The Complete Guide To Worm Fishing For Trout

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Fishing using worms is one of the most effective and relaxing ways to catch trout. Most places let you throw two lines in the water, and anytime I’m out, I’ll have one rod with a worm and the other with a spoon or spinner.

My worm rod is pretty much like a set it and forget it (almost) rig that I’ll cast out and let it sit for a while. I’ll then use my second rod to cast and retrieve with some sort of active lure.

You could put almost anything on the first rod. Powerbait, eggs, soft plastics are all good choices, but nothing beats a big juicy worm. I’ve had a lot of success with this strategy and we’ll be covering everything you need to know such as what rod, line, and hook size to use.

Best Fishing Rod For Worm Fishing

The best worm fishing rod for trout, crappie, and small panfish is a 6-7 foot spinning rod. An ultralight or light-powered rod will give you the most casting distance while a fast action rod will give you the most sensitivity on bites.

Rod Length: When it comes to length, you need to look at where you’ll be fishing. A longer rod will give you more casting distance but it’ll also be harder to handle in tight spots. Are you going to be fishing from a boat or are you casting from shore?

If you’re fishing a small creek, don’t have much room to cast, or are backpacking into a lake, you’ll probably want to go with the smaller 6-foot rod. It’s going to be easier to carry in your backpack and it’ll also give you more control in tighter areas.

If you’re fishing from a boat or are in an open river, you can go with a bigger 7-foot rod. A longer rod will give you more casting distance and it should also be a bit more forgiving when landing fish. Either way, any rod that’s between 6-7 feet should do the job.

Reel Type: The ideal type of reel for these smaller fish is a smaller spinning reel (anything 3000 and under). The reason a spinning reel is perfect is that it’ll cast lighter lures a lot better than something like a baitcasting reel.

I know some people who normally use a baitcasting reel but they mainly target bass. The hooks are bigger and have more weight. These rods won’t cast lighter hooks and lures that well, so that’s why I wouldn’t recommend it for trout, crappie, and smaller fish.

Rod Power: For smaller fish, the ideal rod power is ultralight or light. These rods will be able to cast light lures and hooks a lot further. Plus, they’re a lot more fun to fight a fish on. Both will do the job, so it’s completely up to you.

Rod Action: The best type of rod for trout is a fast action rod. This pretty much means that the rod will mostly bend at the tip. The reason you’d want this is that it’ll help you feel small bites and will give you a better hookset.

Click here to see our favorite trout fishing gear. In case you were wondering, the type of rod for other types of fish will probably be different. Here are some general guidelines for the best fishing rod for worm fishing:

ReelLength (ft)PowerAction
Trout, Crappie, BluegillSpinning6-7UL/LightFast
WalleyeSpinning6-7MFast
SteelheadBaitcaster8.5-9.5MFast
Bass (Texas/Carolina)Baitcaster7-7.5MHFast
Bass (Flipping)Baitcaster7+HFast
Bass (Drop Shot/Wacky)Spinning7MFast

Best Fishing Line For Worm Fishing

The best fishing line for worm fishing is a braided line with a fluorocarbon leader. For smaller fish such as trout, using a 10 lb braid with a 4-6 lb fluorocarbon leader will result in the best overall performance.

Main Line: For pretty much all my setups, I’ll use braid as my main line. I like it because it casts well, is super sensitive, and I can use heavier than normal line (it’s much thinner than fluoro and mono). For any of the smaller freshwater fish (trout, kokanee, crappie, etc), my go-to is a 10 lb braid.

Leader Line: When it comes to your leader, you’ll want to use something that’s less visible and more abrasion-resistant than braid. The choice is either mono or fluoro. For worm fishing, I like fluorocarbon a lot more because it sinks, it’s tougher than mono, and it’s the least visible. 4-6 lb test is perfect.

For other types of fish, here is the best fishing line for worm fishing:

MainLeader
Trout, Crappie, Bluegill10 Lb Braid4-6 Lb Fluoro
Walleye10 Lb Braid8-10 Lb Fluoro
Steelhead50 Lb Braid15 Lb Fluoro
Bass20 Lb Braid12-15 Lb Fluoro

Best Hook For Worm Fishing

The best type of worm hook to use for smaller fish such as trout is a size #8 worm or baitholder hook. These hooks have small barbs on the shank or have a design that will hold the worm in place and stop it from easily sliding off.

Hook Size: The ideal hook size to use is anywhere from size #8 to size #10. The size I use most often is size #8, but anything close to it should land you some fish.

I like fishing with lighter gear and smaller hooks when I can. This hook size will hide nicely in the worm and will be able to hook into all sizes of fish. I’ve compared a number of different hook sizes and sizes 8-10 resulted in the most fish landed.

Hook Type: For worm fishing, you really only have two choices. You’ll need to use either a worm or baitholder hook. It’s super important, otherwise, you’ll spend more time putting worms on your hook than you will be fishing.

The reason these hooks work so well is that they have small barbs on the shank that holds the worm in place. Once you slide the worm on, it’ll take a pretty good hit to knock it off. Some don’t have the barbs, but the design of the hook is built for keeping the bait on the hook.

