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Lure Review

Creature Fever: The Yamamoto Hula Swimmer is a short skirted enticer!


Date: 8/22/12
Tackle type: Lure
Manufacturer: Gary Yamamoto Lures
Reviewer: Wolbugger

Total Score: 7.58 - GOOD

The Gary Yamamoto bait company has achieved nothing short of legendary status in the Bass fishing world, aided along years ago by their release of the original Senko.  It didn't take long for the rest of the nation, and the world for that matter, to take notice that the Senko was indeed a special product.  Since then, Yamamoto has released several variations of this amazing bait, including the popular Swim Senko.  Taking the design of this bait one step further is the Hula Swimmer, which incorporates a 4.5” Swim Senko style body with a short hula-skirt head.  Will this mop-top bait prove to be another winner?      


Yamamoto Hula Swimmer Specifications

Type Soft Bait
Material Plastic
Depth Various
length 4.5"
Colors/Patterns 12 standard + special order color combos available
Added Features Hula skirt head, paddle tail
MSRP $7.49-$7.99


Armed and ready with 3 bags of Yamamoto Hula Swimmers

Impressions:  Have you ever fished a Swim Senko but wished it had a little something extra to get noticed or entice a strike?  The Hula Swimmer offers just that, featuring a 4.5” Swim Senko style body and a 12 point hula-skirt head.  The body and head are all one single piece, so rigging is a snap.  Right out of the bag this bait strikes you as one that will catch fish.  The colors, size, and just overall “fishy” look of the bait inspire confidence before the first cast is even made.  Like other Senko style baits, it is also infused with a generous amount of salt for even more appeal.  12 standard colors are available, as well as several special order combos available on the Gary Yamamoto website.  This allows the customer to choose their own skirt and body color combination for a truly custom bait.

Rigged up on a 5/0 keel weighted swimbait hook

Real World Tests:  Testing with the Hula Swimmer took place on a variety of south Florida ponds, lakes, and canals.  14Lb monofilament, as well as 20lb braid were the lines of choice.  Though this bait can be used as a trailer on a lure like a swim jig, I elected to test it alone rigged Texas style with a bullet weight, and with a keel-weighted swimbait hook.

A closer look at the 12 point hula skirt head

Casting:  Like all baits in the Senko family, these have a nice density to them which allows for effortless casting with just a light added weight.  I really enjoyed tossing the Hula Swimmer in shallow water with just enough weight to keep it down in the strike zone.  While the hula-skirt head adds a tiny amount of wind resistance to the bait, I found it wasn't a concern whatsoever during casting, even into the wind.  If the skirt was both longer and thicker, it would likely then pose more of a problem.  Any rod that you like to fish Senkos on will be perfect to cast this bait.  I personally prefer a 7'-7'3” M to MH rod for fishing them.

A TackleTour autopsy of sorts, a well worn bait is cut open to reveal the salty goodness within

 Retrieve:  The Hula Swimmer is a very easy bait to fish.  My best success comes when slow rolling it like a spinnerbait, with an occasional speed variance or twitch during retrieve.  The bait has a nice feel coming through the water, and does so with just a minimal resistance.  It's a killer tool for probing around, through, or tickling the tops of submerged weeds.  Since it is weedless and pretty thin, it comes through cover easily.  While the tail portion has fantastic kicking action, you can't really feel any of it's vibration during the retrieve.  The paddle tail is relatively small and thin, so this is not really a surprise.  Though undetectable, the action of the bait is impressive, as it truly does have a very lively look with it's kicking action and undulating head.  The head also causes the bait to push a bit more water than a standard Swim Senko, which in turn allows Bass to find it easier in dirtier water.

Slow rolling the bait through a bit deeper water with an occasional twitch and pause

 Durability: I found the durability to be just ok.  The bulky first half of the body is basically a Senko, so it's pretty chunky and fairly durable.  The problem I encountered had to do with the rear tail half of the bait.  Nearing the tail, the bait flattens and narrows substantially, tapering down to a thin weak point before the paddle tail.  This design definitely improves swimming action, but at the cost of durability.  Several baits had their tails sheared clean off by very small Bass that chomped or pecked at the bait during retrieve.

Frustration set in when several baits had their tails sheared clean off by small fish chomping and pecking at the tail during retrieve

Packaging & Cost:  The bags used for packaging seem to be of very good quality and have an equally good zip closure at the top.  Bags like these are great as I can simply toss a bunch of them in my tackle bag for the day and not have to worry about lugging a worm binder around.  Each bag contains 7 Hula Swimmers at a cost of $7.49-$7.99.  Compared to a similarly sized 4”-5” Senko, the price is comparable except that you get 3 less Hula Swimmers per bag.  It would be nothing to go through a whole bag of these baits during a good fishing day, which could get a bit costly pretty quick.

Top view of the tail portion.  The thinnest section in the middle wasn't solely to blame as the bite-offs occurred along the entire tail portion.

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Yamamoto Hula Swimmer Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A quality bait overall, and nicely executed colors.  However, the tail section proved to be a weak point. 7.5
Performance Great swimming action and a very lively look in the water.  The nice slim profile snakes through weeds and vegetation easily. 9
Price Senkos are expensive, and so are these. 6
Features The paddle tail, hula skirt head, and infusion of salt all combine to make a confidence-inspiring bait. 8
Design (Ergonomics) A nice size and profile that will appeal to both small and large fish.  Easy to rig a few different ways. 8
Application Fairly versatile in its application, but not what I would call a “do all” bait. 7

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Fairly versatile to rig and use - Tail prone to bite-offs
+ Lively action in the water - Pricey for just 7 baits
+ Handy packaging  
+ Easy to get bites on  


With low water, high temps, and light wind each day, big fish were absent during testing but willing 2lbers filled the void


Conclusion: With Creature Fever in full swing here at TackleTour, one cannot think of plastic baits without the Yamamoto name immediately coming to mind.  The Hula Swimmer joins their ever-expanding lineup of Senko-based offerings, all made with the signature quality and triggering qualities Yamamoto has built a reputation on.  For Bass anglers, especially those favoring shallow water, these are a bait worth looking into.  For fish that have “seen it all”, sometimes showing them something even slightly different is all it takes!


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