How To Catch Bass in Summer on Giant Worms

Professional angler Gerald Swindle of Alabama gives his best tips for catching bass in summer on giant worms.

How To Catch Bass in Summer on Giant Worms

Zoom Baits pro Gerald Swindle keeps things simple in summer when he's using giant worms, with two colors and a stand-up head to give the bait more action. (Photo: Alan McGuckin)

A plastic worm goes with summer bass fishing like fireworks and the 4th of July. And as a kid, the plastic worm was the first artificial lure top pro Gerald Swindle remembers learning to use on trips with his dad, Tommy, who was one heck of an angler in his own right.

These days the Team Toyota pro utilizes long soft plastic worms to cash tournament paychecks when water temps heat up, but the 30 years of wisdom he shares about using them might surprise you, and help you catch more fat summer largemouth too.

Ribbon Tails, Straight Tails and the Lamprey Factor

Swindle uses two types of big worms in the heat of summer – ribbon tails and straight tails. His choice is largely determined by similar looking jawless fish known as lamprey.

“Look, I don’t claim to know much about the life history of freshwater lampreys, but I can tell you based on three decades of bass fishing they love to live around underwater shell beds on all the Tennessee River reservoirs," Swindle said. "And lampreys seem most prominent earlier in the summer, so that’s when I use a ribbon tail worm that resembles them." 

Swindle’s correct. At least a half-dozen species of lamprey inhabit his home state’s waters, and most spawn and hatch larvae from late spring into early summer. Finding the eel-like lamprey attached to bass on Guntersville Lake or other Tennessee River impoundments isn't unusual. Nor is catching a bass with a quarter-sized sore on its gill plate or body where the attached lamprey, for whatever reason, came off.

But as summer enters its final stretch, and the bass have seen a ton of the popular ribbon tail worms, Swindle will typically use a straight tail worm to give them a look they haven’t seen much. 

Standup Head Instead of Texas Rig

Whether he’s fishing a Zoom Ol’ Monster in June and July or the 7” Magnum Trick Worm in the dog days of August, you might be shocked to learn Swindle almost never rigs them Texas style like he learned as a teen. Instead the 2-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year usually rigs them on a stand-up style jig head. 

“Buckeye Lures makes a wide range of sizes, but most of the time, I’m fishing 12 to 20’ deep in summer so I use their ½ ounce stand-up head," he said. "There’s two reasons for that. First, a stand-up style head won’t twist your line like a Texas rig will. Secondly, obviously, it helps the worm to stand-up a lot more vertical as you’re dragging it across the bottom."

Like a lot of lure manufacturers, Zoom makes dozens of colors in each of the two large worm style Swindle uses most. But according to the veteran pro you really only need two.

“I throw Plum Apple early in the day or anytime I’ve got low light, and Green Pumpkin under sunny skies,” he says.

Rod, Reel and Line

Swindle uses a 7-foot 6-inch medium heavy Quantum rod, and either 12- or 14-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon spooled to a 6.6:1 Quantum Smoke S3 reel when slinging oversized summer worms.

“I just feel like by using anything much faster than a 6.6:1 you might be prone to overfish it," he said. "Plus, I like the spool size on the Smoke S3 because it’s compact in the hand, but holds plenty of line for making long cast across deeper structure.” 

There’s a strong chance no lure in history has caught more largemouth bass than a plastic worm, especially in hot weather. Try Swindle’s tips for fishing them this summer, and you’re sure to help keep that trend as prosperous as it’s always been.

Alan McGuckin is Director of PR for Dynamic Sponsorships, a Tulsa-based company with clients including Toyota, Carhartt, Quantum Fishing and others.



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