The infamous "pink worm" has made its way into steelheaders tackle over the years and has a growing number of believers. These simple plastic worms, which come in many more colors than pink, can be a deadly approach when drifted or floated. The worm approach is most popularly used in higher water, but they are more dynamic than that. Worms can be fished under almost any water condition and are known to catch steelhead all over the west coast, not to mention trout and the occasional salmon!put a worm on a jig-head.
Choose a jig-head color. There are many options, so when in doubt go with white, or pink. As you experiment with worms you'll notice other jig-heads are very productive, colors like black, blue and light orange are some personal favorites. Consider that the jig-head can add contrast to the worm you are using. White or pearl jig heads are very popular and are known to catch fish.Mad River.
Pink is an excellent color and the most popular. The contrast of a bubblegum or pearl pink worm in green water brings out a biting instinct in Steelhead. The brightness of pink works as an attractant. Pink worms are the type of bait that you can fish quickly through a run because it's likely that a fish is going to see the bait and react to it if you can get it close enough. It's inevitable that some fish ignore the pink worm - don't worry, it's usually not the bigger fish.
In green/colored water, also experiment with white and orange. These colors can sometimes be the difference in getting noticed. Apply scent to your worms. In high water you may need the advantage of scent to key in a fish on your bait. Scents like anise and crawfish can do a lot of good for removing human scent and providing additional attractant to the fish.
When the water drops and flows get low many people put away their worms and either stop fishing, or use different tactics. We've found that worms continue to work very well in low water, we will just change up the colors. Our all time favorite low-water worm is the Nightmare. The jig pattern called nightmare is a very deadly jig-pattern in clear water, and the nightmare worm is no exception.
Something about the red with black tail of the nightmare worm makes for an easy snack for steelhead. In either 4 inch or 6 inch, this worm is a known killer when combined with a number of jig heads. Winter steelhead and summer steelhead alike gravitate toward the nightmare. Don't rule out pink in low flows, but also consider more muted tones of pink, or fleshy pink colors. Dull pinks have proven to be very effective for summer steelhead.
We cut our worms at varying points in the worm, for the desired length and worm profile. Consider this when reading water and adjust accordingly. The general cut with a 6 inch worm is to cut the collar off and leave about 4 inches of worm.
Worms are a great tactic to take to the river and are known to catch big fish. They aren't necessarily a numbers bait, but catch high quality fish under a wide range of conditions. Try them out today and let us know how you do!