Texas-rigged Finesse Worm Techniques for Peacock Bass
Slow and incredibly deadly
‘Finesse’ and ‘worm’ are words that are used so infrequently in the sport of peacock bass fishing in Malaysia. When anglers talk about their approach, they are generally talking about reaction baits and power fishing techniques. However, those who routinely adhere to that approach might want to reconsider, because when the bite gets tough and when other methods fail, I know I can count on the Texas-rigged finesse worm to put fish in the boat.
Most anglers associate this technique with bass fishing in cold water but it can come in handy in many other situations, even in warm, equatorial water conditions. I use a Texas-rigged finesse worm in areas where peacock bass are really pressured and when I cannot get bites on motion baits.
Most anglers think that when you break out those finesse worms, you are fishing for tiny peacocks, but that is not the case. When used in the right conditions, it is an ideal tool for catching fish that would not respond to larger or motion baits. The rig can be outstanding for catching peacock bass in any body of water in the country, from urban lakes to backwaters. It is a slow and incredibly deadly technique that excels when conditions get tough.
Finesse worming in warm water conditions
Malaysia is located near the equator and its climate is categorized as equatorial, hot and humid throughout the year, with an average temperature of 80.6°F. That means anglers are literally blessed with warm, summer conditions all year long and are naturally adjusted to fish fast. However, most anglers in Malaysia tend to forget that even subtle changes in water temperature could sometimes turn aggressive fish inactive.
Climate conditions play a large part in every angler’s approach to peacock bass fishing in Malaysia, which traditionally centers on power fishing-centric techniques to capitalize on reaction bites. However, most anglers customarily confine their approach to a power fishing game plan, and that, in my opinion, is quite literally the kiss of death, so to speak.
It is worth mentioning that although the Texas-rigged finesse worm is deadly in certain conditions, the idea of fishing it slow is still fairly new in Malaysia. Make no mistake, this subtle style of fishing, originally developed for bass fishing, can increase your opportunity for a big bite when changes in conditions shock peacock bass into inactivity.
For instance, under torrential rainfall during the monsoon periods, water temperatures could fall from 86°F to 77°F or below, turning conditions super-tough. Though 77°F may feel warm to anglers up north, it is actually considered cold water conditions in Malaysia. For anglers who rely on power fishing methods 24/7, they call that a tough day. For me, that is the time when I go back to basics and switch to a Texas-rigged finesse worm.
When, where and how
I basically learned when and when not to use the Texas-rigged finesse worm for peacock bass through trial and error. The technique is often associated with what I call ‘cold water’ conditions in Malaysia, in high to mid-70°F. I use it in various conditions, from clear to semi-stained water but not muddy water, especially after a weather front or on pressured lakes.
I recalled a day at Clearwater Sanctuary Golf resort in August, 2015 when the peacock bass were bedding to spawn in shallow water. It had rained hard the night before and two things happened, we had weather front and rising water conditions. I assessed the situation and initially concluded that the fish had moved offshore. I tried fishing deeper water but things did not work. At midday, I switched to a Zoom Finesse Worm rigged Texas-style with a 1/4-oz sinker on 10lb-test line. I started fishing a lake pocket with a sloping bank on beds around lily pad cover. If it is a bed that is visible in shallow water, I start out as deep as possible and work my way to it and that was how I caught a 19-19/64” fish on my first cast. Despite rapid changes in conditions, the peacocks were still holding in shallow water. I tried to catch them with other baits but that little finesse worm was the only thing those peacocks would bite.
This rig is also my first choice on lakes with shallow grass flats. If the shallow water reaction bite is tough, I will fall back on a 5/16-oz Texas-rigged Zoom Finesse Worm on 10lb-test line. A heavier weight will help small worms penetrate grass cover easily. I cast the rig into the deepest possible area and work it shallow, shaking it all the way to the boat on controlled slack line. Depending on conditions, I sometimes drag it like a Carolina-rig or hop it like a jig.
I use the heaviest baitcasting tackle that I can handle. For open water situations, I prefer a medium-heavy power, moderate-fast action Majorcraft Day’s DC-662MH. I switch to a fast action Daiwa Tatula 662MHB when I am fishing near tight cover or in grass.
My reel of choice is either a Shimano Scorpion XT 1000, 6.4:1 gear ratio or Daiwa Alphas SV 105SH, 7.2:1 gear ratio. The gear ratio is critical because high speed baitcasting reels allow me to quickly gather slack line and set the hook on long casts.
My line of choice is usually 8 or 10lb-test Sunline Siglon 100% Fluorocarbon line. I use straight fluorocarbon because braid is fairly visible to fish. Peacock bass are incredibly strong fighters and anything less than 8lb might not hold up if you are fishing tight to cover.
I Texas-rig my finesse worms weedless, with Tungsten bullet weights and 1/0 Matzuo offset worm hooks. That means 1/8-oz, and most of the time 3/16-oz or as heavy as 5/16-oz, depending on factors such depth, wind or current. I prefer tungsten weight because it is much denser than lead which means the dimensions are much more compact, leading to easier cover penetration. I never peg my weight when I am fishing in open water or around sparse cover. I want my worm and weight to separate to give the bait better action.
The biggest key to fishing a Texas-rigged finesse worm is to be confident and patient. If you feel that you are around fish on high-percentage areas and cannot catch them with any other methods, slow down your presentation and give this a shot. It may not be as fun to fish as reaction baits, but it will surely help turn an otherwise subpar day into something meaningful.
Be sure to check out peacock bass fishing in Clearwater Sanctuary Golf and Air Kuning in the state of Perak, Malaysia. Thank you for reading and I hope you find this article interesting. Stay tuned for more news and exiting articles on theBBZ. Fish hard, fish well and god bless. -Bertrand Ngim-