Product Review by Jim Matuga

Gary Yamamoto Senko

By now you've probably heard of the Senko. The Senko is the soft plastic bait that has turned the bass fishing world on end. Made by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, the Senko is a bait that resembles the shape of a Bic ink pen. In fact, that is exactly the inspiration behind this unique bait.

My first experience with this bait was interesting. A friend had given me 4 Senkos to try. I was on Deep Creek Lake (MD) late in the summer and was working the Senko as I would a soft plastic jerkbait, hoping to hook up with a nice Deep Creek lunker. On my first cast to the shallow grass bed, a large fish swirled and as I set the hook…nothing. A pickerel had swiped my Senko - hook and all. Two more casts…and two more Senkos gone! With only one more Senko in my boat…I decided to wait and try the hot lure on the river.

A few weeks later, I was on the Monongahela River and the conditions were tough. I grabbed the last Senko I had…a four inch in the white pearl color pattern…and tied it on wacky-style. A few casts to the shoreline and the bait disappeared and I saw a huge largemouth turn with the white bait completely in her mouth. I set the hook solidly and the battle was on. It was one of my largest fish of the season!

My elation of discovering this hot new bait was short-lived, however, after I realized that the last Senko I had was totally demolished by this fish.

My frustration grew in the coming weeks as I was unable to find this bait in any of the local tackle stores. I like to support local businesses, but it was clear that my only alternative was to order some through a catalogue.

That was until this February. While competing at the Georgia CITGO BASSMASTER Tour event in Bainbridge, I happened to stay in the hotel room above Mister Gary Yamamoto himself. He seemed intrigued by my story as I just described, and I think he wanted to help me out. Yamamoto invited me into his custom camper where he produced a large box of the very bait I had been trying to locate. He handed me a fed bags of the white treasures…and I handed him twenty bucks. Mission complete.

There have been a lot of copy-cat versions of the Senko by different manufacturers lately. However, the consistency of the plastic and the weight of the bait allows it to fall through the water column in a unique way. It's a versatile bait that can be Texas-rigged with a weight or weightless, wacky-rigged, used on a drop-shot rig, as a top water twitch bait, as a soft jerkbait, and more.

Here are three quick tips from the Senko Guru Russ Bassdozer:

  1. It's a simple process. Crack open a bag. Slip a glistening fresh one on the hook. Now you're good to go! No fancy rig to tie. No weight or sinker is required on the line. You see, the density of the plastic formulation for a 5" inch Senko makes it weigh 3/8 oz. right out of the bag. It's pre-weighted, so to speak. So, the Senko is heavy enough to sink all by itself.
  1. At the same time the plastic formulation is as soft as it is heavy. So, the Senko is soft enough to create it's own life-like action as it shimmies and side-shifts on the drop. This action and movement is made without the angler needing to impart any action, without any unnatural appendages, without curly tails, without plastic lips, without diving bills, without metal blades or propellers, without frilly skirts, rubber legs or chicken feathers. What you see is what you get - a Senko is simply a perfect natural slender baitfish profile tapered at the head and tail.
  1. What could be easier? Simply, let the density of your Senko make it sink on a slightly slack line. Let the softness of the plastic make your Senko side-shift and quiver. Then let it lay on the bottom for what seems like forever until a bass ambles over, procrastinates a bit, then chomps it up. What could be easier? Living is good, and catching is fun-tastic with weightless Senkos!

I can't wait to get back on the water and try these unique soft plastics out again.

For more tips and techniques visit

Six examples of how to rig a Senko:

Illustration Courtesy of Gary Yamamoto's Inside Line Magazine

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