In this article, we will look deeper at these two natural food sources, what they are, why they are so effective, where to source them, and how to fish with them.

Once you have read the whole article, you will be ready to start trying them out, opening a new fishing opportunity with these amazing baits. 

What Are Bloodworms? 

Bloodworms are a form of midge larvae that live in the top layer of silt in ponds and rivers. They are bright red, hence the name “bloodworm”, segmented, and usually around 20 mm in length, so approximately twice the size of maggots. 

Bloodworms thrive in low oxygen conditions but can be found in high oxygen conditions, too, and they are one of the main natural food sources for species that feed off the bottom, such as roach, perch, tench, carp, bream, and gudgeon. 

What Are Jokers? 

Jokers are similar to bloodworms as they are also midge larvae, but jokers are much smaller than bloodworms. Jokers also love low oxygen conditions, and you can usually find them in abundance below areas with sewage outlets, for example. 

Fish love to eat jokers just as much as they love to eat bloodworms, as they are usually in abundance, easy to see, and easy to eat since they wriggle up from the bottom. 

Why Are Jokers And Bloodworms Effective As Bait? 

It might be common sense to some of you why bloodworms and jokers are such good baits, but let’s go into the details for everyone else. 

These two baits are so effective because they are natural food that the fish eat while no one is fishing. Imagine being a fish and being presented with something artificial to your environment, like bread or sweetcorn, or something you know you love to eat all the time, like bloodworms and jokers; the decision would be easy, wouldn’t it? 

Fish are smart-ish creatures, some species and individuals more than others. Once they are used to artificial baits like boilies and pellets and have been hooked by them, the fish become wary and suspicious. 

You can learn more about fishing with pellets by reading my in-depth article, which focuses on tactics for using Coppens and skrettings.

However, when you throw a natural bait to them that they always eat, fish feel safer and cannot resist it. Also, when fishing with bloodworms and jokers, you use very small hooks (around a size #22 to #26)and super thin lines, so it is also a very finesse style of fishing. 

Where Do I Buy Jokers And Bloodworms? 

A few thousand bloodworms

There are two ways of getting some jokers and bloodworms to use as bait. You can either order them from a good tackle shop, and chances are your local shop can organize this for you, or you can collect them yourself, which can be hard work and possibly a little dangerous. 

Can I Buy Jokers And Bloodworms?

Buying these from angling or bait shops can be a challenge. Typically, not many places will sell them as they are not a very saleable product for most anglers. However, there are several online angling stores to buy them, and you will likely need to pre-order them with a minimum order quantity. 

How To Find & Collect Bloodworms & Jokers?

The first stage of collecting your jokers and bloodworms is finding a spot where they are in abundance, and you will need to get the owners’ permission to start trying to collect them, too. Spots are kept secret, so finding a good place may take a while.

To collect them, you use a scraper to drag along the bottom two or three inches of a pond or lake. This tool looks like a metal net on a long handle with holes at the bottom for the water and silt to drain. 

To scrape, you will want to put on a pair of waders to wade in the river or lake margins while you scrape along the bottom. Be very careful and consider water safety, though, as it can be very dangerous. 

Whether you order from a shop or collect them yourself, you must know how to prepare them so they stay alive and be the best bait possible. Let’s take a look at that now. 

How To Keep Bloodworms & Jokers Alive & Fresh?

Once you have bought or collected your bloodworms and jokers, you will want them to stay healthy and alive until you use them as bait. 

The first step is to separate and remove any dead ones from the batch, as these will contaminate the water and kill the others. First, place a maggot riddle over a tray of water and pour the bloodworms and jokers on top. The live worms will wriggle their way through while the dead ones will be left on top, which can be thrown away. 

If you want to keep them alive for a few weeks, put them in a bucket of water with an aquarium pump and change the water every week. 

When you are ready to take them fishing, use an aquarium net to scoop out as much as you need and then place it in some newspaper. The newspaper absorbs the moisture and stays damp, keeping the bloodworms and jokers alive for the day while you go fishing with them. 

How To Fish With Bloodworms & Jokers?

The first thing you need to know about fishing with them is that the jokers are used as bait, and the bloodworms are used on the hook. 

This is because jokers are much smaller than bloodworms and harder to place on the hook, but you can use three jokers on a hook if you run out of bloodworms. 

The hard part about using jokers to bait your swim is getting them to the bottom since they are very light, so they need a little help to get down to the fish and where your hooked bait will be. 

The key to fishing with these two natural foods is that they should be used together. 

Making Groundbait With Jokers 

You will want to grab some leam, which is a kind of heavy clay dust, and add this to your jokers. This will separate the jokers from one another; since it is natural, it won’t kill them. 

You can then make groundbait balls using more leam and throw them into your swim – this is particularly effective for species like perch who don’t like unnatural bread-based groundbait. 

Or you can add the leam-covered jokers to your preferred groundbait mix for roach or carp, but you will need to get these groundbait balls into the water quickly, as using salt in the mix will kill the jokers. 

Once the balls hit the water, they sink to the bottom, getting your jokers where they need to be. They will immediately wriggle out from the balls and start attracting fish. 

You can get leam through the same suppliers that you get your bloodworms and jokers from.

Hooking Bloodworms  

Now that you have baited your swim with jokers, it is time to add a hooked bloodworm down there so you can start catching. Hook a single bloodworm through the middle using a size 22 to 26 fine wire hook and fish it under a float at the desired depth. 

The bloodworm will survive for a while, wriggling on the hook amongst the jokers, and since it is a bit bigger, it will entice a bite. You might also want to consider using a very thin fluorocarbon line, so finicky fish don’t see the line when inspecting your hooked bait. 

Where Best To Use Bloodworms And Jokers?

winter bloodworm canal fishing
Canal fishing throughout the year, particularly in the
winter is the best time to use bloodworm

As the days get shorter and the colder weather sets in, winter is the prime time for bloodworms and jokers. They are a favoured bait for wintertime angling, and when no other bait works well, it is the time to get out these little wrigglers.

The other perfect time to use them is when you are canal fishing. Smaller fish, such as roach, skimmers, and perch, may be feeding, so this is a great time to use them. They can also be used in conjunction with pinkies (small maggots). 

Bloodworm And Jokers – FAQ

Can I Fish With Bloodworms And Jokers From The Aquarium Store?

Yes, aquarium shops have a good supply of bloodworms as they are used to feed fish in home fish tanks. They are perfect for fishing use and are always fresh.

What Fish Can Be Caught Using Bloodworms And Jokers?

Every type of fish will be attracted to jokers and bloodworms. The nutrients and proteins they provide fish can be almost irresistible. Since these baits are in the silty bottom areas, bottom-feeding fish that root around the mud are the likely species to catch, such as roach, perch, tench, carp, bream, and gudgeon. 

How Much Leam Do I Add To Jokers?

The amount of leam you add to the jokers can be difficult to judge. The key factor is the depth of your fishing area. Adjusting the leam amount to the groundbait mix has to be correct for the groundbait infused joker to reach the bottom.

Baiting Out 

Thanks very much for reading my article. I hope you enjoyed it and now know everything you need about bloodworms and jokers and how to catch fish with them.

They are one of the most effective baits out there! Especially during the winter months.

Please share the article with your fishing buddies, and why not look at some of our other articles? We cover everything from pole fishing tips and gear to in-depth articles about how to use Preston stotz weights

Steve Fitzjohn