The Texas-rigged worm — or lizard, crawworm, critter bait or any other soft plastic lure — is one of the most basic bass baits, used by millions of fishermen of all skill levels. 

Yet B.A.S.S. Elite Series pro Pete Ponds said too many anglers take the rigging for granted and reduce the simple lure’s action, weedlessness, improper presentation and, in turn, productivity. 

“I’ve even seen tournament fishermen mess it up simply because they got in a hurry,” Ponds said. “There’s a bunch of ways you can screw it up, but only one way to get it right, and it is so simple. 

“If you do it right, the bait will hang straight in a vertical position when held by the line. If it doesn’t hang straight, you’ve developed problems that lead to line twist, snags, missed hook sets and even fewer strikes.” 

For the novice, Texas rigs involve a bullet-shaped weight, which is threaded nose-first on the line. 

Then Ponds recommends a 3/0 or 4/0 J-hook, which is designed to help hold a lure straight. 

“First, look at the worm you’re using, and find the flat side, which most plastic lures will have,” Ponds said. “That is the bottom of the lure. If there is no flat side, look at the bait and see if there is a side that should be the bottom. 

“Then put the point of the hook directly into the dead center of the head of the bait. Ease it down into the worm and go only as far as you need to cover the eye of the hook, about an eighth of an inch. The biggest mistake fishermen make is putting the hook too far down into the worm.”

After bringing the hook point out of the flat side, Ponds said to run the worm on up the shank of the hook until the head covers the eye of the hook and the J-bend catches the worm and holds it. 

Then rotate the lure on the head of the hook until the hook point is aimed back at the lure’s flat side. 

“Next, holding the line, let the bait hang down the hook and look for the exact spot on the worm where the bottom of the hook matches,” Ponds said. “That is where the hook needs to penetrate. Bend the worm the way you need it to penetrate at that spot and take the hook point all the way through the worm and out the top side of the lure. 

“Next, put the hook point against the top side of the worm. Pinch the worm to get a slight bubble in front of the hook point and ease the point back into the plastic, hiding the hook point and making it weedless. You don’t want to bury the hook point deep into the plastic. You only need to get the point barely under the skin.” 

What that does is improve your hook-setting ratio. There is less chance that the worm will ball up on the hook and hide the point. 

“When a fish hits, and you set the hook, the pressure of the fish’s upper lip will push the worm down and expose the hook point," Ponds said. “With just the point hidden, the worm will still be weedless. 

“You're done, except for checking it. If you’ve done it right, the lure should hang perfectly straight, giving it better action.”