I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

• Zoom Finesse Worm

Because bass can be fickle at times, our approach must cater to their wants and needs, not our own. Makes perfect sense to me. While thumping a spinnerbait around the lake might be one of your greatest strengths, it doesn't always put fish in the boat. Sometimes you have to finesse bass a little. Go small or go home.

Plastics are usually the best way to appeal to those sensitive bass and a finesse worm has everything you need. Finesse worms work well when the fishing is tough, the bass are pressured, and begging you to throw something smaller. This kind of approach is intended to be a subtle one, or at least more subtle than rummaging around with a bulky and intrusive bait. In order to be considered finesse by most standards, a lure must be small in size. Most finesse worms are 4-5 inches in length. Worms with similar body profiles in the 6 to 7 inch range are a little too big to be subtle enough for finesse fishing. A finesse worm is also well known for being a clear or cold water option. Post frontal conditions also warrant a more finessed approach. The lesson to be learned, however, is that any day on the water could benefit from a little finesse on your part.


The Zoom Finesse Worm is my finesse worm of choice. At 4 and 3/4 inches long, it's the perfect size for those times when the bite is tough. Think of it as the Zoom Trick Worm's scrawny sibling. At first glance, most finesse worms look alike. The nose is blunt and the body tapers from wide proximally to narrow distally. The last 1/2 inch of the tail has a wide bulge designed to give the lure some wiggle. Exciting, I know. Ridges line the back from head to tail except for a smooth strip at the clitellum towards the front of the worm. The belly of the worm is completely flat and a seam runs the full length on either side, a residual consequence of the mold pouring process. The word "Zoom" is imprinted on the underside of the head. Like many other plastics, each worm is salt impregnated, but Zoom products always seem to have that plasticky smell to them. I don't care for it, but I'm not a bass. My sniffer isn't what is being put to the test. The Zoom Finesse Worm comes in a selection of colors, most of which are peppered with glitter flakes. If you're a frequent consumer of Zoom products, you'll be very familiar with the color choices, so don't fret. My finesse worm confidence colors are more natural (like pumpkin), but I also like them in shades of blue. Unlike many other plastic lures, Zoom products included, you actually get a lot of worms in one pack. At 20 worms per pack, running out might be hard to do.

At 4 3/4", this finesse worm will require a smaller hook. Despite what you might think, you have a difficult choice to make here. Not all hooks are ideal for small plastics. In fact, straight shank hooks are more suitable than wide gap hooks because the worm will be less inclined to rest on its side. I still opt for a wide gap hook because I like how the offset keeps the worm in place. I prefer using a 3/0 VMC Needle Point Wide Gap Riggin' Worm Hook. Plan on seeing a review of them here later. As far as hook sizes, 2/0 to 3/0 should be enough. Also consider using a light wire hook for finesse presentations instead of a thicker heavy wire hook most anglers reserve for the real monsters. Again, finesse is the theme, not brute force.

The finesse approach, as I mentioned earlier, is typically used when the bite is tough, especially in pressured tournament lakes or post frontal situations, but also when the water is clear or cold. I like to break down finesse fishing into two more categories. Some days, I will throw a finesse worm as my primary approach and on others, I will use it as a follow up lure. My technique is usually the same regardless. I can fish a finesse worm anywhere I'd fish many other plastics. I can flip them into the holes between pads, along weed lines, up against cypress trees, or under docks. Once the lure hits the target, I usually let it sit for a moment to see if I feel a nibble. Most of my bites come on the drop or shortly after the lure hits bottom. If nothing bites, I use subtle shakes, drags, twitches, or lifts on the way back to the boat. Remember that small movements with the rod amount to huge advances on the other end. It isn't a race. Pick apart every target with repeat casts and then move on.

I rig my finesse worm weightless or with a bullet weight a 1/4oz or less. I prefer using fluorocarbon line for the added sensitivity. If you follow my blog, you'll know I tend to use P-Line Halo. A 10lb test fluorocarbon line does well, but if you need a little extra abrasion resistance, consider going up to 15lb test. I use baitcasters exclusively, but many finesse pros like using spinning reels for all this light work. There are other ways to rig the worm and there are many rod and reel choices to consider. Use what feels comfortable for you, but pay attention to lure weight ratings when deciding on a rod and think about a mid-range 6:1 gear ratio when picking out a reel. Until you set the hook, most of the work will be done with the rod and the reel will just be for taking up slack.

A finesse worm is designed to wiggle and shake at the tail end. Depending on the composition of the plastic, the lure may also have some action on the fall. With the Zoom Finesse Worm, the body is light weight and on the fall, the tail lags behind the rest of the body and the whole lure has a somewhat slow descent. Once the worm comes to a rest, it does not have a lot of side to side motion when Texas rigged. As far as finesse worms go, this one is on the stiff side even though it feels pretty soft and has a lot of stretch. It pays to know what is going on at the other end of your line, so play around with a worm in clear water to see how it behaves with certain movements.

The finesse worm can be rigged differently for alternate presentations. Sometimes I have three rods on deck, all rigged with a finesse worm using a different setup. Sounds perfect for the die hard tournament angler with more rods than brains, doesn't it? Alternate rigging options include the shaky head, drop shot, slider hooks, split shotting, finesse hook through the nose, or rigged wacky style through the middle.

