Tackle Reviews

Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits Senko Review

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Few bass fishing baits stand the test of time. It’s easy to think of all the “latest” and “greatest” baits that have come and quickly disappeared from existence. One soft plastic bait, however, continues to produce and catch fish for millions of worldwide anglers—the Yamamoto Senko.

I’ve been using this bait for as long as I can remember. Regardless of the weather conditions, time of year or mood of the bass, it seems to catch fish when many baits do not. This is why it remains a big staple in my bass fishing arsenal.

Inimitable action

You’ll find a lot of bass fishing soft plastics out there that look great but fail to perform where it matters—underwater. The Yamamoto Senko is the exact opposite. It may not look like much on the shelf or in the package, but its action is absolutely remarkable.

As the Senko falls on slack line, its tail wiggles back and forth without any effort from the angler. You’ll also notice that its sinks very slowly, which is largely due to its high salt content. This slow fall and tantalizing waving action is a combination that bass have a tough time resisting.

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Various applications

Because of its unique underwater action, the Yamamoto Senko has proved to be an extremely versatile bait. Here are 4 ways I fish a Senko with a lot of success:

  • Weightless Texas rig—When fishing around vegetation or target-casting to specific underwater cover such as stumps or laydowns, I have a lot of success fishing the Senko on a weightless Texas rig. It’s totally weedless, it won’t get hung-up on hard cover and the tail kicks like crazy. Right before the bass begin spawning, they tend to get caught up on “love” more than eating, but the slow fall of this rig is great at fooling them into biting.
  • Light Texas rig—You’ll also catch a lot of fish while fishing the Senko on a 1/4-ounce weighted Texas rig when fishing around very heavy cover. In my experience, a lighter weight is always optimal. Heavier weights will cause it to sink too fast, taking away from its trademark horizontal fall. When flipping and pitching this rig into heavy cover, remember to let it fall on slack line to “let” the unique action of the Senko to do its thing. Many of your bites will come on the fall with this technique, so make sure to look for the slight jump or twitch in your line in order to detect these bites.
  • Carolina rig—Carolina rigging Senkos has also been a huge producer for many, many years. You don’t hear many folks talk about it, but this technique accounts for countless double-digit catches each year. Again, the slow fall makes it outstanding for this application. If you use a monofilament leader, the Senko will float and slowly wave back and forth throughout your retrieve. It’s great for targeting fish on rocky points, shell beds, river bars and bluff walls.
  • Wacky rig—You didn’t think I’d forget this, did you? This is perhaps my favorite way to fish a Yamamoto Senko. When the flipping and pitching bites gets tough for me, I break out a spinning rod, 8-pound test and go to town. I’ll fish a wacky rigged Senko in the same areas I would pitch and flip—under docks, laydowns, big boulders and grass lines. All you have to do is hook it right in the middle, make a long cast and let it fall on slack line. Every now and then, pop the slack just a bit and you’ll get some great bites. When target-casting to shallow cover, this is a super productive pattern that has bailed me out countless times.

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Vast color and size selections

I often write about the importance of keeping your color selections simple, but I also realize how much small differences can impact your success in ultra-clear water. Regardless of your fishery’s forage base, I can guarantee you’ll be able to find a Senko color that matches the most prominent species of bass prey.

As I’m typing this, I’m checking out the color selection online. There are more than 75 color patterns to choose from, ranging anywhere from Bubble Gum, Goby, Green Pumpkin with Black and Fuchsia to Oxblood. Even better, they’re available in sizes ranging from 3 inches to 7 inches long. But for us, a 5-inch Senko is hard to beat day in and day out.

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Heavy finesse gives you more distance

“Heavy” may be a bit of an overstatement, but the Yamamoto Senko is weighted perfectly for finesse applications. The weightlessness of many finesse soft plastics make it very hard to make long casts, which defeats the point in my purpose. More times than not, I’m fishing finesse baits in clear water when long casts are essential to getting bites.

When the Senko is rigged weightless, it casts like a rocket. It doesn’t matter if it’s windy or calm—you’re going to be able to put it where it needs to be. You’ll also notice how easily it skips underneath cover. Just flick your wrist and it will skip like a river rock on top of the water.

The extra weight of a Senko, that you usually don’t find in its many knockoffs, is one of the things that will always make the original special. That formulation of softness, salt, and weight will forever make it unique for catching bass and covering water more efficiently.

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Undeniable action of the original

The Yamamoto Senkos are priced anywhere from $4.99 to $7.69, depending upon the length and quantity. I’m a huge proponent of buying affordable bass fishing tackle, but I’m telling you—the extra cost of these are totally worth it in my experience. 

I could go on for hours, but to put it plainly, they catch a lot of bass.If you’re looking for a versatile soft plastic bait that you can use throughout the entire year with countless techniques, I suggest grabbing a few packs of Yamamoto Senkos. I like Watermelon Red, Green Pumpkin Blue, Bubble Gum and Bruised Shin.

It’s well established that Senkos have caught thousands of big bass through the years. Fishbrain users logged more catches on the Senko for bass out of more than 3 million fish catches logged in 2019. The extreme success rate of the Senko is why I’ll always have a few packs in my boat.

The Yamamoto Senko is available online here.

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Senkos account for a lot of nice bass for us in the spring

Skip it. Flip it. Bomb it. Pitch it. Twitch it. Deadstick it. Yo-Yo it. Wacky rig it. Texas rig it. Carolina rig it. Neko rig it. Ned rig it. Shaky head it. 

While it might have a very fundamental design, the Yamamoto Senko is anything but ordinary in the way it can be applied to catch bass.