Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

What on earth is it about such a plain looking lure that turns fish on?

It will never cease to amaze me how such a plain and perhaps even boring looking soft plastic lure can be so lethal, and especially when there are so many lovely looking shiny bits of hard and soft plastic out there that look far more appealing both on the shelf and in the water. Compared to some anglers I have limited experience of fishing with a senko (or soft plastic stick, stickbait, call it what you will really, but I’ll call it a senko as it’s easier), but over the last few years I have seen, caught and heard of too many good bass on these innocuous looking lures to not take them deadly seriously.


Need an example? Check out Cian’s first bass of the season that he caught on Easter Monday out on the Copper Coast (and my thanks to Alan O’Neill for letting me use these photos, with some of the background taken out as requested by the lads). Not only is Cian’s shop Absolute Fishing based in the middle of a bit of bass fishing heaven, but he also knows how to catch a bass or two himself - and I know he won’t go out without a few senkos. How big is that bass above? Well they had no scales or tape measure with them and they’re not remotely fussed. It’s a big bass, it’s only the start of April, and I take my hat off to them. I note with interest how many times Cian has said to me that a simple senko has saved a session for him.

Now there are most likely a thousand different ways to fish a senko, and especially considering that they come from the US largemouth bass fishing scene and I believe have been around in some form for a number of years now. It continues to fry my brain how a lure with no discernible action can catch so many fish, but work backwards if you like and I can’t help wondering if we the anglers get hung up too much on the action that a lure swims with, when there have to be plenty of times when certain fish just aren’t inclined to hit a lure that’s doing loads. Do baitfish always do loads? How often do we use a certain lure lure because we like the look of the action? So how confident do you feel if the lure you are fishing with doesn’t look like it’s doing much?


Cian told me that this bass hit his white senko (rigged weedless/weightless on a VMC 5/0 Strategik Heavy Duty Swimbait hook) in under 30cms of water, indeed during the fight this big bass could not go off on a scorching run because it had come into water so shallow that there seemed to be nowhere “safe” that the fish could try to get to. Whilst you can find info on how a senko might be fished “on the drop” in say current, deeper water or a bit of bouncing fizz that kinda works the lure for you, I can’t recall reading about these senkos being fishing in the way that I see a few guys over in Ireland fishing them, and with some serious success I might add. It interests me how some anglers stumble upon a certain method partly because they have no idea in the first place how a particular lure is “meant” to be fished, and by process of being a talented, thinking angler, they arrive at something that starts working for them.


What method’s that then? Well if it’s not the oft-maligned, simple straight retrieve again. What, you mean you do nothing more than wind a straight plastic stick straight in? Yes. Whack it out, get your rod tip up slightly, and then straight retrieve your senko at a slow enough speed that it comes back at you just under the surface - and then experiment from there. The ideal lure for very shallow, rocky and weedy ground? I accept completely that walking the dog with a surface lure might be more exciting, or blasting out a hard lure that’s got loads of action might make you feel more confident, but all I can do here is tell you what I see and learn myself, and a simple straight retrieve with a rather boring looking soft plastic stick can produce some serious bass. A lure that doesn’t look terribly exciting to our human eyes obviously does something for various fish species.

A big well done to Cian. Naturally this mighty fine fish went back safely, and whilst the capture of one good bass can’t set the pattern for the year ahead, holy cow if it doesn’t get one going a bit. I am so excited about heading over to do some guiding work with John Quinlan in Kerry towards the end of the month that I can hardly breathe properly - see here.