Steve Sennikoff on spinnerbaiting


Name: Steve Sennikoff
Hometown: Forney, Texas
Technique: Spinnerbaiting. In qualifying for the 2004 Bassmaster Classic through the Bassmaster Opens, Sennikoff caught every fish he weighed in on a chartreuse and white 1/2-ounce Terminator spinnerbait. He fished the Ouachita River in Louisiana, Toledo Bend Reservoir and Lake Sam Rayburn successfully with a single style of spinnerbait.
History: Sennikoff got hooked on spinnerbait fishing in the early 1990s when he watched David Wharton's success with the bait. Sennikoff fished against Wharton many times in Texas and always saw a spinnerbait on his deck. Sennikoff has used a spinnerbait as far west as Lake Powell in Arizona, as far north as Lake Wylie (during his 2004 Classic appearance), all through Florida and everywhere in between. At first he used steel spinnerbaits, pinching the arms together to make the bait run deeper and spreading them apart to make it run shallower. When Terminator came along with the titanium frame, Sennikoff loved the change. "With the titanium arm, you can fish it as long as the hook is sharp without straightening it out," he says. In 2003, Sennikoff entered the Central Opens circuit and made his way to the Classic with just a handful of Terminators.
Highlights: Howell says Randy's Rolling Runner is a "limit bait." He uses it to fill his livewell in short order before pursuing bigger bites. He credits the Rolling Runner with contributing to a lot of his top 15 and better finishes, as well as filling out limits when fishing is especially tough.
When to Use: Sennikoff fishes a spinnerbait 12 months out of the year. He says it works for him because he doesn't fish the main lake. He will change or manipulate the trailer to adjust the buoyancy of the bait. In cold water, he uses a pork trailer to make it more buoyant, facilitating a slower retrieve. In summer, he opts for a smaller trailer. He says using a spinnerbait is all about matching the conditions. As the water warms and summer approaches, he'll fish the bait higher in the water column. The colder the water, the more out of sight (deeper) he'll fish it.
Where to Use: Sennikoff drives his boat as far back into creeks as possible and targets resident fish. He adjusts his presentation by slowing down in the colder months, fishing his spinnerbait just fast enough to keep the blades turning. When the water is below 47 or 48 degrees, he either flips or doesn't fish. In warmer months, he may fish rock and riprap dams first thing in the morning when other guys are throwing crankbaits. Sennikoff has taught himself to skip spinnerbaits under docks, a realm usually probed by soft plastics and jigs.
Tackle: Sennikoff uses a 6-foot, medium action All Star rod. He likes the slow action because it offers the angler the most forgiveness on hook sets. The biggest cause of missed spinnerbait fish is tackle that is too heavy. He uses a 6.3:1 Abu Garcia reel spooled with 17-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon.
Lures: A 1/2-ounce chartreuse and white Terminator spinnerbait with a nickel Colorado blade in front of a gold willow leaf is Sennikoff's weapon of choice. He will hang a pearl-colored Zoom split-tail trailer on the hook in normal conditions and a pork chunk in colder water to give it more buoyancy. He always uses a trailer hook. "The only time you don't want to use a trailer hook is when you feel like losing a fish," he says.
Basics: Sennikoff is admittedly different from a lot of spinnerbait fishermen. He says his average cast is 20 feet or less. The rod he uses has a lot of play, so soft hands are necessary. When he feels a fish hit, he'll stop his retrieve, pause for a split second then use a sweeping hook set before accelerating the retrieve again. Water color is a big factor. When you're up in a creek, as Sennikoff often is, that's where the color is, even on a clear lake. Any time water is dingy or murky, the bass will be closer to the surface, regardless of temperature or season. Sennikoff will rarely throw a spinnerbait in crystal clear water.
One More Thing: To Sennikoff, the most important aspect of his spinnerbait fishing is confidence. He'll keep throwing it even when the fish don't seem to be biting it. Rather than changing baits, he'll change locations. Sennikoff says most of his co-anglers have been surprised to see his level of perseverance with the spinnerbait. They often put it away only to watch Sennikoff boat a limit while their spinnerbait is stowed.