During the summer months worms are a good bait for taking specimens; the matchman will often be pleasantly surprised by the bonus fish which a worm has produced. When the going gets tough, worms come into their own. On flooded rivers they often score when more conventional baits have failed.
Types of worm
The three main types are: lobworms, brandings and redworms.
Lobworms The big fat worm which you will have seen having a tug o’ war with the bird in your back garden is the lobworm. It is a light reddish-brown and its tail is flatter and slightly broader than the rest of its body. These worms vary in length from 5 -8cm to the real ‘snakes’ of 15 – 18cm but their average size is 13- 15cm. Lobs can be dug from the garden or collected from a wet lawn at night. Tread lightly, using a torch with a weak beam; lobworms are highly sensitive to bright light and vibrations.
You can keep lobs in the soil in which they were found or, better still, in sphagnum moss or grass cuttings. This cleans and toughens the worm’s skin – making it more attractive to the fish – and helps it to stay on the hook better. Lobs can also be kept in damp leafmould or damp newspaper. Brandlings These have a red skin, which is softer than the lobworm’s, and average 10 – 13cm in length with a series of yellow rings around the body. They are smaller than the lobworm.
When hooked, an unpleasant yellowish body fluid is released but this is only off-putting for the angler, not the fish.
Tackle shops sell pots of brandlings but they can be gathered quite easily from manure and compost heaps. Keep them in their original compost or manure and they’ll stay lively for weeks. Redworms These are deep red in colour -similar to the brandling but without the rings. They are the smallest of the three types of worm, growing up to about 5 – 8cm, and are a favourite with the matchman. A single offering on a small hook, either by itself or as a ‘cocktail’ with caster or pinkie, is a most attractive bait for bream and perch.
This worm is fond of pig manure and can be found living alongside the brandling. Be sure to collect plenty – redworms make an excellent attractor when chopped and added to groundbait. Keep either in the substance in which they were found or in leafmould.
Storing the worms
All worms should be stored in a well ventilated box, in a cool place. Keep them damp but not wet. Check them regularly and remove any dead or damaged worms to prevent contamination. Don’t store them for longer than about two weeks.
Worm will catch all species. Big tench, carp, chub and barbel are partial to a lob. These fish have big mouths so do not be afraid to use a big bait. Hook size depends on bait size. A bunch of two or three lobs on a size 4 or 6 hook, or a single offering on a 6, 8 or 10 is about right. Use a lob tail on a 14 or 16 to tempt roach, perch and eels.
Big bream can often be taken on a brandling or redworm when other baits have failed, and perch love these smaller worms. Present doubles on a size 14 or 16 and singles on an 18.
Hooking It is the worm’s attractive wiggle and appealing scent that make it effective. Bear this in mind when hooking it. A common mistake is to try to ‘staple’ a worm to a hook that is too small by piercing it several times; this results in a lifeless lump of insipid looking ‘worm meat’. After a couple of casts the bait tears as the hook pulls out, and soon becomes useless. Even if a fish is desperate enough to take a bait in this condition, it is likely that you will miss the bite because the hook will not be in the correct place.
Whether presenting whole baits, part baits or cocktails, hook the worm with great care, threading it on to the hook rather than piercing it.