Six Ways to Trick Out a Finesse Worm

Six Ways to Trick Out a Finesse Worm Use these tips to help you put fish in the boat by adding just enough flair to get you noticed.


Gary Senft dips his baits in SpikeIt dye to add color - chartreuse mimics the tail of a sunfish.

Gary Senft dips his baits in SpikeIt dye to add color - chartreuse mimics the tail of a sunfish.

There are several definitions of the word “finesse,” but two are commonly thought of when a fisherman uses the words finesse bait or finesse fishing. The first definition is “intricate or refined” and synonyms for this would be flair, panache, mastery or expertise. The second definition is to do something in a subtle and delicate manner.

   Most of the time, fishermen use a small plastic bait when finesse fishing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a little panache to the lure and still be finesse fishing – just fish that bad boy in a subtle and delicate manner. Adding panache to a finesse worm is easy, and it can help you put fish in the boat by adding just enough flair to get you noticed. Here are six ways to trick out your finesse baits.



Dye is one of the easiest ways to add a bit of bright color to a bait. Gary Senft, a Nitro pro based in Arizona, often uses Spike-It to brighten the tails on his finesse baits – and not just worms. He fishes a lot of watermelon green baits in the big Western reservoirs, and dipping the tails in some chartreuse Spike-It not only makes his lures easier to see, it gives them a shot of scent that covers up his human smell. One of the reasons that he loves to dye his tails chartreuse is that it helps the baits to match one of the chief forage of the bass out west – sunfish.

   These dyes are available in a variety of scents and colors, and they cost less than $5 a bottle. The bottle lasts darn near forever, too. Spike-It also makes worm paint in a bunch of colors and scents. They make a scented marker as well – so if you really wanted to, you could zebra-stripe your bait, or draw eyes on it. You should check their stuff out at



Ziptails add color, movement, and a bit of bulk to a finesse bait.

Ziptails add color, movement, and a bit of bulk to a finesse bait.

Ziptailz are little skirts that simply slip over the hook before you put the worm on. They not only add a flash of color, they add a subtle movement to your bait that you just can’t get without a skirt. They add color, motion, and profile change in a matter of seconds. Eddie Johns of Alabama is a huge fan of Ziptailz and adds them to nearly every worm he fishes. It’s a super easy, fast way to make a color change without actually changing your worm.

   In fact, Eddie sent me a bag of Ziptailz and I tested them out on a very tough day on Bartlett Lake in Arizona. Not only was it windy as all get out, it was hot (the water temp was 89!), and I was in the back seat. Doesn’t get much tougher than that, right? Well, the boater and I were both fishing Texas-rigged worms, and I outfished him 3:1 using Ziptailz. That’s no exaggeration either – we counted each and every fish. The only difference was the Ziptailz.

   They come in a big variety of colors and they are designed to fit treble hooks as well. In fact, the little rubbery thing that the skirt is attached to is unbelievably stretchy – it will stretch to fit a huge treble hook if you want it to. Ziptails are less than $3.50 for a package of two, and there are also ProPac kits with colors chosen by pros for specific species of fish. You get a better deal on the ProPacs. Check them out at BTW, that little thing that lets you attach the ziptailz to a treble can be snipped off if you want, but I asked Eddie and he says he doesn’t bother to cut them off, so I didn’t either. Just so you know.


A superfloater with its tail sliced will mimic a craw in the water, especially when rigged on a pea head.

A superfloater with its tail sliced will mimic a craw in the water, especially when rigged on a pea head.


One of my favorite finesse baits is a superfloater worm. These worms are made with plastic that is injected with a lot of air, so they float up in the water. I like to split shot them – they float up above the bottom, and when you give the line a twitch, they dart down as the split shot moves, then they float back up. It’s killer.

   Another way to fish them is on a pea head jig. I like to cast it to shore, let the line go slack, give it a pull, let the line go slack – and on and on until it reaches the boat. When you give it a pull, if it feels heavy, you’ve got a fish. When I fish it this way, I take a pair of scissors and slit the tail right down the middle for a few inches. This makes those two halves wave around up off the bottom and gives it the look of a craw.

   Slitting the worm is a simple operation, but if you want to get elaborate, you can get yourself a ProWeld Wormizer from my buddy Don Iovino and really start customizing your baits. You can weld different colors together, add claws or tails – you name it. The Wormizer is just under $25 and you can get it at Oh, you can also use the Wormizer to repair your baits when a big bass tears them up.



I was refereeing a Red Man All American tournament one year and got drawn with a guy named Leroy Bertolero from California. He was not only a ton of fun to fish with (he has a million stories), he was a great source of all kinds of information. One of the things I remember most is the way he customized his jig heads. Leroy would take a lead pea head jig, then use a hammer to flatten the sides out. This not only makes the jig swim through the water smoothly, it gives you two wonderful surfaces to attach eyes to. Leroy used those plastic googly eyes you can get at the craft store. A bonus – those things actually add a bit of sound to the bait.

   There are also plenty of pre-printed eyes that are designed for baits (so they don’t float off under water), or you can paint them on. You don’t have to paint eyes, either. You could simply paint the jig head the color of your choice. Either way, this is a great way to gussy up a plain pea head and add some pizzazz to your baits. If you’re not the crafty or artistic type, there are many brands of already painted and decorated jig heads out there. It’s just a lot cheaper to DIY.



I knew a fisherman in Arizona who told me that it would take an 18-wheeler to hold all his tournament trophies. That may or may not be true, but I have to admit that the guy is one heck of a stick. He had one thing that he did consistently, no matter what bait he was fishing. He added red. It didn’t even have to be a lot of red – he’d dab a spot of red paint on a spinnerbait head or a crankbait, or he’d dip his worm in red Spike-It. There’s one really easy way to add just a sliver of red to every worm you fish – use a red hook. Just tie one on, and every worm you put on that thing will look like it’s bleeding. You can get red hooks just about anywhere, and the only drawback is that after a long time the red might start wearing off. Small price to pay.



There are a variety of ways that you can add sound to your finesse worm. You can add rattles by inserting them into the worm, or you can fish them on a rattling jig head. There are even propellers that slide on in front of your worm to move water around, and water movement is detected by a bass as sound.

   Gary Senft likes to use tungsten bullet weights when he Texas-rigs a finesse worm – they make a sharper clicking sound when they hit rocks. Another way to add sound to a lure is by letting it make a splash when it hits the water.

   All these are just ways to add movement, color, sound, and flash to a lure to get the attention of a bass. Let’s face it: a bass can’t eat what he can’t find. Use these techniques to get found.

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