Using Worms For Trout – The Bait That Never Misses

Worms are considered the most popular and effective kind of live baits. They can be used to target a wide variety of gamefish species. They’re also a favorite among anglers because of how easy they’re to obtain, store and rig.

So, are worms good for trout fishing? Worms are good for trout fishing. Trout are attracted to live bait such as worms because they produce a natural action that effectively grabs the attention of trout and gets it to bite. Worms are also easy to get, store, and rig for trout fishing which makes them ideal as a bait choice for many anglers.

Keep reading to learn more about making worms effective as bait, how to catch and store worms, and how to effectively rig worms for trout fishing.

What Makes Worms Effective as Bait?

bucket of fishing worms to show how to use worms for trout fishing

Worms of all kinds are known to be a favorite meal of a wide variety of gamefish species including trout.

What makes worms so effective as bait is that they have a natural scent that’s highly attractive to many fish species. They also produce a strong wiggling action that will grab the fish’s attention and get them to bite at different depths and water conditions.

Worms are a good bait option for many anglers, especially beginners because they’re available in abundance which makes them very easy to obtain at a very cheap cost. It’s also very easy to rig worms on a hook and they will usually remain hooked even when fishing in strong currents.

Which Fish Will Bite On Worms?

The majority of game fish and baitfish species in North America will bite on different kinds of worms.

There are some species that are more likely to bite on worms than others such as trout, bluegills, suckers, striped bass, chubs, shiners, catfish, panfish bullheads, walleye, freshwater drum, and shads.

While some other species such as pike, muskies, chain pickerel, largemouth bass, and carps are less likely to bite on worms.

How to Catch Worms?

Worms can be found at many tackle shops and they come at a very cheap price, however, many anglers still prefer to catch their own worms.

Let’s take a look at the three main methods that anglers use to catch worms:

Cardboard Method

This is probably the easiest method to catch worms.

To gather the worms, you simply need to wet a piece of cardboard and place it into the ground overnight. You can leave the piece of cardboard in your yard.

This will attract the worms to the surface of the earth. Once you lift the cardboard piece from the ground, you should be able to find a lot of worms stuck to its surface.

Rain Method

You can gather worms during or after a rainstorm.

Worms tend to gather at the surface when it’s wet as they need to stay moist to survive. They will also be able to travel easier and further when they’re above wet ground.

To gather the worms, you can use your hands to break apart the wet soil so that you can locate the worms then you can collect them by hand into a secure container.

Digging Method

Digging in the soil or mud using a shovel is another effective method to catch worms.

You’re very likely to find more worms near bodies of water or in areas of the woods that have fallen leaves or other decaying matter. You can also find them near damp areas or under logs and rocks

Make sure to be as stealthy as possible when digging for worms as they’re sensitive to noises and vibrations

How to Store Worms?

Now that you know how to obtain your worms, it’s very important to learn how to store them in order to keep them alive as long as possible.

That is because live worms are often a lot more appealing as bait than dead worms. They disperse a strong scent that fish find attractive and their movement will grab the attention of fish as well.

Since worms prefer the cold and moisture, it can be challenging to maintain this kind of environment while you’re out on a fishing trip.

Here are some tips you can follow to keep your worms alive to be used as bait:

  • Place your worms in a plastic or Styrofoam container and add soil or newspaper shreds.
  • Add a few drops of water to the soil to keep it moist. Make sure not to oversaturate the soil with water as it might kill the worms.
  • Cover the container with a lid at all times to protect the worms from drying out. You can cut small holes into the container to allow some air to flow, but make sure the holes are not big enough for the worms to escape.
  • Store the container with the worms in the refrigerator. Make sure the container is closed to retain moisture and check on your stored worms every few days to make sure they’re still alive and that the soil is moist.
  • If you’re planning on keeping the worms alive for a long time, you need to feed them about once a week. You can add three tablespoons of damp coffee grounds into their container. You can also feed them a few teaspoons of powdered worm food
  • You also need to change the soil every 3-6 months by removing all of the worms from the container into a bucket then scoop out all of the old soil and replace it with new moist soil. After that place the worms back into the container.
  • Try to avoid overfeeding the worms or they might die. You need to wait until all of the food in their container has been eaten before feeding the worms again.

You can learn more about worms in my post on freezing nightcrawlers here.

Do Trout Like Worms?

Trout do like worms as they find the scent, color, and natural movement of worms highly attractive. Worms can also be found in areas where trout live, especially during spring and fall.

When fishing for trout with worms, it’s recommended to use worms that are about 2 to 4 inches.

What Kind of Worms Are Best for Trout Fishing?

There are many kinds of worms that can be used as fish. Let’s take a closer look at the most common kinds of worms that are used for trout fishing:

Nightcrawlers (American and European)

The term nightcrawler actually describes 2 worm species – American and European.

American nightcrawlers can easily be obtained from tackle shops, however, they are not usually easy to catch on your own. When the conditions are right, you might be able to dig them up in some areas.

