So most bass fisherman have discovered the magic of a senko. If there was a bass fishing for dummies book, every page could be “tie on senko, catch fish, repeat.”
Seriously, it’s just a low effort, foolproof lure that will produce bass when nothing else will. And it can be fished a hundred different ways. So naturally, many people buy them.
But you’re likely to find if you buy a few bags that they don’t last very long and they’re much more expensive than other stickbaits. At Bass Pro, the Gary Yamamoto Senko comes in at $8.79 a bag. Which, on a good fishing day, you could go through a whole bag because they only last a few fish. Competitors like the Yum Dinger come in at only $2.99 a bag.
Most anglers have a budget – so what is it about the senko that makes it cost almost three times as much as it’s competitors? And is it worth that increase in price? Let’s take a look at all facets.
The action of a senko
Let’s start with what everyone wants from a bait – a good action. This is what is going to make a fish bite so it’s naturally what most people care about most. The senko has a wiggle that is unmatched by any competitor I’ve tried. It simply is the best action in the industry.
The belief is that the salt infusion and weighted center that a senko has creates a center that drops quickly, which makes the lighter ends of the worm really wiggle as it falls when weighted wacky style (which is the most common way to fish a stickbait). As you look at it compared to a Yum Dinger in the video below, you’ll see just how much more it wiggles.
Read this article if you want to see what it is about a stickbait’s wiggle that makes bass want to eat it. But it’s widely believed the more wiggle, the better bites you’ll get.
And this falls in line with most fisherman’s experience when using senkos. Professional and amateur anglers alike widely report they get more bites from senkos than any other competitor. From personal experience, I have found this to be the case as well though it’s hard to get any real scientific experiment to prove it wasn’t other factors that led to more bites. And confidence plays a role in biasing results.
If you want the best action possible and don’t mind spending the extra dollars to get it – then you should be buying senkos. But there is a lot more than just action to a bait. For stickbaits especially, fall rate is important.
The fall rate of senkos
Fall rate is simply how quickly a bait falls in the water. All stickbaits are unique because they almost always get bitten on the fall. Their whole action is simply built around falling and wiggling in the water.
But what’s surprising is how vastly different the fall rate of a senko is compared to other stickbaits. Again, look at the video above and you will see the senko versus it’s most common competitor the Yum Dinger. The senko falls much more quickly.
Most people would naturally think the slower the fall the better, right? But that’s actually not always the case. A bait falling too slowly in front of a bass’s face doesn’t create the urgency to bite it. It also doesn’t create the same wiggling action that is needed to really grab a bass’s attention.
So that weighted center that a senko poses creates a quicker fall and can really entice a bass to eat it. It’s also a little bit quicker to fish with because you don’t have to wait so long for it to hit the bottom of the lake before moving it or casting again, which can add up over a whole day on the lake.
When it comes to fall rate, the senko has one of the best. But it is worth mentioning you can influence this by just adding a weighted jighead like this Gamakatsu Wacky Jighead to another stickbait. A dinger with a 1/16 jighead for instance can fall at the same rate as a senko – it’s just an extra step.
Are senkos durable?
So senkos have better action, a better fall rate, it sure seems like I’m going to say they’re worth the money. Lets take a step back and talk about the worst aspect of a senko. Their durability is very poor.
Like one bite and you need a new bait type of durability.
Senkos are incredibly soft, which makes them have terrific action and good fall rate. But this creates a real issue for durability. They are very easy to tear apart. I have even had bluegill tear ends of a senko when rigged wacky style.
When a bag is almost $9.00 it can get really frustrating to not even get a full fish off a worm. Meanwhile, Yum Dingers aren’t the toughest thing out there but can usually handle a few fish before needing replaced. Just perform a stretch test on them side by side and you’ll see the dinger stretches easily twice as much as the senko does.
