Tokyo Rig: Terrific New Option for Bass

with James Lindner

Bass fishing often is all about rigging: Texas Rig, Carolina Rig, Wacky Rig, Ned Rig, and more. But when I first saw VMC’s new “Tokyo Rig” in 2018, I admit to being somewhat dubious. I wasn’t sure how it would work, as it differed substantially from the rigs we regularly use for bass. But once I started fishing it, the Tokyo Rig quickly became my go-to presentation in various situations. Its unique feature is that the weight hangs on a wire below the hook.

I found it a very effective summertime approach for fishing dense vegetation for the big largemouth bass that live there during the warm months. With the jointed Tokyo Rig, the sinker slips more easily through grass or slop than the heavy jigs or Texas Rigs with a big sinker we’ve used to punch through the canopy in the past. The Tokyo Rig is not only easier and requires less weight, but it hooks bass better and reduces the number of lost fish. When a bass bites a big sinker or jig, it sometimes clamps its jaws on the weight, or else you may pop the fish’s mouth open on a hookset. With the sinker hanging below, there’s no such problem. The offset-shank, wide-gap that comes with it can hold all sorts of softbaits, so it’s versatile. Two favorites are a Craw Tube and a Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog.

This summer, I’ve started using a Tokyo Rig on deep rockpiles where largemouth and smallmouth bass feed in summer. It hangs up less than a football jig and again, it hooks fish better. Moreover, as you retrieve the rig, it clicks over the rocks, adding sound attraction to the package. And if there’s algae on the rocks, it catches on the weight, leaving the lure clean. You can use swimbaits, craw-style lures, or big plastic worms in this situation.

Tungsten sinkers are dense so they transmit bottom type well. For rocks, I often use a pair of 3/8-weights rigged back-to-back, so they click as the rig bumps along. The Tokyo Rig also works well on soft bottoms, as heavy sinkers can sink into silt, dragging your lure out of sight, while the Tokyo Rig keeps it above bottom and visible to bass.

Like many innovative rigs that have come along in recent decades, this one is credited to inventive Japanese anglers who looked for a better way to catch bass in lakes where fishing pressure can be intense. Like the drop-shot rig and others, this one is a big winner!


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