Everyone’s favorite bait to throw on a steamy summer day is a senko style worm. Consequently, it also happens to be the favorite at during springtime spawn, and during spawn transition, and in the fall when the fish are non-aggressive. Hell, you can even chuck this thing around in your backyard and odds are you’ll get bit! As magical as the senko is, choosing the right one for your situation could be the difference between slaying serious bass all day, or going home to your wife with a handful of laughable excuses.
First- All stickbaits are not created equal. You don’t pay 8$ for a pack of Yamamoto’s and 2$ for YUM Dingers because Gary has to pay off the mortgage on his ranch. On the same note, fish don’t decide whether to munch on your bait depending on the price you payed, or whether it was hand-poured or not. Price and quality do not make a bait good or bad, just different. I have had days where I dangle the ole’ reliable green pumpkin Yammi in front of a group of bass only to switch to a Dinger and pull out every bass in the place. Bass don’t care how much you paid, but it’s crucial you know the difference in senkos and how to choose the right one for the job.
Soft plastics are made with a proprietary combination of vinyl plastic called plastisol, and a set amount of salt infused into the liquid. At the very beginning of soft plastic lures when the mad scientists of the fishing world started pouring molds, they added salt into the mixture because the plastic vinyl was expensive at the time. Even though the price of plastic has come down, manufacturers continue to use salt in their concoctions today for a multitude of reasons. Salt masks the scent of the plastic chemical smell we all know and love, as well as disguises the stench of human oil. Both create a foreign smell that can spook fish away from your worm. This is the same reason Strike King infuses their mixture with coffee scent. Most importantly, and the part you need to take into account when you purchase your senkos, is how the salt content effects the presentation of the lure.
The amount of salt in the lure effects how heavy or dense the plastic is which dictates the lure’s presentation when you work it through the water. Salt content has nothing to do with how long the fish holds on. Heavier salt content give you the ability to work the bait quicker, cast further, and give you the option to chuck it on your big bad baitcaster without picking out backlash when your soft plastic hits a slight breeze. Another benefit of using salt-heavy worms is the plastic looks more natural and realistic when being worked through cover, and displace more water when coming through vegetation. High salt is crucial in situations that you need the bass to “feel” the worm as well as see and smell it. In addition, you want to rig up salty baits when the fish are aggressive. A faster fall time could trigger a reaction bite, especially when coming through greenery.
Now before you go running to your tackle box with a shaker of salt, there are plenty of times that fish are just on a low sodium diet. Low salt or no salt baits have a longer fall time, which means a longer presentation through the water column. They also thrive when the fish are finicky. Just as how the saltier bates make the bass feel the worm’s motion as it falls, low-salt baits give a much more subtle, calming feel on the way down. On days with low-wind when the water is glass, low-salt baits enter the water more subtly, and are far less likely to scare a fish away. When you have to thoroughly work through an area and really coax the fish into biting, or in the dog days of summer where fish would much prefer a low effort meal, low-salt baits are a must have
Unfortunately, packages of senkos don’t come with nutrition facts, so knowing whether a bait’s salt content is sometimes tricky. Fortunately I’ve coined a salt test that doesn’t require you to take a chomp out of a senko. Next time you are in a Tackle Shop, ask if you can open a few different packages of worms. No, it’s not that big of a deal, I work at a tackle store and always get an astonished look from customers I do this for, just don’t go stuffing them in your pockets. Pinch the worms (usually do 2 or three) at right at the middle, where the hook would go if you were to wacky rig it. Then simply lift your arm up and down and watch the ends of the senkos. If you grabbed senkos with a difference in salt content, you’ll see them start to bounce up and down at different paces. The worm is wiggling quicker and is generally less “floppy” is the worm with a lower salt content. Over time you will be able to tell how salty a bait is just by feeling it in your hands instead of flapping worms in the aisle like a child. On the off chance your local tackle shop is against you opening up a few packs, here is my rankings for salt content for some of the more popular brands.
- Gary Yamamoto- The floppiest of the floppy, certified fish catcher
- Bass Pro Shops Stiko- No I’m not a biased piece of garbage, I usually never by Bass Pro brand gear but their salt formula is insanely close to a Gary at almost half the cost.
- Biwaa Prism Worm- Pretty tough to find in store’s but if you shop online definitely worth a buy
- Strike King The Ocho- Really dense bait, flat sides give it a unique presentation, super good option when fishing in high pressure lakes or when the fish want something a little different.
- Berkley Powerbait General Worm- Really comparable to the prism and the ocho, good option if you’re into the powerboat scent.
- Z-Man Zinker- Not as feather light as their TRD, but still lightly salted.
- YUM Dinger- Between the time this thing hits the water and when it hits the bottom you can guarantee every fish in the pond has taken a look at its fall.