Nightcrawlers vs Earthworms: Which Bait Gives a Good Catch?

Thomas Krik

Written by

Thomas Krik

Marc Lowe


Marc Lowe

nightcrawlers vs earthworms

Many fishing enthusiasts often debate the benefits of nightcrawlers vs earthworms in angling. Some might also think that these two types of worms are the same.

Generally, both worms make excellent bait, but using one after the other may impact your fishing success. While they appear similar, they’re also distinct in their characteristics and behavior. Nightcrawlers are active creatures that prefer the darkness, while earthworms love wandering in the daytime.

The following post will explore their notable differences and similarities to help you decide the best bait for your hobby. This way, you can increase your chances of catching more fish.

What are Nightcrawlers?


Nightcrawlers, or Lumbricus Terrestris, are a type of large earthworm commonly found in temperate areas.

This type of worm is a popular bait in fishing, and it’s easy to see why; they present a good size profile and have undulating movements and scents that attract fish of all species. Moreover, nightcrawlers can live longer in water, wiggling and enticing fish to bite.

These worms love damp grounds and like coming out after a heavy downpour. Also, they slither off the ground when the temperature is moderate (600-700F), but stay in their burrows during extreme heat and cold.

Nightcrawlers are known for their dark brown or reddish color and are active at night, hence their name. They also come in various types, but the common ones are the Canadian, European, and African.

How To Use a Nightcrawler Jig?

You can either buy or catch nightcrawlers yourself. While going to your fishing location, you can put them in a container with damp soil or peat moss to keep them alive and active.

Once ready to cast, place the worm on your hook, leaving a portion of the worm dangling to attract fish with its movement. Nightcrawlers work well for catching a range of fish species, including bass, catfish, crappie, walleye, trout, and any gamefish.

The Pros and Cons of Nightcrawler Baits

Pros Cons
With twisting actions and an attractive scent that appeals to fish Challenging to find in daylight hours.
Easy to catch and are always available in any season Not suited for saltwater fishing
Can survive longer in and out of water More expensive
Can be used for a variety of fish species Can’t tolerate extreme hot or cold temperatures
Luscious and juicy
Has stronger a scent that draws fish to your hook

What are Earthworms?


Another type of worm that you can put on your jig is the earthworm. Earthworms, with the scientific name Oligochaeta, are known as the original bait. They’re a diverse group of invertebrates that live in the soil and play a crucial role in breaking down organic matter and aerating the soil.

Besides their significant role in the ecosystem, these wiggling creatures are the holy grail of bait fishing. For centuries, anglers have reeled in numerous catches due to the appealing nature of earthworm baits.

Typically, you can find worms in your backyard or any moist areas. You can normally see them in your garden, backyard, forest, and almost all soils. Also, earthworms have many kinds, including red wigglers and gray worms.

How to Use an Earthworm Jig?

Like nightcrawlers, earthworms can be used as bait for fishing and are effective in attracting different fish species. If you don’t want to buy, you can catch earthworms in your garden or fertile soil.

When you have enough, you can do the typical steps in putting worm baits. Do remember to put the worms in a container with soil to maintain their life while heading out. Earthworms are effective in attracting panfish, trout, walleye, and countless others.

Pros and Cons of Earthworm Baits

Pros Cons
Can be found anywhere in your backyard Not suitable for saltwater fishing
Easier to catch in the daytime Smaller profile
Release a strong scent that attracts fish
Can be used in numerous kinds of fish
Livelier than nightcrawlers
Can thrive longer in multiple temperature ranges

Earthworms vs Nightcrawlers — The Similarities


Nightcrawlers and earthworms have some similarities. Here are some characteristics that they both share:


Both worms live in soil, particularly in damp and fertile environments. Often, they’re found in gardens, compost piles, and under decaying leaves.


Nightcrawlers and earthworms feed on decaying organic matter, such as leaves and dead plants. They play an essential role in breaking down this organic matter and enriching soil nutrients.


These worms move through the ground by contracting and expanding their muscles, which allows them to navigate their environment. When moving, you can see them wiggling their bodies in a twisting motion.

Segmented bodies

Nightcrawlers and earthworms have smooth skin texture. Additionally, their bodies present a segmented or ring-like appearance.

Seducing fish baits

Many anglers favor these worms because they’re appealing to hungry fish. Moreover, they give off a strong scent that attracts most fish species. Not to mention, they’re abundant and easy to set on a hook.

Earthworms vs Nightcrawlers — Notable Differences

Although they look similar, there are some notable differences between nightcrawlers and earthworms. For example:



Nightcrawlers are typically dark brown or reddish in color. Also, they tend to have a darker and more uniform appearance. Meanwhile, earthworms have a wider range of colors, including pale pink, reddish-brown, brown, and gray.



Another noticeable difference between an earthworm vs nightcrawler is their size. A nightcrawler is larger and often reaches up to 14 inches in length.

Contrastingly, an earthworm is smaller and slimmer, with lengths ranging from 2 to 10 inches. This difference in size can make nightcrawlers more appealing to larger fish.


Nightcrawlers are more robust and have thicker bodies. They’re also easy to distinguish from earthworms because of their glossy skin texture. Earthworms, too, have a smooth texture but with a slimmer profile.



As mentioned earlier, nightcrawlers are nocturnal (active at night) worms. They come out of their burrows in darkness to forage on decaying leaves and other rotting plant debris on the soil surface.

