Plastic baits play a large role in fishing, and worms are one of the most integral types of soft plastics on the market. Worms are one of the most available food sources for many fish species, which is why so many variations of the bait have been created throughout the years. A versatile bait, worms can be rigged a number of ways—Texas-rig, Caronlina-rig, drop-shot, to name a few—but one very delicate, yet highly-effective method of rigging a worm is with a shaky head jig.

Much like drop-shotting, the shaky head jig is not designed to find fish, but rather uses precision and subtle action to entice them once located. The technique uses a specially-designed jighead, available in a several styles, that rests on the bottom. The worm is rigged similar to a Texas-rig, with the spring or barb of the jighead itself fed directly into the tip of the worm. In weedy or structured water, it’s best to rig the worm weedless, but in open water, exposing the hook tip through the belly of the worm is not a bad idea.

To fish the rig, simply cast to a spot and, keeping slack on your line so that the rig isn’t pulled back towards you, allow the bait to sink to the bottom. Once it reaches bottom, fishing the rig isn’t difficult at all, but does require a gentle touch and some patience. With subtle twitches, you want to shake the line, not necessarily the lure. This way, you’ll move the bait and cause the tail to shake, rather than hopping the entire lure from spot to spot. You don’t have to confine efforts to one location, however. After some time without a bite, slowly drag the rig across the bottom to a new spot and continue the tactic.

There are several variations of plastic worms that work well with the shaky head rig. Strike King’s Super Finesse Worms, Zoom’s Finesse and Trick Worms, and Powerbait’s Power Shaky Worms are all great choices. These worms are available in a number of lengths and color patterns, all of which will vary in effectiveness depending on many factors, like any lure. I’ve always been a believer in Powerbait’s plastics. The scent may offend your nostrils, but fish just can’t get enough of it.

The shaky head jighead itself varies in style and design depending on which company’s product you purchase. Most shaky jigheads are equipped with either a spring coil or a barb that punctures the worm and holds it in place. Chompers and Strike King offer quality jigheads of this type in round and football shapes. Football jigheads work a little differently, as their oblong shape enables them to shake longer on the bottom, much like a football does on the ground. Experiment with different jigheads and see what style you prefer, or more importantly—what style produces strikes.

Plastic worms are a huge part of fishing and such a status as one of fishing’s must-have baits is a true testament to the versatility and effectiveness they possess. The sheer variety of worms available on the market today, including the shaky, or finesse, worms, should not go unnoticed by anglers who’ve yet to utilize them on the water. Shaky head jigging is a truly deadly tactic that, when fished with patience and subtlety, can fill your livewell very quickly.