Saturday, May 12, 2012

Do Nothing Bliss

Naw, I don't mean laying around the house watching WFN repeats of Hookin' Up With Mariko Izumi and eating bon bons.  I'm talking about a type of finesse plastic bait that brings bass to the boat during the spawn and post spawn when they seem to ignore just about anything else, the soft stickbait.  On top of that, these baits are productive all year long. 
Soft stick baits produce fish like this all day long, and to me that is do nothing bliss!!!!
For those that aren't familiar with these, years ago Gary Yamamoto designed a bait that he coined the Senko, which basically took the shape of a ball point pen.  It had no curly tail, no ribbon tail...in fact, it had no tail at all.  I guess it has a head end and a tail end, but honestly, they work so well that I fish them either end head first to get the most use out of them!
Gary Yamamoto Baits Senko can be fished any number of ways, but it must be fished!
Over the years, these baits not only became popular, but have won tournaments and a lot of money for some people.  But, for weekend warriors like me, they simply catch fish.  Not only that, they can be fished a variety of ways, and bass simply love 'em.  You can fish them weighted or unweighted, Texas rigged, Carolina rigged, wacky rigged, drop shotted, on a shaky head or nose hooked with a circle or octopus hook, bit in half, thirds or quarters.  There is no wrong way to fish them except not fishing them.
My buddy Howard knows first hand about nice bass like this one that love soft stickbaits like the Senko
I recall a trip to a pond on Maryland's Eastern Shore many years ago when the Senko was just out on the market.  My buddy Howard and his significant other, April, were fishing out of his Coleman Crawdad cartopper boat, and I was fishing my buddy Bill's boat, on a decent late spring day when the bass weren't particularly easy to catch, but certainly catchable  We fished hard for our bites, tossing plastic worms with some success, jigging and worming, working our baits as any skilled angler might as to tempt chunky bass from their weedy or woody lairs.

Meanwhile, April was reading a book while perched in the front seat of Howard's Crawdad, with one line out dragging a Senko behind the boat.  Next thing you know, her rod tip is thrashing about and she's reeling in a decent two pound largemouth.  This happened again and again, and enough that she probably had to read a good many pages over again and again.  In fact, she didn't really have much time to read at all and wound up outfishing all of us two bass to one.  And it wasn't even close.  Her secret?  Do nothing!

Most soft stickbaits have similar traits to the Senko.  They're heavily salt impregnated, so they are heavy and sink much faster than other soft plastic baits.  They're also very soft, and when fish hit them, they hang on to them forever, and will swallow them if you don't set the hook quickly.  The action is really impressive, although they don't appear like they'd do much, they flutter down and kind of wiggle tantilizingly, and often glide in one direction or the other on the fall, sometimes taking the lure deeper under a weed mat or into the cover.

You can fish soft stickbaits in the rivers, creeks, ponds or your local lake, and fish them just about any time of year.  Often when other soft plastics aren't drawing the strikes that you'd expect, these do nothing baits will put either numbers of bass in the boat or good sized ones, or both.
Howard fooled this bass on a five inch Senko when the bite was tough.
Senkos, and their cousin the Kinami Flash, are available in several sizes and colors.  There are many other brands on the market these days with their own version, and many of them are quite good also.  I've tried some with great success, and have yet to be disappointed with any of them.  I've also tried Case Plastics Magic Sticks, which are somewhat more durable with a firmer plastic, a Yum version that has a hook slot, and Bass Pro Shops Stick-O.  They all work well.
Toothy critters like this chain pickerel love 'em too.
There are also many versions out now, some with tails, some slim, some fat, some short and stout.  They all work well, so find one that works for you and fish it.  My favorite is the four inch regular version, but also regularly use the five and six inch sizes.  My favorite technique this time of year is to Texas rig them without weight, cast them out, and jig them, and if the fish are agressive, twitch them a few times and pause, and repeat.  Try working them quick at first, but if you don't get hits, slow things down, sometimes way down to a do nothing approach. 
Reservoir smallies munch on soft stickbaits as if they're candy during late spring.
Yet, sometimes the best technique is to simply toss them into the cover and let them flutter down.  This works well Texas style, but even better when wacky rigging.  Bass can't resist them.  When fishing them in a river, toss them along a current seam and let them drift along an eddy where fat smallmouth bass lie in ambush.  Or, cast them up and across current, and let them drift down past river obstacles such as logs and rocks, where aggressive smallies on the feed will crush and hang on to them.
In rivers, toss a Senko amongst the rock piles and get ready for a bite from a hungry smallmouth.
If the Senko has one knock against it, they're soft, and fish hit them so often that they tend to tear them up.  And they're a bit pricy.  But, there are things that you can do to achieve more longevity out of each one.  When wacky rigging, you can use a wacky rig tool along with small rubber rings to hold the hook on your rig.  Others use small rubber bands.  Still others fish the pieces after they fall apart, and others, like me, weld them back together with a soldering iron.  I never throw the pieces away.

I'm not saying that the Senko is better than any other brand, but it's the one that got me started fishing these.  I keep fishing them, perhaps habit, perhaps because they work, so why change if you're catching fish on them, right?  I've used other brands when I've found colors or features that I like that I can't get from a Senko. 

For more information on fishing Senkos, check this article out, "Senko Secrets", by Steve Price on Inside Line online magazine.

The bottom line is that, if you haven't fished these do nothing style lures, you could be missing out on some quality bassin'.

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