Merwin: Stocking Up on Hand-Poured Worms

The weekend's snow is melting quickly, and spring, as they say, is just around the corner. So I'm looking forward to fishing soon and thinking about what tackle and lures I want to stock up on right now.

In a nutshell: hand-poured worms. No, not nightcrawlers dumped out of a can. I mean some very special soft-plastic worms that worked so much better than anything else in my bass fishing last year.

Most soft-plastic baits are injection-molded in very large numbers. The plastic for such molding is formulated partly for toughness so the baits themselves come out of the the molding process in one piece. These are your common plastic worms, for example, which are still soft and flexible, but not as much as they might be.

Hand-poured baits are the less-common alternative. In this case, the plastic formula is poured by hand into open-sided molds. That means the finished result can be made softer and more flexible while still coming out of the mold without breaking. It also means that more and different colors can be added to different areas within the same bait than are possible with injection molding.

My favorite local bass lake has clear water and intensely pressured fish. They are just plain hard to fool. What I found last season was that a 4- or 5-inch hand-poured soft-plastic worm would outfish by far a more common 6-inch injection-molded worm. The smaller, more flexible baits definitely have more movement in the water, and better colors, too. Downsizing the bait probably helped, as did fishing with 8- or even 6-pound-test fluorocarbon line.

So now I'm stocking up on hand-pours. Berkley PowerBaits have a hand-poured line of worms. One of the best hand-poured series, and one of the originals, is Roboworm out of California. But one interesting thing about hand-pours is that the technology is simple enough so there are lots of garage baits made in limited numbers. I see many of these on the Web.

So that's where a lot of my early-season orders are going. How about you?