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Fishing a Shaky Head Worm

Article: November, 2008
 Lake Fork Pro Guide Tom Redington Straight tail worms rigged on jig heads have been around since the plastic worm was first invented. In recent years, pro bass anglers have won hundreds of thousands of dollars fishing worms on a new generation of jig heads specifically designed for this application. Termed “shaky heads” because of the way they are fished, these rigs excel at catching limits of keeper sized bass, especially in pressured waters or after cold fronts. Moreover, when Kevin Van Dam caught an 11 lb 13 oz lake record largemouth on Lake Lewisville during a 2005 tournament, anglers quickly realized that shaky heads can produce lunkers too.

My epiphany with shaky heads came at a recent Stren Series tournament on Lake Texoma. The water was high and muddy in many areas and bass were relating to shallow flooded wood. During practice, I was repeatedly pitching traditional Texas rigged tubes and creature baits to likely looking areas and catching some good bass. To my amazement, my practice partner would pitch a shaky head worm into the muddy waters behind me and he caught more bass than I did, from wood cover that I’d already pitched to a couple of times. Seeing is believing, and I certainly can testify to the catching ability of the shaky head rig, even in heavy cover and muddy water.

Rigging a shaky head requires a few specialized components. There are dozens of new jigheads designed to fish shaky style, and most work quite well. For easy rigging and a strong sharp hook, I use an 1/8th oz Screw Ball jighead from Lake Fork Trophy Lures. The Gamakatsu hook has a wire keeper on the shank that holds your plastic worm in place once you wind it on. This reduces snags and fouled casts, even in heavy wood or weed cover. Once the head of the worm is attached to the jighead with the screw lock, simply rig the worm over the hook point the same way you would rig a Texas Rig. Pay careful attention to keep the worm straight or the worm will roll and cause line twist. Traditionally, I’ve used 6” Twitch Worms as my soft plastic worms and they still work better for bigger fish. However, the new Hyper Finesse Worm, with its segmented body and quivering tail section gives a very subtle action even when the lure is stopped, making it my go-to bait for shaky head rigs, especially when the fishing is really tough.

With small worms on light jigheads, choose a spinning rod with medium to medium heavy power and a fast tip and you’ll be able to throw your rig much easier. To maximize sensitivity, while maintaining enough power to land good fish from cover, I normally fish shaky rigs on 10 to 20 lb braided line with a 6’ leader of 8 to 12 lb fluorocarbon. In general, the clearer the water and the lighter the cover, the lighter the leader I’ll use.

Fishing a shaky head is really quite simple, although the best way to retrieve it varies by the day. Basically, work it the same way as you would a Texas rig or a jig. Some days the bass prefer it worked quickly with aggressive hops, while other days slowly dragging it with long pauses or “dead-sticking” works better. And as its name implies, bass can often be triggered by gently shaking the worm while it sits in place. To make your rig dance, gently shake your rod tip with a semi-slack line. This trembling motion will make the worm’s tail pulsate, without moving forward.

When the fishing gets tough and bass stop chasing your lures, slow down and try a shaky head. It’ll help you catch a limit, and maybe a lunker too.
Good Fishing,
Tom


Fishing Tip by  Lake Fork Pro Tom Redington

 

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