I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
Chopped Worm Fishing
The main advantages of fishing with chopped worms and casters is the diversity of the bait, it will catch everything that swims. In a lot of respects, this makes it a particularly useful tool to the club angler, as the majority of clubs book six or seven matches all at different venues, so nine times out of ten as an angler you are turning up to a venue blind, or with very little knowledge of what you can expect to catch.
Therefore, when you sit on your peg you don’t really know what is in front of you. Compared to almost every other bait, the worm will catch more of whatever is there than anything else. Fishing it on a club match on a venue you know relatively little about, it cuts down massively on the risk of a blow out, and almost guarantees that you will catch something, if not a winning weight then enough to secure a section win or a framing place.
The positive effects of chopped worm fishing are magnified still further if you are the only one doing it, when the anglers around you fish more selective baits and effectively ‘lose out’ on catching certain species, giving you these all to yourself.
Obviously, there are times when worms won’t work, and from time to time you will inevitably blow out. Generally speaking, the only time when worm should definitely be avoided are when a massive weight of carp is required, or on venues that contain only carp, as in this instance a more targeted approach is best.
The only other thing I would consider before committing to fish worms is the depth of the venue in question. I would be reluctant to feed worms and casters neat in more than eight feet of water, as the bait will spread out and dissipate too much, unless of course I was planning to fish up in the water. It is possible to feed worms on the bottom in greater depths than this, but you are best off feeding with a bait dropper, which can be problematic and is only really worth bothering with if you are scraping around for a few fish on a hard day.
When I was starting up in the sport I used to get confused by people constantly talking of dedicated pellet rigs, caster rigs, or bloodworm rigs, and to be honest I have never found this a useful way of thinking about tackle at the business end.
I have been fortunate enough to sit behind a lot of top anglers and watch how they do things, and the one common denominator between all of them is that they suit their rigs to the conditions on the day, rather than let the bait they are fishing dictate their rig, so take what I say below is a guide to how to do things when conditions are perfect.
As I mentioned above I wouldn’t tend to fish worms in any depth greater than eight feet, so there is normally need to fish too heavy in terms of float size. 4X12s or 4X14s are about right, but I would also set up a 4X16’s, and use this if the wind or tow got up, or if I was bagging up, to get the bait down to the feeding fish quickly. Again though, I would stress the importance of matching the rig to the conditions, don’t be afraid to fish heavier if the wind or tow are a problem.
It is also often worth having an on the drop rig, and a half depth rig set up, as fish will sit above the bait, and a slow falling particle can often tempt these when the going is tough.
In terms of lines and hooks, I would urge anglers to fish as light as possible, depending of course on the size of the fish in the venue, as you have to stand a realistic of landing what you hook. My favourite worm hook for a mixed bag of carp and silvers is the trusty Kamasan B911, in a size 16, 18 or 20. These, are small and light enough to interest the silvers, but still have plenty of beef to land the carp.
When fishing for silvers in the winter, or on harder days I find Middy T6313’s and Preston PR30’s nice worm and caster hooks as well, and the above can also be used in conjunction with maggots and pinkies for when things are really tricky.
I am a big fan of Preston Stotz, and use these almost exclusively throughout warmer months on lines thicker than 0.12 in diameter. The big bonus with these is that they slide very easily up and down the line, and this is good as it often pays to play about with your shotting when worm fishing.
A good starting point when fishing on the bottom is to have a bulk around eighteen inches from you hook, then two number ten droppers, one six inches below your bulk, and one six inches below that at the top of your hooklength.
If its hard, spread your bulk out down your line to give a slower fall through the water, and if you are bagging up, slide your bulk closer to your hook. It is sometimes possible to catch with your bulk at the top of your hooklength, and when its like this bites will be really positive, and missed bites should be eliminated.
A good way of eliminating line bites, which is particularly effective when foul hooked fish is a problem, is to slide your bulk up to around two feet away from your hook, and not bother with any droppers. This way you are effectively desensitizing your rig, and you will only see definite pulls under.
Unless I were planning to fish in shallow water, say down the edge or up to an island, I would always start a session on the worm with a decent sized pot of bait. I appreciate that ‘decent sized’ is a vague term, but what I mean by this is moderate the amount you put in to the amount you expect to catch, for example, a golf ball sized amount may be enough in the colder months or when the going is tough, at other times a full pot would not be unreasonable. Always remember the old fable though, you can put it in but you can’t take it out!
If I were fishing in really shallow water (less than two feet) or up to a feature, then I would feed only with a kinder pot, as you don’t want to draw to many fish into your peg, as you will just get liners, and end up foul hooking and spooking the fish that are there.
Gauge the size you chop the worms up to the conditions on the day, but a general rule of thumb is the bigger the size of fish you expect to catch, the bigger you should make the pieces of worm you feed.
Normally you will get bites straight away, but if you don’t it is time to pick up the catapult.
I remember reading an article some time ago by Nick Speed, in which he outlined in very broad terms his feeding philosophy on commercial fisheries. In short, use the catapult to draw fish into your peg, and your pole pot to pin them down and make them feed on the deck, and this is the basic principal I adopt when worm fishing.
Obviously, this is only a very broad guide and it is important to experiment to find out what is right on the day, but the worm is not a method you should be prepared to sit on if the float is not going under. If nothing is happening, then don’t be afraid of feeding to try and get some activity in your peg.
One of the best chopped worm and caster anglers in our region is Garbolino Ossett’s Tony Bell, and I pick his brains a lot about the method. A key piece of advice he gave me is that when fishing the worm on commercials it is best to stop on the line all day, as this is the only way you will be able to read what is happening in your swim properly. In essence, it is not really a method that you can use half heartedly.
A final piece of advice with the worm is to constantly experiment with your rigs and feeding, as it is a bait that favours a proactive approach. You will be amazed at how often a subtle change will see your catch rate soar, whether that be changing your shotting, fishing around your feed, or changing your hookbait. It is a method for busy anglers who like to keep thinking and active throughout the session.
I hope this article has given people some food for thought with regards to chopped worm fishing, and as I said at the start, if anyone has any further tips, or disagrees with what I have said, please post in the ‘comments’ section below. We like a bit of lively debate!