What Is a Senko Worm and How to Rig Them

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If you’ve spent any time trying to catch bass or talking with anglers, you have most certainly heard about the Senko worm. This amazing little bait is extremely simple in its design yet highly effective when it comes to getting even timid bass to strike. The Yamamoto Senko is arguably the most popular bass fishing bait around, and with its versatility to be used across a wide range of rigs, it’s no wonder why!

What Is a Senko Worm or Stick Bait?

Created in 1997 by Gary Yamamoto, a Senko-style worm is one of many soft plastic baits in the shape of a simple worm. What it lacks in a unique shape, it more than makes up for in catching bass.

One of the biggest downsides to an original Senko-style worm is the price; they aren’t cheap, and losing one can be a blow to the wallet. However, if you want the best fishing lures around, you can’t go wrong with an original Senko.

What Does a Senko Imitate?

While the Senko looks similar to a large earthworm, it has a unique motion in the water which can imitate a range of different prey items, including leeches, injured baitfish, and more. Bass react to the Senko worm because it looks edible and interesting. It wiggles and sways in the water, and when retrieved at different speeds, you can change how fish in the area view it.

How to Rig a Senko

Wacky Rig

Using a Senko in a Wacky style is a great way to get big bass, trout, and other target fish excited. The Senko sinks through the water somewhat quickly, which causes a vibrating motion as it drops. 

You can adjust this sink rate and motion by adjusting the center of gravity on the worm. You can do this by adjusting where your hook is placed or by securing small tungsten weights to different parts of the worm’s body.

One of the best ways to make fish notice your presentation is by having your Senko mimic an injured baitfish such as a minnow or shad. Do this by letting the worm sink naturally for a few feet before you pop it back up with your rod tip. This hopping and jerking motion will not only get bass to take notice but will entice them to strike as well.

This is a great Wacky style option for use around covers such as piers. Use this fishing technique to bring fish out from the shadows of heavy cover and into more open water, where they will grab your bait, and you can quickly set the hook.

Drop Shot Rig

Using a drop shot rig is perfect for when fish are feeding a bit higher in the water column, just off the bottom by a foot or two. The rig uses a long weight dropped off the bottom, which you can adjust to your liking. If fish are feeding off the bottom, reduce the length of your weight. If they are suspended above the bottom, lengthen it.

A small 3 or 4-inch worm does amazingly well on a drop shot when you’re working it in deep water. Aggressive bass will strike with speed and vigor, pretty much setting the hook themselves. These smaller-sized worms will do well positioned roughly 1 foot above the bottom, but you can get good results at different lengths with some trial and error.

Ned Rig

As one of the most popular bass fishing finesse rigs around, the Ned is a great choice for smallmouth and spotted bass. Since the Ned rig is for finesse techniques, you can use half of a Senko to get more for your money. 

The motion of the worm will still be enticing enough to bring a variety of fish out from their hiding spots. If you don’t like the idea of cutting a brand-new Senko in half, you can use worn stick worms from other rigs on your Ned. Once they have been torn up a bit from catching fish, trim them up and use them on your Ned rig instead of throwing them away.

Texas Rig

Texas Rig Instructional Infographic

If you’re looking for a way to get your hook into heavy vegetation and cover, the Texas rig is your answer. You can adjust this rig to suit your needs as it can easily handle large and bulky Senko worms, as well as smaller finesse types.

When using a Texas rig, your main goal is to flip it into bushes and weed holes around docks and piers, as well as large brush piles. Since the rig is more or less considered weedless, you won’t have to worry about getting snagged or hung up on every little blade of grass.

Our Best 5 Senko Worms

Gary Yamamoto 5” and 7” Senkos
Gary Yamamoto 5” and 7” Senkos
Gary Yamamoto 5” and 7” Senkos
Our Score

The original Yamamoto Senko is the tried and true stick worm. Very few anglers have not used a genuine Senko and those that have absolutely swear by them. The original Senko worms come in a huge range of sizes, but the 5 and 7-inch straight-tail stick worms are the most versatile.

These worms have been used with high levels of success by both casual weekend fishermen as well as professional bass anglers alike. Every worm is infused with salt, so the bass won’t be inclined to instantly spit it out as a foreign object. Instead, they will grab and hold onto it long enough for you to set your hook.

  • The original classic design anglers know and love
  • Salt attractant to make bass strike and hold tightly
  • Available in a huge range of sizes and colors
Strike King Ocho Stick Worm
Strike King Ocho Stick Worm
Strike King Ocho Stick Worm
Our Score

Strike King has made their stick worm similar to Senko, but not identical. If you are looking for a stick worm that sinks slower than a Senko yet still retains a very flexible and active movement as it falls through the water, the Ocho can do just that.

