The pink worm is a lure that has been catching steelhead in British Columbia for many years, but is just now beginning to develop a following on Washington State rivers. I began to experiment with this lure in 1999, and tried it a little more each season, but it was not until the winter season of 2001-2002 that I became a believer in this lure.
The pink worm can be rigged several ways. In Canada the pink worm is most often fished below a float, with several split shot added to the line to get the lure down to the fish. These worms float, so it is necessary to add weight to keep them in the steelhead's field of vision. Adjust the depth below the float to keep the worm a foot or so off the bottom.
They can also be fished on a bare jig hook under a float, this is the method I prefer for native winter runs. I also prefer to use smaller 3"-4" worms, rather than the larger 6" ones. The smaller worms seem to result in fewer missed strikes. I rig this setup the same as I do my jigs, below a fixed float, and try to adjust the depth so that the worm is at least a foot off of the bottom. The first steelhead I caught with the pink worm was on the Carbon River just before dark. The hatchery hen really inhaled it, and provided a fitting end to an afternoon of verbal abuse I received from my fishing partner about using a bass worm for steelhead. The last laugh was on him, as this fish completed my two fish limit of hatchery steelhead, while he went home empty handed.
The pink worm was the hot ticket for native winter steelhead for me during the winter season of 2002, and now accounts for over 70% of the native winter steelhead that I hook. The native fish readily take these lures, and many times I have hooked fish in water that has been heavily fished by other anglers using standard drift fishing techniques. I believe that showing the fish something different can be the deciding factor in an angler's success, or lack of same. The increasingly popular pink worm has turned out to be my go to lure for large native winter runs.
The pink worm can be rigged for drift fishing as well. Use a bait threader, or long needle to thread the leader through the worm. Add a bead onto the leader just above the hook to keep it from pulling into the worms body. Tie this onto your swivel and fish just as you would a standard corky and yarn rig. At the end of your drift let the worm hang downstream from you for at least ten seconds before reeling in. Many times a steelhead will follow the worm and take it as it dances enticingly in the soft water below you.
Another increasingly popular setup for boat fishing is to run the pink worm on a five foot leader behind a diver, and backtroll the setup just as you would plugs or bait divers. One of my buddies showed me how this works out on the Hoh River and I must say those native steelhead really clobber this setup.
Check out Bob's Piscatorial Pursuits tips section for a detailed look at how he rigs the pink worm. As I said earlier, I prefer to fish them on a bare jighead. I rig them up to be drifted beneath a float, exactley as I do with my jigs, substituting the pink worm for the standard jig.
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