Wacky Thought: Senkos and Similar Baits Work All Year

Last year, I really put the Yamamoto Senko and Yum’s Dinger-type stickbaits to the test. From spring through fall, I fished these baits everywhere I decided to wet a line with phenomenal catches to report from these outings.

As late fall began to turn into winter, I still kept tossing that Senko on my fishing excursions. Now most “experts” will tell you that come such late-season angling, “plastics season” is now well in your rearview mirror and there are much more suitable baits for this time of year.

But, I have to assume, bass don’t read all the publications we anglers do, because during some very cold-water periods, the bass and some crappies kept slamming these stickbaits.

I fished the 4- to 5-inch Senko and Dinger right up to first ice, and actually one day before ice-over on the lake I had been frequenting, I yielded my largest bass of the entire season—an 8.30-pound largemouth. That particular day, I landed over 15 bass, and besides the 8-pounder, three more bass in the 3- to 4-pound range. These fish stayed on the Senko bite until there was no open water to be found.

Well, come first ice, I started prepping for the upcoming ice fishing season. Those weeks up to “safe ice” seem to really drag on, don’t they?

Finally, news of safe ice reports began flowing in and I started rigging rods for an upcoming ice outing. I was kicking around the idea of trying some all-plastic rigs for bass through the ice, when I remembered the late-season Senko success.

So I rigged a little smaller version—a 3-inch Senko—on one of my rods. I never heard of anyone using them through the ice, but thought it sounded interesting.

My first stop was the lake I fished just before first ice. I drilled my holes as usual, and with various rigs I was connecting with some decent ‘gills and crappies.

Remembering I had rigged a Senko for a little on-ice experimenting, I grabbed my rod and started working through my series of drilled holes. Three holes into my experiment, I felt heaviness on the end of my 24-inch graphite ice rod. I set the hook and the rod bent in half. Fish on! After a short battle under the ice, that familiar bigmouth poked up through the hole and a nice 2.5-pound largemouth had succumbed to a lip grab.

I then proceeded to land another eight plump winter bass and one giant crappie by moving from hole to hole dippin’ the Senko.

I fished the rest of the winter with much success fishing both a 3-inch Senko and Yum Dinger, but also dialed down the size by working a Bass Pro Shop Stick-O in the 2-inch series. I tried bumping the stickbait sizes up to 4- and 5-inch models, but neither size proved as successful as the 3- and 2-inch baits.

Here’s how I go about dippin’ the Senko.

As I have mentioned in past articles, I drill quite a few holes during my ice fishing sessions. I move about the lake searching various depths, cover and structure. I am usually multi-species fishing with multiple rigs, and when switching over to the Senko-type baits I really move from hole to hole working an area the same way I move down the bank during open water.

No matter what the size of the bait, my technique remains the same in the search to locate active fish. I start my presentation from just below the ice on down to the bottom. I slowly lower these stickbaits about a foot at a time. I impart little action into these baits; just the slightest hand movement or even wind drag across the line gives the bait a very subtle, pulsating-type appearance. This type of presentation seems to get the most response, almost a dead-sticking action.

If fish seem to be a little more aggressive, I will add a little more twitching to the bait. But for the most part, just lower the bait, pause, give it a little action then continue your descent until active fish are located.

As far as rigging the bait, I use a simple wacky-rig setup. I do not use any type of weight; just the dense plastic that allows the bait to sink on its own. Now as far as hooks, I use a size 4 Owner Mosquito Hook on the 3-inch baits, and when dropping down to the smaller 2-inch bait, an Owner Mosquito Hook size 6.

While I didn’t try last year, I think the smaller 2-inch Stick-O might work well below a float for crappies and big ‘gills, though I caught my share of bass on the smaller baits too. Looks like a little more experimenting this season?

Seems as with all baits, the question comes up as to color selection. I primarily fish natural colors such as greens, pumpkinseed and colors with a chartreuse-tipped tail. A watermelon/cream laminate color by Yamamoto stood out more than the rest. I think it’s more of a natural look with a dark-green back and a white underbelly. But when it comes to color, by all means experiment away.

Last year, primarily bass, crappies and a few big bluegills fell for the stickbaits. I didn’t fish any waters where pike were abundant, but I suspect they would surely chomp down on a Senko-type bait presentation, even attracted to the larger 4-inch and 5-inch sizes. Hmm …. new thought for this season.

So this hard-water season, if you are up for something a little different or just would like to add plastics to your ice fishing techniques, try dippin’ the Senko this winter.

Here’s to a good ice season and some great times outdoors this winter, but always make ice safety a priority.

 

If you have any questions or comments you can reach Dan Brozowski at onthebank@att.net.