Black Lug

Black lugworm is an extremely popular sea fishing bait that are useful when fishing for a wide variety of different fish species.

The black lugworm is typically found on beaches and estuaries throughout the UK and can be dug using a lug pump, or more traditionally, using a garden fork.
They are commonly found near to the low water tide marks, often only visible in single casts (a cast is a small amount of sand pushed to the surface of the sand in a spiral shape).

The casts show individual black lugworm and can only generally be dug one at a time. The single casts mean that digging black lugworm is rather time intensive and is not a quick process, but this bait is such a good option for sea fishing that it is definitely worth the time to get this bait.

What fish can you target using Black Lug?

Black lug is an extremely versatile bait that can be used when fishing for cod and flatfish in the winter, and bass during the summer months.

Storing Black Lug

Freezing Black Lug

When collecting black lug, you may find that the lug may be broken (or the fishing term is ‘blown’). These can be used immediately or frozen for fishing at a later date. It is important not to keep this bait with intact black lug as a damaged worm will tend to turn the rest of the worms bad and will ruin them for using as a quality fishing bait. Separate broken lug from whole lug into two different piles.

To prepare black lug for fishing at a later date, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Clean the black lug using a second bucket filled with sea water; try to remove any excess sand, grit and general dirt from them.
  2. Dry them using some kitchen towel thickness paper.
  3. Wrap them in newspaper, the newspaper will absorb any additional liquid.
  4. Place them in the freezer until they are frozen.
  5. Once they have been frozen, place them in groups into cling film and back into the freezer, usually making groups of 5 black lug at a time.

Refridgerating Black Lug

Black lug can be kept fresh for up to around a week or so as long as they are kept in salt water, stored in a refrigerator. The water should be changed every other day and only needs approximately 3mm of water to keep the lug hydrated. Make sure you check on their condition regularly, removing and freezing any black lug that look in bad condition, which could affect the other worm.

How to use Black Lug

Black lugworm is an extremely popular bait for cod fishing in the UK and is usually threaded onto the hook. This type of worm is tougher than lugworm so is easier to handle and they are generally longer so can be used as a single bait, rather than having to load up your hook with multiple as is typically required with blow lugworm.

A classic cod fishing technique is to use the black lug in a ‘cocktail bail’ in combination with a single squid body, whipped into one deliciously smelling and attractive meal for a hungry cod. The black lug is normally used in a pennel rig due to it’s size.

Optional method of preparation

Some anglers like to blanche the innards of the worm out prior to mounting them on their rig. If this is not done then the worm is often loose and soft when they defrost.

This method has it’s drawbacks though as blanching the worm releases blood, and therefore scent. We recommend freezing the worm as soon as you have collected it, do not blanche it and use it frozen with all of the juices still present for maximum smellyness!

Using a baiting needle

Many sea anglers prefer to use a baiting needle to rig up a lugworm onto their line. A baiting needle is a basic piece of tackle which uses a pointed end section on one side which you use to thread through the lugworm up on to the needle and then on to the hook. This ensures that a lugworm is presented well, maximising your chances of catching with a lugworm.

How to bait up

Check out the handy video below showing how to bait up ready for sea fishing.

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Classification of two types of Lugworm – Black and Blow

The classification of lug worms was not officially recognised between blow lugworm (the smaller and more common variation) and black lug (the larger and less common type) until the mid 1990’s, although the earliest mention of there being two variations of lugworm appears to be by Gamble & Ashworth in 1898. Until the mid 1990’s, there was only officially a single type of lugworm, but a piece of research undertaken by the University of Wales in Swansea proved that there were indeed two different types of lugworm.

The extract below is taken from the original piece of research into lugworm which can be found here.

For many years anglers and bait diggers in Britain have differentiated between 2 forms, varieties or types of the common lugworm Arenicola marina (L.), a widely used and very popular winter bait species. The forms are referred to as ‘blow lug’ (or ‘red lug’) and ‘black lug’. Their earliest mention in the scientific literature appears to be by Gamble & Ashworth (1898) who referred to them as the ‘littoral’ and ‘laminarian’ varieties respectively, recognising differences in ‘habits and structure’. These differences will be discussed in later publications on morphology and general ecology. Wells (1957), in his paper on variation in this species in which he assigned subspecies status to an Alaskan form, A. marina glacialis (Murdoch), expressed serious doubts about this division and considered the littoral and laminarian types of A. marina to consist of a single form or variety. An investigation of the impact of intensive bait-digging on lugworm stocks at several locations near Swansea (South Wales, UK), including a study of the possible utilisation of a recently-introduced bait-pump (Cadman 1989), nevertheless led us to the belief that there are clear distinctions in the ecology, morphology and perhaps also physiology of such worms. It was therefore decided to attempt to resolve these 14 Inter-Research/Pnnted in F. R. Germany differences by means of horizontal starch gel electrophoresis, a technique that was not available to previous workers. The potential of this technique as a taxonomic tool has been discussed at length by many authors (e.g. Avise 1975, Thorpe 1979, Ward 1989); in combination with morphological and ecological data, electrophoresis has become an accepted way of solving taxonomic problems such as the present one. The method has been used by investigators of both vertebrates (e.g. Jamieson 1974 on various fish stocks, Smith & Robertson 1981 on sprats, Avise & Smith 1974 on sunfish, and Comparini & Rodino 1980 on the Atlantic eel) and invertebrate phyla (e.g. Manwell & Baker 1963 on holothurians, and Shaw et al. 1987 on anthozoans). Shahid (1982) investigated a uniform population of Arenicola marina and a number of studies have been carried out on other polychaete genera (e.g. by Mustaquim 1988) and notably by Grassle & Grassle (1976) who used this method to differentiate between members of the Capitella sibling species complex which, although they have very different ecologcal features, show few or no morphological differences – a situation similar to that being examined here. We therefore investigated a number of enzyme systems in order to determine whether there are, in fact, more than one species of this very widely distributed and much studied animal.