The Versatile Stick Bait:
Teaching the Next Generation
by Bruce Callis

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Catching fish is what we love to do! And getting to share our passion is what keeps this sport thriving. But getting others hooked is not always easy. For a lot of us, it isn’t just a simple thing. We have way too many baits, way too many rods, and we fish so many different ways, and all in a single day. But what one technique is the easiest to teach someone to do and have success with? And what secrets do we have we can share to others?

The Senko was invented by Gary Yamamoto and it changed fishing for the better. And it is THE most imitated bait on the market. So many companies have their version of a stick bait as it is generally know as, but none are quite the same. There is always some difference. And then some companies have a stick bait that is totally different, like the PowerTeam Lures Sick Stick or Missile Baits “The 48.”. But they can all be fished the same way.

The stick bait is generally fished on a spinning reel and with lighter line. This makes it a lot easier for beginners too. I’m not saying it can’t be fished a spin cast rod and reel, nor on a baitcaster, but a spinning reel makes it so much easier. Generally, a spinning reel spooled up with braid and a fluorocarbon leader is the preferred set up. I prefer to use a bright colored, 20 pound braid tied to a six to 10 foot 10 pound test fluorocarbon leader. This makes watching your line so much easier. Some prefer to use straight fluorocarbon while others like monofilament, but all will work.
One of the easiest ways to rig a stick bait is the Wacky Rig. It requires a simple hook that pierces the middle of the worm and is then thrown out and allowed to sink to the bottom. If it does not get bit right away, you hop it up and let it fall back to the bottom. You repeat this back to you and then cast it out again to repeat the process. This by far the easiest way to fish it, to teach others, and it catches fish. Some times it just blows you away! I showed my sister-in-law how to fish it, told her to cast it out and let it sink to the bottom. I was watching the line as she said “now what?” and told her to reel the fish in. It was a beautiful 4 pound bass and she was an instant believer.

As simple as it is, there are still plenty of methods to fish a wacky worm. The O-Ring that is placed across the center of the worm helps keep you from losing so many baits. Some worms, like Big Bites, have an O-Ring made into the worm. But the hook with these are turned to go along the worm instead of going across it. To change this, someone invented an o-ring with a tab on it that allows you to run the hook across the worm through a small eye and not damage the worm. VMC also invented a Crossover ring that allows you to fish it with the hooks going in either direction. It is also a little fatter and that helps hold more of the worm in it.
Another way to fish the Wacky Rig is by adding weight to it. There are plenty of options here as well. Power Team lures makes one called a Jacked Wackers, but this is just one style. WOO Tungsten makes one, the Wacky Head Weedless Jigs. The thing about the tungsten is that it is heavier, so it is so much smaller than lead weights. These offer a weed guard that helps protect the hook making it more weedless. But by adding the weight, it speeds up the drop. We are not talking a lot of weight either. We are talking 1/16th, 3/32nd, 1/8th, or 3/16th, depending on the depth you are fishing and how fast you want it to fall. But you fish it the same way as with no weight.

Another way to fish a stick bait is by inserting a nail weight into the bait. This can be done in a variety of way. You can insert a nail weight into the belly of the worm to just help speed up the fall. You can also insert a weight into one end of the worm, which will make the worm fall totally different. It will glide to the heavier end and noses down. This is more of a Neko rig, but unless you use an o-ring, it is more wacky.

One way that is still weightless is rigging it with a worm hook or EWG and just throwing it out without any weight. The worm glides and darts as it falls through the water column. The only weight is the hook itself. You can also put a small nail weight in the end opposite the hook that puts the hook up as it falls. It also changes the fall, making it dart down tail first. It is a killer technique on highly pressured bass.

Texas rigged is a great choice also. This makes it great for flipping around structure. It can also be skipped up under limbs and under docks. The faster you want it to fall, the more weight you use. It is also good for punching through mats, as it’s slender shape helps it get through the mat with ease.
One way I have found that also works is to rig it on a swimbait hook. It casts so easy and can be skipped under so many objects. I like to go as light as possible. Another is using it on a shakey head. You can fish behind so many anglers and catch bass that the have missed.

The stick bait is very versatile and can be used in so many ways. It can be used as a trailer on a jig, a spinnerbait or a vibrating jig. You can use it on a drop shot also. And don’t be afraid to use a big stick bait on the drop shot, it is something the bass don’t see a lot of.

When we are helping get others hooked on fishing, we have to make it simple and a stick bait is just the ticket. So simple to rig and use. There is no one way to rig it or fish it. And if they like to wind, as wacky rigged worm can be deadly doing just that. Just make sure to get it out and in the water and have fun.
Did I forget a way to use it that may help others? Did you learn something new? Comment below the story and let me know what it is and what you think.


  1. I think you covered all the bases Bruce! I have also Ned rigged the 4-inchers with some success (or cut the longer ones in half) when I’ve run out of “real” ned baits. Nice article. I taught my wife and kids to bass fish this way, so easy and effective.


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