Unlike nightcrawlers, earthworms are diurnal, meaning they’re active in daylight time. They spend their time burrowing and feeding on soil or decayed matter.



Nightcrawlers and earthworms reproduce differently.

Earthworms are hermaphroditic (having male and female reproductive organs). Hence, they don’t need mating to produce offspring. They only lay on cocoons that contain fertilized eggs until young worms emerge.

Meanwhile, nightcrawlers need cross-fertilization (similar to mating) to make baby worms. They must lay eggs on damp soil, which needs fertilization to become baby nightcrawlers.

Which Type of Bait is Cheaper?


When compared to other types of baits like synthetic flies, live worms are generally cheap and easy to find. As long as you’re clever enough to find them, you don’t even need to buy these baits.

Generally, the cost of nightcrawlers and earthworms varies, depending on their size and quantity. Usually, these are sold in pieces and come in containers.

With the nature of nightcrawlers, they’re usually more expensive than earthworms. For example, you can buy a couple dozen of earthworms at $2 to $5, while a dozen of nightcrawlers may cost you around $20.

Different shops have different prices. Thus, it’s best to shop around to get the best value for your money.

Which is Better?

Is there anything more relaxing than casting any of these worms on a hook and reeling it in? Both nightcrawlers and earthworms are effective as fishing baits for multiple fish species.

However, the bigger size of nightcrawlers makes them more attractive when targeting larger fish. The classic earthworms work well for small to medium-sized fish species.

If you want to experiment, consider trying both types of worms. These live baits don’t deviate much from each other. Hence, you can use them interchangeably to find the best fit for your needs.

Finally, your choice will depend on your targeted species and personal preferences. If you prefer using nightcrawlers over earthworms, follow your instincts and have fun landing the catch of your dreams.

Choosing the Right Bait for Fishing


Your lure induces fish to bite your hook, and choosing the perfect bait can make all the difference in the success of your fishing trip. Factors such as fishing location, target fish, and temperature all play a role in determining the ideal bait.

1. Fishing environment

Before you decide on bait, think about the fishing environment. Nightcrawlers and earthworms are most effective in freshwater environments. You can use them in saltwater, but their lifespan may be shorter.

2. The size of the target fish

The type of fish you’re eyeing to pursue will also influence your bait choice. These worms can lure most freshwater fish. However, if you’re after a trophy bass or trout, nightcrawlers are better at attracting them to your bait.

3. Temperature

Worms prefer cold and damp environments and may not survive long in hot temperatures. If you plan to use nightcrawlers or earthworms, it’s best to fish when the water is still cool (early in the morning). This will help keep your bait alive for longer in the water.

Tips for Using Worm Baits

  • Explore multiple types and sizes of bait worms.
  • Use the ideal size of hook for your bait.
  • Try different techniques when presenting your bait.
  • Put the worms in a cool, moist bucket or livewell.
  • Handle the worms with extra care.
  • Observe the behavior of your target specie and adjust your bait accordingly.
  • Try using artificial scents to entice nearby and far fish.

Sourcing and Storage of Bait


The following are ways how to secure your worm baits:

1. Buying

If you don’t want to waste your time digging for worms, just buy them from your local fishing shop. Often, the worms come in containers, so you don’t have to worry about getting your own bucket.

2. Raise your own worms

Easy and cost-efficient, raising earthworms or nightcrawlers provides you with an abundant supply of baits. You can make a simple worm bed in your backyard. A compost pit or worm bin also makes a pleasant habitat for worms.

3. Catching

Catching worms is fun and doesn’t cost a penny. You can find them in your garden, under flower pots or decaying matter, and other debris in your backyard. Before collecting, prepare a container with moss or wet soil to store the worms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use nightcrawlers or earthworms for ice fishing?

Yes. During winter months, fish are hungry for protein-rich food. Hence, a nightcrawler or earthworm will do the trick! While they may not be as effective as other popular ice fishing bait, these can entice trout, crappie, and small bass.

Are there any alternative bait options to consider?

If there isn’t a supply of these worms, your alternative options can be baitfish, waxworms, and mudpuppies. In addition, you may use synthetic nightcrawlers or earthworms. These are also soft and can mimic the natural movement and behavior of live nightcrawlers and earthworms. Redworms and mealworms

Can nightcrawlers and earthworms be used together as bait?

Yes. Combining nightcrawlers and earthworms on the same hook or using them interchangeably can increase your chances of attracting fish, as different fish species might attack one type of worm over the other. Also, this can be beneficial in enticing larger gamefish.

Are nightcrawlers earthworms?

Technically, nightcrawlers are considered earthworms. They’re a type of earthworm that belong to the family of Annelida and class Oligochaeta.

What’s the best way to keep these worms?

Worms thrive well in cool, dark, and moist conditions. Thus, you can keep them in a bucket with damp soil or moss and place them in a garage or basement. This way, you’ll keep them lively and healthy, making them more effective for seducing fish.

Wiggle Your Way to a Successful Fishing Trip

The topic of nightcrawlers vs earthworms in the fishing world is a never-ending story. Nevertheless, both types of baits can deliver a good catch if you have the skills and patience. In addition, they’re both inexpensive and readily available.

Whether you find yourself using nightcrawlers or earthworms may also depend on your preferences, environments, and targeted fish. The luscious and fatter nightcrawlers make a better meal for larger fish, while earthworms appeal to smaller species.

Finally, regardless of your choice, don’t forget to enjoy your peaceful time on the water. May you have fun on your next fishing adventure!

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