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"In the Outdoors" with Jerry Carlson - Jul/Aug

Wacky Options for All Summer

It was going to be an interesting day on the water. I had two enthusiastic anglers in my boat that had limited fishing experience. As we were casting weedless jigs and jigworms along the deep weedline, it became apparent to me that they had not developed the feel and finesse for this style of angling.

In an effort to try to find a presentation that would increase their odds for success, I pulled out a couple of rods that were rigged for a wacky worm presentation. I just wasn’t sure how aggressive the bass would be at coming out of the deep weeds to tear up a wacky.

After hooking up a couple of five inch PowerBait sinking worms, we relied on polarized glasses to see the distinct water color change that clearly showed where the drop-off was located. This was where I instructed my friends to target their efforts.

It took a while to get them to slow down their presentation to where the wacky rigs were dropping to the fish zone, but once they learned the value of patience, the switch to a different presentation began to pay off. It was hard to miss the thump associated with the inhaling of their lure.

When I first started to fish wacky worms, I found it hard to believe bass could actually fall for something this simple. Here I was, tossing out a special, sinking plastic worm with a hook impaled at 90 degrees through the middle and letting it do nothing but drop. There was absolutely no finesse involved.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this “do nothing” rig was very difficult for bass to ignore. There was something about the tantalizing fall of this worm that drove them crazy.

Initially, I just used wackys early in the year for shallow fish. However, I quickly learned that wacky rigging can be adapted to catch fish in a variety of situations.

First of all, this lure is not very weedless. To resolve this issue, I started using weedless hooks when I encountered issues.

One big problem for using wacky rigs when the fish have moved deeper is the time it takes to drop this worm into the fish zone. There are several tweaks that can be made to help with this concern.

There are hooks that come with weight attached to the shank that will increase the drop rate. I have also pinched split shots onto the hook shank to add a little weight. If I am dropping into really deep water, I will utilize a jig for my added weight.


One other presentation I have used is to put the wacky rig under a slip bobber. Once it reaches the desired depth, it pretty much stays there. By pulling back on the rod, the wacky can be lifted slightly and allowed to drop back down into the depths.

The slip bobber presentation will also work on windy days when there is too much bow in the line to easily distinguish bites. The wave action will help with the gentle lift and fall that is necessary to entice strikes.

It is important to note that this slip bobber rig is not as effective as a straight wacky set up. However, it does give a little more versatility to the wacky rig and will definitely catch fish.

When it comes to the worms themselves, I usually start with a standard, five inch worm. This size seems to work the best for me. I sometimes will downsize to a four inch if the fish are a little finicky. For smallies, I almost always use a four inch.


Wacky rigging for bass certainly is at its peak in the spring and early summer when fish are roaming the shallows. However, it can be utilized for the entire summer if a few modifications are made. It is also important to note that some bass will stay shallow for most of the summer and will take a wacky whenever they can.



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