If you’re near the white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, Ala., and see a guy wearing a well-groomed beard under a sun-shielding booney hat with a pair of Costa fantail frames on his face, there’s a good chance it’s Bassmaster Elite Series pro Brandon Lester.
A “beach rat” at heart, the Tennessee pro with one of bass fishing’s highest check-cashing percentages loves to chase Gulf of Mexico’s grouper and snapper. But when it’s time to catch a largemouth bass during summer’s sweltering temps, Lester leans on long plastic worms.
“When it’s super-hot outside, and lake temps in the South are in the 80s, there are two worms I have the most confidence in, and you can rig them three different ways,” says Lester.
Let it be known, Lester has no soft plastics sponsor, so his transparent picks in the "big worm" category are completely candid. He selects Zoom’s Ol’ Monster, as well as their Magnum Trick Worm. He deploys the Ol’ Monster in traditional Texas rig fashion but rigs the Magnum Trick Worm on both a heavy shaky head and Neko rig.
Ol’ Monster – “I’ve caught ‘em on this worm with a 1/2-ounce bullet weight on ledges in 25-feet of water, and I’ve also caught ‘em on it with a really light 1/8-ounce weight, swimming it through shallow submerged vegetation,” says Lester.
His choice dagger for this iconic worm is a Mustad 4/0 Grip Pin Big Bite soft plastics hook tied to 17-pound Vicious fluorocarbon.
Magnum Trick Worm – “This is the worm I was dragging at Guntersville when Matt Arey and I both scored a Top 10 fishing near each other in the 2019 Elite Series event,” smiles Lester.
“I had it rigged on a big 5/8-ounce shaky head with a screw lock keeper on it. It stands up really good and allows you to feel every little piece of cover as you drag it deep,” he explains.
When summer’s bass have seen more ribbontail worms than the Flora- Bama beach bar sees Bushwacker drinkers, Lester gives them a different look by rigging his Magnum Trick worm Neko style, and he throws it on lighter line with a spinning rod.
Neko rigging simply involves running a size 2 Mustad TitanX weedless wacky Neko hook through the worm’s midsection and inserting a Mustad tungsten Neko screw into the head of the worm.
“I pull the Neko rig across the bottom on 10-pound line and it pulses with a really cool action that fish don’t see from the Texas-rigged worms they’ve been hammered with all summer,” says Lester.
And as for the bag of David sunflower seeds in the photo, “Those keep my mind busy to keep me awake on long drives home from a tournament, or during the seven-hour haul back home after a great week on the Gulf Coast,” concludes Lester with a grin.