If a bass fisherman tells you he's going wacky, don't assume the fish have finally driven him off the deep end. The more likely explanation involves a peculiar rig that often draws strikes when bass ignore other baits. It's called the wacky rig: a plastic worm with a hook through the center of its body. Despite its unconventional appearance and seemingly random arrangement, the wacky rig can be an effective presentation in many scenarios. Reason: A wacky-rigged worm will shake and flutter enticingly with little more than a simple cast. The wacky worm is truly a bait for all seasons and can be particularly effective when bass retreat to deeper structures or into the shade of docks and boathouses.
Make it shake
Essential to this presentation is a limber worm and a light hook. When dropped, the worm's center — the heaviest point — sinks first and the ends tip upward.
Stopping the bait in the water column, or letting it hit bottom, allows the head and tail ends to catch up and level the bait. Subtle twitches impart amazingly lifelike action.
Aggressive bass may gobble the bait on first sight, but warm-season bass often have to give potential meals a good stare before easing up and sucking in the chow.
Wacky worms do a good job of imitating actual invertebrates, but the quivering motion also looks like the natural movement of various forage, such as a dying shad or a crawfish scurrying across the bottom.
Subtle, natural and nonintrusive, the wacky rig keeps a consistent presentation in a visible and vulnerable position.
The wacky rig draws most of its strikes on the fall. Therefore, savvy anglers have developed several tricks for making the worm fall just the way they want it to.
Weighting wacky rigs fosters much creativity and variations run the gamut of external to internal options. Desired sink rates vary with depth and the amount of weight needed varies with worm size.
During spring's prespawn, spawning and postspawn period, many bass pros use dense, large-body soft stick baits like the Senko, Yum Dinger or Wave Worms' Tiki Stik to present sizable targets to aggressive fish.
When the bass become lethargic in summer's heat, moving to a smaller finesse bait like the Zoom Trick Worm or Yum's Houdini Worm is usually best.
With larger worms, adding a one-sixteenth-ounce bullet weight above the hook or inserting a peg weight (a lead cap with a peg stuck into the worm) works well. To weight a lighter worm, anglers stick a small nail into the head.
These arrangements make the baits nosedive, but switching weights to the tail ends creates an opposite drop, a clear benefit when you're trying to reach far beneath a dock.
For the ultimate simplicity, Tru-Tungsten makes finesse worms with tungsten powder molded into the tails and heads. With head- and tail-weighted designs and fall rates of half a foot per second and a foot per second, these baits offer increased wacky rig performance without adjustments.
Either option works, but one theory holds that most wounded or dying baitfish will sink headfirst. Bass bite wacky rigs that sink both ways, so experiment to determine the day's preference.
Working a wacky
Cast or flip the bait against a weed line, next to a stump or under a dock. Hold your rod at about 3 o'clock and let the bait drop on a semi-slack line. Keep it relaxed enough for the worm to fall naturally, but not so much that you lose contact with the descending bait.
Strikes are usually light when wacky-rigging, so pay close attention to your line. Watch the angle and rate of descent. If anything changes, reel up the slack and set the hook with a smooth but firm sweeping motion.
Sometimes your line will simply stop. Other times, it will suddenly start moving to one side or the other. Again, any change should signal prompt response.
The wacky rig may sound crazy, but it's a sound choice when you can't get bit on anything else.