Fishing With Nightcrawlers: The Ultimate Guide

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A nightcrawler is a classic bait for angling, as all anglers have used it at some point. 

Most fishermen start their angling career fishing with nightcrawlers before exploring artificial lures and other techniques. Oftentimes than not, experienced anglers interchange using nightcrawlers with artificial lures. This is because the effectiveness of nightcrawlers ensures that they do not go out of vogue. 

The versatility, availability, and universality of nightcrawlers make them a top choice for bait for every angler. 

This article is a complete guide on fishing with nightcrawlers.

fishing with nightcrawlers
Nightcrawlers. Source: Brad Knabel

How to Fish with Nightcrawlers

Fishing with a nightcrawler is quite simple and straightforward. All that you need to do is use the best rig for your fishing needs. 

Before we discuss the best ways to rig a nightcrawler, it is important to highlight reasons why you should use nightcrawlers for fishing. The first and best attribute of nightcrawlers is that they are readily available. This is because worms are very easy to find and hardly go out of season. 

We will discuss the best ways to find a nightcrawler as we proceed. 

Another attribute of nightcrawlers is their versatility. Nightcrawlers can be used as bait for different techniques. You can rig your nightcrawler in different ways, depending on your fishing needs. As such, nightcrawlers are effective in catching different species of fish, including trout and panfish. You can use worms at different periods of the year, regardless of the season and water temperature. 

In addition, nightcrawlers can be used by all anglers. It is a perfect choice to teach a beginner fisherman or child. Intermediate fishermen and expert anglers will also enjoy a productive outing, using a nightcrawler as bait. 

In essence, you cannot outgrow the effectiveness of worms, so it is best to learn how to use them properly.

Getting Nightcrawlers

Before heading out to your fishing location, it is important that you have your nightcrawlers secured. There are three main ways to get nightcrawlers for a fishing trip.

1. Buy From A Tackle Store

The easiest and fastest way to get nightcrawlers for a fishing trip is to buy from a tackle store. You can simply stop by on your way to the fishing location to pick up the fishing worms of your choice. 

Baits on offer at tackle shops range from Canadian worms to European worms. Cost and seasonal scarcity can pose a problem when buying worms from tackle shops, so it is best to explore other options.

2. Catching Worms By Yourself

Catching the worms by yourself is a cost-effective option that adds another layer of fun to your fishing. You can find nightcrawlers in your yard or lawn. 

Simply look under items like buckets and other movable objects. You can also find nightcrawlers in the street after a heavy downpour. Do this at night as they will be out of their holes. 

Always go with a flashlight and pail when going to catch worms in the street. The flashlight helps you to spot them, and having a bucket helps you to make a big catch. 

It is best to use a flashlight with a red bulb, as this ensures that you avoid spooking the worms. You can also get nightcrawlers through a technique called worm grunting.

3. Farming

Having a worm farm is a great way to have unlimited access to nightcrawlers for fishing. A worm farm can be set up on a compositing bin or worm bedding. Just like catching live worms, farming worms is a cost-effective option.

Fishing With Nightcrawlers

Now that we have discussed how to get nightcrawlers, we can proceed to explain how to use them for fishing. 

As mentioned earlier, the worm is a versatile bait that can be used for different species, water temperatures, and water depths. This is why it is important to use them in the proper way that suits your fishing needs. We will highlight three effective methods for fishing nightcrawlers.

Sinker and Hook

The easiest and most common way to fish with nightcrawlers is by using them with a bell sinker and hook. 

This technique is popular because it is effective for catching different fish species and works at different water depths. It is reliable for targeting panfish and largemouth bass, as well as other fish like crappies, walleye, and more. 

All you need for this method are your sinkers, hooks, line, and fishing rod. 

Setting up a sinker is quite straightforward. Start by tying a hook to your fishing line. Ensure that the hook is at least 24 inches above the end of the line. Attach a bell sinker or drop shot to the end of the line. Make sure that the sinker is attached securely at the end of the line, with the hook 16 inches above it. 

Once the line is ready, you can attach a nightcrawler to the hook. To do this, put the hook through the worm, and thread it around its body three times. 

Once the nightcrawler is attached firmly, you can start fishing. Make sure to target areas that are sure to hold fish. This includes docks, weed lines, reefs, and rock piles. After casting, watch for movement from a bite, and then reel in your line slowly.

Bobber Rig

A bobber rig is another reliable method for fishing with night crawlers. It is effective for catching bass, panfish, walleye, and catfish. It is a simple method that is great for beginners and experts alike. 

All you set up is a bobber rig is a hook, line, bobber, and split shot. Tie your hook to the end of the line. Once the hook is tied securely, clip on a bobber. Make sure the bobber is at least 2 feet above the hook. Round up by attaching a split shot sinker between the hook and bobber. 

A bobber rig can be used to suspend the nightcrawler at different depths in the water. It is also great for fishing in areas with snaggy cover, weeds, and brush.

Split Shot Rig

A split shot rig is the most effective technique for catching fish at the bottom of the water. 

Having your nightcrawler in a split shot rig will help you bait fish with ease. It is a weedless rig that is unlikely to catch any structure in the water. It is effective for fishing panfish. 

You need a hook, line, and some split shots to set up this rig. To set it up, simply tie your hook to the line, thread the nightcrawler on, and attach your split shot to the line. 

The best way to use this rig is by dragging it off the bottom of the water. There are four different ways to put the worm on the hook when setting up a split shot.

  • Worm Pieces: Cutting your worms into small worm pieces is best for small-mouthed fish. This includes trout, crappies, and bluegills. Use a pair of scissors or knives to cut your worms before threading them on the hook.
  • Multiple Small Worms on A Hook: Another way to put your worms on a hook is by placing multiple small worms on one hook. Use as many worms as possible to make sure you fill the hookup.
  • Worm over The Shank Of The Hook: Threading a worm over the shank of the hook helps you to present the worm without detection. What the worm does is cover the hook and hide it from the fish. Simply pierce the head of the worm, and cover the shank of the hook with it.
  • Large Worms: Large worms are needed for catching big fish. You need the entire worm on the hook when dealing with big fish. Simply pierce the head of the worm, fold it over the hook and take it over the entire length.


Fishing with nightcrawlers is fun and rewarding. It is a great way to get everybody involved in the fishing exercise. 

Being a simple bait to work with, your child or novice companion can get the hang of it in no time. Make sure to check your yard and lawn for worms before heading out. Also, be sure to utilize the best technique for your fishing style. 

You can fish at any time of the year with nightcrawlers, so get your fishing gear and worms and head out to make a big catch. 

Daniel O’Neill
Fishing Expert
Meet Daniel, an avid writer and fanatic angler with a deep love for fishing. As a fly fishing guide and instructor, Daniel brings a wealth of expertise to his writing. With a degree in Business Information Technology, his analytical mindset enhances his understanding of the sport. Daniel's fishing ventures have yielded impressive results, including memorable catches like mullet, sturgeon, double-figure pike and atlantic salmon. In Ireland, he excels as a spearo, specializing in targeting pollock and bass. As a writer for Cast & Spear, Daniel combines his firsthand knowledge, educational background, and unwavering passion to create engaging content. His articles provide valuable insights, tips, and techniques, empowering readers to elevate their fishing skills and embark on thrilling angling adventures.
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