Fishing soft plastic worms or any sort of soft bait has become the mainstay for bass anglers. These lures are most likely responsible for the most fish caught every year in recent years, with anglers winning tournaments and also catching trophy-class fish with them.
Let’s take a look at the different ways to rig a worm and various other soft baits so you can start having fishing success with them (if you want to keep things really simple, check our guide to the best beginner bass rigs)
In this article, we will cover the following fishing rigs and more (click on the link for more detail about each):
How to Rig a Worm for Bass: Key Rigs Explained
The Texas rig is the most commonly used fishing rig in bass fishing, and rigging soft baits this way gives the angler one major advantage, it’s weedless.
Let’s talk about the terminal tackle needed to properly rig a Texas Rig; you’re going to need the following.
- Lead or tungsten bullet weights
- Wide gap/extra-wide gap worm hook
- The soft bait of choice
Pretty much all soft baits can be Texas rigged from curly and ribbon tail worms, shaky head worms, lizards, and even some swimbaits.
Start by threading the hook point through the center of the tip of the worm and run it in until the straight section of the hook tip meets the curve of the wide gap.
After you have put the hook point in far enough, bring it through and out of the body so that it is perfectly centered. Slide the hook all the way through to the tie on and turn the hook 180 degrees.
After that, it’s as simple as inserting the tip back into the body of the bait. Be sure to put it slightly farther back when pointing the hook point through and then pull the bait back to ensure that it’s straight, and it’s also imperative that you have the hook point centered for the best action and presentation.
When all those steps are complete, pierce the very tip of the hook so it’s just under the plastic, this ensures that it’s weedless and won’t snag, and you can fish it almost anywhere.
Check out our complete guide to the Texas Rig for more details, illustrated and video instructions
How to Fish a Texas Rig
Texas rigs work great just about anywhere for bass fishing but really excel when fished in and around cover. Throw a Texas rig around docks, brush, heavy weed cover, and other fish-holding areas, and hang on.
They also work great from spring to fall and can be fished with pretty much any soft plastic bait. Simply twitch it or pop it like you would a jig, it’s very easy to use, and the bass absolutely love them.
Wacky rigs are very popular and excel at fishing precise spots like brush piles or an open pocket in thick weeds.
For wacky rigging, you need two things:
- A small wide gap or wacky rig specific worm hook
- A Senko worm
Wacky rigs rely on the Senko style of soft plastic worms, also known as “tiki sticks.” These are really effective for bass fishing.
Rigging a wacky worm is simple, find the direct center point of the worm. For example, if the worm is 5 inches, put your hook through the body at 2.5 inches so that equal lengths of the worm hang from each side of the hook. Hint: Fold the worm in half to find the midway point.
That’s pretty much it for a wacky rig, but there are a few tips and tricks that can help you when fishing.
Wacky rigs have a tendency for the worm to come off easily when a fish grabs it and misses the hook. Many anglers use small O-rings and put that around the center of the worm and then simply attach the hook to the O-ring. This rubber band method will decrease the number of worms lost.
Another trick is to put small nails into each end of the worm, these weights give it a much more decisive flapping action when you pop the end of your rod and can make the difference at times.
We have also published a complete guide to the wacky rig, which includes step-by-step instructions, illustrations, and videos on this fishing rig. That piece also contains details of popular Wacky Rig variants, such as the Weighted Wacky Rig shown below.
How to Fish a Wacky Rig
Wacky rigs work great for precision fishing situations. Throw a wacky rig in an open pocket of weeds, around brush and cover, and other areas. They aren’t really great at retrieving long distances and instead are used to slowly fall at the chosen spot while the little worm ends wiggle and pulse, enticing bass to strike.
To work a wacky rig, you can give it little pulls and small rod wobbles to make the appendages wiggle and pulse like a giant inchworm but to be honest, you really don’t have to do anything to it to make a bass bite it.
Carolina rigs are excellent finesse-style rigs. They work great with a variety of soft plastic bait choices and lizard presentations in particular.
To create a Carolina rig, you’re going to need a few things, and it’s a little more complicated when compared to other fishing rigs, such as the Texas Rigs and Wacky rigs.
To rig a Carolina rig, you will need the following:
- Egg sinker or bullet style sinkers – ranging from 1/8oz through to 1/2oz or bigger (use tungsten weights for extra sinking speed in deep water)
- Leader Material (Fluorocarbon line – see our piece on the best brands)
- Glass beads or plastic beads for extra noise to attract attention from bass
- Hook – an offset worm hook with a wide gape is best such as this Gamakatsu model
- Soft plastic lure – worm, creature bait, or lizard. A 5-inch creature bait is a popular choice.
Start by placing the bullet sinker on your main line, followed by a bead. After placing the bead and sinker, tie on your swivel.
After the swivel has been tied on, it’s time to add your leader. Leader length can vary and is typically anywhere from 18 inches to 3 feet in length. Leader length is a personal preference for some, and if you are fishing, floating plastics determine how high in the water column it will rise.
The next step is to tie the leader to the swivel after picking your length and then to tie on your hook, with the last step being your bait.
