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Cover Water, Trigger Explosive Bass Strikes with Speed Worms

Speed-worming is the hottest bass fishing technique no one's talking about—yet. 

Cover Water, Trigger Explosive Bass Strikes with Speed Worms
The pronounced thumping action of a speed worm’s tail is what makes it so irresistible to bass. (Shutterstock image)

Since the introduction of “rubber” worms more than a half-century ago, those soft-plastic invertebrate imitations, and their related fishing tactics, have improved and expanded exponentially. However, “speed-worming,” a clever take on the time-proven Texas rig, has largely flown under the radar despite being an extremely effective technique. Speed-worming finally gained some acclaim thanks to veteran tournament pro and TV host Scott Martin, who brought it considerable exposure. Martin introduced the tactic to a handful of Southern bass anglers, including CPF Lures founder Chuck Pippin Jr., in the late 1990s.

“I was still attending the University of Central Florida back then, and Scott Martin and I would fish Lake Okeechobee together on weekends,” says Pippin. “He’d take Zoom paddletail worms and cut their tails into a fork [with scissors]. Then, we’d go back into Moonshine Bay and catch loads of fish just casting them out and reeling them back in.”

Following Martin’s lead, Pippin spent many days and weeks testing the technique, burning baits through shallow, emergent and shoreline grass on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and all over Florida. In the process, he put incredible numbers of bass in the boat.

bass-fishing worms
CPF Lures’ Speed Worms come in two sizes—the 7-inch Thumper and 5-inch Thumper Pro Jr.—as well as in floating and slow-floating versions. (Photo by Jim Edlund)

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

With their tails split, the baits would thump when retrieved through vegetation or across open water. That simple doctoring eventually gave birth to a technique that now benefits from lures expressly designed for the task. In the beginning, Pippin recalls, the split tails would eventually rip off after being reeled through the grass a few times.

“So we started punching a hole in the tails and cutting a slant,” Pippin says. “That was the start of a thumper tail intended specifically for the technique. But we found out pretty quickly that worms made of traditional plastic will quickly sink anytime you stop reeling.

“Luckily, we got a hold of a floating plastic—which we call PMR—that’s super durable, and soon ended up with two versions: a standard sinking model and a floating one that we could reel through the grass like a weedless topwater.”

The floating worm also allows the angler to stop cranking and let the bait rest in holes in the grass, where bass will often pounce on it.

“You can chug it or burn it over the grass and stop it anywhere. [The floating plastic] is also super resistant. The worms will stretch to triple their size without breaking, and the only way you can rip their thumper tails is by cutting them.”

MODERN OFFERINGS

Most anglers nowadays have gravitated to fishing a Texas-rigged CPF Lures 7-inch Thumper Pro. Some also fish it on a Carolina rig, which allows slow-rolling the worm underwater. The Thumper Pro is made out of a non-buoyant plastic that’s very durable, and its design started with Pippin drawing a bait and the shape of its tail on a piece of paper while fishing from the bow of his boat.

“I was out on the lake testing the prototype and my partner, Jason, called to find out how the tail was performing,” Pippin says. “I told him, ‘Man, you can really feel that tail thump aggressively through the rod tip.’ Then he asked what I thought we should call this thing. ‘Thumper,’ I answered, because thump is exactly what it does—in a big way.”

bass caught at the boat
The Thumper Pro in June Bug with red metal flake proved just the ticket to entice this big bass from nearby cover. (Photo by Jim Edlund)

RIGGING A SPEED WORM

When speed-worming, you want to fish with as little weight as possible or no weight at all, says Pippin.

“If there’s little wind, I’ll use an 1/8-ounce tungsten bullet weight with a bobber stopper pushed right up to the worm to keep it pegged,” he says. “But, depending on the wind and depth, I’ll use anything from 1/16- up to 1/4-ounce for better casting.”

Recommended


Given the size of Florida-strain largemouth bass, Pippin prefers fishing big worms. For slow-rolling in heavy vegetation, he likes the floating, 7-inch Thumper Pro. A 1/4-ounce weight will sink it, he says, which is good for working mid-depths without hitting bottom.

“Typically, I’m using the floating Thumper like a topwater bait to float up and above the fish and create surface strikes in heavy cover, but I’ll sometimes use it over open water, too. You don’t want a really heavy wire hook with the PMR plastic, which is super durable. I’ll use an extra-wide-gap, offset 5/0 light-wire hook instead.

That makes it easier for the whole rig to travel through the salad, plus hooksets are better.”

FISH IT RIGHT

The most popular technique for the Thumper is Texas-rigging the worm and fishing it with a small bullet weight.

“I’ve caught fish on this rig all year long, but I’m not doing the fall-lift retrieve,” says Pippin. “I slow-roll it, kind of like you’d work a spinnerbait just under the surface.

This works great on grass flats, whether it’s hydrilla, eel or pepper grass, and at just about any depth you can imagine.”

