“Be the worm”, but fish the sinker!
Most beginning worm or jig fishermen worry about their ability to detect a bite.
Instead, fish the weight and try to use it to feel your way along the bottom. A 3/16 or 1/4 oz. slip sinker is a good starting point for Texas rig worming from the bank to 15 feet deep or so, which is where you should be fishing until you really master the technique. The bulk of a jig & pig style presentation makes it sink slower and fish lighter, so a 5/16 to 3/8 ounce jig is comparable.
It should be noted that in the years since this tip was originally written, I have gotten almost completely away from fishing an actual Texas rigged plastic with a slip sinker, except for a few specific flipping situations.. These days, I use a TitleShot jighead from Fin-Tech Tackle. For all intents and purposes, it fishes exactly like a Texas rigged lure with the sinker pegged, it’s just a lot easier to rig and stays rigged in cover better. And it has a higher hooking percentage. But everything on this page applies to this setup just like it applies to a traditional Texas rig.
Move the weight/jighead along bottom by lifting the rod tip from 2 o’clock towards 1 o’clock. Vary the lifts, but keep the movements in the range of a few inches to a foot. The higher you lift it, the more time that weight is out of contact with the bottom, and the less feedback about the fish’s world it can provide you.
Keep a finger in contact with the line just ahead of the reel while you’re moving the weight, and while you let it drop back down to the bottom between lifts. The line will fall slack when the weight comes to rest. When it does, drop the rod tip back to 2 o’clock and reel up the slack you just created.
You’re moving the weight slowly, and trying to feel every little twig and bump on the bottom with it. Fish it as if you were trying to get it snagged. When you run it across a spot feels “interesting” slow it down even more. Let it sit there a bit. Cast back to it a few times to feel around even more.
Think of the sinker as an underwater probe and use it to feel your way around the bottom, searching for “stuff”. Try to visualize the worm as it “encounters” a bush, rock, weed clump or whatever potential fish holding break you came in contact with. “Be” the worm, and imagine there’s a fish using the break. Get nervous. Try to hide in, under or next to whatever it is you’ve run your nose into.
Do that, and your lure will spend a lot of time in the right kinds of places to get bit, which is good, because the fish are the only ones who can really teach you what a bite feels like. Eventually you won’t even think twice about recognizing a hit, because once you’ve learned to tell twigs from pebbles and mud from grass, etc., the signals passed up the line from a live fish at the other end are a piece of cake to detect.