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Keys to Your Senko Fishing Success
By Russ Bassdozer


Hi, it's Russ Bassdozer here. I hope you will enjoy reading this useful online handbook about Senko fishing. In it you will learn some of the most advanced techniques to fish for bass with soft plastic Senkos. Here's a quick review of what you will find in each chapter:

Chapter One Discusses the dramatic impact that Senkos have made on those who fish them.

Chapter Two Teaches you the seven weightless ways to create a successful Senko presentation.

Chapter Three Reveals how, by adding a little weight (in a way that still preserves the Senko's action), you can expand your Senko presentations beyond weightlessness.

Chapter Four Talks about how Senkos have eliminated a major mind-boggler - size, color and lure selection decisions - by using Senkos.

Chapter Five Contains a dramatic style of imagery. It's a break from our usual how-to technique chapters, and I hope you find it enjoyable. Don't think slight of the Texas Twist tactic however. It is something you'll want to experiment with. Why? Because it works.

Chapters Six Learn how to make a simpler swimming worm rig for rolling Senkos in the wind.

Chapters Seven and Eight Focus on the Senko Shiner color and two top techniques for July and August. - Russ Bassdozer

Keys to Your Senko Fishing Success

Chapter 1
The Senko Edge
How Long Can It Last?

We have some sad news about an epidemic sweeping the nation. Unfortunately, there is no cure nor does anyone know how long this epidemic will last.

HELLO! My name is Bassdozer. I am a Senko-holic! And I am not alone. There are thousands more like me. Witness this letter:

"At first I just thought they were pricey Yamamoto baits. I had heard good things about them and saw some good fish taken by a guide on Lake Fork last year. Still, I continued to hold out with my confidence brand of plastic. That is, until I broke down and bought myself some 222 Senkos for my own birthday. The next weekend, we had caught a big nothing, and a nasty storm was fast approaching. I thought, "Well, it can't get any worse," so I took off my rigged lizard, and began randomly tossing an unweighted 222 Senko. On the fourth pitch, I caught one right after a jig had just been tossed to the same place. Fishing our way quickly back to the marina, I caught several more fish while my partner still blanked. Because of the approaching storm, I had to wait until next time to try the Senkos again, this time in some of the clearer lakes around here. Sure enough, they worked well!

After running out of Senkos, I have decided to subscribe in order to take advantage of the great magazine you print, and the fact that I get $30 more in free Yamamoto plastics when I subscribe! I'm hooked. Now I wonder how I ever went without Yamamoto baits this long?" - Chris Moore, Paris, Arkansas

Doctors have even coined a term for this affliction. They call it "Hook and Senko Disease." There is no known cure. Once you come down with it, you are doomed to a lifetime of battling bass on Senkos. During 2000, fishermen afflicted with Senkos won numerous regional, state and local tournaments across the West and Northeast. Senko madness has spread further during 2001, affecting tournament and recreational anglers in the Southeast and Upper Midwest too. At the moment, it has become a raging plague across North America.

This is no magic bait, but the catches being made on Senkos are a bit unreal! Even a new world record spotted bass has been caught on a Senko lately! Not to mention loads of big largemouth, like the 14 lb. beauty caught in the photo by Don Nunez:

"On May 1, 2001, I was fishing my local lake, Kaweah. I pulled into a cove, and threw out a 5" watermelon Senko. First cast, I caught a 3 lb. bass. Next cast, I hooked up to a 14 lb. bass and landed it. I couldn't have caught it without that Senko. A few days prior to this I caught a 7 lb., 5.5 lb., and 4lb. bass.  A few friends laughed at me when they first saw my Senko. Now they can't buy enough of them." - Don Nunez, Visalia, California

How long can it possibly last? Many new lures often gain the spotlight, become a national or regional fad for a year or two...then fizzle. Every veteran bass angler has seen it happen over and over again - the "hot honeymoon period" that cools off as last year's scorchers become next year's curdled tapioca.

After you've seen enough of this "boom and bust" phenomena, you will even expect it to happen. We come to expect "new" new lures as soon as the "old" new ones cool down - and manufacturers provide them. I don't think anything Machevelian is going on here on the manufacturer's part, just the way the world turns, and it makes everybody happy, especially us as anglers who are always looking for...

The "Edge." The Senko is "IT" right now - no lie.  It is "THE EDGE" we are always looking for - no explanation required. Not all the time, every day, but if you are not using it now, you are losing out. I already said there is no magic bait, and I am not going to repeat myself, but the catches being made on Senkos are the moment. How long will it last? Who cares! It is happening right now, this very moment, and it may not last forever because of...

First factor: Imprinting. In order to survive, all critters reject food that is unpleasant to them. Birds taste the first Monarch butterfly they ever see and the unpleasant taste experience imprints so heavily that they'll never attempt to nip another Monarch again as long as they live - or other butterflies that impersonate Monarchs in appearance. So we know this goes on with birds. Now a bass bites your lure and you pull it in. It's no picnic for the bass - an unpleasant imprint is registered, and you and your lure are part of it. Bass won't nip another one - or any other lure that has the identifiable sight or sound of your lure. Some people say that a simple lure like a smooth, round straight tail plastic worm has no identifying mark to leave an imprint. I don't agree. I've seen bass that have imprinted against my non-descript worms - either against the shape or color of them.

Don't believe me? I didn't think you would, so let me tell you about this lab test I heard of where bass that had never seen a live crayfish before would NOT eat live crayfish again after one bad encounter...and avoided eating crayfish in the tank right up to the brink of death by starvation.

Second factor: Reinforcement. Now, that's lab bass. The difference with wild bass is that a fish that's been eating crayfish all its natural life will probably not stop eating them after an encounter with one on the end of someone's hook. That's called "reinforcement" and it's the opposite of imprinting. Every time a bass eats a crayfish or shad, it reinforces that crayfish and shad are good to eat. So, now a lure comes along that triggers the impression of a crayfish or shad...that's good too!

