(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
Earlier this year at the Sabine River, John Crews earned a 6th-place finish largely as a result of a change he made to his plastics presentation. He found the bass around cypress trees with substantial root systems, all of which had lots of crevices. A regular Texas rig would often get lost down there, while a dropshot was too light around the wood cover. He turned instead to a Tokyo Rig, a new import from Japan that allows the use of heavier line but still keeps the bait suspended a few inches above the weight.
“Nobody else was throwing anything like it,” he said. The Tokyo Rig, also known as the “punch shot” rig, can be bought from tackle retailers or made at home. It typically involves a wire shaft attached to the eyelet of a worm hook. Anglers can thread on any amount of weight that they choose, and then bend the end of the wire to hold it in place.
“It is one technique that looks really funny, to be honest, but I can tell you right now, they will bite this thing,” he said.
The rig is amenable to just about any sort of soft plastic, everything from a compact but bulky D Bomb through an undulating straight-tailed worm. Fished above cover such as short grass, it keeps the plastic in sight. It also excels below matted grass, where the “dust cloud” that results when the package hits the bottom is often a bite trigger. He also fishes it around deeper vegetation such as milfoil and northern cabbage, which often grow out past the 10-foot mark. “Isolated clumps are ideal,” he said. In open water, he’ll fish it on lighter line, but the dust cloud attracts them just the same. He’ll let it hit bottom, lift it a couple of times, and then reel it in. As it slowly settles down after the lift, the bait pivots, which it doesn’t do on a Texas rig.
Because this is a power-fishing technique, Crews uses a 7’2” Cashion worm rod with a baitcaster, going up to a 7’6” flipping stick or even the 7’11” John Crews Punching Rod in the thick stuff. That’s when he’ll change from his typical 14- to 18-pound Sunline Shooter up to 50 or even 65-pound braid. On fluorocarbon, he’ll set hard, but with the heavier gear, he’ll change the way he sets the hook a little, preferring to reel up the slack and then just lean back into them. “Don’t waste a lot of time after you get the bite,” he noted, and added that “they’re pretty violent strikes.”
His reels are at least a 7:1 gear ratio because most bites come right after the fall. He’ll shake it in place a few times, but then he wants to make another presentation as soon as possible.
While he’s now fished this setup in a wide variety of conditions, he knows that it’s new enough that he’s only scratched the surface. “It’s probably a pretty good ledge technique,” he stated.
If you want to learn some of the other keys to Crews' strategies for fishing the Tokyo Rig, including how he pairs up dual weights on the wire shaft, check out his full video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.