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Finding it in me to praise the lowly worm

When anglers these days talk about fishing, they mention jigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, soft plastics, poppers and the like, but very few mention the lowly worm. The worm is angling’s dirty – and I mean this literally – little secret.

What is particularly bothersome about the worm and why most anglers negate to give it credit is this. They work too well.

If you doubt that, fish using your favourite lure beside a kid or a totally novice angler with a red and white bobber with a worm dangling beneath it, if you dare.

Yes, when it comes to angling, a worm is practically foolproof. Any fish that swims will eat it.

That means if you catch a nice fish on a worm, most times the worm gets all the credit. And, with angling egos being what they are, this is an almost insurmountable problem.

Anglers tried to get around this issue in the early days of worm angling by rebranding them as nightcrawlers.

Of course, they weren’t fooling anyone – although it was better than saying, “Don’t worry, I’ve got worms!” in a public place.

The term nightcrawlers did take hold but it did not reduce the great embarrassment associated with letting a worm catch a fish for you. Because of that, and probably because he found them icky, one enterprising angler decided to try something else, and, in doing so, created a technological wonder that forever changed the course of human history.

He called it the rubber worm.

By elevating the form of the lowly worm into a lifelike object made of rubber, which could be produced in a plethora of colours, flavour and sizes, techniques used by worm anglers – which all  previously fell under the title of dunking – could now be given a host of names that made it look like more skill was involved.

Indeed, the angler could now honestly say that his decision to Texas Rig a pink worm was what made all the difference. And, if he said it outside of a group of non-anglers, people paid attention too.

Perhaps no one was happier about this than the worms themselves. For now, aside from marauding robins and woodcocks, they had nothing to worry about.

Despite this, anglers still cannot resist using the lowly worm. Most often, they use it in the way men have used lowly worms since time immemorial – as an enhancement.

There is nothing that will make a $12 lure work better than the addition of 20 cents worth of nightcrawler. I have known anglers who enhanced rubber worms with real ones too.

The point here is that we as anglers, for some reason, keep looking a gift horse in the mouth. Which is, like anyone I take fishing, horribly misguided.

That is because we do not know enough to appreciate the simple things that work. If we did, we would still be using goats to mow own lawns.

Personally, I think it would be best if we just rejoiced about our worms. For, if you think about it, using worms was a major step up from eating them.

Of course, this is easy for me to say as a die-hard fly angler. For I neither use worms nor nightcrawlers when I set out in noble pursuit of a fish.

On occasion, I will enhanced my fly with what we refer to as the garden hackle, however.

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