See here for a full set-up guide to the Carolina Rig, with video and pictorial instructions.
How to Fish a Carolina Rig
When working a Carolina rig, you’re going to want to simply drag your bait across the bottom. Since we are dragging the weight and the bait, we want to use this in cleaner areas to avoid getting caught in the weeds. Look for sandy areas around cover like a patch of weeds, riverbanks, and around docks.
Drop shot rig
The dropshot rig excels at finesse conditions in deep water bass fishing. It’s very popular in areas such as the Great Lakes when fishing for smallmouth bass on deep structure but can be applied anywhere when you need to fish deep water.
To make a drop shot rig, you will need the following:
- Bell Sinker or similar weight
- Single Hook
- Soft plastic bait
For this rig, you will need to add your hook first, but don’t tie it to the end of your line, pick a length up from the tag end that is the length you want. This length is going to determine how high off of the bottom the bait will sit.
Use a Palomar knot to tie the hook, with the tag end being the desired length. Don’t cut the tag end like you normally would, and instead tie your bell sinker or another sinker to the end.
Simply add your bait to the hook, and you’re ready to fish.
See our seperate post on setting up and fishing the drop shot rig for more information and video instructions.
How to Fish a Drop shot Rig
Like wacky rigs, drop shot rigs are used for precision fishing, but in deep water situations, and typically when fish aren’t as active.
Find a deep hump, brush pile, rock pile, fish crib, or some other deep piece of fish-holding structure, and hold above it.
Put your drop shot rig that you have tied to your desired length in the water and let the weight hit bottom. Be sure to keep slack out of your line. Remember, your holding the bait up at that desired depth.
To work the bait, you can give it little rod taps to make the soft plastic wiggle and dance around, but like with wacky rigs, you don’t have to do anything in terms of creating action to get a fish to eat it.
Ned rigs are not so much fishing rigs as they are a specific type of jig head and worm. Ned rig style jigs are a type of stand-up jig that keeps the bait up and off the bottom, allowing for a tempting presentation for a fish to eat.
Ned rigs are a fairly new lure presentation in the bass world but have left a big impact due to being a very successful fish-catching presentation.
To rig a ned rig, you will need:
- A ned rig stand up jig
- A short stick bait such as a craw or creature bait
Suppose you have fished a standard jig while fishing. You should know all you need to know to fish a Ned rig. Simply tie on the jig and thread on the short stick worm, then you’re ready to fish.
See our full setup guide to Ned Rig fishing for more information.
How to Fish a Ned Rig
Ned rigs work best in shallow water but can be used at mid-depth in certain fishing situations. The rig is also not weedless like a Texas rig, so a thick cover might get your hook fouled up.
To fish the ned rig, simply throw it out short distances around docks or other fish-holding areas and let it hit bottom. From there, Jig it with short pops of your rod. The stand-up jig head will keep the short worm up and entice fish to bite.
There are a range of other rigs anglers should be aware of that are really effective for bass and a range of other species.
We’ve gone through the key rigs here.
Split Shot Rig
A great rig for finesse fishing, the split shot rig presents baits naturally, and the amount of weight used can be easily adjusted through the addition or removal of split shot. See here for full instructions on tying and fishing the split shot rig.
This is another finesse rig, and thanks to the streamlined shape of the sliding sinker, it is also a rig that can be fished in grass, brush, or other structure. Full instructions here on tying and fishing the Mojo Rig.
The Tokyo rig is a simple rig to create and use and is a great rig for beginners learning how to catch bass. See here for full details on the Tokyo Rig.
Bottom Bouncer Rig
The Bottom Bouncer is a great rig for fishing baits close the botttom without snagging up. See our guide for full instructions on how to make and fish the bottom bouncer rig for walleye.
The Neko Rig offers a different kind of presentation that can be great for targeting trophy bass. The Senko dives down vertically and is often snatched by bass on the drop. Full instructions on making and fishing the Neko Rig can be found here.
Fish Finder Rig
The Fish Finder rig is a very popular saltwater fishing rig that can be fished in the surf or off the rocks. Learn more about it in our piece on fishing the Fish Finder Rig.
Sliding Sinker Rigs
Sliding Sinker Rigs are great searching rigs and can be used to cover water as well as target bass you might have spotted in the water sight fishing or on your fish finder. Details here on how to make and use the sliding sinker rig.
When to Choose Which Rigs: Comparisons
- Wacky Rig vs Texas Rig
- Tokyo Rig vs Texas Rig
- Fish Finder Rig vs Carolina Rig
- Carolina Rig vs Drop Shot Rig
- Tokyo Rig vs Drop Shot
- Shaky Head vs Texas Rig
- Carolina Rig vs Texas Rig
Rigging Flukes and Tubes
Check out our guides to rigging a fluke and rigging a tube bait, as well as the stupid rig (weedless tube bait rig).
These fishing rigs are the most popular rigs in the fishing world and are for more than just bass. Becoming proficient at tying these different types of fishing rigs with a variety of baits will help you become more adaptable and flexible on the water, allowing you to catch fish in any situation you encounter on the water. With minimal investment in tackle, you can equip yourself to use all these rigs and boost your catch rate.
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