There is one way you can help make senkos last longer. You can purchase this O-Wacky Tool with plastic washers that allow the hook to sit between the washer and the senko, making it less likely the worm will tear apart. Still, you’re likely to find the senko will last a couple fish at most even with the washer. But it certainly helps and will pay for itself overtime in saved worms.
Color & size options for senkos
Another minor benefit that the senko offers is a wide variety of color and size options. You can buy a senko from 3 inches to 7 inches in about every soft plastic color you could think of. So if you have a really specific color that works in your area, a senko is most likely to have it.
But that’s not to say competitors don’t offer similar options. The Yum Dinger also comes in a variety of colors and has options from 3 to 6 inches. Other competitors like the Strike King Ocho, Bass Prop Shops Stik-O, or Zoom Zlinky also offer various sizes and colors. So while the senko may have several niche options, you’re likely to find a suitable color and size in another competitor.
Frankly, I am not the biggest believer that one unique size/color combination is needed to catch fish. There is a reason that every bait has a green pumpkin option – it just works. There are usually several colors that just always produce fish and will work under the right conditions.
So while the senko probably has the best variety of color and size options, I don’t find it to be a huge benefit and make it worth the huge price disparity between it and other competitors.
Brand Loyalty to Gary Yamamato
A final aspect I find important that needs to be mentioned here is brand loyalty. While it’s not an aspect directly related to how the lure works, it’s a good reason why you might choose a senko over another option.
The Gary Yamamato Senko is the original stickabait, invented by Gary Yamamato himself. All other brands are copycats, plain and simple. So if you really want to support the person/company that started the idea of stick bait fishin – you are going to be buying senkos.
Beyond that, I have a confidence when I tie on a senko that I don’t have when fishing any other brand. Likely if you’re fishing a senko, the bite is pretty tough and you’re just trying to catch a fish. When you put on a senko you’re likely going ot have the confidence that you’re using the best bait available and that you’re much more likely to get bites.
Having confidence in a bait is one of those things you can’t measure but is extremely important with any bait you use. You need to have the confidence you can catch fish with it and not second guess yourself while fishing. That alone can make a senko worth the price, just having the confidence that it’s going to catch fish when nothing else will.
The final verdict - is it worth the money?
Now that we have covered all the aspects of a stickbait and compared the senko to its biggest competitors, let’s answer the question. Is a senko worth its price?
Yes. A senko is worth what you pay for it.
There are unique features in a senko that you aren’t going to get in any competitor. I have the confidence in it that when nothing else is going to catch a fish – it will. That in itself makes the senko worth the extra money that you pay for it.
But, I will not support using senkos and nothing but senkos if you’re on a budget. The truth is, I have more Yum Dingers in my bag than any other stickbait. And it’s because they are affordable and still work. You will catch bass, and lots of them, on senko competitors. So if you’re worried about the extra price or use stickbaits a lot, then I actually recommend going with Yum Dingers instead as the price to performance ratio is there in my opinion.
When you’re fishing tournaments, can’t get a bite, or really need a confidence bait – that’s when you should pull out the senkos. They’re that special type of bait that I just know I can catch a fish on and sometimes that’s needed. But I’m not going to use them all the time. And I’m also not going to use them on texas rigs or anything other than a wacky rig. Because I don’t think you’re getting the extra performance on those rigs to make the price difference worth it.
So I recommend you buy a pack or two of senkos in your favorite colors just to have when nothing else gets a bite or you need that confidence bait to pull in a few fish. If you’re fishing a tournament or high stakes, then I also recommend using senkos. But if you use stickbaits often and don’t want to break the bank – you’re completely fine using a competitor like the Yum Dinger. They still catch fish and are a much better bang for your buck option. If I’m just heading out to the lake to catch fish and relax, I’m using Dingers. If I haven’t caught fish in weeks or fishing somewhere heavily pressured, I’m using senkos.
In the end, it’s up to you to make that determination of how much you’re willing to spend for an extra advantage.