On Heavily-Pressured Waters, Russ Lane Chooses Worms Instead of Jigs or Crankbaits. When Russ Lane gave up a promising baseball career to become a fulltime professional bass fisherman, he quickly realized he had to change his normal fishing strategies if he wanted to compete successfully against the best bass anglers in the world. The Yamaha Pro’s initial decision—looking for alternative lures—turned out to be one of the most important he’s ever made.
“Not only was I fishing against excellent fishermen, but we were all competing on heavily-pressured lakes where the bass had apparently already seen all the lures in my tackle box so they ignored them,” laughs Lane, who has since qualified for four Bassmaster Classic® championships. “I had always enjoyed fishing small plastic worms, so that lure became my alternative bait, and it’s really effective now during the spring months because very few other anglers use them.”
Lane likes a little 4 ¾ inch worm that features a ringed body design but with a slightly larger tail. It has practically no action of its own, but the worm is still bulky enough he can rig with a larger 4/0 hook, quarter ounce slip sinker, and 22 pound fluorocarbon line.
“It’s a finesse-type lure I can power fish with stronger tackle,” explains the Yamaha Pro, “and while it’s a great alternative lure throughout the spring months, it’s actually a very good lure throughout the year. I can pitch and flip it to boat docks, brush, stumps, practically any form of cover in water less than five feet deep.
“I nearly always use the very same presentation, too, regardless of what I’m fishing. I like to pitch the worm to the cover, let it fall to the bottom, then just let it sit motionless there for several seconds. When I do move it, I barely raise my rod so the worm only glides a foot or two before settling back to the bottom. It’s during that slow, subtle glide that the bass hit it.”
Lane’s realization he needed to find an alternative lure to use when fishing “used water” behind other pros isn’t unique, but his lure choice is certainly unusual. Most of his contemporaries change to fast-moving crankbaits in hopes of generating reflex-type strikes, so his ultra-slow retrieve—he rarely even hops the worm—truly is something the bass don’t see that often.’
“I think it’s effective because the worm looks extremely natural in the water,” continues Lane. “Bass aren’t spooked by it because it’s not an intrusive or aggressive movement. I know bass hear the worm as it hits the water and then sinks to the bottom, but instead of darting away, I envision them swimming up to within a few inches of the worm while I’m letting it sit there motionless.
“When I slowly lift my rod and move the worm, it just slowly rises off the bottom and glides a very short distance. For a bass, that type of movement represents a very easy target, and I think that’s why they hit it so well, even during the post-spawn season when fish typically are not very active.”
Lane also likes fishing the small worm because it catches all sizes of bass throughout the day. He’s caught numerous fish in the six pound range using his slow presentation, and he credits the worm with helping him qualify for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.® He used his technique in all eight Elite Series qualifying tournaments, from Florida to Arkansas to Wisconsin, and ranked 28th in the B.A.S.S.® Angler of the Year standings.
“I don’t believe there’s a lake or river system in the country where this little worm and my slow presentation won’t catch at least some bass,” concludes the Yamaha Pro. “I really started fishing this worm as an alternative bait, but now it’s become one of my favorite lures, and I use it wherever I go.”