hWhen water is shallow and clear, it can be extremely difficult to keep finicky bass from running off, let alone entice them to strike. As I’ve said in the past, though, difficult is not impossible. The next time you encounter picky bass in clear, shallow water, throw a floating worm at them.  It’s one of the best ways to catch fish in these conditions, and I’ve got a few tips on how to do it effectively.

A floating worm is a soft plastic bait that floats alluringly on or just beneath the surface. You can fish a floating worm a variety of ways—cast it out and allow it to sink slowly, twitch it along the top and make its tail dance and dart, or add a small weight to the body and work it almost like a jerkbait, pulling it and allowing it to sink here and there.

To set up a floating worm for surface action, rig it flat and straight on the hook and walk it like a Zara Spook. Contrarily, if you rig it with a slight bend on the hook, you can actually make it dive like a Rapala. The possibilities are nearly endless.

When using a floating worm, you’ll most likely want to go with braided line, rather than monofilament. Because braid has no stretch, the hook point makes instant contact with the fish the moment you set the hook, which will drastically cut down on misses due to slack line. One of the big reasons you’ll miss or lose fish that hit floating worms is that they strike on a slack line, which causes you to lose some of the power on the hookset. For this reason, braid will be the way to go, especially when coupled with a long, sturdy fishing rod.

Of course, the line size you go with will have an effect on the worm’s action, as well, and may even add buoyancy, depending on the line itself. For instance, 20-pound braid, which has a diameter of 6-pound monofilament, will be very strong, but the thin diameter helps the worm float better.

The hooks you use will also be equally important. Some anglers recommend small, light hooks to make the worm float better, but a 4/0 or 5/0 hook is actually a better bet to ensure a good hookset. If the bigger hook causes the worm to sink too fast, though, switch to a bigger, more buoyant worm before changing to a smaller hook.

Patience and dedication will help you use a floating worm to great effect when bass are in clear, shallow water and are just unwilling to strike at much. Take the time to hone in on the right hook/worm size combination and you’ll see results in no time!