If you rig up your Ocho on a light hook with a delicate line, you can target suspended fish easily. This worm will not sink to the bottom fast at all unless you weigh it down with sinkers or a heavy hook.

  • Unique shape and color range to get this worm noticed
  • Lightweight for a much slower sink rate
  • Can be popped in and out of heavy cover easily
RUNCL Pro-Bite Wacky Worms
RUNCL Pro-Bite Wacky Worms
RUNCL Pro-Bite Wacky Worms
Our Score

While you won’t find a huge range of sizes and half-sizes with the Pro-Bite worm, you will find it in the most popular sizes of 4, 5 and 6 inch. This worm is a great option for anglers that aren’t looking to spend a lot of money on stick worms only to lose them to aggressive bass.

The Pro-Bite worm is a great option for a wide range of fishing rigging, but does exceptionally well when it’s Wacky rigged. You’ll find this worm to be easy to cast, has a decent sink rate, and comes in some of the most versatile and successful colors available on bait and lures.

  • Available in 3 popular sizes of 4, 5 and 6 inch
  • Affordable and found in packs of 10 worms
  • Has a medium to fast sink rate 
Bass Pro Shops Dr. Fin-Eke Worm
Bass Pro Shops Dr. Fin-Eke Worm
Bass Pro Shops Dr. Fin-Eke Worm
Our Score

The Fin-Eke worm is a great option for someone that wants the Senko feel, without the high price. It offers the same great soft plastic squish, with a very similar wiggle and shakes as it sinks through the water.

 The biggest draw to this worm is that it is extremely affordable and great for beginners just learning about stick worm fishing.

  • Affordable and great for beginners
  • Offers the same great classic Senko feel
  • Sinks at the same speed as an original Senko
YUM Dinger Classic Worms
YUM Dinger Classic Worms
YUM Dinger Classic Worms
Our Score

As versatile baits go, the YUM Dinger is extremely easy to use on almost every type of rig out there. It’s the classic worm shape and size with that original Senko soft plastic feel.

It’s also infused with salt flavoring, so bass and other target fish you catch won’t spit it out instantly, giving you a few precious seconds to set the hook.

  • Infused with salt flavoring to keep bass holding on
  • Mimics the classic Senko feel and sink rate
  • Great for beginners and professionals alike

Senko Bait FAQs

How to Fish a Senko

Senko worm green dark

Senko is such a versatile group of lures, it’s hard to pinpoint any one way to fish with them. Some of the more popular ways to use a stick worm are by fishing it fast in much the same way you would a jerkbait.

Other anglers prefer to Wacky rig it with a soft rod tip and fish it vertically with the occasional little twitches now and then, or rig it on a weightless Texas or Carolina and work it a bit slower through the water when fish are sluggish or timid.

Many anglers love the simplicity fishing with a stick worm offers. It appeals to fish of several species, and the movement can mimic a wide range of different prey items. You can even change how it reacts in the water by adjusting where you place your hook, giving you an even larger range of versatility when out on the water.

Senko Storage Options

Senko worm red

The original Senko worms are not cheap, but many anglers swear they are worth the price because they get solid results. Since these worms are more of an investment than other baits and lures, you want to ensure they are stored well between uses.

Leaving your bait on the hook between fishing trips can lead to rust which isn’t ideal for the worm or the hook. Additionally, leaving the worm rigged can make it more brittle and lead to losing the worm on the next cast.

Try to keep your stick worms in their original packaging as much as possible when not using them. You can also stick them in a plastic bag such as a sandwich bag or Ziploc to keep them clean and free from excess moisture between uses.

When Is the Best Time of Year to Fish With a Senko, and Why?

Senko worm bloodworm

Many anglers will agree that the Senko gets the most bites during the springtime. You can definitely use a stick worm throughout the year, even in the dead of winter, but spring is a great time to drop a stick worm into the water.

Since fish are normally somewhat skittish in the spring, larger and more active baits may spook them. Sudden movements, fast sink rates, and large rigging can also be intimidating. The Senko can help with this issue. The slow and steady glide of its sink rate will be noticed by fish but won’t scare them away.

Final Thoughts on Senko Baits for Bass Fishing

Whether you are a diehard user of Senko worms for your bass fishing or you are just now learning about how versatile and successful they can make your fishing trip, you won’t go wrong when using them.

Whether you enjoy fishing with a Texas rig or a Carolina rig or insist on Wacky rigging everything, the Senko is versatile enough to be a great bait option on all of those and more. While a Senko will shine during springtime fishing, it won’t let you down throughout the rest of the year, either.

If you love deepwater fishing and like to target fish at or near the bottom, the natural jiggle and shake of a soft plastic Senko in the mud or among the rocks will definitely get noticed by big bass in the area.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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