If I had to pick one lure that could catch fish anytime, anywhere it would probably be a texas rig with a worm. When I just started fishing, this was the setup my father taught me to fish. It’s how I caught my first bass. And it’s still my go to when nothing else works.
The ideal setup for your basic plastic worm fishing is a medium, fast action rod with 8 to 12 pound test fluorocarbon and a spinning reel. There are many variations on this tried and true set up which I will discuss below if you are looking for more information. But a medium, fast action rod with 10 pound test is always in my arsenal. And it usually has a plastic worm on it.
Why a spinning reel is best for plastic worms
Many people will suggest a baitcasting reel for worm fishing, and there are many benefits a baitcasting reel provides that a spinning does not. However, I find if I am fishing with plastic worms I am generally using lighter weight, which works better with a spinning setup. I hardly ever use more than ¼ ounce weight when fishing a worm, and often stay in the ⅛ ounce range. With this light of a weight, fishing with a baitcaster is unnecessarily difficult. A spinning reel shines in these low weight conditions.
The majority of fishermen will also find a spinning setup easier to use, and most people just learning to fish may begin with a plastic worm setup. After all, fishing a plastic worm is both the easiest and most versatile lure in your arsenal. You can wacky rig it and let it sink, texas rig it and fish on the bottom, or even swim a worm. With this variety of techniques applicable, a spinning reel can handle all of them with ease. Even if not the optimal setup, it will work for anything you can throw at it. And it is much easier than a baitcaster for fishermen just getting into the sport.
Medium, Fast Action is the best all around rod
Now that you have your spinning reel, you need to focus on what type of rod to pair with it. There are many options, but the best for a worm setup is a medium, fast action rod.
The action rod is often referred to the “backbone” of the rod, and for good reason. It is the strength of the rod when you set a hook, fight a bass, or even work the lure. A “heavy” rod is the strongest it can possibly be, but also generally is inflexible and stiff. A “light” rod on the other hand is the exact opposite, extremely flexible and able to bend. So what makes a “medium” rod, right in between the two, ideal for worm fishing?
For me, worm fishing is often done with a ⅛ to ¼ ounce weight, as mentioned previously. The medium action rod works extremely well with this weight class. If you go heavier than ⅜ of an ounce you often want to start looking towards medium heavy rods that have the backbone to move the lure and force that bigger weight up hard into a fish’s jaw during the hookset.
Likewise, anything under 1/4 of an ounce you want to start looking towards light or medium light because a medium has too much power for the light tackle, resulting in you bending hooks rather than setting them in the fish’s mouth. Medium rods, as the name would suggest, fall right in that sweet spot in between.
Medium rods are the jack of all trades, with enough backbone to set the hook but enough flexibility to easily work any lure and not overpower a hookset. For worm fishing where a variety of weights and techniques are used, this makes it the easy workhorse. If you use anything under ½ ounce weight while worm fishing, a medium action rod can handle the weight easily. But its also flexible enough to handle anything down to ⅛ of an ounce without having to go towards a lighter setup.
Now to the action of a rod, which is basically where a rod bends. A moderate action rod will bend almost in an entire arc, whereas a fast action rod will start creating tension after being only slightly bent at the tip. A fast action rod will allow the ability to set the hook hard without having the rod “bend” more than necessary before setting the hook into a fish’s jaw. A moderate action rod is meant when loading up a rod for long casts or when pulling long sweeping hooksets where a quick jerk is unrequired – both not applicable to plastic worm fishing in almost all cases. Instead, you want the ability when you feel a bite to quickly lift and cinch that hook into a fish’s lips. So almost always go with a fast action rod.
The best news of all this? If you go to any tackle shop or even a big box store like Wal-mart – you’ll find a wide selection of medium fast action rods to purchase. They are the most popular and most widely available – so chances are if you have a rod and don’t know it’s action or power, it’s a medium, fast action. You can easily see by looking on the lower pole, usually right above the reel seat.
If you want a recommendation, my favorite rod is available here.
Variations on the best rod for worms
You will find a great many fisherman using worm rods that vary on this baseline. For example, fisherman may use a very finesse technique like dropshot fishing and prefer a medium light rod, as the hook is exposed and they don’t want to “blow up” a fish’s mouth when setting the hook. Or perhaps they are fishing a worm in thick vegetation, and want a medium heavy or heavy rod to pull through the thick mats between them and the fish.
Due to this, there is no one size fits all solution for worm fishing. Worms are so versatile, you can require a different setup just depending on where or how you are fishing it. However, a medium, fast action rod with a spinning reel attachment it likely to get you through 99% of the techniques needed and will work even when less than ideal for the situation.
And lets face it, not all of us can buy a unique set up for every situation. So for those who are budget friendly and want to start worm fishing – buy a medium, fast action rod with a spinning reel and know it will work until you decide to splurge on additional setups down the line as your love for fishing and fishing knowledge grows!