Third factor: Life-like illusion. A tube bait is a good example here. The Garland Gitzit was invented 20-30 years ago, and has been readily accepted by bass ever since. It faded in and out of the average anglers attention, but became mainstream about 3 years ago thanks to Denny Brauer popularizing it. Yes, I've seen bass imprint against it, but it's a tough one because a tube bait has such an amazing life-like illusion when used properly. Used properly, a tube has always caught and always will! What we call a fiberguard jig 'n pig is in the same class of "immortal" baits. Pitch or flip it properly, and something about it gets bit by bass time and again. So, it's tough for a bass to imprint against a lure that presents an illusion like everything it's always eaten all its life. Does the Senko present this illusion? Does it truly imitate life in the hands of the master puppeteers who pull it's string? Or is it that the Senko just hasn't made enough negative imprints on the general population yet? We must wait and see.

Keys to Your Senko Fishing Success

Chapter 2
The Seven Weightless Ways

The seven modules below are discrete building blocks. On any given day or season, I'll string together any one or all of these building blocks to create a successful weightless Senko presentation. You can too.


Make no mistake, an attractive, life-like splash is as important as anything else you do. The initial splash is an essential part of the presentation. I have often had fish swim away and leave my bait as I tried to entice them to hit it, because my partner cast and splashed his bait 15 feet away, behind the fish. Apparently, an enticing splash is often of more interest to a bass than a bait in its face!

Understand this, a bass will come over to investigate a splash, sight unseen. Also understand there is nothing more the bass would like to do when he gets there than to bite your bait as soon as he sees it. I call this phenomena "love at first sight" and it is purely instinctive. Upon getting near enough to eyeball the bait closely however, many bass will turn away from it, and slink back down to the bottom. This is an indication that something was rejected by the bass. If bass come up but turn away, change color or size of your Senko. Change hook weight or line weight. What you want is to get them to come up on the splash and quickly engulf it or at least keep from turning away and losing interest in the bait as it falls.


Ever drop a live earthworm in the water? A worm rolls in slow motion and both tips squiggle as it half-swims, half-glides down to the bottom. The worm tries to maintain a semi-controlled fall and keep some sort of horizontal equilibrium. A weightless Senko does just that. It swims and glides to bottom with the body rocking and both tips twitching. It controls its fall like an earthworm maintaining a horizontal equilibrium. The Senko maintains this control over itself whether it is nose-rigged, Texas-rigged or wacky-rigged.

Crayfish do this too. They free-fall to bottom by spreading their legs out like a parachute to slow their fall and maintain equilibrium. Injured baitfish also try to maintain some degree of controlled fall and horizontal equilibrium as they drift haplessly to bottom.

A weightless Senkos imitate all this, the parachute-like glide, the horizontal controlled fall, and many fish hit it on the drop. They rush up and smack it before the bait reaches protection of the bottom. To most people, this is the heart and soul of Senko fishing - the drop. If you don't do anything else discussed in this chapter (the splash, the tip, the twitch, etc.), concentrate on the drop.

No weight is used, so your hook and your line are the only variables that affect how much action the Senko has as it swims and glides on the drop. Experiment with different hooks (sizes, weights and models), different lines and line weights. Try it nose-hooked (through the nose like a live minnow), Texas-rigged ("texposed"), and wacky-rigged exactly in the middle. Take time out to do this in a pool. Learn what makes a Senko tick. You cannot easily learn this while out trying to catch fish at the same time. So take the time off to learn all the ins and outs of the bait's movements in a pool. You will have far more confidence and much better Senko presentation skills. You will know how to work it and how the bait reacts even when you cannot see it in dingy water. You will catch more fish because you took time out from fishing!


Many anglers say you should NOT twitch your Senkos. I think the mistake many anglers make is in the definition of what's a "twitch". It's not a Herculean jerk you know! Think of what we mean by a "twitchy trigger finger" or when we say somebody twitches their nose. In either of those examples, a "twitch" is a small, hardly noticeable movement. Twitching Senkos does not need to be much more than that either.

Make no mistake, a flinching, flickering Senko is OFTEN highly-desirable to fish. I've often had bass lose interest in an unadultered drop with the Senko. This happens more in hot water than cold. At times, fish would watch it and follow it down for a few seconds as it dropped, then lose interest and swim away. But twitch it a bit, and those disinterested departing fish make a beeline straight back to the Senko! If they start swimming away again, twitch it...they're back again!

In clear water, twitching is easier to pattern than in dingy or dark water. In clear water, you can observe what the fish do, how they respond, and adjust the twitch accordingly. You need to uncover whatever kind of twitching action works according to what the fish want to hit on any given day.

The visual feedback you get in clear water WORKS WONDERS for unlocking a twitching pattern. You can also figure out the twitch pattern in dingy or dirty water, but it is best to study the nuances of what the fish want in clear water. Then replicate that when you fish a dingy lake. This works because there's usually a seasonal aspect to twitching, rather than a clear vs. dingy distinction.

Personally, I would practice learning all the ins and outs of the bait's twitch movements in that pool again (which seems to be a common theme running through this chapter). Then you will know how to twitch it, and how the bait reacts to a twitch, even when you cannot see it.


Most people tip waiters or waitresses (if the service is good). I've heard that country boys tip cows, and they may have heard that city slickers tip taxi drivers. I also tip Senkos.

The reason I tip them is that sometimes for some unknown reason (line drag or it just starts to fall wrong), the wriggly double tip-swimming action of a Senko does not get started on the drop. In clear water, I can see the action's not started. In dingy water, I'll just tip them when the rod and line are in a good position to do it.

