How To Fish A Finesse Worm (The Best Ways)

Finesse Fishing
How to catch bass with a finesse worm. Tips and techniques that show the right way to fish finesse worms for big bass.

The Baits/Rigs:

Roboworm Straight Tail Worm

Yum Finesse Worm

VMC SpinShot Drop Shot Hooks

Gamakatsu Extra Wide Gap Worm Hook

Teardrop Dropshot Weights

Shakey Head Jig

Tungsten Worm Weights

Bobber Stoppers

The Gear:

St. Croix Mojo Spinning Rod

Okuma ITX Carbon Spinning Reel:

St. Croix Mojo Rod - 

Daiwa Tatula CT Casting Reel:

Seaguar Finesse Fluorocarbon is no longer made. Use Tatsu Fluorocarbon instead:

Seaguare InvizX Fluorocarbon line

Simms Tricomp Cool Fishing Shirt

BassResource may receive a portion of revenues if you make a purchase using a link above.


Glenn: Here we are.

Keri: Got a little split shot. Yeah, that's what we're doing, split shot.

Glenn: Yeah, split shot, yeah.

Keri: Come here. He's feisty. He is a feisty guy. He's feisty. Come here, dude. Come here. Come to mama. Come on. Come on.

Glenn: That's a good fish.

Keri: Yeah, it is. He's mad too. Man, oh man. He's not happy with me. Not happy with me whatsoever. Come hither you, good little buckaroo. Look at that little guy.

Glenn: Hello.

Keri: One pounder, a little belly on him.

Glenn: Yeah. Hey, folks, Glenn May here with And today I want to talk about finesse worm fishing. Now, I know a lot of you, when you think of finesse worms, this is what conjures up in your mind. This is what you think of, this little four and a half-inch, real flimsy kind of a hand poor, do-nothing kind of worm. And you're right. That is a finesse worm and that is for a good reason why a lot of people think of finesse worms as this because that's really how it gained its popularity in the '80s back in the west coast in those clear, clear reservoirs that had heavy fishing pressure. You needed something like this to elicit the bite.

And so I want to talk about that today. But there's also another kind of finesse worm I wanna talk about that I think you're really gonna like. And it's a different type of fishing than using your typical finesse style. But let's get into the stereotypical finesse worm first because that's the most prevalent.

This is used best when the fish are in a neutral to negative mode, feeding mode, usually after a cold front or like I mentioned, those heavy fishing pressure conditions, clear water, cold water. When the fish really aren't actively chasing fish or chasing down baitfish and they really need to be spoon-fed, that's where this comes into place.

See, it doesn't really have any big appendages or anything like that. Not a lot of movement, not a lot of action. So it doesn't really, you know, it doesn't look out of place. Plus because it's so flimsy, it really moves around in the water naturally like, you know, like a worm could be. That's exactly what it does. So let me talk about a couple of different ways from the finesse standpoint, how to fish and what made it so popular starting with the split shot rig, which I have right here.

Now, a split shot rig basically looks like this. You've got, you know, the modern split shot rig today has this cylindrical weight in front of it, pegged with a rubber peg so you can slide it up down the line. It doesn't damage the line. Then you've got your, you know, 1/0 hook here with your finesse worm on it.

Now, I still call it split shot because originally, we used to use split shots. We didn't have the cylindrical weights. But the split shots, you know, they got a little...some problems with it. You clamp it down on a line and it can damage the line and it's got those little ears that stick out on it and that can collect weeds and stuff and get hung up in rocks. So the cylindrical weights that have come out these days, this is much better. Goes through the weeds, doesn't grab things. You've got a rubber stopper in there that holds it in place so it doesn't damage the line. It's much, much, more improvement. Some people call it the Mojo rig, but I still call it split shot. It's the same thing. And it's quite a bit of... Look at the... Wow, we've got quite a leader on here, about two feet. That's pretty normal for me when I fish in a finesse worm and I'll tell you why here in a second.

We were just fishing on a spinning rod, medium to light power, moderate action rod. So you can see it's got a lot of bend in it. That's got a lot of gears because we're using six-pound test and I got a video down here at the bottom, I'll link to, that really goes into rigging the split shot rig. So I'm not going to go too deep into details, but it is a finesse tactic using your light line, light-wired hooks.

Now, the reason I've got this long leader and the way you fish it, what you do is you cast it out there. Basically, what you want to do when you cast it out there, I'm just gonna show the motions here, but you let it sink all the way to the bottom. And as it's sinking, really pay close attention to the line. You really want to watch it because you're letting it fall on slack line and a fish could bite it on the way down. Not always, but it could. And the only way you're going to detect that bite is if you see the line. It'll jump. It'll pop. It'll twitch or it might move off to one side. Or maybe it might accelerate as it's falling down. So keep close attention to that line as it reaches the bottom.

