Catch Outdoors’ Catawba Worm

Ned Kehde

A Catawba worm is one of the hornworm species. It is also known as the catalpa. It is the larval stage of a hawk moth, which has the scientific and binomial name of Ceratomia catalpa.

In the United States, it can be found in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest. They reside around catalpa trees.

For years on end in the angling world, these two- to three-inch caterpillars have been a much treasured live-bait.

Kelly Barefoot of Raleigh, North Carolina, who is the proprietor of Catch Outdoors BITE! and a much heralded lure designer, created his soft-plastic rendition of a Catawba worm in 2018. We asked him to send us one to work with and help us compose a Midwest Finesse gear guide about it. And straightaway he sent us several of them.

In the eyes of most Midwest finesse anglers, Barefoot’s king-sized version of the Catawba worm resembles an ornate stick-style bait. Others might say it is an odd combination of a creature-style bait and a stick-style bait.

Here is what we discovered about them.

Some of the first words anglers uttered upon seeing it are: “It is a wowie-zowie critter.”

According to our measurements, it is 4 7/16 inches long.

Barefoot’s Catawba Worm’s torso possesses a thorax and an abdomen, which consists of eleven segments. The sides of each segment are adorned with several minor ribs. The dorsal area is convex, and its epidermis is smooth. Its ventral is flat, and it is embellished with seven pairs of tiny pyramid-shaped appendages.

Its head possesses a bulbous shape. It is about a quarter of an inch long and five-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about one inch. Its epidermis is smooth. The tip of its head is somewhat flat, and it is where a Midwest finesse angler will insert the hook and collar of a mushroom-style jig.

Its thorax consists of three segments.

The first segment, which is adjacent to the head, is five-sixteenths of an inch long and three-eighths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 1/8 of an inch. Its ventral area is emblazoned with the two pyramid-shaped appendages, which anatomists call forelegs.

The second segment is about five-sixteenths of an inch long and about five-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 1/16 of an inch. Its ventral area possesses two pyramid-shaped appendages, which anatomists call midlegs.

The third segment is about seven-sixteenths of an inch long and about three eighths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 1/16 inches. Its ventral area has two pyramid-shaped appendages, which anatomists call hindlegs.

Its abdomen contains eight segments. (It should be noted that the abdomen of a real Catawba worm has ten segments.)

The first abdominal segment is about three-eighths of an inch long and three-eighths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 1/4 inches. Its ventral area is devoid of appendages, and its epidermis is smooth.

The second segment is about nine-sixteenths of an inch long and about three-eighths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 1/4 inches. Its ventral area is endowed with two pyramid-shaped appendages, which anatomists call abdominal prolegs.

The third segment is about nine-sixteenths of an inch long and about three-eighths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 1/4 inches. Its ventral area is graced with two pyramid-shaped appendages, which anatomists call abdominal prolegs.

The fourth segment is about nine-sixteenths of an inch long and about seven-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 3/8 inches. Its ventral area has two pyramid-shaped appendages, which anatomists call abdominal prolegs.

The fifth segment is about seven-sixteenths of an inch long and about seven-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 1/4 inches. Its ventral area is adorned two pyramid-shaped appendages, which anatomists call abdominal prolegs.

The sixth segment is about seven-sixteenths of an inch long and about seven-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 5/16 inches. The epidermis of its ventral area is smooth and devoid of appendances or prolegs.

The seventh segment is about five-sixteenths of an inch long and about seven-sixteenths of an inch wide with a circumference of about 1 1/4 inches. The epidermis of its ventral area is smooth and devoid of appendances. Its dorsal area is embellished with a horn or tail spine that is about four-sixteenths of an inch long.

The eighth segment contains an abstract version of its anus, suranal plate, and anal proleg.

This hand-injected creation is manufactured in the following hues: Black, Bubblegum, Catawba Swirl, Green Pumpkin, Real Catawba, Texas Tea aka Black Gold, Watermelon Red, and White.

It is not impregnated with salt and scent.

A package of eight costs $5.49.

When Midwest finesse anglers affix the head of Barefoot’s Catawba Worm to a mushroom-style jig, they will employ it as if it is a traditional stick-style bait. Thus, all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves will be part of their presentation repertoire with this unique soft-plastic bait. Because some Midwest finesse anglers are inveterate customizers of soft-plastic baits, it is likely that they will customize this Catawba Worm a touch. For instance, when its head and thorax becomes too tattered and torn to stay firmly affixed to a mushroom-style jig, they will amputate this area and create a 3 1/2-inch or shorter Catawba Worm. In fact, some Midwest finesse anglers might eventually reduce it down to a 2 1/2- or three-inch version of Barefoot’s handiwork.

A Catch Outdoors’ The Real Catawba Catawba Worm affixed to a black 1/16-ounce Lunker City Fishing’s Ned Head jig.