Talk about a Cinderella story. Only two 7-seeds have ever advanced to the final four and then gone on to win the national championship. The first was the 2017 UConn Huskies. And now, it’s Worm.

The 2024 Bass Lure Bracket tipped off with 32 of the best bass baits of all-time in contention, and thanks to your votes, the old-reliable soft-plastic Worm easily handled Jerkbait and Creature Bait, slithered past Senko, and thumped Hollow Body Frog to face Spinnerbait in the final matchup.

The championship matchup came down to Spinnerbait vs Worm—and Worm crawled away with it. Field & Stream

It wasn’t close. With over 63 percent of the votes, Worm is your 2024 Bass Lure Bracket champ—the No. 1 bass bait of all time, according to F&S readers.

To be honest, we figured a newer-school soft-plastic, like the popular Senko stickbait, might fare better. Or that the fun of fishing a topwater frog or a ChatterBait might propel those lures to the top. But it turns out the familiarity, versatility, and pure fish-catching-ability of the soft-plastic worm helped it crawl all the way to the top of the leaderboard. We probably should have known—and here’s why.

Why Worm Won

It’s easy to see in hindsight why the basic soft-plastic worm beat out so many other popular lure categories, including topwater plugs, swim jigs, and even spinnerbaits, our runner-up. As good as all of these baits are at catching fish, and as exciting as they are to throw, a worm wins out when it comes to the most effective bait at catching fish in a wide variety of situations.

A nice laregemouth taken on a Texas-rigged worm Shaye Baker

In shallow, muddy water, a black Texas-rigged ribbon-tail worm, like an 8-inch Zoom Dead Ringer, is easy for bass to see and deadly when it comes to getting them to bite. In deep, clear water, a straight-tail Roboworm rigged on a drop-shot is hard to beat. Around rocks, wood, grass, docks, and just plain bare bottom, you can slip a Zoom Trick Worm onto a shakyhead and catch nearly every fish around.

Part of what makes the soft-plastic worm so effective is the fact that you can rig it so many different ways, like the weightless presentation shown here. Shaye Baker

Soft-plastic worms come in a huge array shapes, sizes and actions, and they can be paired with a myriad of terminal tackle to create dozens of different rigs. Some variation of a soft-plastic worm can be used with a Texas rig, a Carolina rig, a shakyhead, a dropshot, a free rig, a wacky rig, a Neko rig…and the list goes on. This incredible versatility, no doubt, is why it came out on top. So, with that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the most popular basic worm types and what each works best for.

3 Key Types of Soft-Plastic Worms

Curly-Tail Worms

A 4-inch Zoom Dead Ringer curly-tail worm. Bass Pro Shops

The name says it all. Curly-tail worms have—that’s right—curly tails. This can be anything from a 4-inch-long Zoom Dead Ringer to an 11-inch NetBait C-Mac, and really even these two don’t bookend the entire category. The appeal of these worms is the movement of the tail as the bait falls or is fished through the water.

Smaller tails typically come on shorter worms and have a faster kick to them. Longer, ribbon-tail worms have more of a slow-flowing, rippling action. The quicker-kicking small tails are often used in warm, shallow water; whereas ribbon-tails work better in the extreme heat of late summer, both in shallow and deep water.

Straight-Tail Worms

A straight-tail worm made by Roboworm. Bass Pro Shops

Hold onto something sturdy because your mind is about to be blown. Straight-tail worms have…straight tails. We’re talking trick worms, finesse worms, pin tail/needle worms, and the like. Basically any worm that is straight, with either a tapered or relatively narrow tail.

These worms work really well in situations when the bass are finicky. Finesse presentations like dropshots, shakyheads, Carolina rigs, Neko rigs, and wacky rigs all pair well with straight-tail worms. These tails have very little action and thus appeal to lethargic bass that are not wanting to tango with baits that appear more threatening, due to those baits’ aggressive actions.

Swim Worms

A Zoom Ultravibe Speed Worm with cut tail. Bass Pro Shops

Swim worms have either paddle tails, cut tails, boot tails or even claws on the end of them, basically some feature that gives them a swimming action. Good examples of these are a Zoom Ultravibe Speed Worm (cut tail), a Gambler Paddle Tail (paddle tail), a Yamamoto Swim Senko (boot tail) and a Strike King Rage Twin Tail Menace Worm (claws).

Where most worms are meant to be fished slowly along the bottom or through cover, swim worms are designed to be reeled along continuously. Sure, you can work something like a Gambler Paddle Tail worm along slowly on a light Texas rig. But by and large Speed Worms and Swim Senkos are more meant to be reeled continuously, often at or just below the water’s surface.

The Post-Game Wrap-Up

A finicky summer bass taken on a dropshot rig with straight-tail worm. Shaye Baker

With so many different shapes and sizes of worms, plus so many ways that they can be rigged and presented to catch bass in an almost infinite variety of situations, it makes perfect sense that they would be your No. 1 got-to bass bait. But whether it makes sense of not, you have spoken: The soft-plastic worm is best bass lure of all time. Period. Because you says so. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll break the worms up into different subcategories and seed them separately to give the other lures a chance at taking on the champ.