Mikey Balzz Tokyo Rig Basics for Bass

Tokyo Rig 101 | Understanding the Basics


Bass fishing is hugely popular in Japan. Most tournaments take place in the same three lakes which commonly see over 1,000 contestants per event. Many of whom fish from shore in fairly clear, heavily pressured waters.

Bass quickly become educated to the wiles of an angler, and creativity is at a premium for those seeking to separate themselves from the crowd. It is from such competitive fire that the Tokyo rig was forged.

The Tokyo rig consists of a swivel which is connected to an EWG style hook via a split ring. From the ring hangs a short piece of wire to which a weight is attached. This rigging creates a separation from the weight and the lure--usually a creature bait or craw--rigged weedless on the hook.

Considered a power technique, this rigging method allows an angler to present the bait in heavy cover but still imparts a delicate, free-flowing action to the lure. For this reason, lures that have inherent flotation are often used on the Tokyo rig.

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Video transcript:

Speaker 1:
What is going on guys? Mikey Balzz right here. We are talking Tokyo Rigs today. I'm going to show you exactly how to rig it up, exactly how to fish it and hopefully exactly how to catch the bass on it.

Speaker 1:
So let's start off with the basics. What is a Tokyo Rig? Basically, it's an offset chain hook, a small wire form, and then a small swivel, all connected by a ring. The concept behind it is to suspend the bait off the bottom while still retaining bottom contact. You can almost imagine it like a pre rig drop shot. What I like to do is I grab tungsten weights. You don't have to use tungsten, but I feel like tungsten gives you a little bit better translation or connectivity with the bottom. You know exactly what's down there. If it's a rock, it goes, "Dong, ding, dong." If the bottom's soft, you don't really feel it. It gives you a lot of transmission and that's important to know exactly what you're fishing when you're chasing after these bass.

Speaker 1:
So one of the biggest mistakes that people make though, is how they actually put the weight on this wire form. Traditionally, Texas rig, you're like, "Slide the weight up," right? No, not with the Tokyo rig. What you actually want to do is flip it around inverse and slide it onto the wire form, just like that. And there's a real, simple reason for that. Basically, this is the portion that's going to drag across the bottom, and you want that cylindrical head down there because you don't want it to get hung up with a hard edge all the time. It'll give you that bottom transmission, but at the same time not get hung.

Speaker 1:
Then the next step is super simple and what's cool about it is it allows you to actually switch a bunch of weights. All you do is you take your needle nose, every bass fisherman's got one, and you're going to simply just bend that over. Almost like you would on a spinner bait or something like that. And you're going to make a small hook just like that. But what ends up happening is that, right there. It catches the hook and wraps around the tip of that weight and keeps it right on there, just like that, allowing your bait to suspend up and drag across the bottom.

Speaker 1:
So you can rig just about anything up on a Tokyo rig. Stick bait, creature bait, even a tube or a swim bait if you want to swim it across the bottom. It's a lot like a wobble head in that way. The sky is the limit but one thing that I will throw you is something tweaky that you can do to accentuate the action is, the concept behind that Tokyo rig is to suspend the bait above the bottom, right? So what you can do is use some of these new school plastics, like a Z-man, that use that elastic or that floating style plastic. And what it does is it makes sure that hook is going to stay above the bottom. When it comes to rigging, though, it's super simple, super straightforward. All you're going to do is take that offset chain hook, you're going to pass it through the tip and then bring it on out so that you can cover up that little offset right there, slide it on. Totally simple classic Texas rig.

Speaker 1:
And what I like to do, we're going to do a little bit of offshore fishing today, so what I'm actually going to do is I'm going to pass that hook through just like that, and then just skin hook it, just like that. So if a bass bites it, that hook will pop out pretty easy, because the bait's going to be pretty deep. But your rig should look just like that. Like I said, you can use just about anything on it, but the concept is, it will suspend that bait off the bottom.

Speaker 1:
So, let's talk fishing. That's what we're here to do. So with this rig, there's two really main things that I like to do with it and they're totally opposite. That's the funny thing. So as I mentioned, it's like a drop shot rig. It suspends the bait above the bottom. One of the main things is fishing offshore or slightly deeper, it's a great way to present the bait slightly off the bottom. Pre rigged, so you don't need to have your drop shot on deck, to drag around rock, shell, any kind of hard bottom. You get great bottom transmission, but yet your bait isn't glued to the bottom. Even if you have a slightly softer bottom, it's another great thing too, is that bait is suspended. You're not going to get ... You know how you get all that goo on the tip of your bait when you're dragging around? You don't get all that.

Speaker 1:
The other thing that you can do, totally opposite, but you flip this thing. Flip and pitch into cover, around grass. This rig is surprisingly weedless, even with the weight dangling down like this and what you get is sort of a different look. Obviously with the Texas rig your weight's up there, the bait punches on through. This bait has a slightly different fall when you're pitching around docks. Because the weight goes down, you actually get a gliding action from the soft plastic that's on there, giving it a little different presentation, a little bit different look. It's not about big changes. It's all about nuance changes. Super easy to flip though, because it's compact. It's almost like flipping a micro drop shot.

Speaker 1:
Tokyo rig, it's not new anymore, but it's something you need to have in your arsenal. It gives you a combination of a lot of fish catching attributes. That suspended wait, a suspended bait, and you can do a million different things with it. You need to try it. Grab yourself a Tokyo rig, put your favorite plastic on the back and start flying.

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