How I tip them is to sort of roll the rod under and up in an effort to toss a loop down the line above the surface. This does not move the Senko forward at all, but causes it to merely raise its head where the line is tied to it, effectively standing on its tail. When the tip is done, the Senko will then shoot backwards like an arrow tail-first, swing forward and backward like a pendulum a few times, then regain its equilibrium and exhibit strong tip-swimming action.

Yes, you can maneuver the Senko in under submerged tree branches, into a rock cut or weed edge like this. So, the tip can get the Senko a bit back into a hidey-hole, rock it, then exhibit strong tip-swimming action (just what the bass doctor ordered). Once you learn how to do it properly (in the pool again), you'll find situations to tip your Senkos all the time.


You may have attracted a fish with the splash. A fish may have eyeballed the Senko greedily, rushed it and turned away on the drop, its heart may have jumped when you twitched it or tipped it to stimulate better swimming action. You would have hoped a fish would rush up and smack it before it hits bottom, and often that's true. Many fish do hit Senkos on the drop, and there's even a theory that fish should prefer to do that before a descending bait reaches protection of the bottom.

However, the bottom itself is often the place where everything comes together! If a fish had been eyeballing the Senko as it dropped, just let your Senko settle on bottom and don't move it. Unlike weighted rigs or jigs, the weightless Senko's horizontal posture and long, stiff body keep it from delving deeply into weeds or snags. There's no such thing as leaving it lay motionless too long. The fish knows the Senko is there and will come over and inhale it...sooner or later. A bass cannot stand this temptation. However, if the fish eventually turns away from the Senko, guess what? Twitch it! The fish will be right back.

Can't see the fish because it's hidden in cover or the water's dingy? Doesn't matter. Let it lay there for the longest, then shake the rod tip sideways to make the bait quiver without moving forward...then let it lay there for the longest again. Often fish will just sit motionless and watch the Senko in front of them on the bottom for a long time before inhaling it


Next, you may want to work the Senko out over the bottom. Simply raise your rod tip slowly, pause and lower it slowly. The Senko will tip up towards you and rise off bottom as you raise the rod. This is like raising a flag so the bass can see it. On the horizontal drop they eat it. Then simply hold it to help the Senko regain horizontal equilibrium and tip-swims back down to bottom as you follow it down with the rod tip. On the horizontal drop they eat it. A semi-slack line is always required whenever the Senko drops. Pause for a pick-up (no such thing as too long) when you make bottom contact again, and repeat raising and lowering the rod until you're ready to reel in to make your next cast.


Now, those were the slow parts of the presentation - the splash, the drop, the bottom, etc. If there have been no takers, next reel in the Senko at a pace that draws fish up to follow it. This could be slow or moderate pace in cold water, but more often it's semi-fast reeling with sporadic twitches in hot water, and always a few long pauses to let the bait glide or drop back down deeper along the way!

Fish will usually come up to follow the bait as it's reeled in, then break off the chase and sink deeper when you pause it. There are two reliable ways to trigger bites (both require twitching).

First, either twitch it when the fish is behind it during the reeling phase. Second, let it fall to a depth somewhat deeper, and twitch it a few times before it fades into the murkiness. A following fish will often lurk below, stalking it on the fall, and the twitching triggers the reaction bite. Keep in mind, twitching Senkos does not need to be much more than that of a rabbit's nose.

That's all there is to it. Those are your seven ways to weightless Senko success!

Keys to Your Senko Fishing Success

Chapter 3
Beyond Weightlessness
(Dare to Weigh in to a Brave New World)

Guys often tell me, "They're not hitting Senkos right now, but I'm banging them on tube jigs or hula jigs" or some other kind of deeper diver. I often reply, "Hey, that's probably not the Senko's fault!"

By adding a little weight (in a way that still preserves the bait's action), Senkos can get down to the depths where the fish are! This is especially timely advice for post-spawn and beyond when many bass are vacating the shallow nursery grounds and slipping deeper into mid-depth summer haunts.

Anyone who has ever tried it has proven it to your own self. You don't need me to tell you that the deceptively simple-looking Senko works well weightless.

It's a simple process. Crack open a bag. Slip a glistening fresh one on the hook. Now you're good to go! No fancy rig to tie. No weight or sinker is required on the line. You see, the density of the plastic formulation for a 5" inch Senko makes it weigh 3/8 oz. right out of the bag. It's pre-weighted, so to speak. So, the Senko is heavy enough to sink all by itself.

At the same time the plastic formulation is as soft as it is heavy. So, the Senko is soft enough to create it's own life-like action as it shimmies and side-shifts on the drop. This action and movement is made without the angler needing to impart any action, without any unnatural appendages, without curly tails, without plastic lips, without diving bills, without metal blades or propellers, without frilly skirts, rubber legs or chicken feathers. What you see is what you get - a Senko is simply a perfect natural slender baitfish profile tapered at the head and tail.

What could be easier? Simply, let the density of your Senko make it sink on a slightly slack line. Let the softness of the plastic make your Senko side-shift and quiver. Then let it lay on the bottom for what seems like forever until a bass ambles over, procrastinates a bit, then chomps it up. What could be easier? Living is good, and catching is fun-tastic with weightless Senkos!

I'm interrupting this program. Excuse me but I'm going to have to bust up this "beautiful day in the neighborhood" syndrome that's been happening with Senkos. You see, if Mr. Rogers himself was fishing shallow water less than ten feet deep on a calm windless morning, then it's a beautiful day to use weightless Senkos. But if you've got any kind of a cross-wind, a cross-current, or water deeper than you can stand up in....

Welcome to the real world of bass fishing where you'll need some fries with that burger, and you will need a weight with those Senkos at times!

