Wax Worms VS Mealworms For Fishing

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When it comes to the bait that you use for fishing, sure, artificial baits and lures work just fine, but when it comes down to it, there is just nothing like the real thing. Two of the best baits that you can use for fishing include wax worms and meal worms, but which one is better?

Mealworms are the better option, as they are generally easier to hook, they stay on the hook better, they are easier to raise than wax worms, and they have better underwater visibility generally. Waxworms also work great and fish are usually very enticed by them, but Mealworms are easily the winner here with everything considered. 


Differences Between Wax Worms and Meal Worms

meal worms

Before we start talking about which of these two worms is the better one for fishing, let’s first figure out exactly what they are and how to distinguish between the two.

What They Are

Ok, so first and foremost, what you need to realize here is that both wax worms and mealworms are technically not worms at all, but rather the larvae of other insects.

First off, wax worms are actually the caterpillar or larvae of the wax moth, or in other words, they will form a cocoon and turn into moths.

On the other hand, mealworms are actually the larval form of the mealworm beetle, so at some point, these worms will turn into beetles.

General Appearance

In terms of their appearance, distinguishing between mealworms and wax worms is very easy. In terms of color, wax worms are a creamy color from front to back, or in other words, off-white, Mealworms on the other hand are a but darker white in color and feature brown patches, specifically at their ends.

Moreover, wax worms tend to be shorter than mealworms, with wax worms usually being no longer than 3/4”, and mealworms being around 1” in length.

That said, meal worms are a bit skinner than the fatter wax worms, and moreover, mealworms usually have a much harder and more solid shell than the softer and squishier wax worm.

Which Is Better, Wax Worms or Mealworms?

When it comes to which one of these little wriggling creatures is better for fishing, quite honestly, there is no real consensus.

Some people prefer using mealworms and some prefer using wax worms, with mostly anybody and everybody who has tried both saying that they work equally as well.

It would appear as though fish are not too picky and will generally go for both of these worms. Simply put, most worms will go for most fish. However, there are some differences between the two that you need to consider, particularly when it comes to fishing.

Hooking the Worms

Due to their fatter bodies, wax worms can be a bit easier to get on the hook initially.

Their chunky nature means that it is much easier to hold and hook a mealworm without poking yourself than it is with mealworms, but this difference may be rendered meaningless by the next one that we are about to talk about.

Staying on the Hook

What we were talking about above is the fact that because wax worms are so soft and squishy, and don’t have much in terms of a shell, they do tend to tear, rip, and break off the hook, particularly during casting and retrieval, and especially if a fish nips at it.

If you need a more durable live bait, one that is much more likely to stay on the hook, then the much harder shelled mealworm is the way to go.

Overall Hardiness

Mealworms are also much hardier, or in other words, they stay alive for much longer on the hook, and they stay alive longer underwater too, and the longer they are alive and wriggling for, the better your chances of catching something over the long run. Mealworms are just much easier to keep alive as well.

Ease of Raising

For avid anglers who want a steady supply of live bait, and don’t want to keep buying it, you always have the option of raising your own bait worms.

Now, we don’t want to get into the specific of raising mealworms and wax worms here, because there is enough info to write a whole book on the matter, but with that being said, you can rest assured that mealworms are much easier to raise than wax worms.

Underwater Visibility

The other thing to consider here is that wax worms, due to their creamy white color, tend to be more visible underwater.

Mealworms are white and brown, so they do feature contrast that fish can also see, but when it comes to darker waters, the much brighter mealworms does seem to be more visually striking, and that means luring in more fish.

So, as you can see, both mealworms and wax worms can be used for fishing, although if you want to raise your own bait and ensure that the worms stay on the hook during casting and retrieval, then the mealworm is probably your better bet.


What Fish Can You Catch with Wax Worms?

There are many different fish that love going for wax worms. These fish include catfish, largemouth bass, yellow bass, bluegill, brin, trout, perch, smallmouth bass, walleye, and other panfish too.

Wax worms are tasty, bright, and most fish just really love them. Something else to consider here is that wax worms are also a very popular type of bait to use for ice fishing.

Furthermore, fish already eat these wax worms naturally out in the wild, thus always making for great live bait.

What Fish Can You Catch with Mealworms?

Technically speaking, mealworms make for great live bait for more or less any kind of fish, particularly freshwater fish, just like wax worms.

However, if you use mealworms the fish that you are the most likely to catch include all sorts of pass, bluegill, trout, perch, crappie, and catfish.

It also appears as though mealworms make for great ice fishing bait, and in some cases may be a more effective bait for wintertime fishing than for summertime fishing.

How to Hook Wax Worms for Fishing

Hooking a wax worm is very easy. All you have to do is get yourself a good hook for bait, such as a classic baitholder hook, which in terms of the size, a size #10 should do fine, although slightly larger or small can also be acceptable.

Hold the hook by the shank with a pair of needle nose pliers and then push the point of the hook into the mealworm from one end (either end is fine), and then pass the hook through about one third to one half of the worm before gently pushing the point back out.

In other words, just hook the wax worm lengthwise using a small baitholder hook.

How to Hook Mealworms for Fishing

Quite honestly, hooking a mealworm for fishing is really no different than doing so with a wax worm.

Take that same size #10 baitholder hook, and using a pair of pliers, pass it through the mealworm lengthwise, starting from either end, and ensuring that about one third to one half of the worm’s body has the hook passed through it.

With all of that being said, while a baitholder hook does work best, you can also go for other hook types.

If you want the best possible hook, an actual worm holder hook would probably be your best bet.

Can I Use Dried Mealworms for Fishing?

Ok, so if you plan on using dried mealworms for fishing, this is possible, but not in the way that you might think. First off, dried mealworms are small and brittle.

It will be almost impossible to get them on the hook, and if you do, they will probably fall off. Next, dried mealworms are very small, dull, and don’t have much scent to them, thus making them for a less than ideal fishing bait.

However, one thing that you can do with dried mealworms, if you want to use them for fishing, is to rehydrate them.

All you have to do is to pour some hot water over them, let them soak for about 30 minutes, and they will look good as new, although still not alive and wriggling.

The other thing that you can try doing is to grind up the mealworms and add them to your own homemade bait.



There you have it folks, everything you need to know about using mealworms and wax worms for fishing.

Both make for great bait, although wax worms do seem to be the more attractive option for a more diverse array of fish species.


Image Credits;

Hans Splinter@FLickrCC

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.