I will admit it, I was a snob when I saw and heard about swimming worms.  I can think of 3 times the swimming worm was relayed to me as the bait, and I foolishly tried to make it a bigbait / swimbait bite without putting it into context.  When you fish Okeechobee, you will inevitably get around the Speed Worm bite.  Well, as you progress, you’ll migrate to the Magnum Speed Worm, and rig it with a jumbo offset worm hook and 1/4 – 1/2 ounce weight pegged and learn to swim, stroke, hop it thru the various grasses.  The big worm and special tail swim really well, and fish eat the heck out of it.

The Gambler Burner Worm tail.
The Gambler Burner Worm tail.


The Gambler Burner Worm tail (left) vs. the Zoom Magnum Speed Worm tail.  We used to modify our Magnum Speed worms with a small piece of copper tubing to make what is now OEM on the burner worm.  Just saying.
The Gambler Burner Worm tail (left) vs. the Zoom Magnum Speed Worm tail. We used to modify our Magnum Speed worms with a small piece of copper tubing to make what is now OEM on the burner worm. Just saying.

I found the swimming worm to be an effective technique on Okeechobee, Lake Seminole and Lake Dardenelle.  Dardenelle in the shore grass, over stumps and wood, and anywhere I could find grass the was submerged due to river levels.   Gambler doesn’t need my advice to create great products.  This company lives in South Florida and knows grass fishing way more intimately than me.  You have to appreciate the Gambler Burner Worm as a derivative of the Magnum Speed Worm.  The tail has a larger groove cut out of it, and it thumps and flaps better than the Magnum Speed Worm.  It is fatter than the Magnum Speed worm, but only measures approx 7″ in length.  It’s a fatty worm, that swims really good.

Purchase the Gambler Burner Worm from Tackle Warehouse:


I highly recommend you learn how to swim a worm.  You arent’ fishing for 10 pounders.  You are fishing for 3 – 5 pounders.  I really like 50# braid, a 1/4 or maybe even 3/8 ounce weight pegged and a 5/0 Owner Offset Worm Hook Texas Rigged.  You fling your Burner Worm way out and swim, stroke, hop it back much like you would a rattle trap in grass, or a vibrating jig.  The high stick retrieve.  Yo-yo it back while swimming it.  Let it fall and bury up in the grass and then lift up, reel it along and drop your rod tip and let it sink back down.  Fish tend to woof it and there’s no doubt when you’re bit.  The Texas rig nature makes hook ups pretty much 95%.   For those headed to South Florida this Winter, this is a swimming worm I’d have on board for Florida.   Gambler’s colors rock too.

Full worms compared.  Gamber Burner on top, Zoom Magnum Speed Worm below.  Texas Rig, with pegged weight.  Swim it and don't hate.  This is tournament swimbait fishing.
Full worms compared. Gamber Burner on top, Zoom Magnum Speed Worm below. Texas Rig, with pegged weight. Swim it and don’t hate. This is tournament swimbait fishing.
The Big Hammer Sight Fishing Rig is part of a system. It's a system that involves using finesse baits and bigbaits to aggravate a fish into biting. The swimbait is fished as an 'intruder' and provides a power fishing approach to big fish, the female kind usually, but also good for the better than dink males you might need in a tournament situation.

We shared this rig in Southern Trout Eaters.  We have been getting asked a lot of questions about it, and Spring has sprung, so here goes.    Think of the 5″ Big Hammer Sight Fishing Rig as a workhorse bed fishing bait, geared for ‘bigger’ fish.   The one rod you have rigged up in case you come up on or purposely hunt big fish on  beds.   We’ve had a few years to validate this rig, in the mountains, and in the grass of Okeechobee and Seminole.  I credit my friend and trophy bass hunter from the Bay Area, Rob Belloni, for sharing the fundamental of his Big Hammer Texas Rig with me. I’ve sorta dumbed it down since I’m usually not hunting double digit fish with it, most of my world, 4-9 pounders are king, with chances at double digits for sure though.    I’ve made my own adjustments and have made it a staple in my sight fishing system.   Rob has fooled giants, I have now fooled quite a few 4-9 pounders with it in multiple Southern States.   This is a great trophy and tournament style of sight fishing, and it points out the need for a knock out punch in your bed fishing arsenal.

The 5" Big Hammer Sight Fishing Rig. 5" Big Hammer, rigged flat side up. Just bury your hook point enough to keep the bait weedless and free from snagging the fish, but able to sting one that just barely grabs it. Peg your weight, pitch and hop this thing around larger bed fish and see what happens.

