Nightcrawlers and Earthworms: Your Guide for Fishing Success

May 10, 2024

iSportsman Staff

iSportsman Staff

When it comes to fishing, few baits are as effective and versatile as the nightcrawler. No matter what kind of fisherman you are, understanding the ins and outs of these wriggly earthworms can easily enhance your fishing experience. Here’s everything you need to know about nightcrawlers, from their biology to how to use them effectively for a successful catch.

What are Nightcrawlers?


Nightcrawlers, also known as earthworms (and scientifically known as Lumbricus terrestris), are large earthworms that are commonly found in soil across North America and Europe. These nocturnal creatures emerge from their burrows at night and are highly effective as fishing bait.

Using Earthworms in Fishing

Nightcrawlers are a top bait choice for many anglers due to their natural scent, appearance, and ability to attract a wide variety of fish species. From freshwater to saltwater environments, nightcrawlers can entice everything from panfish like bluegill and crappie to larger game fish such as bass, trout, walleye, and catfish.

How to Catch Nightcrawlers for Bait

Before you can use nightcrawlers as bait, you need to catch them. While you can purchase them from bait shops, many anglers prefer to catch their own; to do so, head out to grassy or moist areas, particularly after a rain shower or in the evening when they’re most active. Use a flashlight to spot them on the ground, then gently coax them out of their burrows using your hands or a specialized worm probe.

Effective Ways to Rig Earthworms for Fishing

Once you’ve gathered your nightcrawlers, it’s time to rig them up for fishing. There are several effective methods for rigging nightcrawlers, depending on the type of fish you’re targeting and the fishing conditions.

  1. Traditional Hook and Bobber Setup: Simply thread the nightcrawler onto a hook, leaving a portion of the worm dangling, then attach a bobber to your line to keep the bait suspended at your desired depth.
  2. Bottom Rigging: For bottom-dwelling fish like catfish or walleye, thread the nightcrawler onto a hook with a sinker attached to your line above it. Cast your line out and let it settle on the bottom where the fish are likely to be.
  3. Jigging: Use a small jig head and thread the nightcrawler onto it, allowing the bait to flutter in the water. This method is particularly effective for targeting panfish like crappie and bluegill.

Fish Species Attracted to Earthworms


One of the greatest advantages of using nightcrawlers as bait is their universal appeal to a wide range of fish species. Whether you’re fishing in a lake, river, or stream, you’re likely to attract the following types of fish:

  • Panfish: Bluegill, crappie, sunfish
  • Gamefish: Bass, trout, walleye, pike
  • Bottom-feeders: Catfish, carp


Nightcrawlers are a staple in the arsenal of any angler, offering a reliable and effective bait option for a variety of fishing scenarios. By understanding how to catch, rig, and use nightcrawlers effectively, you can significantly increase your chances of success on the water. So next time you’re planning a fishing trip, don’t forget to stock up on these versatile and irresistible baits!

While you’re here, check out our bass fishing guide on iSportsmanUSA!


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