Wax worms are an excellent bait for ice fishing because they show the fish a realistic food scent and appearance to attract more bites. They’re also small enough that it’s easy to carry plenty of wax worms with you to last a whole day.
Wax worms are great because you can place them on a simple jig head or attach them to a more sophisticated bait, like a jigging spoon with a treble hook.
This article will teach you some of the benefits of wax worm fishing and show you several methods for rigging wax worms to attract lots of bites when you’re out on the lake.
Are Wax Worms Good for Ice Fishing?
Wax worms are one of the most effective bait options that an ice fisherman has in his arsenal.
They’re best known for their ability to catch panfish like crappie, sunfish, and bluegill, but that’s not the only species that love to eat wax worms: This is also a bait that will drive a trout crazy.
Something about that combination of worm scent and appearance gets the trout and the panfish biting ferociously.
Wax worms are worth a try for pretty much any species, though, from walleye to catfish.
Wax worms are a very flexible bait option. As you will discover in the rest of this article, you can add a wax worm to all sorts of lures and jig heads to add realistic food appeal for the fish to bite.
Where to Buy Wax Worms?
Wax worms are fairly easy to come by, which is one of the best things about them. They’re also cheap in large numbers and you should be able to catch roughly one fish per worm.
The best ways to buy wax worms are:
- From a bait shop, sporting goods store, or gas station that sells live bait. These worms will (hopefully) be alive in a small container of sawdust or dirt. You need to keep them chilled so they will stay alive, but they can last weeks in the fridge.
- From a pet shop. Wax worms are a popular food for lizards, snakes, and other small pets, so this can be a good source.
- By ordering online. Check this out: you can buy huge quantities of live wax worms on Amazon for a great price. If you take care to keep them at the right temperatures, a bulk order like this could last you a whole winter ice fishing season.
If none of these options work for you, you can also buy preserved wax worms in the fishing aisle of Walmart or another large retailer. These are more expensive and not as fresh, but they last forever and you can buy them in smaller quantities.
How to Hook a Wax Worm for Ice Fishing?
Choose from one of the following methods or try them all. We’ll give our recommendation for the best technique at the end of the article.
Thread a Wax Worm on a Horizontal Jig Head
This is a simple technique that maximizes both the scent and visual attraction for the fish.
A horizontal jig is one that has an eye on the side of the jighead so it hangs horizontally in the water.
Thread a wax worm onto the hook of a horizontal jig, just hold the jighead in one hand and use the other hand to insert the hook into the wax worm.
To do this, start the point of the hook directly into the face or the tail of the worm and thread it all the way through the body and out the opposite end of the worm. The worm should curve around the bend of the hook and then straighten out between the bend and the jighead.
You’re left with a jig that looks a bit like a small fish swimming in the water with a jig head and a “tail” made of wax worm. This can be a highly convincing lure for the fish to bite.
Experiment with different jig head colors for contrast. Don’t be afraid to thread a wax worm onto the hook of a marabou jig head or other lures with decorative fibers.
If you are using a jig head with a very small hook, you may want to cut the worms in half before hooking them so they are shorter.
Thread a Wax Worm on a Vertical Jig Head
This is a good technique to make sure your bait attaches securely and doesn’t come off. Vertical jig heads have their eye at the top of the jig head so the hook hangs straight up and down.
To thread a wax worm on a vertical jig head is very similar to the horizontal jig heads described above.
Simply hold the wax worm firmly and thread it onto the hook, staring directly into the face or the tail of the worm. Then run the hook all the way through the body and out the other end. It should hang straight down between the jig head and the curve of the hook.
Again, half worms work better for very short hooks and will last you twice as long.
You don’t get a lot of visual appeal with this technique, but if you have a very flashy jig head (for example, a UV-charged jig head that glows in the dark ), it should do the trick.
Threading the wax worm on the hook will make it harder for fish to steal your bait unless they are hooked.
How to “Wacky Rig” a Wax Worm?
“Wacky Rigging” a wax worm is good for any kind of jig or lure and allows for more movement which can drive a fish crazy. Wacky rigs make the most sense if you have fresh, lively wax worms that are going to wiggle around under the water.
To wacky rig a wax worm, just hold the base of the jig head or hook you want to use and hold a wax worm between the thumb and fingers on your other hand.
Then place the point of the hook on the center of the worm’s abdomen, halfway between the face and the tail. Push the hook cleanly through and past the barb.
The wacky rig gets its name because the worm can still make all its wacky movements of the head and tail since it is only hooked through its middle.
You can double up if you want, and wacky rig two worms on the same hook for more scent attractant and motion.
A wacky rig can be a good way to bait your dead stick because the worm will provide subtle, natural motion and you will not lose the bait from jigging.
There’s at least one disadvantage, though: this technique makes it very easy for fish to steal your bait or even for the wax worm to fall off from water resistance. If the fish are being finicky and giving a lot of “false hits,” wacky rigging may drive you nuts.
How to Hook Wax Worms on a Treble Hook?
You don’t have to use wax worms only with simple jig heads; you can also add them to a spoon or another lure with a treble hook.
Careful, though, as the aggressive jigging that most spoons rely on can cause the wax worm to come off easily. If you end up buying worms in bulk on Amazon, though, you might not mind rehooking more often in exchange for the extra bites.
Treble hooks are easier to hook a fish with, and they also allow you to rig three times as many wax worms. Go crazy and put a worm on each hook, if you want. Or you can securely rig one wax worm across two of the treble’s hooks.
You can use either the wacky rig or the thread techniques, both discussed above when baiting your treble hooks with wax worms.
The Best Way to Hook a Wax Worm for Ice Fishing
Our recommended technique is to fish with a 1/16 or ⅛ ounce, brightly colored, horizontal jig head and thread a whole wax worm on the hook.
Threading the wax worm allows it to stay on even when a fish hits it without biting, so you won’t spend all day baiting your hook after the fish steals it.
Fish just love the contrast of the brownish-white worm and a pink or orange jig head. It also mimics the shape of a small minnow and will dance around in the water in a circular rise-and-fall pattern.
Jig with a vertical rise and fall of about 4-6 inches and it will look like a wounded baitfish swimming in circles.
Experiment and find what works best in your lake. Good luck catching the big one!