If you have been following up with Postletown Woods and Water, you know that Lake Erie is our go-to destination for summer fishing…or whenever we can get out there no matter what time of year it is; however, there are days when mother nature halts our big water plans and pushes us to the inland lakes to try our luck with some pad dwelling bucket mouths. My favorite weapon in my tackle box for largemouth bass fishing is the Yamamoto Senko. Okay, so maybe I don’t buy the real ones as there are dozens of off brands that are available in almost any bait and tackle shop, but I think we all refer to them as “Senkos” so that is what I’m going to call them for now. Senkos are an artificial rubber worm that is made in various lengths, it has ridges all along the body, it tapers down as it gets to the tail, and it carries some hefty weight as compared to other artificial worms.
On a windy day when Erie is too rough to fish, or on a day that I have limited time, I will trek out on my kayak to fish in my hometown on the Cassadaga Lakes. All I need to bring is my rod, a small box full of Senkos and worm hooks, and I am ready to go. These types of days typically end up being successful for bass and it is not uncommon to run into a surprise muskie while you’re at it. Here are 5 quick tips for using Senkos from our own experiences that have helped us put bass in the boat time and time again on the smaller lakes in WNY.
#1 Go Weightless
Senkos are great because they have more weight than the average artificial worm. You can cast them a long way and still be very precise. They are very easy to cast and usually have a smooth finish when they hit the water. They sink at a slow pace, but not too slow, that’s why they are deadly. I religiously use the weightless Texas rig. If you are fishing deeper water, then you can justify using some weight, but we have no problem catching largemouth in the shallows from Spring through Fall. We like to cast the senko under trees, bushes, docks, lily pads, or any other type of structures and let the senko do the work. Going weightless allows the Senko to fall naturally while giving the slightest wiggle as it dangles in the water and entices bass that lurk in the vicinity. Cast the Senko to your desired spot and let it sink for several seconds. When you think it hit the bottom, give it a couple rod twitches and let it fall again. Do this until you get it back to the boat. Most of my strikes come on the first drop right after the Senko hits the water. You will see your line start to tighten up and that’s when you reel up your slack and set the hook. Fish on!
#2 Go Weedless
My favorite benefit of fishing with Senkos is that they give you the option to go weedless. When I am fishing Cassadaga Lake in the middle of the summer, the shoreline becomes very weedy which makes the Senko an ideal bait for largemouth that are tucked between the cabbage. To make the Senko weedless, bury the point of the hook into the side of the worm. When the fish bites, the plastic is soft enough for the hook to push through the worm and into the mouth of the fish.
#3 Experiment With Different Hooks
If you are fishing heavy terrain, you may want to use a hook that is somewhat thick in diameter to help you pull through the weeds when you catch a fish. If not, then a lighter, thinner hook would suffice. The weight of the hook will also determine the speed at which the Senko falls after it hits the water. Experiment with different hooks to see what drop rate is working on that day. There are also many hooks with different angles and colors that you can experiment with. Pick what works best for you and your confidence.
#4 Experiment with Sizes and Colors
As with any species you will target, color can make a huge difference. Personally, I tend to favor the darker greens and blacks when using Senkos, but if those aren’t producing I will not hesitate to switch it up. Size can also play a large role. There are various sizes of Senkos available. I typically start with the 5″ worms, but always have the smaller 3″ on hand. Sometimes you will feel small bites on the bigger worms, but you aren’t hooking them. This is due to one of two things; you are getting bit by panfish or the bass is being finicky and just eating the tail of the worm. I have had many instances when this has happened and I switched to the smaller size and caught the fish. Again, experiment with what is working the best on that specific day/time.
#5 Pop the Pads
I mean to literally throw your Senko on top of the pads. The bass often see the vibration from the bait landing on the pads and will come out of the water to grab it. If you don’t get a hit on the first pad, raise your rod tip high and slowly pull the Senko across the pads. When you get to the edge of the pads where the open water begins again, let the Senko sink. It is awesome to see the bass follow the worm out of the pads and strike the Senko as it meets the open water. Popping the pads is a great technique to use early in the morning or in the evening.
- Don’t be afraid to use the “wacky style” rig. Although I don’t use this much because I have success with the weightless Texas rig, many anglers swear by it. Work the wacky rig the same way you would the Texas rig. The wacky rig provides even more “dangle” when the worm is sinking. To make this weedless, just bury the point of the hook into the center of the worm.
- When you are catching fish with Senkos, they often wear out very quickly. One way to salvage some for more use is to cut the top off just enough to get rid of the torn tip. Run the hook through it again and you are good to go for a few more fish. If you feel a little more ambitious, there is a mend it glue that you can purchase as well. You can also cut your Senkos to create custom lengths.
- If you decide that you want to use some weight, use bullet weights that will slide along your line. This will allow your Senko to work through the water more naturally.
- When choosing line, make sure you choose some that is strong enough to pull fish out of the weeds. I have recently switched to 10lb braid and it has helped significantly; however, monofilament will always remain a stable option. It is solely based on preference; just be sure it is strong, yet thin enough to stay stealthy.
The Senko is a versatile bait that is our go-to when fishing for bass in our local inland lakes. It allows for slow drops, weedless options, fast twitches, swimming action, or topwater techniques. They are a great bait for largemouth, smallmouth, and even the elusive muskellunge. They are very easy to use and what has been discussed here is only the tip of the iceberg as far as what these baits are capable of. We are in no way sponsored by any of these baits so we are only talking them up because they work! Furthermore, never underestimate the smaller lakes in Western New York, many of them pack a major punch when it comes to lunker bass. Some of our personal record bass have come out of Cassadaga and Bear Lakes. Get out there and try something new, you just might be surprised.
Written by Chris Postle of Postletown Woods and Water.