The versatile Senko finds another use at the top
Early and late bites can be fickle. Largemouths typically hit topwater plugs, but that’s what everyone throws, maybe a few will throw buzzbaits. Bass seem to get educated about the typical presentations, and yet I once experienced a bite so voraciously in favor of Senkos, it made me think more is involved than eagerness to take something merely because it’s different.
Bass see plenty of Senkos, anyhow, but they’re usually retrieved subsurface. By beginning retrieves as soon as the worm touches down, holding the rod tip high and futtering that wacky-rigged worm, you’ll see for yourself an enticing action unlike that of any popper, plopper or buzzbait.
It gets slurped rather than smashed, a clue about the mood of bass expending less energy. Subtle takes aside, topwater plugs usually provoke crushing strikes. Besides, when you flutter a Senko at the surface, it moves faster than a plug barely twitched to tease out a dimpling take. It’s definitely an active approach. You maintain a crawling wake, covering some range. I’ve experienced one bass after another take them retrieved this way, the combined speed and subtlety a different way to fish the surface. Topwater plugs and buzzbaits create splashes when moved as fast. You could retrieve a Zara Spook to create a flat wake, but when given a shot at one, bass seem to prefer the dog walk.
Usually, you’re fishing a surface Senko among lily pads and/or algae mats. You can flutter it alongside and let it drop. A definite advantage no topwater plug offers. And unlike a spinnerbait, trying to let a buzzbait’s blade work on the freefall is an exercise in futility. Whether a Senko allowed to drop works because a bass underneath the cover suddenly gets interested perceiving that it might be getting away, or a following bass grabs it when the retrieve stops, it’s a good idea to allow a drop on occasion, though there’s no need to get compulsive.
I’ve been known to call bass out of 10-foot depths to hit surface plugs, but my feeling about Senkos limits my use of them to weedy shallows of 5 to 6 feet or shallower. A plug is a louder presentation. The vibration of a big bloop from a popper seems to go further down under the water than the swishing of a Senko. Besides, a Senko behaves like a small bullfrog, and why would one of those be swimming over 10-foot depths? If you’re fishing far from shore, be reminded that a Senko imitates a wounded fish plenty well, anyhow, while over deep water, the bloop of a plug may even seem like another bass chasing something. Bass are competitive. Anyone who has seen one try to steal the lure hooked to another, knows they are.
A 7-foot, medium-heavy rod allows plenty of freedom for working a Senko. It also allows longer casts than shorter rods at some cost to accuracy, though practice compensates for the lack. I use 20-pound test braid. It’s plenty thin to allow me all the casting distance I need and matches the power of my rod against a big bass. You definitely need to put pressure on one of those when fishing heavy weeds. When a big one buries its body in the green stuff, it’s usually all over, direct tension on the line lost. That line is angulating against the weeds; the bass manages to get some slack and throws the hook, don’t let it happen.
Circle hooks are a big persuasion, but if you use a plain shank size 2, as I do, you can set it a short moment after the take, just as you would with any topwater plug. Pause a short moment. Don’t react instantly when you see the slurp. Weedless hooks with the metal spring are an option, but they appear clumsy; I’ve never had use for them. Whatever hook style you do choose, slip it under an O-ring. That will prevent the loss of a lot of worms on a good evening.