Steelhead Pink Worms

Steelhead Pink Worms

If you asked a steelhead angler from the 1980’s to fish a pink worm, he’d probably laugh at the rubber monstrosity presented before him. Modern day steelhead anglers consider the pink worm a standard option for both hatchery steelhead and wild steelhead alike. With many major tackle companies offering some form of steelhead worm, and many smaller niche companies creating a wide variety of specialized steelhead plastics, the options for fishing rubber on the river are vast.

Why to pink worms work well? Steelhead are curious creatures. The river currents play with the action of the bait, causing it to wiggle and dance. It is the action, as well as the color of the pink worm that entices an aggressive steelhead to strike.

steelhed pink worms

Pink Worms work extremely well for catching winter steelhead.


Typically, drift fishing with pink worms is the most popular method. It is often common to see pink worms fished under a float as well. While I spend much time fishing 3 inch and 4 inch pink worms on the smaller rainfed rivers that feed off the southern Olympic foothills, anglers targeting trophy steelhead on larger glacial fed rivers like the Queets & Hoh use upwards of 6 inch baits. A large pink worm will tempt the biggest and most aggressive steelhead, even in dirty water.

I usually fish the smaller worms because I feel they are more effective on the rivers I fish. Even a smaller pink worm will be extremely visible in the green waters of my favorite streams. The largest hatchery steelhead that we’ve caught measured out at 39 inches length, 19 inches girth and weighed about 20 pounds, it hammered a 3 inch Mad River worm. I also have witnessed more hatchery steelhead taken on smaller plastics, so I usually downgrade during the hatchery steelhead season regardless on the visibility of the water. When I spend a day on a river with dirty water, I always upgrade to the larger plastics.

Here are a few of my favorite steelhead plastics companies…