Freshwater: Steep Shoreline Senkos - The Fisherman

Freshwater: Steep Shoreline Senkos

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Brenden Kuprel unhooks a nice bass caught on a Yum Dinger along a steeping dropping shoreline.

Hit ‘em hard now, before the crowds, pressure and summer vegetation.

Many lakes and reservoirs with exceptional water clarity not only have shorelines dropping off into 10- to 20-foot depths, but weeds may grow richly in these locations, providing largemouth bass with abundant cover. Those weeds don’t fully grow in during May, which means the exposed hook of a Wacky Rig won’t collect so much green stuff. Also, water temps might not even be 70, which makes Senko-type worms opportune because the faster sink rate incites bass still in the mood to hit something moving. By July, the greenery will be thick. Traditional-style worms rigged on inset hooks work better then.

I fish more than a few lakes with attractive shorelines—clean, quality environments with oxygenating vegetation and thriving fish populations. In May, a Senko, Yum Dinger, or another variant of the type functions as a search bait. By comparison, during summer, I fish a slower-sinking Chompers worm with the inset hook at the head. Slowing down with a Chompers involves hitting targets. Rarely bothering to fish one on retrieve, I find the initial drop counts, though I might let the (unweighted) worm fall through weeds to the bottom 20 feet down. Then I reel it back as quickly as I can to drop it into another spot, often a visible weed edge. On the other hand, May conditions make me interested in retrieves. A Senko does the job.

Rigged Wacky, the worm flutters by snapping the rod, and you can repeatedly let the worm drop. I’ve tested an unweighted Senko against a Chompers worm unweighted, and the Senko sinks twice as fast. It will hit bottom faster, not only because of that sink rate, but because fewer weeds get in the way and slow the descent. (Weighting the worm would get in the way of performance.) You can also flutter one through the mid-column.

Bass respond to speed with water temperatures nearing the optimal range. Compare September; once temps drop into the low 70’s, bass become more active, chasing fish forage. They slam spinnerbaits and jerkbaits. In May, it’s not only that temps reach the same range; bass haven’t seen many lures during the winter. The pressure’s off, and they’re willing to hit. Spinnerbaits and jerkbaits can be great alternatives, but Senkos are a state of mind. Fishing them is a deeply enjoyable and productive process you might prefer.

Consider that a 5-inch Senko is a heavy bait. It casts long, hard, and accurately. I use a 7-foot, medium-heavy power, fast-action Lew’s Speed Stick with an Ardent Bolt 2000 series spinning reel mounted on it. I get long casts partly because of the rod’s larger casting arc, but I manage to make those casts count, which is not quite as important as during summertime but never fails to satisfy. Part of the pleasure in using any kind of unweighted worm is putting it exactly where I want it to go, involving a never-ending chase of perfection.

May weeds will have grown in enough to provide plenty of target space, but often, Senko should sink to the bottom. If it gets caught in weeds on the way down, jiggle it loose and let it continue to fall. You might have to do it three or four times. Or you might have to retrieve it back quickly and remove weeds from the hook. Do expect to catch some of that greenery.

An Eagle Claw plain shank, size 2, or heavier hook attaches to a Senko by use of an O-ring. (Use the O-ring tool, which you can easily find for sale.) The amount of casting range I lose by using heavier braid than might be popular is negligible. I use 20-pound test. To the braid, I tie a 3- or 4-foot fluorocarbon leader, 20-pound test, by uni-to-uni splice. Braid, of course, is thin in diameter, but plenty of guys use an even thinner 10-pound test. I once had, however, a bad experience with 15-pound test and a medium-power rod, when I couldn’t force a big bass from weeds when I needed to. I might have caught that bass had I used the Speed Stick.

When you do force a bass, use a sweeping motion, and don’t overdo the force if it’s possible to straighten out the hook.

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