By Bob Lechel
June 27, 2011
The Senko has been around for over a decade with its seductive shimmy and fall that catches bass no matter the season. Most bass anglers’ top 10 lists for “baits you always have in the boat” include some version of the 4”, 5”, 6” or 7” Senko. About a year ago I was introduced, quite rudely I might add, to one of the less well known Senkos.
Last summer I was fishing a local clear water reservoir during one of the New Mexico Bass Federation Nation qualifiers. The second day of the tournament, I was paired with a local angler who immediately started to put the screws to me from the back of the boat. Not only was he catching more fish than I was, but the quality was much better than mine. Swallowing my pride, I finally asked him what, exactly, he was using. As an avid tournament angler, confidence in what I am doing is paramount to a successful day. If I change my bait or technique every time my partner catches a fish, I will most likely be in for a long day.
In this instance, however, the question was long overdue. I thought he was using a 4” Senko that he had shortened. I was way off. The culprit of my crow eating was the 3” Fat Senko ( 9C series), a short but stout sibling of the Senko family. This Senko, although short in length, has been beefed up in girth, to the point where it looks like it’s been to the buffet line a few too many times and the restaurant manager is now asking it to leave.
To set the stage for this day of “enlightenment”, the fishery was in a transition stage. The yellow perch, one of the primary forage for the resident smallmouth, are typically out deeper this time of year. Instead they were scattered from the bank out to 30 feet. The smallmouths were definitely keyed in on these tasty morsels. My partner employed the 3” Fat Senko on a Tex-posed split shot rig and was letting it free fall to the bottom in all depths. He would check to see if there were any takers on the initial fall. If there weren’t, he would then give the bait three quick jerks off the bottom, letting it free fall back.
This technique was out-producing my drop shot rig 3 to 1 and the quality of the fish was much better. I finally switched to a 4” Senko on a split shot rig, but it still didn’t produce like the 3” Fat Senko. The shorter/fatter profile was definitely what the fish wanted. I had a tournament on the same lake about two weeks later, so I promptly got some 3” Fat Senkos on order. The split shot rig technique really didn’t produce as the perch finally moved out deeper and schooled up during this event. The drop shot rig was the key at this tournament. This technique produced the majority of our fish.
The 3” Fat Senko can be rigged weightless (Texas, Tex-posed, or wacky) on a split shot rig or on the drop shot rig. I normally don’t have the patience for the weightless technique with a bait this small, so I tend to go with the drop shot. I like to use 8lb fluorocarbon with a 7’ medium or medium light action (ML for the split shot rig) fast action St Croix Legend Extreme rod. We rigged the split shot rig Tex-posed as there were numerous trees and salt cedars in the areas we were fishing.
For the Tex-posed split shot rig you will a need a 1/0 or 2/0 extra wide gap hook to make sure you have enough clearance for the chunky bait to drop away from the hook and get good penetration when the fish strikes. I normally nose hook this bait while drop shotting. I usually use a hook such as the Gamakatsu finesse wide gap or drop shot/split shot hooks.
Before that fateful day last summer, highlighted by me netting a lot of quality fish for my non-boater, I was completely oblivious to the effectiveness of the 3” Fat Senko. It’s now a part of my finesse arsenal and will “always be in the boat” for those tough bite situations.