Steelhead worms, fishing soft worms for steelhead

Oregon Spring Chinook season opens in Hells Canyon on April 25th
April 21, 2020
Oregon Recreational salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia River will reopen in May
May 2, 2020



When it comes to fishing in the Pacific Northwest, everyone knows it’s all about salmon and steelhead. These two species are the most sought after fish in the region drawing anglers from around the world to target these beautiful hard fighting fish.

Over the years natural bait has was always the name of the game. Herring and salmon roe being the two primary and most effective baits for getting these beasts on the bank. However, with ever changing fishing regulations and increased natural bait restrictions, anglers have had to switch over to artificial baits to stay in the game. This has opened the door to the creation of several artificial lures that have taken their place in the history books as being some of the most effective lures for catching these fish in the region. Steelhead worms, soft rubber worms for catching steelhead.

Fishing soft worms for steelhead

Ironically one of the late comers to the Northwest salmon and steelhead scene are fishing soft worms. These soft baits are mostly known for their effectiveness for catching bass. For example down South fishing soft worms is old news. Here in the Northwest these baits are starting to make a name for themselves for their effectiveness at catching salmon and steelhead. Among some of the most popular companies producing these baits are Mad River MFG, B&R Tackle, and Horker Soft Baits. All of them produce great baits but our favorite is Horker Inhaler Soft worms. Their Northwest Finesse, Spade Tail, and OLY Steelhead Worms are awesome for catching fish.


Soft worm jig for steelhead

4″ Inhailer Oly Steelhead worms on a jig.



Best of all, these guys do it right.  Rather than mass production like other bait makers, Horker does small batches of killer salmon and steelhead worms in several effective colors. Get them plain of infused with various proven fish attracting scents. Similar to Micro Brew versus mass produced beer the end product is way better. Another huge difference between Horker and the others is that they cook their scent into the actual worm rather than just squirting the scent into the bag after they’ve already been made. This combination provides the ultimate soft fishing worms that just plain catch fish. Don’t take our word for it, Oregon steelhead fishing guides who use our worms catch fish all year long with our steelhead worms.


One of our favorite ways to fish steelhead worms is with a 4″ Oly Steelhead worm threaded onto an 1/8 oz jig head.  Set the bobber stop to get the worm jig to the preferred depth under a float and drift it through steelhead holding areas. Target tail outs behind rocks, trees, or bridge trestles. These are some of the preferred places steelhead hang to ambush prey. Also under overhangs, deep pools, and fallen trees are all great places to go after these fish.




Another great technique for catching steelhead is drifting steelhead worms off the bottom. Some anglers run a bead korky worm combo or just a straight worm threaded on a hook with about 2-3 foot of leader under about a 1/2 oz lead weight. Depending on the regulations for the area you’re fishing we like to add shrimp, anise or earthworms scent for added attraction.

For this method we use the Horker Northwest Finesse or inhaler spade tail worms which are both very effective. One benefit of fishing Horker Soft baits is that they use the more eco-friendly plastics for their baits and are Phthalate free! Scent bleeds through the plastic better and overall produces more effective steelhead worms. If you’ve been fishing the other brands we at the Lunker’s Guide recommend you try Horker. These guys have killer soft baits that put fish on the bank over and over again. If you don’t believe us just try some for yourself. Another awesome product by Horker are their Monster Chomps Soft Fishing Beads. These soft beads are redefining the bead game and catching some real monsters. The Bloody Disco ball is a Steelhead catching machine, same with their Death Prawn and Ghost Shrimp beads. All killer effective and UV delicious. Start fishing Horker today and start catching the big ones.

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