Worms

 

During the summer months worms are a good bait for taking specimens- the matchman is often pleasantly surprised by the bonus fish, which a worm produces. When the going gets tough, worms come into their own. On flooded rivers they often score when more conventional baits, such as maggots, have failed.
There are three main types of worm: lobworms, brandlings and redworms.

for the catfish....

Lobworms

Lobworms - the long, fat worms that live in ordinary soil - are among the most effective of all natural baits. In summer they are excellent for big eels, bream, Tench and barbell. In autumn and winter they are also great for big perch, roach and chub. They are especially good for chub in winter in rivers that are high and coloured (flooded) as many lobworms are then washed from the bank into the water.

Light reddish-brown in colour, a lob's tail is flatter and slightly broader than the rest of its body. These worms vary in length from 5-8cm (2-3in) to the real 'snakes' of 15-18cm (6-7in) but their average size is 13-15cm (5-6in).

You can dig lobs from the garden, but the best way to collect them is to look for them on a wet lawn at night. Tread lightly, using a torch with a weak beam; lobworms are highly sensitive to bright light and vibrations.

Brandlings

Brandlings have a reddish skin, which is softer than the lobworm's, and average 10-13cm (4-5in) in length with a series of yellow rings around the body. They are smaller than lobworms.

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.

Redworms

These are deep reds in colour - similar to brandlings but without the rings. They are the smallest of the three types of worm, growing up to about 5-8cm (2-3in) long, 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 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.

Storing the worms

All worms should be stored in a well-ventilated box, in a cool place (though not a refrigerator). Use an atomizer to apply a fine spray of water from time to time as worms need to be kept 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.

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, helping them stay on the hook better. Lobs can also be kept in damp leafmould or damp newspaper.

Brandlings stay lively longer if they are kept in the compost or manure in which they were originally found.

Keep reds either in the substance in which they were found or in leafmould.

Presenting worms

Worm will catch all species. Big Tench, carp, chub and barbell are partial to a lob. These fish have big mouths so do not be afraid to use 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 redworms 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 worms

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 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.

Tips

Hooking lobs
Whole lobworms are best fished on a size 6 hook. Hook them once through the head or join two together and hook towards the tail. Alternatively, use the same method with just one.

A lob tail is best threaded on the hook through the centre of the tail.

Chopped worm
Carry a pair of nail scissors for cutting up the worms. Chopped worms make an excellent Worms

attractor when added to groundbait.

If the bottom of the swim is soft silt or weed, use the nail scissors to nip off the heads off lobworm hookbaits to prevent them burying themselves out of sight.

It's often a good idea to nip the end off a worm after hooking it in any case. This allows its attractive juices to flow into the water more quickly.

Puffed up and proud
it can pay to inject lobworms with air so they stand proud of the bottom. Take great care when doing this and make sure the point of the needle is covered when not in use. Good tackle shops sell suitable syringes.

Lively cocktail
Redworms are very lively when fished with a caster on a small hook. Itís an appealing cocktail for skimmer and slab bream, particularly in winter.