The SenkoSeptember 4, 2019
This blog is intended to provide information to aid new anglers in increasing their catch ratios and to hopefully increase their confidence on the water. The information within may not be in line with other sources, or may go against the grain in terms of what is accepted as common practice. This will solely be a person account of things that have worked for me in the past and present in a hopes to increase the overall confidence, knowledge and skill of our members.
I will start off with a very basic bait and two presentations, which are also proven tournament winners in every aspect of the sport.
The Senko, stick bait, or pencil bait as it is known by, is fished by casting out to a high percentage area and allowing the bait to fall on a slack line. This is can be achieved by lowering your rod parallel to the water at the end of your cast, once the bait reaches the water lift the rod tip without closing the bail. At this point you should have enough line out to allow the bait to free fall to bottom provided the water depth is less than the length of your rod. If fishing deeper depths, you can pull off extra line and move your rod from side to side to get the excess line to lay on the water and not bunched up between the reel and first guide. After closing the bail you need to pay attention to the line to see if it jumps, starts to straighten out, or moves right or left. If you have any indication of a strike, reel up excess line and set the hook.
There are an abundance of companies that sell Senko’s with a color selection that rivals the amount ice cream flavors available on the market. The sizes generally range from 4” to 7” and most commonly you will find 5” or 6” stocked at your local stores. I personally like a 5” senko.
Hook placed at the mid-section of the bait, you can offset to the left or right to achieve a different action while the bait falls. In addition to piercing the bait with just the hook, you can also place an O-ring of appropriate size in the center of the bait and slightly pierce the bait under the O-ring. The advantage of this is normally when you catch a fish, the senko will ride up the line away from the fish and stay secured allowing you to reuse the bait many times which will save you a bit of cash in the long run.
An exposed hook will always have a higher hookup ratio, however this comes with an inherent risk to the fish which leads to my recommended hook when starting out.
The circle hook, by its design it will normally always make contact with the corner of the mouth when pressure (hook-set) is applied. This greatly reduces the chances of gut hooking the fish when compared to straight shank, wide gap, and octopus hooks. A new angler may not recognize a bite quickly enough to prevent the fish from swallowing the bait and hook and this is why the circle hook works so well for new anglers.
My preferred hook is the Mustad Demon Circle 1X fine wire in 2/0 size. I have found they provide the best hook up ratio and in the 8 years I have been fishing them, I can still count on one hand how many fish that have been gut hooked.
Hook placed through a portion of the head (thick section) of the senko and fed down the shank until it covers or meets the eye, then piercing the body of the bait at a point which suits the hook to be used and finally slightly burying the hook point in bait.
The Texas rigged Senkos weed-less attributes are key in fishing near thick cover, grass, stumps, or any other area that an exposed hook would cause you grief. This is my preferred method for skipping under docks or overhanging trees, as you cannot always see if any dock lines/branches are lurking below the surface.
After testing many brands, the VMC XL Wide-Gap Worm Hook in size 3/0 now has a permanent place in my tackle. The two biggest factors that have led me to using these hooks for all of my weed-less presentations are the small barb located just below the eye that helps keep the bait positioned properly and the slight vertical offset of the needle point which I believe greatly increases hookup ratios.
My go-to brand of Senko would have to be Lunkerhunt Lunker Sicks. Their average weight ranges from 10 – 11.5 grams and I find the sink rate ideal to match the depths in which I prefer to fish. As for color selection, I will at a minimum have three colors in the yak. A bright, dark, and natural color selection, this will allow you to present an effective color for the given water conditions you are facing.
The Senko is a bait that can be effectively fished in and near thick cover or open water and one that provides a unique action that will normally always produce at least one bite on any given day. It is also one that many anglers consider a true confidence bait and will always rely on it when the bite gets tough. If one thing is true about fishing, confidence in a bait is a key ingredient in fishing it successfully.
Tight lines all!