The 5″ Big Hammer Sight Fishing Rig:

Bait: 5″ Big Hammer Swimbait  (colors:  Pearl, Invader, Glowbug, Silver Phantom, Chartreuse, Fire tiger)

Sinker: 3/4 to 1 ounce Picasso Tungsten Weight or Pro-Metal Weights (since you just need ‘weight’ high performance tungsten not 100% necessary.)  (pegged)

Hook: 5/0 Owner Wide Gap Offset Worm Hook

Line: 25# P-Line CXX Xtra Strong w/ Palomar knot

Glasses:  Kaenon Hard Kore Y35 or C12 Lens

Reel: Shimano Curado CU200G6

Rods: Powell 7’10” MH (7105) Flipping Rod or Okuma Guide Select 7’6″ Heavy Casting (761H)

This 7'10" Powell Flipping Rod is a favorite all purpose 'heavy pitching' rod, for baits >1 ounce but not more than 1.5 or so. ie the Medlock Jig, 5" Big Hammer Rig, pitching 3/4 -1 ounce creature baits in grass, and light punching. The rod has guts. I think of it as a heavy pitching stick. I have whipped some nice fish with this rod. The short handle makes it handle and fish nicely, but long enough for leverage.

When you look at the trends in where bed/sight fishing is going, you will notice certain swimbaits and softbaits have flat sides or can be rigged flat side up are doing the most damage out there.  More cutting edge, more geared towards targeting bigger fish or a better mouse trap for fooling weary pressured fish.   The Dean Rojas Warmouth,  and the Jackall Clone Gill 2.5 and the Mission Fish are all part of the big picture of modern sight fishing.  All have wild variations and secret rigging and tricks I’m sure. I know the Hammer and Mission Fish best, both part of my toolkit.  Believe me when I tell you I use a drop shot a lot when sight fishing.  You need a big knock out punch and you need finesse, so I use the Mission Fish and Hammer as my big knockout punches, and drop shot/wacky and light texas rigs like the Warmouth and Clone Gill as my finesse approach.  I thought it important to note flat side up  or just flat sided bed fishing baits, have something about their swagger.  Flat sides, square/boot/slight swallow tails, realism, perch/bluegill profiles, buoyancy, weedlessness, unique vortex, and big fish attraction.   The Lateral Perch from PowerTackle is a derivative here, and likely a bed fishing bait for someone out there, but too has the this flat side up profile and swim, and is worth noting. I cannot speak to how well the Lateral Perch catches fish, but all of the other named baits I’m 100% certain catch fish on beds really well, and have too much in common not to connect the dots.   They all fish differently, but in the grand scheme of sight fishing, you better have tools that can be drop shotted, pitched, weightless/wackied, hopped, swam, and texas rigged if you want to be competitive.   Don’t just limit yourself to white tubes, craws and creature baits.  Be thinking perch/bluegill too.

The Okuma 7'6" MH Rod getting it done too. You need some 7'6" and shorter than 8' rods for fishing baits like the Mission Fish. This is an even beefier style of pitching stick vs. the Powell, but it takes the conversation to more like 2-6 ounce baits no problem. I liked using it for the 5" Big Hammer rig too. Lots of power and fished very nicely. The rod still has good feel even though my rig was under weighted for the rod, and it just worked for me.

The 5″ Big Hammer Sight Fishing Rig is an excellent sight fishing system.  You can see your bait very well in the black Florida water, and it shows up well fishing a bed fish in >8 feet of water in clear water.   The rig has ample weight involved, which means you can ‘rapid fire’ and harass a fish with the bait, pushing the fish around, and firing them up into biting.  The bait hops really well, and has the square tailed flap on the way back down to the bottom.  It’s more of a hop hop and slight drag and shake style of  bait.  The fish love to ‘catch’ the bait coming back down to the bottom, with a well placed and timed hop.  The 5″ Big Hammer gets bigger bed fish to bite and has an excellent hook-up and land ratio.  There is very little risk of foul hooking or snagging a fish, with the Texas rigged nature of the bait, which also opens up the ability to bounce the rig off of the side, head and tail of the fish, making them eat it.   You can expect to see a sight fishing production from us in the near future, highlighting this rig.  We gave a sneak peak of the bait underwater in our Lake Seminole FLW Evestart Preview video, in case you missed it.