My Favorite Hook: There are a number of solid choices out there but the two I normally use are the Mustad baitholder hooks or the Gamakatsu worm hook (on Amazon). You can’t go wrong with either of them.

When it comes to fishing with worms, you pretty much have two options. The first is a bobber fishing setup, which you’ll use from shore or from a stationary boat. The second is if you’ll be trolling.

Best Rig For Worm Fishing

Bobber Fishing: If I’m going after trout but I’m not trolling, this is one of the rigs I always use. Most places are allowed two rods, so I’ll dangle this in the water alongside a spoon or spinner setup. It’s a pretty simple rig but it’s one of the most effective out there. Here’s what it looks like:

Step #1: The very first thing you’ll want to do is attach your braided line to your fluorocarbon leader. I like using the Double Uni or Surgeons knot (see how here), but you can use whatever you want.

The reason I like using braid is that it’ll float on the water. This will make the worm look way more natural and you probably won’t get as many snags. I also like braid because it’s colored and I can easily see when something bites.

I like using fluorocarbon as my leader because it’ll sink down to where the fish are at. It’s also a lot more abrasion-resistant than braid and is also less visible in the water. Anywhere between 3-4 feet of leader is ideal.

Step #2: The next thing you’ll want to do is attach your hook. Just a simple fisherman’s knot will do, but you can use something else if you like.

Step #3: After that, you’ll want to attach your bobber/float. You’ll need to guess what depth the fish are at and set up your bobber so your worm is a bit above them. This is something you’ll need to mess around with.

Step #4: The final step is to add some weight. The best way to do this is to add a split shot 1-2 feet above your worm. If you’re fishing in current or you need to cast further, you can add one or two more.

Trolling: If I’m going to troll for trout, this is one of the rigs I almost always bring since it’s so simple. You could make it even more beginner-friendly by removing a few things, but I’ve always had the best results with a rig that looks like this:

Step #1: The first thing you’ll want to do is put the sliding weight clip on your braided line. This will slide up and down your line and is where you’ll add weight to get your worm to the right depth.

You don’t have to, but if you want to take things to the next level, you can add a bead. This pretty much acts as a buffer between your weight clip and your swivel. It’ll just help protect the knot.

The final thing to add to your main line is a swivel. You can use whatever type of you want, but I like using a bead chain or ball bearing swivel. Brad’s Chain Swivel (on Amazon) or Spro Ball Bearing Swivel (on Amazon) are great options.

Step #2: The next step is to attach fluorocarbon to the other end of your swivel. The LB test doesn’t really matter, but somewhere right around 3 feet is the ideal length. After the 3 foot leader, attach your dodger/flasher.

Dodgers or flashers are super important because they’ll give your worm some movement. It’ll move the worm from side to side, which will be a lot more attractive. The Shasta Sling Blade (on Amazon) is a good choice.

Picking the right dodger color can help you catch more fish. It all depends on the watercolor you’re fishing in, but you can read our full article on the best lure and flasher color for each fish.

Step #3: After your dodger, you’ll want to add your fluorocarbon leader. I normally use a 4-6 lb test and the length will be somewhere around 12 inches (1 foot). You want the worm pretty close to really get that action.

Step #4: The final step is to attach your hook and worm. If you put the hook through the head of the worm and slide it up the shank, it’ll stay on a lot better.

Best Artificial Worms For Trout

The best artificial worm for trout fishing is the Berkley Power Honey Worm. The perfect length is 2-3 inches long and the best colors are anything natural, such as reds and browns.

In my opinion, nothing beats a live worm. Sometimes you can’t get them, and if that’s the case, an artificial worm can do the job as well. There are a bunch of different options to pick from but the Berkley Power Honey Worm (on Amazon) has worked well for me.

The nice thing about artificial worms is that they’ll stay on the hook much better. If you’re fishing with a kid and don’t want to spend too much time adding new bait, artificial could be the way to go.

How To Fish For Trout Using Worms

My favorite thing about worm fishing is that you really can’t go wrong. As long as it’s in the water, you have a pretty good chance of catching something. That being said, if you take things a little further, you can increase the odds quite a bit.

Bobber: The best way to fish with a worm and bobber is to cast it out as far as you can and slowly work it back to you. Most of the time, I’ll cast it out, let it sit for a few minutes, and fish with my second rod. Every couple of minutes I’ll give the worm some movement.

The majority of the bites will happen when the worm is falling. If you want the best results, here’s what you’ll want to do:

  1. Cast it out as far as you can.
  2. Let the worm fall all the way down.
  3. Let it sit for a few seconds.
  4. Lift your rod tip up.
  5. Reel in the slack.
  6. Let worm fall.
  7. Repeat.

If you’ve brought your line back in and nothing bit, you’ll want to cast to a different spot. Work the whole area, and if there’s something in the area, it should bite.

Trolling: The only thing you need to do here is to figure out what depth the fish are at. All you need to do is put your worm just above them. You do that by adding or subtracting weight.

The reason I like using a weight slip is that it’s easy to add or remove weight. Start light and fish for a while. Add a bit more weight if you don’t get any bites. Keep doing this until you get to the strike zone.

Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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