European nightcrawlers, on the other hand, can easily be caught. They are well known for their resilience and ability to survive really cold temperatures which makes them great for trout fishing in colder waters.

Both kinds of worms are relatively large, so they need to be cut into pieces to be used as trout as bait. When you cut them, they will release a strong scent that is attractive to Trout.

Red wigglers

Red wigglers are another great bait option for trout. You can easily catch them yourself ad they can survive in various conditions

They got their name because of the lively and strong wiggling action they produce which effectively attracts trout from a great distance.

They’re a bit smaller in size compared to other kinds of worms, so they’re more ideal for targeting smaller trout fish.

Waxworms and Butterworms

Waxworms are not technically worms; they’re actually moth larvae.

However, they do resemble worms, and you can use them just as effectively to catch a trout. They’re an excellent bait choice in times when other kinds of worms are not available or won’t work.

They are white and small in size which makes them ideal for targeting smaller trout fish. They can also be used along with artificial baits to increase their effectiveness.

Butterworms are very similar to waxworms in their appearance and effectiveness but they’re larger in size which makes them more suitable for targeting larger trout fish.

They’re also more visible because of their bright yellow/orange color, so they can be used to catch trout in murkier waters.

Can You Fish for Trout with Dead Worms?

It’s highly unadvised to use dead worms to fish for trout unless there’s no other choice.

That’s because dead bait is generally not very attractive to trout because it doesn’t produce the same strong action as live bait so it won’t be as effective in grabbing the trout’s attention.

If the worms are freshly dead and their body is still in a good condition, you might still be able to use them to catch trout especially if you’re fishing in areas with a fast current where the worms can be rigged to appear lively and move by the fish at a rapid pace.

However, if the worms are looking withered or dried out from heat exposure then, they will not be effective as bait as they would produce an extremely off-putting smell that would drive trout away.

The worm’s body will also be very brittle which will cause it to disintegrate quickly making it a lot more difficult to rig on your hook.

Can You Fish for Trout with Artificial Worms?

artificial worms for trout

Artificial worms are becoming more popular among trout anglers because they’re cheap, long-lasting, and reusable. So, if you are unable to obtain live or dead worms, you can use artificial worms instead.

They are very effective as bait for trout because they have a realistic texture and they produce a strong action that imitates live bait.

Artificial worms are made from soft plastic materials and they come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and types to suit different water conditions and fishing techniques.

How to Rig Worms for Trout Fishing?

Rigging worms on your hook is very simple as long as you’re using the right kind and size of hooks.

When fishing for trout using a treble hook, it’s recommended to use hook sizes between 10 and 14. While if you’re using a single hook, it’s recommended to use hook sizes between 8 and 12.

Now, here are the steps you need to follow to correctly rig worms for trout fishing:

  • Tie a hook to your line using a clinch knot or a quadruple overhand knot.
  • Make sure the knot is secure by pulling on the hook. You need to ensure it doesn’t slip through the eyelet of the hook.
  • Grab a healthy worm from your container. If you are targeting smaller trout fish, you need to cut off some parts of the worm.
  • Run the point of the hook through the worm multiple times. This will create multiple holes in the worms which will release a strong scent to attract trout.
  • Make sure to leave the head or the tail of the worm free to dangle off the hook to create a wiggling action that will grab the attention of the fish.
  • Attach a split shot weight at about 4-8 inches above the worm bait. This will allow the bait to sink easily and it will remain hooked even in strong currents. It will also allow you to cast the bait further and with more accuracy.
  • Cast the worm-baited hook in areas of water where trout reside. You can also attach a strike indicator to your line which will allow you to detect subtle bites.

Here is a quick video that also explains it quite well:

You can learn about fishing with a bobber here as well.

Related Questions

Can You Chum for Trout Using Worms?

You can chum for trout using worms. Chumming is highly effective as it will help cover more water and attract trout to your location which will make catching them easier. However, chumming might be illegal in some states as it can be harmful to the environment.

Is It Legal to Use Worms as Bait for Trout?

It is legal to use worms as bait for trout in most states. However, there might be some regulations for how and where you can use worms. So, you need to check the regulations in the area where you’re fishing and confirm with the local authorities before using worms to catch trout.

Are Worms Harmful to Fish?

Worms do not harm fish as they can easily swallow and digest them. What often causes harm to the fish is the hook used. That’s why anglers need to be very careful when removing the hook from a fish before returning it to the water.

What’s The Difference Between Nightcrawlers and Earthworms?

Nightcrawlers are larger than earthworms so they usually need to be cut into smaller pieces to be used as bait. Cutting nightcrawlers will also allow it to be cast further which will increase your odds of getting stronger hook-sets. The same species that will bite on earthworms will also bite on nightcrawlers.

Helpful Resources 

Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (you can check the book on Amazon here)

How to fish with live worms

Trout Guides

Level Up your Trout Fishing

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