Best Worms for Bait Fishing
Fishing with Worms is all about picking the right worm, especially if you want to land the big ones. Many fishermen have bought into the idea that the bigger the worm the better. Unfortunately, they are focused on the wrong priorities. To determine what are the best worms for bait fishing we have tested 4 very common worms as fishing bait, the Red Wiggler, the very popular Canadian Nightcrawler, the African Nightcrawler, which is very popular in Australia, and last but not least the European Nightcrawler.
There are actually 2 different worms called Red Wigglers, Eisenia Fetida, and Eisenia Andrei. Eisenia Fetida is probably the most common of these 2, although the difference is not easily distinguished without scientific analysis. So, when you order Red Wigglers there is no real way for you to determine which of these 2 worms you have. In fact, it is very common to have a mix of the 2. The biggest problem with using Red Wigglers is if you are fishing with Eisenia Fetida, they have the ability to exude a pungent liquid that will often discourage a fish from desiring them. That being said, when we fished with Red Wigglers we had pretty good success. They are not given the name "Red Wiggler" for nothing. They are pretty active on the hook and as a result, seem to attract fish fairly well. Because these worms are also the most common composting worm in the world and can be raised in a controlled environment very easily, they are usually available locally and are easy to find. Because they can tolerate a huge range of temperatures they do not require refrigeration and if given the right conditions they will stay alive and vibrant for their entire lifespan and even reproduce for you, multiplying at an incredible rate. With Red Wigglers, we caught the 2nd largest quantity of fish out of the 4 we tested. Red Wigglers are decent fishing worms but are not the best worms for bait fishing.
The Canadian Nightcrawler is probably the most commonly sold fishing worm in the United States, and considering the volume of those sales, it may be the most sold fishing worm in the world, if not the most sold live bait in the world. Out of all 4 worms tested, it is the largest. However, when you consider that by the time that worm ends up on your fishing hook, it has been farmed out of the ground in Canada, shipped to bait stores in the United States, and sat on the shelf in those stores for up to 2 weeks. During all this time it has required refrigeration to stay alive. Typically, when we have opened up containers of Canadian Nightcrawlers they seem very docile. When fishing with them we did catch some bigger fish with them but it was the third best for quantity out of the 4 worms we tested. This worm as its name implies comes primarily from Canada and from some of the most northern states of the U.S. Canadian Nightcrawlers cannot be raised in captivity without extreme difficulty, in fact, we know of no one who has been successfully able to do so. Canadian Nightcrawlers are not the best worms for bait fishing.
African Nightcrawlers are the most sold fishing worm in Australia. This says a lot since fishing in Australia is about as huge as baseball is in the United States. If I were guessing, I would bet that fishing is the second favorite pastime after drinking beer, and of course, they often go very nicely together. The African Nightcrawler gets as long as the Canadian Nightcrawler but not quite as thick. It also is known for having a little thinner skin and some say that it comes off the hook easier. From our friends in Australia who raise African Nightcrawlers, they say it has been their most popular fishing worm. One of the other difficulties with African Nightcrawlers is also that they are very sensitive to cold temperatures, they start dying at approximately 50-60 degrees and below, so if you put these guys into your refrigerator you will kill them for sure. African Nightcrawlers are some of the best and fastest composters around, in fact, they eat/process 2 to 3 times as much food as Red Wigglers. However, they also are telling me that there is another worm that is catching up and will probably pass the African Nightcrawler in popularity once the availability increases and the prices go down. In our tests here we had very poor results fishing with African Nightcrawlers in fresh water, in fact, we did not catch any fish with this worm. George Mingin, the owner of Kookaburra Worm Farms also advised that African Nightcrawlers are of no use fishing in salt water, they die very quickly.
The European Nightcrawler is the "big brother" per say to the Red Wiggler. The scientific name for the European Nightcrawler(Euros) is Eisenia hortensis, so as you can see from the name it is in the same Genus. Euros have all the same qualities as Red Wigglers. They are very active on the hook, they tolerate a very wide range of temperatures, so they don't require refrigeration, and they are easy to raise in a controlled environment. They do not reproduce as fast as Red Wigglers and are a little bit more particular about their environment, meaning they are a little more sensitive to vibrations and acidic conditions. They also are much bigger than Red Wigglers and this is one of the reasons they make a great fishing worm. Concerning size, they get as fat as the Canadian Nightcrawler but not quite as long. We have, however, spoken to several worm farmers who have been quite successful at growing them quite large, as big as 8-9 inches long and thicker than a pencil. The Euros also are very durable on the hook, and it has been reported to us that they are very effective in both, ice fishing and in saltwater fishing. We have tested multiple sizes of this worm and had amazing results. The smaller Euros, about the size of Red Wigglers, caught all the same fish as the Red Wigglers, but to our surprise, the hook was barely in the water before the fish would hit it. We could catch fish twice as fast with the Euro over the Red Wiggler. The bigger Euros caught the same size fish as Canadian Nightcrawlers but at a significantly faster rate. As fishing bait, there really seems to be no downside to the European Nightcrawler. In our most recent tests, we were quite amazed at how well the smaller Euros, about half the size of our full sized ones, did at catching large Catfish and large Walleye. In the picture below, which is a little fuzzy, our apologies, some friends caught an amazing Catfish with small Euros. It also makes a good composting worm. Our next test is to use some of the specially grown extra large Euros for Catfish and Walleye and see how well they do. We are expecting great results. In the same way that Australia is seeing a shift from their most popular fishing worm being the African Nightcrawler to the European Nightcrawler, we fully expect as the word gets out and the fishermen start trying the European Nightcrawler that it will start to outsell the Canadian Nightcrawler in the United States in the near future. In fact, one of the largest compost worm growers and sellers in Australia, Kookaburra Worm Farms, who used to be the largest grower of African Nightcrawlers ran a Live Bait Worms test with similar results and also found the Euro to be by far the best fishing worm, however, they do not have access to Canadian Nightcrawlers there so they could not include them in their tests. Still, after their tests, they stated that they believe the Euro is the best Bait Fishing Worm in the world, and we wholeheartedly agree that European Nightcrawlers are by far the best worms for bait fishing.