Ice Fishing with Wax Worms

Ice Fishing with Wax Worms

This article will cover ice fishing with wax worms. Many anglers associate wax worms and ice fishing with bluegill and other panfish, and for good reason. Wax worms are a terrific bait for all species of panfish through the ice and in open water. However, wax worms are not only limited to these diminutive game fish, but will catch larger species as well.

ice fishing spoons

A wax worm is the larvae of the wax moth, Galleria mellonella. It is an excellent ice fishing bait for several reasons. Wax worms are economical, easy to keep alive, readily available, and productive on a variety of species. This is everything and ice fishing angler is looking for in a live bait.

Presenting wax worms to game fish

Wax worms are most often fished in conjunction with an artificial lure. This is most often a jig, but wax worms can certainly be used with spoons as well. Part of the reason for this is just a matter of convenience; and artificial lure provides weight to get the bait down in the water column along with a hook.

wax worm

A tiny micro jig is a perfect vehicle for presenting a wax worm to panfish and other species. Tiny, brightly colored jigs will attract fish on their own. The addition of a wax worm makes for an outstanding combination. The jig provides the flash, weight, and hook while the wax worm adds scent and taste. Many larger game fish, especially largemouth bass, will take a small offering when ice fishing as their metabolism has slowed way down.

5 essential ice fishing jigs

Spoons are also excellent lures to combine with wax worms. Unlike other baits such as nightcrawlers and chunks of cut bait, the smaller wax worms can be added to the spoon without affecting the action of the lure. This can be critical as with spoons it is more about attracting the fish and using the wax worm to close the deal.

wax worm

Anglers can certainly fish wax worms on a small hook as well. This works best when panfish and other species are located in shallow water. The wax worm can be fished with a tiny split shot to get it down to the desired depth. A float can also be used, especially in water that is 6 feet deep or less.

Purchasing and handling wax worms

wax worms

Anglers have multiple options when it comes to purchasing wax worms. Bait shops that cater to anglers ice fishing will almost always have a good supply on hand. Larger retailers will also often stock them in the winter. Anglers can even buy them in bulk on Amazon and other online resources.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” for $6 by clicking on the title link.

Wax worms are easy to keep alive. Anglers really only need to keep them away from extreme cold or heat for any length of time and they will be fine. A carton of wax worms will stay alive simply in a coat pocket.

Click to shop Amazon for wax worms

Best rod and reel for ice fishing with wax worms

ice fishing with jigs

The best rod and reel for ice fishing with wax worms is in most cases going to be one that is on the very light side. As mentioned above, most anglers using wax worms are targeting bluegill and panfish as well as trout. For all of the species, a very light rod with 2 pound for pound line will get the job done. Anglers targeting larger species such as walleye will obviously need to bump up the tackle to something a bit heavier.

Click to shop Amazon for Quantum ice fishing rod and reel combos

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Ice fishing with wax worms

ice fishing jigs

Fishing with wax worms through the ice is fairly uncomplicated. The jig, spoon, or bare hook is adorned with a nice fat wax worm. Anglers often put the worm on inside out to increase the amount of bodily juices that are dispersed in the water. This is then lower down to the desired depth and then the rod tip is worked gentle, subtle twitches until a take occurs.

Panfish will often times be located in school suspended off the bottom. In these instances, the wax worm should be lower down to just above the school. Most fish prefer to feed from below. If no fish are seen on the sonar, letting the lure all the way down to the bottom can be an effective technique. Anglers fishing with spoons will often bounce the spoon a couple of times to create a little mud disturbance on the bottom. This will often attract curious game fish.

ice fishing for crappie

Ice fishing with wax worms will produce a variety of species

ice fishing spoons

The list of species that anglers will catch ice fishing with wax worms is long. Just about every fish that swims will take a well presented wax worm. Warm water species such as bluegill, panfish, and bass will require a slow, delicate presentation. Coldwater game fish that feed more actively such as trout will often respond to a more aggressive presentation.

Bluegill and panfish

Bluegill are a highly sought after species by anglers ice fishing with wax worms. They put up a terrific fight for their size and are fantastic eating. One great aspect of bluegill and other panfish is that once a school is located, the action can be fast. Anglers will do best to drill multiple holes and move around until the fish are found. A wax worm on a jig head is the top presentation.


crappie fishing

Crappie are more often targeted by anglers using live minnows than wax worms. However, crop he will readily take a wax worm on a jig head or small spoon. As with other panfish species, angler should keep moving until an actively feeding school is found.

Yellow perch

Michigan yellow perch

Yellow perch are another favorite species for anglers fishing through the ice. They feed actively in colder water than other species of panfish and will often respond to larger lures and more aggressive retrieves. Both spoons and jigs are very effective when tipped with a wax worm.


ice fishing for bass

Both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass slow way down in the cold water under the ice. Anglers ice fishing with wax worms will catch some of the largest bass on very tiny offerings. These fish simply do not need to feed much this time of year. Micro jigs tipped with wax worms will catch both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.


ice fishing for rainbow trout

All three major trout species, rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout, can be caught by anglers ice fishing with wax worms. Trout are another species that thrive in colder water and feed quite actively. Anglers will often find them higher in the water column then other species, even just a few feet below the ice no matter what the depth. A bright flashy spoon tipped with a wax worm is a tough combination to beat.


tip ups

Walleye are prized by anglers. They grow fairly large, put up a decent fight, and are fantastic eating. While I will take a wide variety of baits and artificial lures. While most anglers specifically targeting walleye will use minnows and pieces of cut bait, they will certainly take a wax worm at times as well. A larger spoon with a wax worm on each prong of the treble hook is a good approach.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing with wax worms will help anglers understand how to use these incredibly effective live baits!


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