Fishing With Gary Yamamoto Senkos For Largemouth, Smallmouth, Striper, & Salmon

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Both caught on Senkos.
Fishing With Senkos is one of the most effective baits I have every used for Largemouth Bass. I fish it weightless and weedless. I sometimes place a rubber band on the tip to help keep the worm on.
Senkos are very dense, so I don’t use any weights when casting. Since many bites are on the fall of the Senkos, fishing weightless allows it to fall more slowly. I use a 6 1/2′ - 7 1/2′ spinning rod, sometimes a baitcasting rod, both with 10 lbs Hi- Vis braid. The Senkos are designed to fall horizontally when falling. They also have a scent that attracts fish. If you place a Senko on a plain piece of paper, it will leave a stain.
I usually fish heavy structure. I look for weed-beds, trees in the water, rock formations, and points. Most of my casts are very short because of the heavy structure. After I make the cast, I let the Senko sink slowly and then let the Senko rest on the bottom. Most of the strikes are when the Senkos are falling.
Bass may rip the bait and run. These are usually smaller bass. Smaller bass tend to school, so there is more competition for food. Larger bass are usually alone, so there is no competition for food and, many times, large bass will bite softly. These larger bass can also rip the bait, but, most often, they just mouth the Senko and swim off slowly. That is why I use Hi-Vis yellow line. I watch the line while it is falling. If the line starts moving in an unnatural manner, set the hook. If you feel weight, or think you hit a snag, set the hook.
If the bass doesn’t hit your Senko while falling, let it sit on the bottom for about a minute. Then, reel it in slowly and keep stopping. Again, if you see your line move, feel weight, or think you hit a snag, set your hook.
Worm fishing is very slow and not suited for everyone. Those that like to throw crankbaits and other lures may not like the slow pace of fishing Senkos. I also use lures like Rattle Traps, Rapala X-Rap, Lucky Craft, and others, but I always have a Senko rigged up and ready to cast.
I cut the end of the Senkos to add movement to the worm, making it flare when dropping. Make about six 1″ cuts. Cutting the Senko also changes the color of the tail.
Here is a step by step on putting a Senko on a hook. Here I am using Gamakatsu 2/0 Offset Shank Worm EWG (extra wide gap) red hooks. The Senko worms are 5″ blue black/chart flk. Main line is 10 lbs braid and hooks have 18″ 12 lbs mono leaders. The 10 lbs braid is stronger than the 12 lbs mono leader.
Run the hook through the end of the Senko about 1/4″ and out of the body. Turn the point of the hook into the body and out the other side. Then bury the point of the hook into the body to made it weedless. Senko should be straight after the hook in imbedded in the Senko.
The following picture is a Wacky Rig O-Ring Tool for Senkos. It is used for slipping the “O” ring on the Senko. Some people rig the “O” ring in the middle of the Senko. Both ends of the Senkos move freely while dropping when they are rigged this way. This rigging also gives the Senko a little more action.
Pumkin 4″ Senko rigged wacky style.

Senkos come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes. I use the 5″ and 4″ worms, using mostly the 4″. On the 5″ Senkos, I usually use Gamakatsu 2/0 and 3/0 EWG (extra wide gap) hooks and 2/0 hooks for the 4″ Senkos.
My favorite colors are: Black Blue/Chart Flk, Pumkin, Natural Shad, Baby Bass, Special Blend of Natural Shad and Baby Bass, June Bug, and Watermelon With Black and Green Flakes. Senkos are expensive, but well worth the money spent.
I also use Kinami Baits. These are made by Gary Yamamoto’s son and work just as well. I find that the Kinami Baits has fewer flakes then the Gary Yamamoto’s Senkos.
King Salmon takes on Senko. You can tell if it is a salmon by looking at the mouth. King salmon has black gums.


Mixture of largemouth and smallmouth bass caught at Lake Berryessa, CA. All were caught while using Senkos.



Stripers have been taking Senkos.

Here is a 9 1/4 lbs rainbow that took my Senko. I used a special blend of “Baby Bass & Natural Shad. This is fishing in December in California. Great weather here.
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Two of three trout were caught on Senkos.
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All caught on Senkos.
New product for wacky style rigging of the Senko. Interestin, but have not tried it.

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • vince harris:

    08/31/13 105 heat index went kayak fishing on an arkansas river today, using the watermelon red 5″ senko, bit off about 1.5″ on #2 hook, caught 15″-3.75lb brownie and a 15″ brownie, biggest small mouth i’ve ever caught, i always rig two bait casters senko/buzz bait, usually catch the bigger bass with the senko, it’s very hard to tell when a fish has it in their mouth, letting it set for minute works well but when you pick it up you usually pull it out of a fishes mouth, also set it and pause works well, fishing in a kayak, especially while moving in current is difficult, you find inovative ways to paddle while holding your fishing rod.

  • Ron: Nice to hear your success with Senkos. Got to watch your line fishing with Senkos. Many times bass will just take it and swim slowly away. You won’t feel a bite, but your line will start moving.
  • daron: Thanks, helped alot
  • Ron: Other soft baits like Zoom and Yumm works to.
  • Ron: Skip sent me a pm on how to rig a Senko. I updated this blog showing in detail on rigging the Senko. Here you go Skip.
  • kentuckystorm: Awesome catches ron, I’ve been meaning to ask you bout rigging these senkos too. I’m glad you went ahead and wrote a good guide on it.... One question though, does the wacky style work any better or worse than normal rigging?
  • Ron: Thanks, this blog is over 5 years old.
    I usually use wacky when I am dropshoting/jigging straight down on a boat. I then work the rod up and down, and sometimes shake the rod. When casting out the worm, I sometimes rig it wacky just to give the Senko a different look.
    Normal rigging is used more often than wacky because it doesn’t twist as much on regular cast and retrieve. It also has less resistance when retrieving.
  • skip smith: Ron, great info on how to rig Senko! Can’t wait to try it! Many, many thanks!
  • Ron: New Wacky Saddle kit for rigging Senkos.
  • skip smith: I’ll have check that out next time I’m in BP!
  • Huckster37: Thanks Ron,
    Blog may be 5 years old, but the lesson you’ve given us is timeless. I’ve been going back reading the blogs when time allows, but you’ve posted a lot. If kentuckystorm hadn’t commented on this one it might have been Months before I got to it. I like your pictures and your instructions, very useful. Thanks again.
  • RuscatRods: Really nice fish Ron. I love using the wacky rig for smallies here in PA. On the Susquehanna River.
  • Ron: Post some pictures of those smallies. Been a long time since I caught one.
  • RuscatRods: OK Ron let me round some up

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