Few baits are as attractive as worms, but unfortunately this can pose a problem if a lot of small fish are present. You can get through a lot of bait trying to feed off the tiddlers to get to the bigger fish, especially if you are feeding chopped worm. If this happens, try feeding whole worms, or chop them roughly to leave big chunks.
Feeding finely chopped worm can also be a problem, as the bait is very slow sinking.
A good way to overcomeg this is to feed the worm in a small amount of molehill soil, just enough to bind it together.
If you use groundbait then only add the chopped worm as and when you need it, because the salt in the feed will quickly dehydrate the worms.
I remove any soil from the worms by rinsing them in a maggot riddle before chopping. This makes them much easier to chop, and the cutter blades last longer.
Use a pair of choppy scissors to cut a handful of worms into bite-sized chunks. It’s well worth investing in a pair, which makes the job of chopping far quicker.
Add a handful of maggots to bulk out the feed. The colour is up to you, but reds are favoured by perch and skimmers, and stand out well in clear water.
Use a small bait dropper to introduce the bait, even on stillwaters, to ensure it all gets down to the bottom and doesn’t bring the fish up in the water.
Different types of worm
There are several different species of worm that you can buy or collect yourself for bait.
Some, like the lobworm, have been in use for thousands of years while others, such as dendrobaenas, are relative newcomers to the angling scene, and are easily farmed.
If you collect your worms from a lawn on a warm damp night, or put them to one side when digging the garden, then the chances are you are using proper lobworms.
Our native earthworm can grow up to 25cm in length and is probably the best worm hookbait that you can get.
I prefer to keep lobworms back for use as hookbaits only, and feed easy-to-come-by baits such as dendrobaenas or maggots.
Just about every fish that swims will eat a juicy lobworm, but they are especially favoured by perch and chub.
Much smaller than a lobworm, dendras rarely measure more than about 12cm, and have less girth too. That said, their size and availability make them a great bait, both on the hook and as feed.
Because of their smaller size, dendrobaenas make a good bait for smaller species, and can be combined with maggot, caster, or corn to make excellent cocktail baits.
Collected from well-rotted horse manure heaps – which sounds more unsavoury than it actually is – redworms are another small species of worm, but one that is very effective.
A favourite of the tench angler, a single redworm, or a worm tipped with corn, has resulted in the capture of a lot of big fish down the years.