Amazingly I didn’t start wacky rigging because I thought it got more bites. In some circumstances I believe it does, but that wasn’t the reason. I started wacky rigging because of the number either missed or gut hooked fish on texas rigged wide gap hooks. I watched senko after senko slip right out of the closed mouth of a bass in open water where I could see them. Bizzarre.
Fishing one day a couple years ago with Lannes Brock and Joe Haubenreich I got to watch it repeated. Lannes missed several bites t-rigging or t-posing a senko on a wide gap hook. I was amazed at how this guy with 50 years experience on the river kept missing fish. Finally he exhibited one of his long learned skills. Patience. He let a little bass swim around for what seemed like five minutes before finally setting the hook. He did hook it. Deep. We spent some time on that fish trying to get the hook out.
That was an experience from very early in my senko learning curve. One of several experiences that ultimately led to my writing “The Stick Worm Phenomenon” published in the Arizona Outdoorsman. Since then I have gotten to be pretty set in my ways when it comes to senko fishing. I had gotten to where I pretty much always threw them out and deadsticked them on a w.w.Hook. Its a good combination. Wacky rigging results in the best wiggle on the fall and the w.w.Hook resulted in more solid hookups than anything else I had tried except an open bait holder hook. With its Kahle design and mono weedguards it was one of the best compromises I had seen. It is no longer manufacturered.
I would say the loss of the w.w.Hook is a big loss, but its also a big kick in the pants. An opportunity to learn to refine my methods instead falling back on the same old tricks. I still have several packs of the w.w.Hook. Some of my friends and associates have kept an eye out on tackle store shelves for me and picked them up whenever they found some. Still in the mean time I’ve experimented with other methods.
Gamakatsu has a weedless “finnesse” hook. Something of a hybrid between a kahle hook and a circle hook with a mono loop weedguard. It seemed to work ok for smaller senkos, but it just wasn’t the same. They also don’t make it big enough for 5″ and bigger senkos in my opinion. I was throwing 5″ senkos 5/0 w.w.Hooks. The little stubby finnesse hook just wasn’t cutting it.
A little over a week ago I tried a t-rigged senko again. Not because it was my first choice, but because I had been experimenting with Daichii’s Copperhead hook as a possible frog hook and already had it tied on. I just screwed on the senko and pitched it out on some 30lb Stren braid. BAM! Not only did it hook up well, but the senko stayed intact. It had a tiny tear where the fish pushed it back, but I was able to keep using the senko. In fact I caught fiive fish on that one senko without turning it around or doctoring it or anything. I just re set the hook point in the worm.
At the time I was more amazed at getting 2-5 fish per worm than anything else. As those of you who wacky rig know its not uncommon to get one or less fish per senko. Sure you can use o-rings or tape it improve that, but its a pain.
What I hadn’t noticed originally was that I also missed very few fish. You might say that in all this time my skills have improved. I would have to agree to some degree. I’m sure my skills have improved a little bit, but historically I’ve noticed the biggest results when I find a better way to match hardware or presentations to the situation. I’ve noticed some small gains from improved skills, but that is more on the presentation rather than on the hookset.
Yesterday I fish a local club tournament and most of the day I fished a senko on a Daiichi Copperhead hook. I hooked most of the bites I got. I did miss a few smaller fish, but not very many. I had one come off in the boat, but I didn’t lose any hooked fish in the water. It was pretty successful. Probably the best t-rigged senko presentation success I have ever experienced.
The Copperhead more closely matches a J style worm hook. The point is not in line with the tie point. As a result it is not practical to texpose the hook with the point lightly tucked back into the worm from the back side. Instead I had to go back to conventional Texas rigging with the hook point buried diagonally into the body of the worm so that the worm would lay straight. I was thinking I’ld have to slam the hookset on every bite, but there were a couple where I never had the chance to set the hook before they were “on”. Now I’m no engineer or hook designer, but I know what works. That combination worked. 4″ senkos fished well on the 4/0 Copperhead and 5/0 hooks did the trick well for the 5″ senkos. I missed very few fish.
I fished it all day yesterday on 40LB Power Pro and it did the job admirably. In retrospect I might have caught a few more fish in a lot of the clear water I was fishing if I had picked up one of the rods rigged with flourocarbon, but I was catching fish and I didn’t really want to change to many things at one time. I used two hooks all day long. A 4/0 on 30lb Stren Braid and a 5/0 on 40lb Power Pro Braid.
I fished it around laid down trash, in between standup tulies, and over and through submerged hard wood logs and standing trees as well as in open water. It was not as weedless as a widegap in-line hook, but it was a 1000 times more snag resistant than a wacky rig of any kind I have tried. The w.w.Hook will remain a weapon in my aresenal when I need that maximum wiggle to entice a bite, but this Daiichi Copperhead is rapidly becoming a mainstay in my day to day tools.