How To Fish With Live Worms & Catch More Fish: Best Methods & Tips

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  • Worms are the most versatile fishing bait to use anywhere in the world 
  • Learn how to collect worms
  • How do you bait the worm on your hook?
  • What are the fish that you can catch with worms?

A live, wiggling worm placed on a hook is the number one worldwide fishing bait! You can use them whole or cut them into pieces, you can use only one worm at a time or a bunch of them on the same hook.

There are multiple options to fish effectively with worms, float fishing, ledgering, or free lining. They can be fished at the bottom or at any depth, which makes them a go-to bait for every angler. Worms will always catch fish anywhere in the world!

I spent my first fishing steps fishing with worms and mastered the technique over many years.

In this article, I will explain how to use worms effectively when you go fishing, and also some hot tips to help you get more bites and catch more fish.

Why Are Fish Attracted to Worms?

Worms don’t naturally live in the water, so why do fish like to eat worms? There are two reasons fish eat worms:

  • Movement – The worm’s wiggling motion attracts the fish to a natural food source. Fish are inquisitive and the movement makes the fish notice the bait easily. 
  • Smell – The juices from a chopped worm gives off aromas that the fish can easily detect. The smell is generally what brings fish to the bait in deeper and cloudy water, where the movement may not be seen as clearly.

How to Collect Worms For Fishing?

Collecting Red worms – Dendrobaena

So, first of all, you need to dig out your worms. By worms, I mean lobworms, as this is the species you will find in your backyard.

Taking a shovel and randomly digging through the backyard is not bad, but it is time-consuming and not so efficient. There are better ways!

Personally, I collect fishing worms during the night. If there is enough moisture (especially after rain), worms will crawl out from the earth, and it is possible to pick up quite a few of them in a short time.

If there is a lot of rain, you will find them crawling everywhere, and it is easiest to just collect them using a flashlight. If the ground is not soaked enough by rain, they will not leave their holes – but will emerge from the ground, just enough for you to catch them!

Tip: Lobworms are also known as Nightcrawlers, they are typically fat, juicy, and longer than redworms. There are several different types that can be found around the world.

You can also set up a ’’worm trap’’. Take a larger piece of cardboard, apply water to get it moist, and just leave it on a meadow during the night. In the morning, just collect the worms gathered beneath!

Apart from lobworms, you can also collect red worms. They are a lot smaller than lobworms but great for fishing as they release a lot of scents when hooked! To collect red worms, you will have to find some decaying organic material. Manure or compost are the best sources! Just grab a pitchfork and work through the material. If the worms are there you will find them in no time!

Tip: Redworms are typically smaller but are more lively than lobworms or Nightcrawlers.

What Are Dendrobaena Worms?

Dendrobaenas are originally from Holland. They are twice the size of the usual redworm. They can be purchased in most good fishing tackle shops, most anglers will use these as the first option for fishing. Their size makes them great bait for fishing, especially if lobworms are not available.

What Fish Can Be Caught Using Worms? 

Every fish will eat worms, however, some fish are easy to catch such as perch, tench, roach, and bream. Carp will eat anything, so worms work well for them also.

Worms are also a very good bait to catch catfish, trout, all panfish, pike, bluegill, walleye, crappies, and any type of bass….the list is endless!

Tip: Any fish that eats live worms will also love the plastic or artificial versions.

You can read more in my other article on plastic worm baits here!  

How To Put Live Worms On Your Hook

Worms are usually used as solitary bait, although you can also use several worms on the same hook if the worms are small, or if you are after big fish (such as catfish).

There are a couple of ways of baiting a worm on your hook, and this depends on the type of hook you are using, the fish you are after, and also the fishing technique you are using.

I most often use worms when float fishing (bolognese technique) on rivers. When float fishing on rivers, it is crucial to maintain the most natural presentation possible. This means your worm must look like it is getting carried by the river current, so any fish near the bait will perceive it as a natural feeding opportunity.

To ensure the natural look, I always hook the worm only once, usually at the head! I do this by threading the hook through the worm’s head so that the hook is hidden. Not only this will seem very natural in the river, but the fish will suck the worm, just like we do when eating spaghetti.

I also only use the biggest worms and a rather large no.4 hook, as I fish in big rivers where the average fish is more than 1 kg in weight. If the target fish are smaller, then a no.8 or no.10 hook is sufficient.

If I fish in smaller rivers, or for smaller fish, I will also hook the worm from the head but will use smaller worms. When you are fishing in a deeper and slower part of a river or a lake, I will not hook the worm the same way! 

In these conditions, where there are a lot more small fish, the fish will often bite the end of the worm! This leaves only the head part on the hook. To resolve this, I will pierce the worm two or three times, leaving a portion of the worm dangling off the end to entice the fish with its wiggling action.

The rest of the worm should cover the hook as best as possible. Hooking worms several times will help release more juices and scents in the water!

You should never hook the worm too many times. It will prevent the wiggling that attracts the fish, and will kill the worm faster! Also, a clump of worms on the hook does not look natural, and finicky fish will steer clear from that offering.

If you are fishing on the bottom, two or three red worms are a perfect solution. It is harder for fish to find your bait on the bottom than in mid-water, and more meat on the hook means bigger chances of getting a fish. Also, when targeting species like catfish, your food offering must be large enough to draw their attention!

There is no absolute rule for baiting the worm. Sometimes fish will be aggressive and just take the bait no matter the way you are baiting, while sometimes you will have to try different approaches until you find the right one. Keep experimenting, and you will be successful!

Tip: Try using baitholder hooks when fishing with worms. These hooks are equipped with barbs on the shank that will prevent the worm from sliding down when casting!

How To Use Worms For Chumming

 Worms are great for attracting and keeping fish in your feeding spot! But using whole worms for chumming is a waste of good bait.

The best possible way to use worms is by cutting them into small pieces and adding them to your groundbait. You can purchase a pair of multi-blade special scissors for cutting worms into pieces. They are made with three or four sets of blades connected together, with some spacing between them, and are a great solution for cutting up a bigger amount of worms in a short amount of time!

Also, do not add all of the worms into your groundbait at the same time. There is a lot of salt in the groundbait, which will dry the worms very quickly. Try using smaller portions and add them only before chumming.

When you use worms this way, there are two major benefits:

First, there is a lot more scent released in the water.

Secondly, the fish need a lot more time to find scattered worm pieces in groundbait! This means your feeding spot will be a great attraction for a longer time, and also fish will not get fed up quickly.

Final Thoughts

Worms are one of the best natural baits in the world. They are easily collected, and efficient both as bait and chum, and if you follow some basic rules they will reward you with a great fishing session!

If you liked this article and want to learn more about worms check out this article on Redworms, Nightcrawlers, and Alabama Jumpers and How to Make Your Own Wormery.

Denis Savretic