Friday, July 8,
2005 Updated: July 15, 2:49 PM ET Tips & tactics
By Keith Jackson BASS Times, July 2005
Soft plastic stickbaits
have become the weapons of choice for an increasing number of avid bass
fishermen. The reason, of course, is that these lures are extremely versatile in
terms of how they can be fished, where they'll catch bass, and when they're
The versatility of the "soft stick" is so great that even the most
dedicated fishermen are often surprised.
Take bass fishing legend Bill Dance, for example, whose first exposure to
the YUM Dinger happened under the most trying circumstances — post-frontal
conditions in the late fall when bass were suspended.
"In those kinds of conditions, catching fish is tougher than a week-old
pork frog," Dance quipped.
"I've found that I can catch more of these suspended fish by fishing
through them with a lure that glides in kind of a horizontal, sinking motion.
With the Dinger, since it's a sinking bait, I had to make a little pocket in it
with a heated nail. In the pocket, I put a matchstick, the idea being that a
little more flotation would slow its fall and get me the horizontal motion I
The modification has worked according to plan, said Dance. In fact, he
said it helped him catch fish that would ordinarily have been tough to entice.
Ken Cook has been enthralled with Berkley's Sinking Minnow, another soft
stickbait patterned after the Senko, the Gary Yamamoto plastic that ushered in
the current craze.
"The Sinking Minnow has been my go-to lure for Carolina rigging in cold
water conditions," says the former Classic champion from Oklahoma.
"It's just so good an imitation of a little darter or some kind of bottom
dwelling fish. You pull them, and they dart and head toward the bottom, and to
me that is ideal."
The lure that ushered in the current soft plastic stickbait craze was the
Yamamoto Senko, of course. Russ Comeau, a spokesman for Gary Yamamoto Custom
Baits, recently added another rigging option for die-hard stickbait fans. Comeau
calls it the "roller rig," and it performs as advertised, spinning through the
water column much like a swimming worm presentation. Best of all, the rigging
technique makes the Senko weedless.
"What I do is run a 12-inch leader behind a ball bearing swivel, and rig
it with a tungsten worm weight and glass bead. I like to use as small a hook as
I can," explained Comeau.
"The key to the roller rig is to hook the Senko so that it has a slight
hump, caused by putting the hook too far back or by twisting the Senko as I hook
it. Both methods produce a bait that will twist and roll when retrieved."
The ball bearing swivel is a key component because it reduces potential
line twist, particularly important when using spinning tackle.
Two other rigging methods bear experimentation. The first was shown to
Comeau by a Yamamoto customer from Japan who has been rigging the 4-inch 9S
Senko wacky-style. Using 8-pound-test line, he "walks" the soft stickbait on the
surface, using his rod to manipulate the action.
"The neat thing," Comeau said, "is that when a fish would blow up on the
bait, he only had to let it sink to get bit. He doesn't need a follow-up plastic
because the Senko is the soft plastic."
In contrast, Tommy Cauley, a guide from Bee Branch, Ark., uses YUM
Dingers and Right Bite Cinkos with 1-ounce weights. "I cast to a brushpile, drag
the rig into it, and bang the sinker into limbs and branches. I let the sinker
fall, and then I bang it as hard as I can and go on doing that until a fish
hits. A lot of times this will trigger the fish to bite, and you can set in one
spot and catch a limit."
Cauley added that this rigging method has saved the day more than once
when he knew the fish were there but just not biting.