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The Forgotten Fish Catcher

By Nathan Coker
In Fishing with Kenny
Jul 31st, 2023

article by Kenny Covington

In my quest to find a newer and better way to catch fish, I love buying new lures and soft plastics to try. In my garage there are enough lures and soft plastics to last me another lifetime, should I be reincarnated and able to fish again. One of the drawbacks to having such a “stash” of lures and other fishing stuff, you tend to forget about lures that worked in the past, until you rediscover them.

Back in the 1980’s I started fishing a four-inch Ringworm religiously. It was a staple on the deck of my boat, and I won a good bit of money using it. I found ways I could use it to catch bass and probably the most important part of all, I realized no one else was using it. For the record, I am not saying I brought the four-inch Ringworm into existence here in our area. I am just saying I was the first person that I know of to fish it.

The first time I read about the Ringworm, it was being fished in the deep, clear lakes of California. A lot of the anglers fishing the U.S. Open on Lake Mead were having success with it and the more I learned (before anything called the internet was available) the more curious I became as to its effectiveness on our local waters. Years later, Toledo Bend legend Harold Allen would use the four-inch Ringworm to win a national event in the 1990’s on the Ouachita River, solidifying my beliefs on the Ringworm’s effectiveness.

Over the years I have developed a system that allows me to use this little jewel year-round. I have used it for flipping, as a spinnerbait and jig trailer, as well as a Carolina rig. What I have learned is this lure’s usage is place and time specific but it can save your day, especially when fishing tough conditions or tournaments. You may not catch a 20 lb. tournament limit on it, but it may catch you the fish that allows you to win the event or turn a bad day into a good one.

First, like all soft plastics, color is usually the thing most people ask about. I have a wide variety of Ringworm colors, but there is a reason for this; each color has a specific job or presentation that I use it for. My favorite colors are black/blue, plum, Junebug and black neon. However, I have white/pepper, chartreuse/pepper, pumpkin, firecracker and Firetiger as additional choices.

Now, let me explain a year-round way to implement the four-inch Ringworm into your arsenal. First of all, the Ringworm is one of the best spinnerbait trailers I have ever used and I took the idea from legendary angler Rick Clunn. One thing I noticed Clunn would do I thought was odd was that he would often mismatch his trailers to the basic lure color he was using. No matter if he was using a Firetiger colored spinnerbait, or any other spinnerbait for that matter, he would almost always use a Firecracker colored Ringworm with a chartreuse tail.

My color choices for my spinnerbait trailers have always been white/pepper, chartreuse/pepper, firecracker and Firetiger. I have always matched these trailers to the spinnerbaits I am throwing but there are exceptions to this rule. In clearer water scenarios I have found that I do better with a more uniformed presentation, matching trailer to skirt, but in more off colored water, a bit of contrast seems to work well. One of the neat things about using the white, chartreuse and firecracker colors for tailers is it does allow you to dye the tails for added attraction.

The next technique for using the Ringworm is the least considered or implemented. Flipping and pitching for bass has been a standard in bass fishing since cypress trees were first discovered. Jigs, creature baits, and larger plastic worms have always been the lures of choice for serious anglers, but the Ringworm can be effective when used in the correct fashion. Also, it’s a lure the fish don’t see, adding to its overall effectiveness.

Due to the moodiness of the fish, the higher water temperature, and the transitional phase from summer to fall, the Ringworm is an excellent choice this time of year. Black/blue, Junebug, plum, and black/neon have always been my go to colors and work in a wide variety of water conditions. The only time I don’t have confidence using the Ringworm is when I have extremely muddy water with visibility of less than six inches. I prefer the plum and Junebug in clearer water and the black/blue and black/neon in more stained water.

I think the equipment set up is critical to success when flipping/pitching the Ringworm. I use a 2/0 straight shank hook every time, paired with a three-eighths-ounce sinker, kept in place by using a bobber stopper. My line of choice is always 17 lb. Trilene XT. This technique is one of the few times I like flipping/pitching with a shorter rod, preferably 6’6 -6’10. The shorter rod allows for more accurate presentations with the smaller bait.

One more quick note about the Ringworm: If there has ever been a more deadly soft plastic to use on a Carolina rig for heavily pressured bass, I don’t know what it would be. On clear lakes like Claiborne and Caney, the pumpkinseed color with the tail dyed chartreuse, is a great “go-to” when all other presentations fail. It may not catch the biggest bass in the lake, but simply put, it is a fish catcher!

Well, it looks like we have run out of time and space again for another month. I hope we were able to share with you some knowledge that will help make your next trip on the water more successful. Be careful while enjoying the great outdoors, leave it better than the way you found it, and catch one for me!

See you next month!