1) JoBee Pro Hook. The JoBee is a new Texas jig hook style that's been catching lots of bass this year. Made by J&J Lures (, the 1/8 and 3/16 oz. sizes of the JoBee preserve much of the body-rolling and tail-waggling motion of a 5" or 6" Senko. The JoBee has a custom-designed variant of the Gamakatsu EWG hook molded in it. That's one of the best hook styles ever made for Senkos! With the 5" inch Senko, I favor the action it gets from the 2/0 hook and the 4/0 version of the JoBee for the 6" inch Senko.

2) Charlie Brewer Snagless Slider Head. The Snagless Slider is one of the very earliest styles of Texas jig heads. With a thin light wire hook, I prefer the 1/16 and 1/8 oz. versions with the 4" inch Senko, light line and light tackle. It's suited for river and stream smallies, but works well in still water anywhere 4" inch Senkos, light lines and bass get together. I like to use flits and darts, then just kill it for long pauses (which is when you'll get bit), but a dead drift works too, as does slow 'n steady reeling! With finger pressure, I bend the mid-shank of the hook up to put more of a wide gap in it, to dip the point down a bit to allow me to tex-skin the hook on top, thereby making it weedless and snagless, also planning the lead plate up a bit too!

3) Texas Twist. I've written an entire chapter about this technique, but it deserves a special mention now as well. This method of rigging gives Senkos a rolling, lively twisting motion reminiscent of what's known to a few old-timers as a "swimming worm" rig. It's a beauty to throw Senkos any time on 1/8 or 3/16 oz. bullet sinkers, depending on depth, wind and current. Need a hot tip for fishing strong winds? Find some wind-blown points. Increase the sinker weight to 1/4 or 3/8 (as much as required to mitigate line belly) and swim some brightly-colored Senkos (169, 229, etc.) high up across wind-swept points at the same speed as a spinnerbait. My, how you'll slam them!

3) Florida Rig. Also keep in mind that Gary Yamamoto himself used a Florida-rigged Senko with 3/16 to 1/4 oz. screw-in weights to fish Senkos down to 20 feet deep, thereby taking 13th place in the Bassmaster MegaBucks tournament two weeks ago on Douglas Lake in Sevierville, TN.  In so doing, Gary scored enough cumulative points for the Top 150 tournament season to earn his spot as one of the world's best bass anglers competing in the Bassmaster Classic competition on August 2-4 in New Orleans. Weighted Senkos work!

4) Wacky Pendulum Jig. Can't say I have ever seen anyone else do this, but watch what happens when you wacky rig a 5" Senko with our 1/16 or 1/8 oz. series 42 round head jig. The jig head gets a wacky-rigged 5" Senko down to bass suspended deep in mid-water - or on deep water structure. With light line, you'll see the round jig head oscillating back and forth underneath the Senko like a pendulum on an old-fashioned grandfather clock. The two tips of the Senko scull back and forth like a hard-training member of an Olympic rowing team! A pointer from Top 150 pro and Gary's partner, Ben Matsubu, is to pinch and scruff up the very tips of your Senko to give them a slightly different color tone than the rest of the body. Bass like that! You'll get more bites. You can also dip the tips in a soft plastic bait dye as shown in the photo.

5) Mojo Rig, Carolina Rig, Splitshot or Dropshot. All these methods add weight 12" inches or more away from the hook, thereby preserving some of the weightless action of a Senko. Check out how to rig Senkos these ways in my handbook, Keys to Your Soft Plastic Fishing Success.

Add a weight and enter a brave new world of Senko fishing beyond weightlessness. As fish go down to depths beyond the shoreline nesting grounds, send a weighted Senko in after them. Whatever happens, trust the bait. Remember, the key to a truly great bait is its versatility. The Senko will not fail you with or without a weight. Just weight it right - which almost always means to use the lightest weight possible to accomplish the situation you face - whether it is increased depth, increased wind or current. Then let that deceptively simple-looking "something" about the Senko attract fish for you like magic!

Keys to Your Senko Fishing Success

Chapter 4
Senkos Still in Their Infancy
(and getting smaller)

Prior to writing this chapter, I've been on the water the last seven out of ten days. The only thing that prevented me from fishing all ten days is that I plumb wore down my fishing partners. I just couldn't rouse them out of bed a few of those off days. Personally, I don't think that's fair to me at all because I'm 44 and some of these other fellows are in their early twenties. But whatever your age, I hope you will enjoy the following.

Senkos were designed and first offered to anglers by Gary Yamamoto in 1997. That was about five years ago, and the Senko remained relatively unknown (except to a secretive bunch of top tournament anglers) until just last spring when a spark of Senko fever blazed brightly in the West and Northeast.

That fever ignited further in 2001, yet ways to use Senkos are still in their infancy, and most anglers have yet to discover ways to fish Senkos other than weightless.


Now when I say "Yamamoto Senko", it means a growing family of nine different sizes and models so far. Most fellows fish Senkos weightless, not yet having tried other ways to fish them. Senkos are truly very versatile and can be fished most ANY way that a soft plastic can be fished. Amazing results are currently being had by myself and a few of our pro staff fishing across the country with the smaller sizes of Senkos (4" and 3") on jig heads (of all things). Pat Xiques and Mike DelVisco, pro staffers from New York put me on to these Senko jigs. I'm also Texas-rigging Senkos with a plastic bead and Lake Fork Tackle's tungsten nickel Mega-Weights; and using Mojo rig (an elongated sinker you peg to the line one to two feet ahead of the hook with line-cushioning rubber strands. All three of these methods (Senko jigs, Texas rigs and Mojo rigs) are outperforming weightless Senkos for me lately, especially in water over 15 feet deep where many bass are now.

When it comes to the Senko, I do not think anyone knows why it works so well...but it does. For the last month or so, I have not found it necessary to even use any other type of soft plastic bait such as grubs, lizards, tubes, craws, etc. Sure, these other varieties of baits will all work, but the point is they have not worked better than just fishing Senkos all day every day for me lately. I've proven this day in and day out until it just did not make much sense to use other soft plastics except Senkos for me lately.


