Worm Fishing

Worm fishing for trout in streams is easy and effective, but there's a better way than you're doing it now!

Most people use a spinning rod, probably a fairly short ultralight. There's a better way, though, a way that will give you a more natural drift and better strike detection.

Although this page could be a whole new website devoted to fishing for trout in streams with worms and salmon eggs, for now at least it will be a section of within the Keiryu Fishing portion of TenkaraBum.com. It is an introduction to a fishing style developed in Japan for fishing mountain streams using worms, salmon eggs or nymphs taken from under the rocks on the stream.

The guts of the keiryu fishing style is a very long rod - 17 to 20 foot rods are common, and even longer ones are used in Japan. The style does not use a reel. The line is tied to the rod tip. Yeah, I know - it sounds like just a cane pole or crappie pole. The basic idea is similar, but the rods are hi tech - made with the latest carbon fiber technology so they're they're lighter, stronger, more compact when collapsed, and able to protect a very light line.

The light line is part of the system. The lighter the line, the more naturally your worm will drifting down the stream. A trout may have a brain the size of a pea, but it knows when something is moving too slow or too fast compared to everything else that is floating down the stream.

With the very long rod and the light line, your line is more nearly vertical, so it doesn't get caught up in current differentials nearly as much as you get when making long casts with a short rod. The current in a stream is not uniform, and if your line crosses areas where the current is flowing in different speeds, your worm is either getting pulled too fast or is moving too slow compared to the current it's in. Either one is a signal to the trout that something's wrong.

This is the typical hooking location when fishing keiryu style. There are very, very few deep hooked fish. It is easy to release small fish unharmed.

Here is another example of typical hooking location. The keiryu style of fishing allows extremely sensitive strike detection. You set the hook before the fish gets a chance to swallow the bait.

Ultralight Worm Fishing

Take a look at the page on Ultralight Worm Fishing, which has proven to be extremely effective in streams that are relatively shallow (and can be used in slightly deeper streams with the addition of a light split shot or two. It is a technique that allows you to get the most natural drift possble, and at the same time minimize snags on rocks or the bottom.

Fish by Sight, Not by Feel

One of the biggest advantages of keiyru fishing compared to the style of bait fishing that most people do here now is the very sensitive strike detection keiryu fishing allows. You can set the hook before a fish has a chance to swallow the worm. Thus, keiryu fishing is fully consistent with a catch and release approach to the sport.

Whether you use the Ultralight Worm Fishing approach outlined above, or a more traditional approach with keiryu yarn markers, Keiryu Sight Fishing is better than waiting to feel the fish on the line.

The Upstream Worm

In earlier times, authors who wrote about fly fishing also wrote about worm fishing. Fishing a worm upstream in low clear water was considered by most authors to be as technical and requiring as much skill as fishing a fly. The first mention I have found of fishing "the upstream worm" was in the chapters that Charles Cotton wrote for the 5th edition of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler.

Red Wigglers, Composting Worms and the Park Ave. Worm Ranch

I am fortunate that Les Albjerg has taken to worm fishing (hook, line and sinker!). I am doubly fortunate that he has contributed several articles outlining what he has discovered in his attempt to master this ancient art.

To learn more about raising your own worms for trout fishing, please read his article on Red Wigglers.

To decide which worms to raise, please read his article on Composting Worms.

To learn how you can start small, even in a small apartment, please read his article on the Park Ave. Worm Ranch.

Worm Fishing in Fly Fishing Only Areas

Ever wish you could fish in the Fly Fishing Only sections? With this fishing method you can! I have developed a dead simple "fly" that is legal in Fly Fishing Only areas, even ones that require barbless hooks. It takes seconds to tie and all you need is a pair of scissors. You don't need a vise or any other tools!

Learn how to tie the Overhand Worm and fish with "worms" even where worm fishing is not legal. Some states do not allow the keiryu fishing style in Fly Fishing Only areas, though. (Maybe it's TOO effective!)

You might even decide to fish with Overhand Worms all the time. They're a lot cheaper than buying worms, and boy, to they work!

One of the first trips where I used them at a private club that was strictly Fly Fishing Only proved their worth. Read about it here. Anther trip with the Overhand worm is here.

Rainbow trout caught with Overhand Worm.

Brown trout caught with Overhand Worm

Brook Trout caught with Overhand Worm

Fish eat worms! Sure, they'll hold onto a real worm longer than they will one made of chenille, but the keiryu fishing method is so sensitive that you'll know you have a bite before the fish realizes the Overhand Worm isn't real.

Of course, if fishing with bait is allowed, that's probably what I'll do. It just works! Here's a trip where worm fishing for trout worked very well, and one that explored using very small hooks and very light line.

Please bookmark this page. I will expand it and provide a lot more details on this page until I have time to build a whole new website.

TenkaraBum Home > Keiryu Fishing > Worm Fishing

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin

"Study to be quiet." - Izaak Walton 1653

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." Col. Robert Venables 1662

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.

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