Update: I tried to do this. It turns out that "floating trout worms" don't really float like a popper. They drift in the middle of the water column and do not give the effect I envisoned. I still need to try this with spin gear using the Gulp floating worms.
I even tried cutting out a foam indicator and stuffing the trout worm inside it - all that did was break the indicator. As a last gasp, I just put a small indicator at the front of the worm. That just kept the indicator on top and the tail of the worm below the surface - not a natural look at all and even the panfish would not bite on it.
Hopefully, I have better luck with the spin version.
I just finished reading an article in the current issue of In-Fisherman magazine that sounds so good I wanted to share it immediately so you can try it out this weekend. The article is focused on catching summer smallmouths using top water presentations. One of the things they advocated was to use floating soft plastic worms -- wacky rigged -- with spin gear. The technique is to throw it out, mend the line, let it drift and twitch.
This is such an obviously easy technique to translate to a fly rod, I'm anxious to get out this weekend and see if it works. Right away, a fly rod will be more productive than a spin approach because the fly line is made to throw anything that's lightweight. As I think through the spin approach, it may be difficult to get enough distance on the cast with a normal sized, lightweight plastic worms to be productive. You may have to put on a bubble bobber and fill it with water to get the distance you need. If you use a fly approach, you will not have that issue.
For a fly type presentation, use a small floating powerbait or creme trout worm attached to a size 10 hook. Flip that baby out there just like you would a dry fly and let it drift downstream Wow!. I can just see explosive strikes all over the river as everything targets this presentation. Maybe I'm just an optimist and maybe it's Thursday night and I'm anxious to get out fishing - so everything looks good! We'll see. It would really be cool if this were an alternative to using poppers. Not that poppers are bad, but when poppers are not productive, a floating, twitching worm might be a good second choice.
I'll let you know on Tuesday whether this worked for me.
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