Now, don't get me wrong, I like using other soft baits - but I like pulling fish into the boat with no nonsense better! In a certain sense, you may think this seems monotonous to just use Senkos - but I do not see it that way. In fact, I'm really pumped about this since it is allowing me (at least for the moment) to totally eliminate one major mind-boggler we all face:

"Am I using the right bait right now?"

Well, right now I have a rare opportunity to just use Yamamoto Senkos to knuckle down and concentrate exclusively on presentation skills (the essence of fishing). I like that!


Another thing I am enjoying lately is that color does NOT really seem to matter as much with Senkos as with other lures. Personally, I have been using lots of 240 smoke pearl blue, the 031, 036 and 300 whites, 907 watermelon shiner (field test color), 229 bubblegum, and 169 chartreuse in
about that order of productivity the last few weeks. However, other guys I am fishing with (when I can get them out of bed) are using several other colors with success.

I cannot say I have ever eliminated the color conundrum when fishing other soft bait styles, but with Senkos lately, I just don't worry too much about whether I've got on the right color. I like that! The only exception I'd say is I sometimes worry with the unadulterated chartreuse baits. Chartreuse is awesome on smallmouth most of the time, but my experience has rarely found chartreuse soft baits to work equally well for largemouth (except early and late season cold water). Now, bubblegum (229) is also a bright, bold color, but largemouth do not act as mealy-mouthed about chewing bubblegum as they do about pure strains of chartreuse soft stuff. Keep it in mind, fellows. Especially when you're fishing locations with potential to produce a handsome largemouth among the smallmouth, go light on the unadulterated chartreuse most of the time. Except early or late in the cold part of the season, when largemouth whack chartreuse.


As I say, I've been using the smaller 3" and 4" Senkos (9S, 9J, 9B). Heck, I'll spill the milk and spill the beans by saying that we're whomping them bad on a new fatter 3" Senko that looks a lot like you cut 3" off the back of the 5" series 9 Yamamoto Senko. Oh yeah, the new fat 3" Senko also looks much like the shape of a young-of-year shad or young-of-year crawdad in late autumn.

Now, please don't flood our telemarketing staff (that'd be Geoff, Jeremy, Kay and Terri at the 800 number) with phone calls for these fat new 3" inchers. They are currently not in production at this time.


These smaller 3" and 4" Senkos (9S, 9J, 9B) will become increasingly important to anglers. That's my prediction for 2002. (Miss Cleo eat your Tarot-telling heart out.)

Whether a sport fisherman or serious tournament angler, you can rely on these small series of Senkos to accomplish the job of several other baits. For example, the small Senkos are suited for:

- The dropshot style of fishing
- The "French Fry" style of Carolina rigging
- The "Reaper" style of splitshot or mini-Carolina rigging

Small Yamamoto Senkos sure seem to be viable alternatives to tube baits on jig heads too. At least I've caught more fish on Senko jigs versus tube jigs this fall. A Senko jig has the same "spiral of death" fall on the drop with a hovering, gliding, puppy dog waggling tail action on the retrieve.

Plus, now that the new 3" fat Senko is coming out in the Holiday Kits, I'm fearful for the future of all the 3" Texas-rigged crawdads I used to know and love! So, what I am saying here is that small Senkos have potential to do the job as good or better than a number of other genres of small soft baits. That is, if you build up the the confidence and commensurate skill to sweep the other baits under the rug?

My second prediction is about that Mojo rig that I mentioned above. I predict you've just got to try them when you get the chance! I've been using the same single Mojo weight for a few weeks now in a rock-infested lake that used to chow down pounds of my jigs, Texas weights, Carolina sinkers, splitshots and dropshots daily. Not any more! That Mojo's put the lake bottom on a lead-free diet.

Th-Tha-That-That's All For Now, Folks!

I hope I've got your gears turning about the oh-so-pervasive impact that both weightless and weighted Yamamoto Senkos have had on bass fishing for me and I know also for many of you this past season! When the Senkos are working, they have awesome potential to reduce perplexing on-the-water decisions, and they can reduce a lot of trial-and-error fishing with different baits and different colors.

Well, as Porky the Pig used to say at the end of his cartoon show, "Th-Tha-That-That's all for now, folks!"

Keys to Your Senko Fishing Success

Chapter 5
Texas Twist Senkos

What is prespawn? Prespawn is the time of year when winter insists it will still confound and confuse what could otherwise be a pleasant spring. It is a time when chilly days follow warm days. Colder nights follow hot spells.

Following four windy, wintry days and nights in the low forties, Monday night last week stayed above 60 degrees for the first time this year. Tuesday was 85 degrees at noon, sun burning and windless as Chris Cliburn pumped fuel into his Ranger bass boat. Chris, Kasia (his brown Lab), and I planned to make a long distance run far up into Lake Powell's riverine headwaters where neither of us had been since last season. It would be as much traveling time as fishing to get there and back the same afternoon, but we just had to find out what was happening with the fish up there. Besides, we had fished the lower lake fairly into submission since about Valentine's Day.

We soared full speed well over an hour, barely touching water as we planed above the top of the wide expanses of endless lake. We pounded the boat's bottom fast and hard through the choppy narrow necks. Chris never slowed down as he drove. In the passenger seat, I tied rigs to Texas twist Senkos as we sped in the warm afternoon. Hot air hit us hard as we raced through it. We tuned our bodies and minds to become acclimatized to the air rushing at us, letting it pass through us without resistance as if we were part of it. The wind blew the city and the job out of us. We used the wind to make our spirits become part of the outdoors again.

