October 24, 2012 by Brett Carlson
I'll admit it; I'm a Senko aficionado. My friends, family and even co-workers chide me for how often I throw Yamamoto's famous soft-plastic stickbait. Guess what? I don't care. Mock me all you want, but if you're a serious bass fisherman, you appreciate the efficacy of the Senko. It's simple, and in the spring, it's nearly impossible to beat.
As much as I love the Senko, I don't necessarily love the price tag. Most retailers in my area sell a pack of 10 for $7.99. (Yes, I also get made fun of for being cheap.) During the peak of spring fishing in Minnesota and Wisconsin, it's not all that unusual to go through four or five packs in a single day. So while I will never stop throwing the Senko, I'm constantly searching for the best alternative.
Over the past five years, I've tried at least 15 different knock-offs. All of them have their pluses and minuses, but still left something to be desired. Last June, I stumbled onto one that really surprised me - the Trigger X Flutter Worm.
The Flutter Worm was first introduced at ICAST 2009. If there was any fanfare surrounding its arrival, I don't recall. And that's coming from an editor who lives just a few miles from parent company Rapala's corporate office. Lack of initial buzz aside, the Flutter Worm works. The more I threw it, the more I became a believer. Then I started asking around and it turns out I'm not alone. I think I've heard the word Trigger X uttered among fishermen more in the past three months than I have in the past three years combined.
What I'm mainly looking for in a soft-plastic stickbait is the "clapping," or side-to-side wiggling tail action. I mainly fish these stickbaits weightless and wacky style and when I see one seductively sinking I envision it speaking the words "come, get, me." With fluorocarbon line, the Flutter Worm claps hard - maybe even harder than the Senko, but still sinks slowly. Equally important, it claps consistently. I've never officially weighed it, but the Flutter Worm feels a bit heavier than Gary's original. It's definitely bulkier with more pronounced ribbing. And while both are listed on the package as 5-inchers, the Senko measures 5 1/4 while the Flutter Worm reaches 5 3/4.
In terms of durability, the Flutter Worm is superior to the Senko. While a pack of eight Flutter Worms retails for $4.99, the real costs savings stem from the strength of the material. On average, I estimated replacing my bait every fifth or sixth fish, whereas the Senko gets you three per bait on a good day. Many fishermen use an o-ring to combat tearing and I agree it helps, but would also argue that it reduces some of the action. If durability is that important to you, I would highly recommend the Z-Man ZinkerZ. The wiggle on the ZinkerZ is still pretty good, but you will honestly catch 10 or more fish before the ElaZtech material splits.
The Flutter Worm's most impressive feature is how long the fish hold the bait. Last Fourth of July weekend, I spent some time testing under what admittedly was a strong bite. It was the final day before a cold front and thunderstorms were on the horizon. After getting my proverbial fill, I stopped setting the hook and instead just watched as bass after bass bit - not engulfing the entire bait at first, but then slowly taking it all down in two or three slurps. It's not all that unusual for bass to quickly spit plastics after the initial bite, but never once did this happen. I tried several times to see how long I could wait before setting the hook, but the addict in me would always take over after a ridiculously painful seven or eight seconds. (I don't recommend waiting this long as there is a risk of gut-hooking.)
What the Flutter Worm doesn't quite have is the erratic turn and dive; immediately after hitting the water it starts clapping. Depending on the scenario, that can be a positive or a negative. By and large, I like the unpredictability of the diving Senko, but in cold water it can be too much action as the Senko cuts through the strike zone quickly.
Overall, I'm not suggesting the Flutter Worm will replace the Senko, nor do I believe it's a superior bait. It is however, a different, effective alternative that carries a friendlier price tag. In this case, I think second best in the stickbait category is a major success for Trigger X.