Fat Finesse Worm Bass
In a bass fishing world full of new gadgets and gimmicks designed to help anglers catch more and bigger bass, the tiny, un-intimidating 4-inch finesse worm still out-fishes most of the new generation lures twenty to one.
On a recent road trip to Ontario's Algoma Country during the post-spawn period of late June, I faced dormant smallmouth bass who had no interest in chasing any fast-moving baits or slow-falling stick worms.
Sure, the smaller 2-pound fish were no problem to fool with the aforementioned baits, but the larger bass had recovery on their minds and I needed a bait and presentation that was new to them. Hopefully, I could provoke bites from these oversized bass with an oldie-but-still-goodie technique I call the Split Shot Finesse.
This presentation is one of my go-to techniques when I'm faced with heavily fished lakes or ultra-clear water conditions and the bass are somewhat educated to the same spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and stick worms that are popular with today's bass angler.
My Split Shot Finesse is so simple to rig and use that it can confuse many bass anglers because it's hard to believe a rig so simple could be so deadly for big bass.
It really is that simple, and that deadly.
My rig consists of a Strike King Fat Baby Finesse worm in the 4-inch size, threaded through the top of the nose of the worm and, while sliding the worm up over the small 1/0 circle hook or drop shot hook and line tie knot, I will push the worm approximately one and a half to two inches up over the line tie knot so the hook point exits the finesse worm a third of the way down the worm.
Having the hook point exit lower on the worm increases strike to hook up ratios big time.
Then, depending on the water depth I am fishing (on this particular trip I was fishing in water depths between 4 to 7 feet of water), I will lightly pinch on a soft lead round split shot onto my main line approximately 18 inches to 2 feet above the worm (no leader is required as I am using Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line which is virtually invisible underwater).
My rod choice for this setup is a St. Croix medium action, 7-foot spinning rod like the new Bass X or Avid X models with a small spinning reel loaded up with 8-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line which is tied directly to the hook.
No fuss, no muss. Just a simple setup that literally tears `em up.
The best part of using this rig is no special rod actions or motions are required to inspire bites from sluggish or educated bass.
Simply cast the finesse worm rig and split shot ahead of the boat, let it settle to the bottom, and use a slow lift and drag cadence which stirs up the sand knocks against rocks and stones, and inspires bass to investigate what is making this noise and causing the commotion in their domain.
If you’re faced with conditions such as heavier weeds or snag-infested areas with submerged timber, I would suggest lightly tex-posing the hook point back into the worm body slightly which will not impede hook-ups but reduce the number of snags you get while slowly dragging this set up over the lakes bottom composition.
Most of the bites I get with this setup are light, almost a sensation of having a leaf on your line. When that happens, reel up any slack line until you feel the fish (most times they will not spit the soft-bodied worm) and set the hook vertically with authority to increase the odds of a “top of the mouth” penetration, while taking up any line and resisting the urge to drop your rod tip.
Do not drop your rod tip when picking up the slack line; this is a no-no.
Hold your rod high and continue reeling in line until the line is tight to the fish and use your reel drag system for fighting bigger bass that tends to head for the hills once they figure out something is not right.
By using this split shot finesse worm, small hook, and the ultra-clear fluorocarbon line set up I was able to save the day and shoot a great show for the new season of Xtreme Bass Angler TV while catching and releasing two limits of bass with three fish over the 5-pound range, and a few others in the high 4-pound range mixed in with the cookie cutter 2-pounders that simply could not resist the simple, yet deadly split shot finesse worm presentation on this slick calm, warm early summer morning.
Try the split shot finesse worm rig this year on your favourite bodies of water and I am sure the Fat Baby Finesse worm by Strike King will become one of your confidence baits as it is mine.