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Super Rubber Power

By Rodney Hsu, Fishing with Rod | Published in April 2005

A fresh steelhead caught on a large pink worm

Winter steelhead are few and far between in most streams, therefore tactics used are completely different to salmon fishing. Finding the fish is a challenge, but knowing how to entice them is just as important. While natural bait such as roe and shrimp provide a scent that steelhead may not resist, a well presented artificial bait can work just as effectively.

The last few seasons I have spent most of my steelheading effort on single egg sacs, roe, ghost shrimp and shrimp. Although they do catch fish, you have to put up with sticky fingers and constantly change bait so your presentation looks good. This year, putting my skepticism aside, I started experimenting with various rubber bait, and the result was fantastic!

In this article, I will introduce two popular rubber bait that are widely used in BC steelhead streams.

While resting on the river bed, steelhead and just about every other freshwater species will rise for eggs that are drifting in the current. A gooey bob is a piece of rubber made into the shape of an egg cluster. They come in different sizes and colours, and each will work best under certain river condition. When the water is gin clear, a small gooey bob is sufficient as the fish can see objects from far away. The amount of time for a fish to react is shortened when visibility degrades, therefore a larger gooey bob is needed in this case. When setting up this rig, competely thread the gooey bob through the hook so it sits just above the eye. A small piece of light coloured wool inserted into the bait loop can be effective at times. This setup is excellent in the tail of a run where fish tend to sit and wait for an easy meal.

For many seasons I have been a big skeptic who does not believe these worm-like objects can actually catch fish. What natural feed do they represent in a river anyway? That skepticism has been washed away this year, because I managed to connect with three steelhead by using the popular bubble-gum pink worm. What surprised me even more was how little the fish hesitated when the worm drifted by. The float was pulled deeply at a speed that I hardly had time to react. In more turbulent, deeper and coloured water, a rubber worm maybe your ticket to a trophy steelhead. These worms come in many different colours and sizes as well. When setting up your rig, thread the worm with a bait needle. I like to thread my line through 3/4 of the worm, leaving the other 1/4 to dangle just below the hook eye. If your tail is too long, it may result in misses when the fish bites. It is also a good idea to have a bead or two placed between the worm and the hook. This prevents the worm from being ripped by the hook.