We pulled into a spot  that was half a mile across at the mouth, about one half mile gouged back into the shore like someone scooped out a giant-sized tea cup. The three sides of the tea cup were ringed with cliffs several hundred feet high, with shallow rock slides and sand beaches at the base. As we sped into the back where four or five scraggly feeder arms fingered into it, the cliffs were glistening on all three sides of us baking in the full sun and reflecting the heat down on us. The heavy sweet melon smell of fish percolated up from the water's surface all around us. Chris cut the motor, and silence poured into our ears, filling the tea cup.

There is no name that anyone knows for this particular place, and we simply refer to it as "the spot where we had them the last time." In the silence of this place with no name, the sound of black crow wings was heavy and noisy. The crows flew low over the sandy rim of the tea cup looking for luck to wash up some fresh morsel for them to eat. I said to Chris, "They do not fly easily without the wind." Indeed, it took strong effort from them to beat their heavy black wings above us. Below us, hundreds of silver and black carp flew out of the warm shallow sand and rock jumbles. Wave after wave of carp rushing through the clear green water all around us, more graceful flyers than the crows in the windless sky.

Suspended on the water's surface between the crows and the carp, we hefted long casts with twelve pound test and Texas-rigged Senkos. The heavy, lumbersome Senkos whistled noisily as they whipped through the air, splatting down far ahead of us. We threw 159 Senkos at every rock and jut of land, catching and releasing many large-bellied prespawn largemouth and smallmouth. We Texas-rigged them on 1/8 or 3/16 oz. bullet sinkers with beads and 2/0 or 3/0 EWG hooks.

"When a day like this happens in spring, you must put aside whatever it is you are doing, and go fishing," declared Chris as we Texas-twisted fat bass after bass with the Senkos.

We both knew the time had surely passed when last light would allow us to reach the safe haven of the distant marina so far away. We did not care. We baited with 169 chartreuse, 229 bubblegum Senkos and merthiolate Senko Lites to match the deepening pinkness of twilight blushing the Western sky. "Fishing will be even better for us tomorrow," I read aloud as I interpreted the sky. We switched to bright white pearl and fluorescent lemon yellow Senko Lites on the Texas rigs, continuing to catch fish into the night's young darkness, until bold bites dwindled to mere half-pecks and disinterested bumps as bass batted the bothersome baits away from their resting spots.

Unplanned but not unwelcome, we prepared to wait the night in a sheltered rock cove with a sandy spit to beach the boat. We gathered dried tamarisk wood to spark a campfire which lasted a few hours until our exuberance wore off and tiredness overtook us. With only low embers left, Chris, I and his Lab, Kasia, retreated silently in the darkness back to the bass boat, to sleep out of reach of the many scorpions and rattlesnakes common in this remote area of the desert.

Sleep was sweet under the stars. The warm wind wrote dreams over us in the darkness of how many bass were to be caught in the morning.

In the first light of sunrise, we used the fast boat to journey further. The towering red rock cliffs of the desert giant began to lower their crowns and crumble into a different land, another place where black eagles ruled the air in front of the few remaining chalky promontories, ready to hurtle down with their talons on any sign of life that barely flinched below them.

The lake became a river as we fished on into its source. The chalky cliffs seeped spring water out of every crack now, staining the walls with dark beards dripping of watermarks. Trellises of hanging vegetation trailed off every wind-scooped depression and ridge in the tropical desert walls. As we stopped along the way, the fish we caught became increasingly bigger. They also grew predominantly more golden in color. Fine golden-flanked largemouths, glistening orange-eyed smallmouth, rogue stripers running down Senkos like lone wolves, stone-eyed walleyes, warmouth and bull 'gills. They all craved the Texas-rigged Senkos. Chris switched between the smaller 9S series as well as the 9, whereas I stuck to the 5" series 9 the whole time. Chris started at dawn with 229 bubblegum until the fish chewed that all up. Meanwhile, I quickly went through the last remnants of 159 from the prior day. I caught on a bagful of 208, then caught a few of my bigger fish on 213 during a relatively slower mid-morning period, then flew through a couple bags of 215 noticeably faster. I wished I had just one more bag of that 215 while Chris got pretty hot with 042 till he ran out of that, then caught on with 194. Whenever we wanted, we slipped on some 169 or some white, lemon or merthiolate Senko Lites in between bags of regular Senkos. We both cracked open 297 as our last picks of what we had left by the end of the second day.

I use Senkos as if they are the closest thing to live minnows or nightcrawlers. Just add water, and Senkos come alive. I would no more expect to use the same shiner or earthworm to catch several fish as I would use the same Senko. They're fragile like live bait, and you can go through them just as quickly.

Getting back to the Texas Twist as I call it, it's simply an unpegged 1/8 to 3/16 oz bullet sinker, a bead, and a light 2/0 to 3/0 hook. This is definitely not a new rig, but it's definitely not what most guys do with Senkos. Most guys will deadstick weightless Senkos or wacky rig them. Most of the season, deadsticking is fine, especially when dropping casts down next to fish-holding cover. Right now however, meaning late prespawn and post spawn, you can light their pants on fire with the "Texas Twist". It covers more water quicker, and the rig stimulates even more of that incredible life-like Senko action.

The sliding bullet sinker and bead will recoil and shoot back up the line when you twitch the rod tip, or as the rig rumbles over naturally-rugged terrain. When the weight recoils, the Senko will kick out as far as the line will allow it, like a bull barreling out of the chute, rolling its body from side-to-side and tail-waggling the whole time. On a steady draw with the rod tip, the Senko tail will flutter more than a weightless Senko, and the body will flex, roll and squirm uncontrollably as it swims along.

I favor the smallest hooks which will still not miss bites. I feel small hooks give more action to the Texas Twist Senko. With 12 to 14 lb. test, small may mean 2/0 with a "normal" gap to grab most snappers. Some days, you may want the widest gap you've got on a 3/0 to snare them.