Once it hits the bottom, wait. Don't move at all. Why? Well, the weights hit the bottom, but the finesse worm is still following it down. And this is where the fun part comes in. That weight is sitting down here on the bottom of the lake and it just kind of undulates and twists and kind of falls down slowly and lands on the bottom in a real natural way. This is unlike, say, a soft plastic stick bait, like a YUM Dinger or something. This actually undulates and kind of moves as it falls.

And so you have to wait for it to hit the bottom, even though your weight has hit there. So hang on a second. That's why I've got that two-foot leader or maybe, you know, a three-foot leader, gives it more time for it to fall. That's usually when you get that bite is when it slows down when it's near the bottom.

Keri: Nice one. Nice.

Glenn: There we go. Right there. Went for the little finesse worm. Right in the mouth too. Look at that right there.

If you don't get bit, reel up to it, lift up just a little bit. I'm in weeds here. Lift up. Now, if you notice, I lift up quite a bit, almost straight up and then you'll let it drop all the way back down again. Why? Well, it's that same action. What's happening is the weight is coming up and the bait is following it and then the weight comes back down and then the bait makes its way on down.

If you notice, the bait doesn't come up as high as the weight. The more of a leader you have, the less the more of a difference it is. So you're lifting up quite a bit because you're lifting the weight up, but that bait isn't coming up as far and then that weight comes back down and then the bait kind of follows with it.

So it's a larger motion than you would say if it was Texas-rigged, right? So you're lifting it all the way up and then you let it fall back down. Let the weight hit the bottom and then wait and let it work its way. Let the finesse worm do its trick. And you do that all the way back. You can cover some water with that. It's actually a little bit slower technique but that's... Again, if the bite is real slow, then that's what the bass want.

You can cover water a little bit quicker by doing a little bit different retrieve and that is you throw it out there, let it sit on the bottom and instead of lifting back up and down on the rod, just slowly move your real handle. Just slowly move it and kinda crawl it on the bottom. Bump that weight along the bottom. That finesse worm behind it is kind of moving and darting, kind of, jigging around, just kind of crawling down there. And pause it every once in a while, give it a rest and let it sit and then proceed to move it again.

You can cover water fairly effectively that way. So, not a super-fast way of fishing it, but it's better than if you're just sitting here. And that's really the difference between this technique and the next technique I'm going to show you.

The split shot technique is used for covering a little more water when the bite is really slow or off. You can cover water looking for fish that way with a split shot because you're moving it, you're moving it up and down, you're crawling along the bottom. You can even move your rod tip along to move it along. Sometimes if they're really deep, what I'll do is I'll just use the wind to drift with the boat and I'll just hang the rod, you know, right over the side of the boat and I'll just let it, you know, 15-feet of water, 20-feet of water. I'm just dragging it along the bottom and letting the breeze just kind of drift us over an area. So you can cover an area pretty quickly with a split shot. Now the next one is the drop shot.

Glenn: Come here. All right.

Keri: He's not happy.

Glenn: Here we go.

Keri: What are you using, Glenn?

Glenn: Drop shot finesse worm.

The drop shot, this is used when you've found an area where you know the fish are hanging. So, for example, if they're hanging around drop-offs, they're hanging around points, humps, sandbars, you know they're on that, then you can pinpoint and you can work them really good with a drop shot, which is this little guy.

If you notice, I don't have as much of a leader, okay, because it's a different presentation. I've got it on a spin SpinShot right here. So it spins around really easy, as you can see, and it doesn't twist the line. That's why I like it. Plus because it spins like that, the lure can dance around. It's freer, nothing impedes it. So it looks more natural in the water. So I use a SpinShot in this case. And also, I'm doing...I just nose-hooked it as you can see. It's just a simple nose hook. I'm not even Texas-rigging it.

With a little 8-ounce teardrop weight, I can also use a cylindrical one. This one works pretty good. If I'm getting hung up a lot, say, for example, if I'm fishing in a little bit of a rocky area, I'll use a cylindrical one. But this doesn't work as well, say, for example, than rip rap. I just tend to get hung up a lot no matter what weight I use. But other than that, this works really good in those deeper structure areas where the fish are hanging. Maybe they're a little bit suspended off a piece of structure. This, you can work an area very, very slowly and very effectively and catch those fish that are not willing to bite anything else.

So all you do is you just cast it out, let it sit in the bottom. Once it reaches the bottom again, with any technique like this, you'll want to watch as it's falling, watch your line to see if there's a bite. That's the only way you're gonna detect a bite. So pay close attention to the line.

