Wacky Worming - Senko Style!
By Pat Xiques
I realize that it isn't the sexiest worm rig available to man, but does it ever catch fish. I have counted on its effectiveness (awkward appearance and all) during tournaments for the past five years. Most "serious" bass fisherman would never dream of rigging a worm incorrectly, by placing the hook in the midsection of the bait. I realize that I'm in a sport where the nicest boat or the guy who best matches the paint scheme of his truck to his boat seems to matter even more than his fishing ability. Most fishermen wouldn't want to be caught dead fishing in this wacky manner. After all - they're worms, and worms are meant to be
rigged weedless, with slip sinkers...aren't they? Although the Texas and Carolina rigs have their places in my heart, the "Wacky" style of fishing has put a lot of bass in my livewell.
Intro to the Wacky World
I learned this technique from a good friend, Ray Scully of Long Island New York. Scully, a successful tournament bass fisherman, showed me how to skip a tiny 4" worm under docks and overhanging bushes. He rigged the bait with a small Gamakatsu, Octopus-style hook and placed a small section of a brad or tack nail in one end of the bait. This gave the bait enough weight to make it possible to throw it on 8-pound spinning gear. When I tell you I had to be convinced to actually throw this ugly thing, I'm not kidding. After all, my truck matched my boat; I didn't want to be seen throwing that thing. "I'll stick to my 4" finesse bait rigged the 'proper' way, Texas-style," I said.
Well, I was out-fished to the point of embarrassment that day. Giving in after the third five-pounder came over the side, I decided to try a little wacky worming for myself. Immediately, I started catching fish. Although I couldn't figure it out, why worry about fixing it if it ain't broke?
My Wacky Technique
At first I was convinced that this style of fishing was a light line technique, to be used only on line shy, skittish bass. I have since found out differently. I now rarely pick up that spinning outfit when wacky worming. I use a light action baitcasting rod - 6'6" with 10 to 12-pound line. These days my bait of choice is the Senko. Wacky worming is yet another way to fish this unique and deadly bait. While I traditionally use the 4" Senko (9S), I have used the 5-inch (9) with great success in a wide array of situations.
The method that I use goes as follows. I cast, skip, pitch or flip the Senko, then I let the bait free fall for a second or two, shaking my rod tip approximately 4-6 inches at a time. I might do this a dozen times. If I haven't had a strike, I continue to let the bait free fall. I repeat this until the bait either gets to the bottom or falls into the zone where I think the fish are.
Make sure that you try this while fishing for bedding bass next spring. I can't tell you the number of bedding bass I have caught while fishing this technique. I guess it's the completely different presentation that makes these fish go ballistic. For me, it works best when I can't get a stubborn bedding fish to hit a traditional jig, grub or tube. Believe me, if they won't hit the standards I know I've got 'em with the wacky Senko!
When you get bit (and you will) the strike feels like a slight pressure on the line, much like what you feel when you are dragging some weeds on your worm or jig. Hold on for just a second and you will usually feel the fish moving away with the bait. Other times, the hits are so savage in nature that the fish actually hooks itself on the initial strike.
To set the hook, simply reel in the slack and put steady pressure on the rod, which will drive the razor-sharp Yamamoto Splitshot hook right into the jaw hinge area. You can usually drive these hooks in fully by just turning the reel handle. In fact, a vigorous hook-set will work against you in this application.
I think the "Wacky" presentation mimics a dying minnow or shad, fluttering on its way to the bottom. Bass see this as an easy meal and eat it willingly. I have also been told by some that this style of worming imitates a terrestrial of some sort, like a larva or a nightcrawler that somehow made it into the lake. I'm not sure what it imitates; I just know that it works on bass that have refused a number of other offerings. I've proved it to myself, time after time.
How to Rig the Senko
After using the technique so frequently, I have come up with a few tips that might help you when you try wacky worming - Senko style:
Before you place the hook through the bait, fold the bait in half to find its middle point (fig. 1). After you become more familiar with rigging the Senko this way, you won't have to go through this process every time.
Be sure to use the Yamamoto split-shot hook (fig. 2 and fig. 3). I use a #4. This hook design results in very few missed fish. It also gets the bass in the corner of the mouth, at the hinge - almost every time. I like this because it's less likely to hook a fish deep inside its mouth where it might be hard to disgorge or even worse, kill the bass. Four-ounce tournament weight deductions for dead fish are an unnecessary thing of the past.
Use a light action rod. Although I prefer baitcasting equipment for my Senko Wacky Worming, you may choose to use spinning gear. Both can work well. Being a tournament bass fisherman, I just like the improved odds of using 10 to 12-pound line, compared to the 6 to 8-pound found on most spinning rigs. I don't think that in most situations line size matters with this rig. It's the natural, free falling motion of the lure that attracts most strikes. I realize that this is a general statement and sometimes you still have to go light. Let the bass tell you. Also, a lighter action rod decreases the number of baits you tear off on the cast. The limber rod absorbs most of the shock that is the byproduct of using baitcasting gear.
Have a wide array of colors when it comes to Senko fishing. I have seen bass go long distances for some colors on certain days, and just meander by other colors on that same day. Experiment.
For fishing under docks with pilings or under overhanging trees, I have come up with a way to rig the bait weedless. Take a 1-inch section of plastic worm and stick the split-shot hook right in the nose, just as if you were Texas-rigging the little section of worm. Pull the hookpoint out of the worm section almost immediately, sliding it over the eye of the hook and up over the knot. I then rig the Senko Wacky style. After the bait is in place, I stick the hook point back into the free end of the small piece of plastic worm, covering the point of the hook. Use soft, thin-diameter worms so that you won't have to generate so much force with the rod to break through the plastic during the hookset. I use clear worms so that I can use them on any
Don't hesitate to throw this set-up in some strange places. For example, it's fantastic when fish are suspended in open water. Merely throw it out and wiggle your rod tip. Count the bait down until you find the zone that's holding the active fish. You can also rig this bait wacky/weedless style on a flipping stick while fishing lily pads. I like to hop it over the surface of the pads and shake it in the open holes in the vegetation. This will give two totally different presentations to the fish. One on top of the pads and the second as it falls into the openings. You can narrow down which one is producing more strikes for you on a given day, resulting in more fish producing presentations.
The Senko is one bad bait; whether wacky-rigged or Texas-rigged (fig. 4), you can't fish it wrong, period. Add the versatility of the Senko to your arsenal and I promise that you, like I did, will learn to rely on this bait day in and day out. The Senko is a go-to bait for all seasons.