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The Best Senko Colors to Catch More Bass

Written by: Pete D
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Every fisherman I know has a preference about everything from fish finders, outboards, lines, hooks, rods, reels, and just about anything else you can imagine. I know guys who hate circle hooks and despise braid, and I’ve seen fights started about who makes the best boats. 

But if there’s one thing bass anglers everywhere can agree on, it’s that senkos have a prized place in every tackle box. And whether you’re working a quiet pond in Ohio or a tournament lake in Florida, reach for the right color senko, and you’ll have a bass on your line in no time.

Weightless, wacky, Neko, Texas, Carolina, Jika, Tokyo, shaky head: senkos rule them all. And from tiny three-inch versions to senkos that you’d mistake for a small snake, dark black senkos with blue flakes to clear-colored senkos dotted with black flecks, you’re spoiled for options.

That can make choosing the right color difficult, and I’ve seen some really bad advice offered in the guise of expert opinion.

If you want to know which colors for senkos are the best, keep reading. We’ll straighten this sticky subject out and give you the simple science behind our recommendations.

If you're in a hurry, here are the best senko colors based on specific conditions:

Also Read: How To Rig And Fish A Senko

Light, Clear Water, and Color

Let’s review some basic science.

The colors your eye perceives are the result of reflected light. A red apple appears red because it reflects red light, absorbing the other colors of the spectrum.

Each light color has a specific wavelength. The longer the wavelength, the less energy that part of the light spectrum carries. Conversely, the shorter the wavelength, the more energy it has.

Red light has a long wavelength, and as you move through the spectrum to orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and finally violet, the wavelength decreases, indicating higher energies.

color wave length

color wavelength (nm) frequency (1014 Hz) energy (eV)
red (limit) 700 4.29 1.77
red 650 4.62 1.91
orange 600 5.00 2.06
yellow 580 5.16 2.14
green 550 5.45 2.25
cyan 500 5.99 2.48
blue 450 6.66 2.75
violet (limit) 400 7.50 3.10

Water - even when absolutely clear - creates a barrier to light. The deeper it is, the more energy is required to punch through, causing colors with less energy to fade more quickly.

As you’d expect, then, reds fade first, followed by orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, leaving black as the only color that’s visible below 90 feet or so. That’s because black isn’t really a color at all - it’s just how your eyes and brain represent that absence of reflected light.

So as long as there’s sunlight at all penetrating to your senko, black will be visible.

Bait Color At Depths

Murky, Stained, and Muddy Water

Bass prefer clear water because they’re sight predators, and though they use sound, vibration, and smell to locate prey, it’s their eyes that really allow them to hunt effectively.

In the real world, the water’s not always clear. Red clay can stain a pond almost crawfish color, and dark greens and browns are common nearly everywhere.

senko color murky water

Stained, muddy, and murky water reduces light penetration and hides colors that are similar in hue to it. In red water, reds will be all but invisible, and the same thing goes for greens, browns, and even blacks in water stained that color.

So where does that leave you and your senkos?

Senko Color Choice: Best Picks for Every Situation

Two simple rules apply to all lures:

  • In clear water, match the hatch and choose natural colors
  • In murky or stained water, go bright

Clear water: watermelon black flake 

senko color for clear water

In clear water, the best color senko is probably the “watermelon black flake.”

watermelon black flake

Available at Bass Pro

Blending in naturally with the background but offering enticing dark spots, the watermelon black flake senko is a staple across America. Ideal for presentations like weightless rigs, drop shots (wacky or otherwise), and veggie-busting Jika and Tokyo rigs, you can’t get much better in clear water.

It won’t look “artificial” or stand out in a way that spooks bass. Instead, it offers a color that cues bass to take a second look.

Slightly stained to murky water: watermelon/red green flake and watermelon/ black red flake

senko color slightly stained to murky water

In water that’s shading toward green, brown, or red, an excellent choice is the “watermelon/red green flake.” 

watermelon red green flake

Available at Bass Pro

Some anglers throw this color in clear water, and there’s certainly a case to be made for that.

The body of the senko blends naturally into the background as it should, but the bright green and red flecks sparkle in the sun, attracting attention and ringing the dinner bell.

And whether you’re working a lake with red clay soil or a green/brown pond, one of those sparkling flakes is going to be visible.

Another good option is “watermelon/black red flake.”

watermelon black red flake

Available at Bass Pro

This senko color is a bit darker than the other watermelons, and in low-light conditions that still have some sun, this is a great option. 

I like to throw this when the water is starting to really stop sunlight from getting through, as the dark color registers as black and the red flecks sparkle every now and then as the senko moves. 

For me, this is a very versatile color choice, and I like it for deep, dark water, too.

Murky or stained water

senko color for murky stained or muddy water

In low-light conditions where light struggles to penetrate more than a few feet, your color choice needs to switch from natural to bright.

One of my favorites for situations like this is “blue pearl silver flake.” It won’t be as bright as it looks when very little light is hitting it, but it will stand out against the background, letting bass see it and hone in on its subtle action and vibration.

blue pearl silver flake

Available at Bass Pro

Pink hues like “morning dawn” are also awesome picks for water that reduces visibility, as you’re looking to create contrast rather than blend in.

morning dawn

Available at Bass Pro

Ditto for colors like “chartreuse black flake.” While this senko might only be visible from a few feet away because of the water clarity, bass will target what they can see, feel, and hear in conditions like this.

chartreuse black flake

Available at Bass Pro

Deep water, very low visibility, and night fishing

senko color for deep water

As your senko sinks deeper, colors will fade, leaving only dark blues and blacks visible. That’s when darker colors really shine!

One classic choice for these situations is “black blue flake.”

black blue flake

Available at Bass Pro

Visible from above as it falls as a silhouette against the sky, that blue flash every so often brings bass in for a closer look. Excellent at night when bass are keying in on vibration and sound, this is one of my favorite colors, and one I throw a lot.

Head-down presentations: the chartreuse tip

Finally, I want to mention the effectiveness of chartreuse-tipped senkos with head-down presentations like shaky heads, Ned rigs, Texas rigs, and the like.

chartreuse-tipped senkos

Available at Bass Pro

Follow the same basic guidelines we’ve mentioned above, but add a chartreuse tip for more visibility. That flash of bright color can really work to draw curious bass in close, and it’s a time-tested pick for weightless senkos, too.

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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