Once it hits the bottom, all you're gonna do, you're just gonna reel up a little bit and tighten down a little bit, and you just want to tighten the line and you just want to feel that you've got a good connection between you and that bait. And this is why I use fluorocarbon line. Braid has a little bit of buoyancy in it, in a bows, because of that. Fluorocarbon has some density to it. It's a little bit heavier. It's a straight connection and it has excellent sensitivity. You're going to need that for this technique because what you're gonna do is just hold it and hold that line nice and tight the best you can and not move the bait.

You may think, "Well, the bait is hanging there looking like nothing." Well, actually, you've got a little bit of waves are lapping against the line that are making the line move a little bit. Your hand movement, even though you're trying to hold it real steady, your hand is still moving around. There's a little bit of current underwater. It's moving that bait around, so on and so forth. There's influences from a lot of different things that are making that bait quiver and shake and move. And that's really all you need in this situation is just making it look alive, just barely, not even moving it.

Now, after you've done that for a little bit, then just take your rod and you just want to shake the rod tip. So you just move the hand. I'm just barely moving my hands. See this. You just shake it just like that. Okay. If you look...look at the rod tip if I can get it over the rod tip... See that? You're just shaking the rod tip just like that.

And that's all you want to do. And that bait is just gonna quiver, quiver in place. And a lot of times, that's how you get a strike. This is again why I'm using nice fluorocarbon line on it because the bite is very, very subtle. They'll just kinda grab it and sometimes they'll just stay there. And so you'll feel the little tick, tick, tick of the weight. And then I'll go thud, thud, thud. That's your bite. That's all you'll feel.

So you've got to be really in tune to it. Make sure that you are paying close attention to what you're doing because when that fish bites it, you've gotta be ready to set the hook.

And really setting the hook is just simply pulling it. It's not a hard...your hook is already exposed. It's a thin wire hook. It's gonna go in. So don't reef on it. You could actually bend the hook or you can even rip the hook out of the fish's mouth. So just lift up on it quickly and you'll set the hook. So that's a quick way to fish it.

And then all you want to do is if you still...if you don't get a bite on that, then lift it up, reposition it, let it drift back down and then start over again with that same exact sequence that I just told you.

It's a real methodical way of picking apart a piece of structure, picking off those fish that aren't willing to bite. If somebody goes by in front of you and he's throwing crankbaits or jigs or some other faster moving bait, this requires a lot of patience, but you're going to pick up those fish that he missed, especially on those days when those fish just aren't willing to bite. This sometimes is the only way you're going to get them to bite is a presentation like this. So that's where a finesse worm really shines.

Now, there's one other finesse technique that you can use with finesse worms and that is a shaky head. Let me grab that real quick so you can see it. Shaky has one of these guys, little shaky head jig. Let me show that to you. See that? Line ties right there.

So really, it sits on the bottom like this. And this sits here like this. This hangs out. Okay. This floats up in the water. So it actually looks kind of like a little baitfish that's feeding on the bottom. Real nice subtle technique. This is actually perfect. It looks like an unwary, unobservant baitfish that looks very vulnerable on the bottom of the lake and the bass just can't resist it.

It's very simple to fish. It's just really two different ways. Throw it out there and let it sit on the bottom. And you can either just let it sit for a little while and then lift up a little bit. I only lift about four to six inches, not very far. I don't want to move it much and let it plop back down and let it sit there again and just let the current and stuff do its work and that fish is going to bite it.

Another way to do it is you can scoot along the bottom, just kinda reel up a little bit, pull up on the rod tip, just scoot it a bit, stop. That's again why I liked that flat-headed shaky head because it helps it stand up. An E2 shaky your head jig also works really well. It helps keep it standing up. Otherwise, it lays down on the side and it doesn't look as good of a presentation. So I wanna make sure that it's standing up. So get a jig head that does that. Shaky head works really well.

Now, let me talk to you about another different kind of finesse worm. This is actually gaining popularity. You're seeing more and more of this. Yeah, I'm breaking down a baitcaster. Look at this. Okay. This is a six-inch finesse worm. You got Texas rig there. Pretty cool. These longer ones, these bigger ones are getting more and more popular. I've even seen some magnum size ones coming out now. So you're going to see a lot more of this hit the market. These work exceptionally well. Again, when the bite is off or you're fishing in heavily pressured water, or if you're in a, let's say a tournament, lots of people fishing it and you're fishing behind people, you can catch a lot of fish behind them using the finesse worm.

There we go.

Keri: Yup. Got one already.

Glenn: Oh, boy.

Keri: Got a big one already.

Glenn: Oh, he came all the way out of the water. Don't go in the weeds. Come on, baby. Come on out. Don't go to the weeds.

Keri: We're using finesse worms today.

Glenn: Finesse worm.

Keri: Finesse worms.

Glenn: Come here. I don't have you hooked right. I don't know what's going on there.

Keri: You got him hooked weird.

