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How to Wacky Rig Pink Worms for Monster Steelhead with Joseph Princen

Photo by Joseph Princen

Joseph Princen, Olympic Peninsula Steelhead Guide, shares his secrets for wacky-rigging pink worms for monster steelhead.

Joseph Princen, a 2nd generation career angler and sportfishing guide, shares some of his secrets of how he rigs Western Fishing Operations soft plastic steelhead worms. If you’re unfamiliar with WFO plastics, they were listed in the 5 Most Innovative Lures and Tackle of 2015.

Steelhead worms are most effective in targeting the larger steelhead, which notoriously inhabit Washington’s Olympic Peninsula rivers, and Joseph Princen is notorious for catching these giants.

Joseph explains in the video that “wacky-rigging” the worms with the nose towards the hook causes less confusion on the part of the fish as to where to target the bait, resulting in a better hook-up ratio, less short strikes, and fewer missed opportunities.

When you’re fishing for the trophy of a lifetime, proper hook placement can make the difference in a memory captured in images and a story about the one that got away.

Princen starts with an Owner  2/0 mosquito hook. Unlike the typical octopus style hook used in steelhead fishing, this style has a straight shank, which prevents the hook from sitting offset when the line-up of the rigging is nestled into place. A snell knot also helps keep the hook straight. The leader does not need to be very long for this style of fishing, roughly 2-3 feet.

Once you’ve tied the leader, thread a #12 Beau Mac cheater above the hook.

Use a Pro-Cure bait threader and enter from the to (or nose) of the worm, in the center, and gently, slowly, move the threader through the worm, exiting near the tail. Princen emphasizes dipping the threader in water first, then moving it through the worm with caution, as not to “burn” the inside of the worm. A sloppy threading job can cause friction, damaging the core of the soft plastic bait.

Once you’ve exited the threader out of the worm near the tail, thread your leader line through the hole at the end of the threader. Because the threader will put a kink in the line, he recommends not putting too much excess leader line in the hole, and to snip it off once you’ve rigged your bait.

When you’ve pulled the threader through the worm, grab the tag end of the leader and again, slowly, gently pull the worm down off the threader and down the line until it’s snug against the cheater and the hook.

Now you’re ready to drift the worm into a trophy.

If you want a once-in-lifetime opportunity to reel in a monster wild steelhead, you can book a trip with JP’s Guide Service, and learn Princen’s secrets personally.

For more information on booking a trip on the Olympic Peninsula and chasing some of the biggest wild steelhead in the world, visit


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How to Wacky Rig Pink Worms for Monster Steelhead with Joseph Princen