Over the past several years the sinking stickworm has not only brought plastic lures back into the mainstream, it has produced an incredible number of catches and become a staple in bass boxes across the world. The Senko was introduced by Gary Yamamoto several years ago and this soft jerkbait has become a favorite presentation of mine as well as a solid fish catching bait in practically any condition. There are several companies who have jumped on the bandwagon and produced a similar stickbait. This list includes the Yum Dinger, Berkley Sinking Minnow, Tiki Stick, Strike King Zero and my all time favorite, the Gambler Ace. These worms are heavily impregnated with salt, which makes the bass want to hang on and not let go! Some of them are even coated with scents like garlic and anise to make them more appealing. I would like to discuss three rigging methods that I have found to be the most strike producing worm methods. They are the Texas rig, the jig rig and the wacky rig. We will also discuss presentation and color as well.

When you first study the stickbait, you might realize that it looks like a plain, simple non-fancy worm. Yamamoto actually got the idea for this worm from the shape of the old Bic Click ink pens. There is really nothing about this worm that really jumps out and grabs you. I have had people tell me “It looks like that worm won’t do anything” which is precisely what it’s supposed to do! It’s been labeled the “do nothing worm” which explains the slow horizontal fall that the worm is most famous for. This horizontal fall drives fish absolutely crazy and produces a multitude of strikes. When the bass see this bait, they consider it to be a nice meal and something that will not require a big chase to capture. The majority of my hits have occurred while the bait is on the slow downward descent, but I receive many hits when the bait is sitting on the bottom doing nothing.

These stickbaits come in so many colors and combinations that it’s impossible to list them all. When selecting your colors, take a look around you and see what colors are the most prevalent. You have heard fly fishermen say, “match the hatch”, this is exactly what you are trying to accomplish when choosing colors of plastics. My best producing colors whether fishing in a tournament or just practicing on a local shore has been watermelon black flake, watermelon red, watermelon gold flake, pumpkin with chartreuse tail and my #1 color is Junebug. I would suggest you try these colors first and see how they fair for you as many of us fish primarily much of the same waters in Colorado.

Texas Rig—Weightless/Weedless

I prefer to fish this rig with no weight at all unless I am somewhere down South where I have to punch through extra heavy weed cover to get the stickbait in the water. In Colorado, I have always fished this rig weightless. This allows for the slow horizontal fall to take place and will produce the most strikes. These stickbaits come in a variety of sizes from 3” up to 8”. We will focus on a 5” and 6” model, which is the most used size according to all the manufacturers. Depending on the conditions and what size hooks you have available, you should try and use a 3/0 hook as a minimum and up to a 5/0 size. The hook I would recommend is the Gamakatsu EWG or the Gamakatsu G Lock. These hooks are sharp right out of the package and will ensure good hookups. The nice thing about this rig is you can run it through about anything and remain weedless. I use this rig to skip under docks, in and out of heavy structure and in thick weeds. This rig provides great hooksetting ability, as the hook does not have to travel through the plastic to get to the lip of the fish.

Simply cast the stickbait out and let it do its slow fall. Be sure to keep your line fairly tight as a lot of hits occur while the bait is sinking. You really have to focus on your line as fish will swim up to the bait and inhale it slowly and you won’t see or feel a big strike. When the bait has hit the bottom and is just resting, I always let it sit there for about 2or 3 minutes. I know this sounds a bit boring but this method produces a lot of catches for me. After the stickbait has been sitting for a while, slowly lift your rod tip, then let it down and reel in the slack as the bait starts the falling pattern again. I like to give the stickbait a few jerks now and then on a slack line as it will dance around a bit and encourage nice strikes. One mistake that most anglers make is to set the hook too early when using a stickbait. When you feel or see a hit take place, just relax for a moment and allow the fish to take the bait before you set the hook. I know this can be frustrating and you are probably wondering how many fish you will lose by following this method, but when the fish actually takes the bait you almost have a guaranteed catch! Many times they come up to the bait just to get a taste and when the taste the salt, they grab it again and won’t let go.

Jig Rig

This presentation is used when fish are suspended and you are having problems getting them to hit. With a 3” or 4” stickbait and a 1/8oz jig head you can keep the bait in the “zone” for a longer period of time thus resulting in more strikes. I use 1/16oz to ¼oz jigs depending on the speed of the fall I am trying to accomplish. Depending on the structure you are fishing, the jig stickbait can be jerked, dragged or skipped across the bottom just like you would a bass jig or tube bait. Weed lines and ledges are a great place to run this bait as long as hang-ups are not a big issue. I like to go to this presentation when nothing else is working. It is a finesse presentation that will put fish in the bag for you.

Wacky Rig

This has been a favorite presentation of worm fishermen for a long time and it is just as deadly when wacky rigging the stickbait. You should downsize your hook a bit to a 1/0 or 2/0 size when presenting the wacky rig. I like to cast the stickbait out and let it sink and sit for a few minutes. I then began my retrieve, but instead of slowly raising my rod tip I shake the tip on the way up and then let the bait fall. You must be careful not to get the wacky worm in thick grass or structure, as the hook is not weedless. Holes in structure as well as weedlines that are adjacent to open water areas are great places to try this technique out. Sometimes you will just want to bounce the stickbait across the bottom by jerking it on a stack line, especially in shallow water areas. This will give the bait a swimming action, which will produce violent strikes. Rocks that are slightly under the water's surface are one of my favorite areas to focus on when wacky worming. I cast beyond the rock structure, let the rig fall and sit a while, then start shaking it up the far side of the rock. I will then bring it over the top of the rock and slightly shake it down the front of the rock. I was using this technique in a medium size farm pond in Larimer County Colorado several months ago and this technique enabled me to catch 11 smallmouth in the 3lb and 4lb range in about an hour.

With stickbaits, it doesn’t matter whether you are fishing open water, structure, shallow, deep, under docks, rocks or weeds; this is a bait that will produce a bite in almost any environment. These stickbaits are available at most tackle stores in the area so stop in a grab yourself a bag. Heck, you can even drop me an e-mail and I will take you out and show you how to throw these bad boys! If you would like more information about Gambler products, you can contact me at [email protected] and remember, if you are a member of Fishin' Secrets and go to www.gambler-bang.com and place an order, put "wayne" in the special offers section and you will receive 50% off your order---Thanks!

G. Wayne Byrd is a professional bass tournament fisherman, who loves to help others catch more and bigger fish. He is a regular contributor to Fishin' Secrets with Eric Allee and Friends.

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