Still, we traveled further, until the cliffs and promontories wore themselves down, ran out and were no more. Circling round a great bend in the river that was teeming with fish, we reached the end. There was no more water that would float us, just a thin curtain of aqua that covered shoals of loose sand shifting in the wind. Beyond the great bend, a stark panorama came into our sight. Morbid-looking mounds and upheaved piles of loose brown dirt were all we could see now. Flying along the barren horizon behind them, black vultures coursed along with barely a wingbeat, like undertakers waiting in the sky. It was the place where stragglers would have to make it out of the dry wastelands to reach the waters of life.

Beyond here, there were no more fish to be caught. Chris turned the boat around. We traveled back into the familiar. Back home, and back into four windy, wintry days and cold nights that followed the hot spell we spent catching prespawn bass on the San Juan River.

Keys to Your Senko Fishing Success

Chapter 6
The Simpler Swimming Worm

Weightless worms or Senkos are not good karma in a least not for me! I usually won't try worms weightless in a wind, you see, since I have something better, a weighted Roller Rig for worming in the wind. However, some guys will insist on throwing worms weightless in gusts, rifling casts either directly upwind or directly downwind (usually upwind is better). Then let the wind force impart all the action to the line (NOT to the lure) while the angler, with rod pointed directly up or downwind, maintains barely any tension for some "feel" on the line to detect a bite (which may include inching in slack to barely keep tension for the "feel"). That's called "fishing the line" - an advanced procedure with any form of light lure in the wind, and one that requires a lot of concentration and the skill of an expert angler.

Rather than worms, my first choice for fishing in wind would be a double-bladed willow spinnerbait. A small white front blade, big hot chartreuse back blade (both with "diamond dust" clear coats) and a chartreuse/white or fire tiger skirt! I just love to launch such big brightly-colored, gaudy spinnerbaits in the wind. They're like cop cars speeding down the highway with the sirens and cherries turned up high. But even still, you "fish the line" in the wind when using a big spinnerbait, you don't fish the lure!

Now, about that weighted Roller Rig? Ah, yes. I've caught bass after bass on it some windy days when spinnerbaits went hitless! Sometimes I don't try to figure out just works!

The Roller Rig starts out as a Texas Twist rig, and I've written an entire chapter about the Texas Twist technique, but it deserves a separate discussion here now as well. This method of rigging gives worms a rolling, lively twisting motion reminiscent of what's known to a few old-timers as a "swimming worm" rig. It's a beauty to throw Senkos any time on light 1/8 or 3/16 oz. bullet sinkers, under any general wind and water conditions or depth. Texas Twist Senkos roll and kick, as you can read all about it in that book. But when it gets windy, find yourself some wind-blown points. Increase the sinker weight of a Texas Twist rig up to 1/4 or 3/8 (as much as required to mitigate line belly) and swim some brightly-colored Senkos (169, 229, etc.) high up across wind-swept points at the same speed as a spinnerbait. My, how you'll slam them!

What really makes a worm "roll" like a corkscrew and what defines a Roller Rig is to put a bend in the worm. Sometimes, just a pronounced lumpy "hump" where you tuck the hook point back under the skin is enough to make a Senko roll, and I tend to do that trick with an ordinary Texas Twist rig. However, the photo below shows two better and oh-so-simple ways to effect a full-blown Roller Rig:

  1. Either put the hook bend back through the worm a little "too far" back,
  2. And/or roll the worm head about 90 degrees between your fingertips before you re-insert the hook back into it. 

As you see, I fancy a bead, believing it serves some as a ball bearing. The powerful swivels I choose are by SPRO, tied in about 12 inches above the worm. Use an 1/8 or 3/16 oz. bullet sinker depending on depth, wind and current. I fancy smaller tungsten sinkers with slick Teflon line tubes helps the whole rolling motion. In increasingly stronger cross-winds, amp up the sinker size to 1/4 (or as much as required to mitigate line belly). Keep your rod tip low to the water, start reeling before the bait even hits the water, and burn some brightly-colored Senkos (169, 229, etc.) at the same speed as a spinnerbait. Work them high up in the water column across wind-swept points - or swim them in the waves slapping against shoreline boulders and shoals. Bass will rocket up from underwater lairs to blast the Roller Rig riding below the surface. Sometimes suddenly killing the bait so often triggers bass that may be swimming unseen stalking below and behind it. Other times, stopping the bait causes trailing bass to turn away. If you see bass break off the chase when you stop it, try this instead - a sharp twitch and long jerk with increased reeling speed to trigger the bite! Each day is different, and constant close observation plus diligent retrieval trial-and-error pays off!

When else to use it? I may regret telling you this but here goes. The Roller Rig is a good one to try in perfectly flat, dead calm water on dark cloudy days just before a rain hits!

The wind is our friend

The Roller Rig allows an aggressive use of the Senko or worm -- for when wind or pre-frontal calm makes bass suddenly active.

Many days, I have gone from rather reluctant, disinterested fish - only to have a sudden wind rise up, and have their aggressive feeding fervor light up! In some places and seasons, these winds are predictable. For example, a seasonal "brunch" wind that always seems to gust daily about 11 in the morning. In other locales, there may be a stiff late afternoon wind, depending on season.

So understand when your winds come by day and by season. When they do, it pays to be positioned on some shoreline spot that will be downwind of the prevailing direction of the wind. In some cases, these spots will be funnels, shoals, or points that channel the wind-blown water currents -- or catch-basins that bear the full force and brunt of the wind pounding their shores. In other cases, the spots will be "wind lanes" that develop along lateral sides of islands or shoals that "lay" the same way as the prevailing winds. So with a wind from the southwest, an island or shoal that generates a wind lane would lay canted from southwest to northeast. Hard to describe these areas in writing, but I've given it a shot in my article, Fetch Me a Breeze Please. When you do find these spots of your own, and then look how they're positioned on a map, you will KNOW why bass come up into these spots on a wind! Trust me, all the resident bass KNOW to rise up in these areas with the wind too!

