The Senko is one of the best baits for catching bass. It’s easy to fish, most people have one laying around somewhere in the garage or at the very least can pick one up for a few bucks at their fishing store or online. The Internet is full of information on them, but most of it is very vague and non-specific about how to actually fish them most effectively with what techniques.
I’m going to go over what we believe to be the best way to use any type of Senko-style worm (whether you’re using a ZMan plastic, Gambler Bait Company’s “Pimple” Senkos, Strike King Pro Senkos or just rigging some pink worms with splitshot). Eventually, we’ll talk about different brands of Senkos and why they fish the way they do, but let’s just start with simple things to get you catching more fish.
First off, there are four rules for fishing with this bait Senko:
Use a Rig That Keeps the Bait on or Near the Bottom
Leader Must Be Tight
Fish It Slow
Retrieve It Back to the Shore Slowly When You Get Stuck
You heard us right, we said no drop-shotting, no split-shotting, no super-fast retrieves. If you’re dropping it down to the bottom then bouncing it back up every time only to have the bait pulled down again by the weight, you’re doing it wrong! And you shouldn’t care if your best friend told you that it’s how he does it. When fishing with Senkos, the weight stays on the bottom and doesn’t need to be bounced up. With a little finesse, you can even use this to regulate depth changes while remaining stationary yourself.
Additionally, leader length is important for getting good hookups when using a Senko. Too short of a leader and your hook will just rip out or not have time to set before being pulled off again by the weight. The general rule of thumb is about 10″ of the line between where your weight is attached and where your bait is tied.
That means that if you are targeting fish near the surface you need to use a shorter leader, but if the depth is your concern then go with longer leaders. As for how much weight you should be using (if any), that’s up to you and the kind of fishing you’re doing.
Now that we’ve got those rules out of the way, let’s talk about actually catching some fish with these things! The first thing we’ll discuss is Senko rigging setups. There are two ways to rig a Senko: Texas-style and Carolina-style. Let’s look at both:
The Texas Rig mimics live bait rigs used by bass anglers everywhere. You tie on a split shot or slip sinker about 4″ above your hook, then connect another small “dropper” sinker about 4″ below that. The first thing you’ll notice is that the hook doesn’t stick up very high off the line, and this is a key point. When fishing Senkos with these rigs, you need to make sure your handle goes through your split shot/slip sinker before wrapping around as if you were rigging a worm on a jighead. This helps keep the bait from sliding down too far during the cast!
Another variation of rigging a Senko Texas-style is tying them directly onto an offset hook or flipping hook instead of using a slip sinker. You can even use flukes for different kinds of presentation. These methods do not hold the weight as securely though and put more stress on your knot.
The Carolina rig is another popular way to fish Senkos. You start by taking your hook and skipping the eye if you’re using a jighead, then threading on an unweighted worm. Then tie on your leader (we like to use fluorocarbon for this), making sure that there’s only about 3″ of line between the split shot/slip sinker and where your hook comes through the worm’s body. If you prefer fishing with weightless Senkos or natural colors, try rigging them onto a collapsible jighead like Gamakatsu Octopus hooks.
With these setups, we like fishing about 1-2′ off bottom for most applications. There are many variations of these rigs as well, but the most important thing to remember is that your rig needs to be secure! You’ll lose a lot of fish if you’re using the wrong weight, the wrong hooks, or even fishing with too much slack in your line.
Another way to fish Senkos that I’ve found effective is flipping them over grass/weeds. You can even do this without adding weight by grabbing one end of your worm and swiftly swinging it back behind you while making a forward motion with your rod tip. This skips the bait down into open water where many bass will ambush it on its way past.
I’ve caught countless fish with this method around reedy shorelines without any added weight, so give it a shot if you don’t have anything else you want to add anyway.
You can fish Senkos in all kinds of situations, but here are some common scenarios for you to try whenever you get the chance!
Fishing in open water is my favorite way to fish with Senkos because it allows you to cover a lot of distance and maximizes your chances of running into lots of suspended bass in one area.
We like dropping my rig to the bottom with a split shot or bobber stop, letting it sit for about 15 seconds, then slowly beginning to “walk the dog” with my line by lifting it 6-12″ off bottom and shaking/reeling my rod tip back & forth. This is usually where we get the most bites. So with all that let’s finish our short guide on Senko worms and how to fish with them!