In addition to a Texas rigged worm, the finesse worm is my plastic of choice on a shaky head hook. The bulge at the tail makes the finesse worm one of the most commonly used plastics on a shaky head hook. A finesse worm should stand straight up off the bottom or at an angle. With every shake of the rod, the tail will wiggle erratically. The shaky head you use is simply a matter of personal preference, but I go with a 1/4oz pro model Spot Remover with the twist lock. A 1/4oz shaky head hook might be a bit too much for most finesse anglers, but I find it helps when I'm working a large stretch of water about 5 or 6 feet deep. I can feel everything that happens to my lure with that extra weight tacked on. I find that I have trouble keeping the worm on the bottom with lighter weighted jigs. If something feels different, I set the hook. When fishing a shaky head, the tip of the worm may wear down and come loose. Just nip off some of the plastic and run it back on the keeper. Shaky head fishing is a really exciting technique, so if you are new to finesse worms, give it a try.

With drop shotting, a finesse worm can be rigged two ways, but subtle movements should still dominate your presentation. In addition to running the hook through the body of the worm so that it sticks straight out away from your line using a palomar knot, it can also be rigged wacky on a shorter drop shot hook. I like using a lift/shake technique, but you have to be patient and really work hard for a bite. Drop shotting a finesse worm is a great second line approach to more traditional baits. Use the drop shot rig when you need to keep the worm in one place like around docks or near laydowns. If you know a fish is sitting on a spot, throw this rig at it.

Weighted wide gap jig hooks are a great alternative to using bullet weights. Just be sure to use a light weight jig in the 3/16 to 3/8oz range. Wacky rigging a finesse worm on a slider hook works too, but I seldom resort to this presentation. I like weighted hooks because I don't have to worry about pegging a bullet sinker.

Split shotting is similar to fishing the lure Texas rigged with a bullet sinker, but I place a split shot a couple of inches above the head of the worm. In doing so, I keep the entire rig fairly light, but the added weight gives me slightly better casting distance and helps keep the worm close to the bottom. When shaking the worm, the split shot rises and pulls making the worm arch more. It waves up and down, more or less. A split shot makes bouncing a finesse worm a little easier than the other weighted options.

Durability is not a huge issue for me. With regular use, the worm does not damage easily, but sometimes one worm only survives two bites. Durability depends on how you have rigged the worm. Over time, Texsposing the tip of the hook into the back of the worm will wear down the plastic, but it helps when you work the already narrow lure through thick weeds. Like many plastics, the lure likes to slide down the neck of the hook. I take a small barrel swivel and use it to keep the worm securely positioned on the hook.

Not every Zoom Finesse Worm is created equal. Some are actually a little longer than others. Go ahead and pick out a few from the pack of 20. You might discover a couple are 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch longer. Does that make a huge difference? Probably not. It was just an interesting observation I made.

There might be imperfections on the surface of the lure where glitter flakes have fallen off. Again, I doubt these imperfections will affect the performance of the lure.

When exposed to bright light, like sunlight, these pumpkin colored worms appear a different color altogether.

Alternatives and other uses
I searched around for some alternative worms that deserve honorable mention. Strike King has the 7-inch 3x finesse/floating worm, but because it is so long, I don't consider it a real finesse worm. HellaBass recommended the Tru-Tungsten 5" Dart finesse worm. Although it's not a finesse worm by name, a mini-Senko can be used with a finesse approach. Big Bite Baits has a new worm called the Squirrel Tail Worm that is ribbed at the front, has an enlarged egg sac, and a smooth lower half with a bulky floating tail for extra wobbling action. It is availabe in 4.5" and 6" sizes.

Because a swimblade is designed to wobble from side to side, a finesse worm is an ideal trailer replacement because it is the perfect length and accentuates the lure's action with the shaking tail.

You can actually use this worm like a topwater, especially over thick vegetation or surface clutter like duckweed. Rig it weightless or with a light bullet sinker. Make the cast and then hold your rod tip up high and reel it across the surface quickly. Bass will chase it. Just be sure to use a high speed reel. Otherwise, the worm will start to sink if weighted and accumulate gunk.

The Final Word
In closing, the next time you're on the water and the bass just don't want to bite, tie on a finesse worm in one of the ways I described above and have at it. Pick apart your target and slow down a little. Instead of busting them over the head with a heavy spinnerbait, learn to have a little more finesse in the way you fish for bass.

Other Zoom Products:
Zoom Horny Toad
Zoom 6" Lizard
Zoom Brush Hogs
Zoom Super Fluke
Zoom Original Speed Worm


Pedro said...

Zoom finesse Worm is really good soft plastic lure, easy and effective. Very good and complete article, I´m a fan of this blog.

Greetings fron Spain!

Rattletrap Ramblings said...

It gets a lot of bites, but it's just a smaller trick worm and I've found I get just as many and bigger bites with the trick worm.

BaitCasting said...

Great information. I prefer to use the tesas rig 90 percent of the time when I use artificial worms even with the finesse. any ways good piece on these worms.