In the July and August heat, Pippin also fishes the 7-inch Thumper Pro on a regular Texas rig with a heavier weight around brush piles, where bass seem to prefer the thumping tail over a regular ribbon or trick-worm design.

He points out that speed worms make great search baits, too. A steady cast and retrieve allow you to cover a lot of water. And, since you’re fishing a weedless soft-plastic bait, you can throw it just about anywhere—something you can’t really do with many other baits.

IDEAL SITUATIONS

“It seems like the best time to speed-worm is from mid-fall through late spring,” says Pippin.

“When the inside hydrilla is at its lowest and there’s a little more open water, it can be really good. That’s when I’ll use the floating Thumper to burn the surface, occasionally stopping the retrieve. Just imagine having a weedless Whopper Plopper that you could whip way back into the grass. That’s what these worms can do.”

Another great thing about speed-worming is its simplicity. The tactic is easy for anyone to learn and use. Even kids and novice anglers can work the worm properly and cover lots of water quickly.

“I size down to the Thumper Jr. any time I can’t get fish to eat the bigger worm. When the forage is smaller down here, like during March, April and May, slow-rolling the Jr. in offshore grass can really catch ’em. And when our bass get finicky—like during a calm, sunny day—and they don’t want a big presentation, I’ll also switch to the Jr.,” says Pippin.

“But there’s no real rhyme or reason to it, honestly,” he continues. “Sometimes the patterns just don’t make sense and you scratch your head. Bass might prefer a smaller worm for two weeks, and you have no idea why. Then, all of a sudden, they’ll eat the bigger worm like there’s no tomorrow.”

angler with large bass
Whether in the grass or on open water, the speed worm often pays dividends when other tactics fail. (Photo by Jim Edlund)

SPREADING SUCCESS

According to Pippin, the technique seems to be really taking off in other areas, and many pros have taken to speed-worming in waters outside of the Sunshine State. “Eighty percent of our sales come from our own website, and I can see the states from where customers are ordering,” says Pippin. “No doubt, we sell a lot of worms to Florida bass anglers, to folks fishing Okeechobee and all the way up through the Kissimmee Chain, Harris Chain, Orange Lake and Stick Marsh 13. But I also filled an order this morning for a guy in Connecticut who bought a half-dozen bags. My guess is more anglers than you might think are silently speed-worming on their native waters.

“Since CPF Lures isn’t that big of a company, a lot of anglers like to keep the baits a secret. But via social media, we’re getting reports from Texas lakes, from Guntersville in Alabama, and even Chickamauga in Tennessee. I get a lot of private messages with big-fish pictures from all over the country, but they won’t tell me where they’re catching them,” Pippin says.

CPF Lures currently offers four colors of Thumper Worms: Watermelon Red Flake, June Bug, Blue Flake and June Bug Red Flake, but they’re in the process of offering additional patterns.

And speaking of expanding the technique’s reach beyond Florida’s borders, CPF Lures just launched a non-floating, 5 3/4-inch Thumper Pro Jr., which opens up a lot of possibilities for bass anglers fishing areas where more finesse is required.

BOOST YOUR ARSENAL

While there are countless bass tactics at play today, including many newer techniques involving offshore fish and forward-facing sonar, speed-worming is a breath of fresh air and gets us back to power-fishing shallower, salad-filled areas that just look good to the naked eye.

It’s hard to beat stepping on that bow-mount, chucking and winding and covering serious real estate in search of bites. And now you can do that with a plastic worm in a way that’s entirely unique and catches lots of fish.

Give speed-worming a try and you’ll see how easy it is. It might just save the day and produce when other methods struggle. Is it the be-all and end-all of bass fishing? Probably not, but it’s definitely one cool and effective tactic to add to your bag of tricks.

SPEED-WORMIN’ GEAR

  • Rod, reel and line recommendations.
fishing tackle
13 Fishing Concept A3 reel (left), Ninex braid (right), 13 Fishing Muse Black II rod.

Chuck Pippin Jr.’s speed-worm tackle setup starts with a long, heavy-power rod like the 7-foot-4-inch Muse Black II (MB2C74H) from 13 Fishing.

“You need something with some backbone to yank fish—some of ’em pretty big—out of the gnarly salad we’re fishing these speed worms through,” he says.

As for reels, Pippin prefers baitcasters with a mid- to high-speed gear ratio, like 13 Fishing’s Concept A3, to burn the worm and cover water quickly when the conditions call for it.

His fishing line of choice is Ninex, a 9-strand, black-colored braid that he claims won’t fade and is sold on the CFP Lures website.

“If I’m slow-rolling the speed worm under the water, I’ll typically use 30-pound Ninex. If I’m burning it across emergent vegetation, I go up to 45-pound.”

Regarding baits, Pippin opts for the original-size Thumper Pro most of the year, but he will use the smaller Thumper Jr. from late spring through early summer.




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