How to Use Wax Worms for Fishing

When considering your live bait for fishing, you can sometimes run into a bit of wall. There are so many different choices– nightcrawlers, red worms, minnows, and leeches to name a few. In this article we will talk about an often-overlooked live bait—wax worms or “waxies”. 

What Are Wax Worms?

First, we will look at exactly what wax worms are. Wax worms are simply the larvae of the lesser and greater wax moth. These larvae are grown for commercial purposes, mostly for use by fisherman for live bait or as food for pet reptiles. 

They are generally about an inch in size and are white or light yellow in color. They have two eyes in the front of their body and have a soft outer body, very similar to a caterpillar. They are dry and waxy to the touch and are filled with a creamy interior that when pierced with a hook, gives the wax worm its tantalizing odor that attracts fish. 

Are Wax Worms Considered Live Bait?

Wax worms are considered live bait as they are generally only effective for fishing when they are alive or at the very least, fresh. They are typically found at department stores and bait shops, sold in tins and condiment cups. They are stored with saw dust in order allow them some base to crawl around in while stored, which keeps the alive. 

How Long Do Wax Worms Last?


Wax worms are one of the hardier live baits that anglers can find. They store well at most temperatures, allowing you to keep them days, weeks, even a month or more if stored properly.

Anglers tend to store their wax worms either at room temperature in a house, garage, or basement or they’ll put them in the refrigerator. You want to be careful not to allow them to get too cold or too hot otherwise you’ll end up with a can of dead wax worms. 

Take care to not store them at room temperature for too long either, as they will make a cocoon, and you might be surprised when you open your bait can and find a bunch of moths flying out into your face!

Can You Fish With Dead Wax Worms?

As we previously touched on, wax worms work best when kept alive and well. That doesn’t mean they won’t work when dead, as long as they are still fresh.

Once a wax worm dies, it will turn brown, mushy, and stale rather quickly. This isn’t exactly an appetizing treat for a fish. You’ll want to make sure you always have some fresh bait at your disposal so you can be sure that you’re setting yourself up for success.

One option anglers have for dead wax worms is using preserved bait. These come in packs of 10-20 and are often found in the bait aisle at your local department store or bait shop. These dead waxies are stored in a preservative that is scented, so they will work, albeit not as well as their live bait counterpart. 

What Can You Catch With Wax Worms?

Wax worms are an excellent bait for panfish. Bluegills, crappie, and perch are all suckers for a waxie dangled in front of their faces. The wax worm excels for these small invertebrate eaters and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better bait.

Waxworms don’t only attract panfish however, often anglers will inadvertently catch bass and walleye when using wax worms.

These bigger predators are not usually ones to pass up a free meal, regardless of the size. It’s not a live bait we’d recommend for fishing for these fish, but don’t be shocked if you end up with a lunker bass or walleye when using waxies!

Another fish that rarely can pass up a wax worm is the freshwater trout. Brook, brown, and rainbow trout, amongst others, are big-time insect eaters and that includes larvae. When fished under a bobber and floated down a slow meandering stream, these trout are always eager to eat a wax worm. 

If you live in the great white north, wax worms are the most prominent bait you’ll see anglers using while ice fishing. These small little larvae very closely mimic the underwater invertebrates that panfish are eating during the cold months of the year. 

How Do You Rig Wax Worms for Fishing?


Wax worms can be rigged for a variety of presentations, depending on the style of fishing that you’re encountering. Each having an advantage over the other in various scenarios. This makes the waxie a very versatile tool in your live bait repertoire. 

Wax Worms Jig Head Fishing RIg

The first way many anglers choose to rig wax worms, is on a small jig head. This allows you to either cast the bait or fish it vertically below a boat or dock. The jig head keeps the bait down in the water column where your target species likes to live. You are able to drop the jig head all the way to the bottom, or fish it at whatever depth the fish are located. 

There are two ways you can rig a wax worm on a jig head, each having their own pluses and minuses.

  1. The first way to hook up a waxie is to thread it on the hook. You first go through the front near the head of the waxie and then hook it again toward the middle of the body. You don’t get as much action in your bait this way, but the fish have a harder time stealing your bait without getting the hook.

  2. The second way you can rig a wax worm on a jig head is very simple. You simply hook it once right behind the head and eyes, or directly through the mid-section of the worm. This presentation offers a great deal of action when fished vertically or casted, however nibbling panfish will be more prone to stealing your bait. 

Wax Worms Bobber Fishing Rig

In addition to the jig head method, anglers also often fish their wax worms under a bobber or cork with a simple split shot and small Aberdeen hook. This is the simplest method to fish any live bait, but that does not mean it’s not effective.

Simply thread the wax worm on similar to how you would on a jig head, throw it out and let it sit. It won’t take long for a curious fish to come and inspect their easy meal.

Wax Worms Ice Fishing Rig

Finally, when ice fishing, as previously mentioned, wax worms are generally the ice angler’s weapon of choice.

You’ll want to rig your wax worm on the ice jig or teardrop jig in the exact same manner as you would on a jig head for open water—either through the head for action or threaded on to the hook.

You’ll drop the ice jig down in the water column, and lightly jig it up and down waiting for a hungry fish to come and grab it. 


There you have it, wax worm 101. What you’ve just read is just about everything you need to know to get started with fishing with wax worms.

These little buggers are a proven fish catcher, relatively easy to maintain, and simple to fish. Once you’ve tried fishing with wax worms, you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t try them out sooner! Good luck!

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