Glenn: I got him hooked, but, boy. If I can get your face it would be helpful. There we go. Oh, that came right out of my hands. Come here. He's got a lot of fight in him.

Keri: He's a little angry.

Glenn: Oh, boy. We've got that finesse worm just hanging right there. That works.

Keri: There you go.

Glenn: Boy.

Keri: That was tough.

Glenn: All right, I'll let you go.

So basically, also what I'm doing, I've got myself a baitcasting rod now. It's a medium-heavy 7-foot rod with 15-pound fluorocarbon, Seaguar InvizX line. I really like that line. Also, sometimes I'll use a Seaguar Tatsu line because it's really supple and it helps this bait move naturally in the water. But InvizX, I use a kind of an all-purpose line. Sometimes when I don't know what I'm gonna be fishing, I don't know if I'm hitting wood, rock, lots of weeds, I'm not sure, then IvizX is more abrasion-resistant. But if I know exactly what I'm fishing, say for example weeds, I'll be using Seaguar Tatsu just to give it a little more action.

But tied on it, I'm only using a light weight, man. I'm only using like an 8th-ounce tungsten weight. See that? And the reason I'm doing that is...and I've got it pegged with a bobber stopper. You can see the little bobber stopper here on the top.

So a couple things here. First of all, you'll notice it doesn't have any appendages on it. It's a real thin profile bait. So when you're throwing this, it's not like your typical Texas rig bait that's thicker. It's got appendages that'll slow down the rate of fall. This doesn't. So, you know, with those, you're using like a three 8th-ounce or, you know, a quarter-ounce weight. You put that on a bait like this and it's going to go right through the water.

The bites occur on the fall with this bait and so you're ruining the action. You're actually at a disadvantage if you put too much weight on this and it falls too quickly. You want it to fall real slowly. So an 8th-ounce weight is what I'm using. I put the bobber stopper on here because I am throwing it around certain kind of cover and I want to make sure that it gets through that cover.  So I'm using the weight to pull it through the cover because otherwise, the weight goes through and then the worm kind of falls through, maybe not even make it all the way down, it gets hung up on something.

Plus, there's a little bit of action that I do on this. Now, I'm using a 3/0... Actually, yeah, it's a 3/0 hook. I don't know if you could see this or not. It's real subtle. But it's not on center. I don't have it rigged straight up and down. It's off a little bit.

Maybe you can see it if I look over here. It's real subtle, so it may not be showing up very well on my camera. But I've got it off just a little bit. And the reason being when you have this rigged right, when it lands on the water, it's going to spiral downward, nice and slow, real slow.

This is a great technique. This is what I learned when I fished tube jigs. I started fishing them this way in the '80s. It looks kind of like a dying baitfish and it's still a technique that works really, really well, this presentation. You want that kind of a spiral action as it falls real slow. So, for that reason, I don't necessarily... I'm not flipping and pitching this into heavy cover. I'm throwing it on the edges of cover, on the edges of weed lines, that sort of thing.

This here, what you wanna do when you're following behind somebody, say they're flipping and pitching jigs or you're flipping and pitching jigs and the fish just aren't biting, they're, again, they're in that neutral, the negative feeding mode, then what you need to do is back off. Get away from the cover. I think when they're in that kind of a mode, pulling up on with a 20-foot boat right up on top of them, just gives them another reason not to bite. So with this technique, you back away from the cover and you make long casts to it. Long casts right to the edge and let it just spiral down right next to the edge. And a lot of times, it gets bit before it reaches the bottom. There we go.

Keri: Finesse worm.

Glenn: They're digging these finesse worms. There you go.

Keri: Get out to have some fun.

Glenn: Another rule of thumb is when it's sunny and clear out, you want to use more of natural colors. You can use like brown hues, green hues, and then the darker the water is, the darker the light is, more clouds, then you use a darker color worm. Green pumpkin is a good all-around purpose color. You don't really need to get too crazy with all the different colors. That's basically it. I just use some translucent colors like this and then I got some opaque ones, including green pumpkin and you're good to go.

Keri: Here, fishy, fishy, fishy, fishy.

Glenn: Boy, he listened.

Keri: Definitely so. He's a little scrappy dude. But yeah, they listened.

Glenn: All right.

Keri: Just a little guy. He's just a little guy. He'd go in the live well if it was a tournament but quit spinning, quit spinning, quit spinning, spin, spin, spin, spin, spin. Stop. Let me grab you. Thank you. Got you right through the nose. Sorry. He's been eating.

Glenn: Oh, yeah.

Keri: Hey, Buddy. And he's just a little guy. But, hey, they gotta be little to get big. So here you go.

Glenn: So those are the different ways to fish with a finesse worm. I hope that helps. For more tips and tricks like this, visit