I'd like to say my discovery of the Roller Rig was something wise. Truth is it was more serendipity than smartness. It was a fortunate discovery made by accident one stifling hot, windless day when fishing results could be best described as tepid. But torpid bass became fired torpedos as suddenly a strong wind wall hit! If we didn't stick them, the bass would pull our Senkos down the hook on every cast. All balled up in a bunch, we'd wind in rapidly to re-straighten them. Twirling like corkscrews, there was just no way to keep the bass off them. The Roller Rig was born. Since that first day, it has matured into a reliable technique I've been glad to share with you today.

Keys to Your Senko Fishing Success

Chapter 7
Larval Baitfish in July Equals Senko Shiner

July is the time of season when regardless of where you are located or what bait species you have there, cohesive schools of miniature young-of-year of all species are abundant. Not just larval shad but larval bluegills, crappies, minnows and all species swarm in dense schools, dimpling the surface in big sheets of life in July.

When bass are feeding on these tiny larval baitfish clouds, it can be very frustrating to anglers. Fussy eaters that they are, bass can dial into this abundant early summer food source almost exclusively - and tune out larger baits, much to our frustration.

Remember: Senko means Flash! Whether clear or dark water, preyfish always have reflective sides that flash light...and that's just what the Senko Shiner does! The Senko Shiner features flashing gold and silver scales in a translucent baitfish body. Sparse black spots breathe life into it!

This is the situation - bass feeding on larval shad clouds and ignoring other offerings - that prompted me three seasons ago (July, 2001) to produce the Senko Shiner color # 905 (clear with gold, silver & black flakes) to imitate these flashing schools of larval baitfish in early summer.

I do feel bass mistake this Senko Shiner to be a flashing school of larval bait, not an individual adult baitfish. It is the primordial instinctive perception by the bass of the "larval cloud" contained within the flickering gold, silver and black flakes that matters here. To attempt to prove this point, I've even rigged the Senko Shiner in a circular "doughnut" shape on the hook, which is no less effective in these larval shad feeding situations than a straightly-rigged Senko. In fact, I often watch bass jump from one side to the other of the Senko Shiner as it falls, seeming to use the sides of their bodies as if trying to herd and ball my Senko into a tighter cluster before slurping down the "baitfish school".

During this time of year, look for clouds of larval baitfish in your area. You'll know the bass are keying on them when you see sheets of fry sprinkling out of the surface by the hundreds in unison. These dense larval clusters drift in clouds since they are too tiny to maneuver under their own power. At this size, they really haven't any worthwhile swimming power yet. They can't outswim predators.

When bass are doting on tiny larval shad or other larval species, it is more of a slow-swimming, mouth-open leisurely feeding pace since the small fry with tiny fins do not swim well. They flit and flash about in perfect unison, using the dense school as their only protection, which is not much.

Toss the Senko Shiner into this situation. It was designed to imitate a helpless drifting school of larval baitfish in early summer. It has proven effective at that for me these past three July seasons and can work for you too this glorious month of July, 2003. Please enjoy.

Keys to Your Senko Fishing Success

Chapter 8
Fast-Moving Mojo Senko Shiners

I'm coming at you a bit late with this chapter. You see, it's mid-August and I've been on the water 14 or more hours a day for the last five days straight. Vinny from San Diego came up for the week. In all my 44 years, I've never known anyone to fish as hard as Vinny - except for myself. Put us together, and we put 900 miles on the water in our quest for the very biggest and most bass the distant headwaters of Lake Powell had to offer us last week.

We caught bass on almost every lure we threw at them from surface to bottom and back again. You name it, it caught them. Of course, some lures worked better than others! What worked best for us was a Mojo weight about 12" inches ahead of the 4" inch series 9S Baby Senko Shiner color 905.

Best was a 1/0 thin yet strong wire series 63 Gamakatsu EWG hook to give a flighty wavering movement to the stick-like Senko bait.

Now, the Mojo rig is a thin pencil lead type of sinker with a line-hole to thread the line through it. It comes with these black rubber strands and a threader tool you pull through the hole also. The rubber strands snub up the line inside the sinker and it keeps the weight in place. You clip off the rubber tag ends. Quite snagless!

Best of all, as the 4" Baby Senko drops off a shady ledge, rock or into a bush or tree, the Mojo rig imparts the coolest dying flutter of a mortally-wounded baitfish that's lost all control as it careens to the bottom in a zigzag tailspin.

When you rip it or retrieve it quickly, that Baby Senko Shiner just flits and darts all over behind that Mojo rig! Lifting and ripping it high up into the water column above structure definitely attracted these summer bass to the fast-moving reaction baits. They would belt the baits as they flip-flopped or gyrated recklessly back down behind the Mojo - or whack them after the active baits settled to their final resting spots on bottom.

Now, I am not saying that the Mojo rig Senko has BETTER action than the weightless Senko. But I am saying it caught more and bigger bass for Vinny and I than the slow-falling weightless stereotype in the deeper summer waters we fished this past week.

Second best baits for us were shad-colored Yamamoto Hula jigs (168, 187, 237) Again, a quick reaction type bite induced by up to 5/8 oz. of fast-dropped, snap-jigged weight. Best was to get the jig right up against the edge of some form of shade - a rock or stairstep ledge, and just bang the jig up against the side of it.

Give the fast-moving Mojo Senko Shiners and Hula shad jigs a whirl! It couldn't hurt to try. It just may get you a cool reaction bite from hot summer bass like Vinny and I had all last week.

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