The lugworm is the most popular of all baits used in sea angling, particularly with anglers fishing the East Anglian and Kent coasts. It is a smaller species than that other very popular worm, the King ragworm, but when used from beach or boat it can be one of the deadliest baits for cod.

Common lug can be threaded either singly or doubly, depending on size, when beach fishing for cod, but for boat fishing it is usually better to hang them from the bend of the hook, just passing the hook in and out of the body where the sandy tail section joins the fat part. The number of worms put on a hook depends, first, on the size of the worm and, second, en the size of the fish expected. When fishing for varieties of flatfish, a largish worm may be broken in half to provide bait for a small mouth.

A good percentage of the sea fish found around the coastline of the British Isles will usually take this bait readily and, besides being ideal for cod, it is useful for the small varieties of flatfish—plaice, dabs and flounders.

Lugworm vary in size from 3in7in, although few reach the greater length. Being a nonwriggling worm, it is used almost exclusively for bottom fishing. As the body of the worm deflates the instant it is pierced, most anglers bait at least three worms at a time and quite often double the number on a hook.


The ragworm differs from the lugworm in that it tapers very gradually from head to tail and is much fleshier. Most ragworms are bright red and all varieties have hundreds of’legs’ down each side of the body. The head is armed with a pair of bony pincers which the worm can thrust out and retract at will and a large worm can inflict a painful bite on the unwary angler.

Mounting the bait

King ragworm can be an extremely effective bait, particularly for bass and pollack. For these fighting predators, worms up to 1ft long can be used whole. Secure just the head on the hook,

Them as ‘dirty eaters’, or as being too easy to catch or not worth eating. But as bait, a fresh mackerel has no equal.

Mackerel as bait can be fished in a variety of ways, and methods of presentation attractive to most species can be found. Two important considerations must be borne in mind, whatever style of fishing is to be employed. First, the bait size and presentation should be appropriate to the quarry and its manner of feeding; secondly, the bait and hook should be matched in size.

Apart from its other advantages, the mackerel’s shape and bone structure make it an ideal bait form. If can be cut in different ways according to requirements. The section adjoining the caudal or tail fin provides on each side a neartriangular patch—a ‘lask’ or ‘last’.

Leaving the rest trailing. Mounted in this way it is very lifelike and pollack and bass rarely bite short. They have insatiable appetites and take the whole worm into their mouth before making off with it. The largest worms can be cut in half and baited in a similar way. Other species that prefer ragworm to lugworm are flounder, thornback ray, and sharks such as dogfish and smoothhound.