(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.)
When the weather gets hot and fish bunch up on offshore structure, sometimes the biggest problem is not finding the right school, but rather extracting the biggest members of the group. When Gerald Swindle hits a TVA ledge, he’s always looking for the technique that’ll tempt the best quality fish.
After cycling through a crankbait, a jig and a dropshot, sometimes the best tool for that task is the new VMC Tokyo Rig. “This technique right here is going to change how people fish deep,” he said. In the short timeframe that he’s used it, he’s found on multiple occasions that shortly after switching to it, “Clyde shows up.”
While many anglers utilize the Tokyo Rig in grass, Swindle came to it as a solution to keeping contact with the bottom in current and now that he’s gained comfort with it, “You’re going to see it laying at my feet all day.” In many regards, it has taken the place of a hard head.
One of its biggest advantages is its simplicity. Swindle said you simply cast it out, let it fall to the bottom, put your rod tip down and start reeling. “You don’t have to do nothing but wind it back in,” he said. “This is the most basic technique you can do.”
One of his staple lures on the Tokyo Rig is a Zoom Z Craw fished on a 3/0 VMC worm hook, but he’s experimenting with a variety of other plastics and continues to increase his weights to see what it can handle. He’s particularly excited about trying a 7-inch swimbait paired with a one and a half ounce weight to show the Tennessee River fish an altogether new presentation. “You could sure stay in contact with the bottom, I can tell you that,” he said.
While some anglers rig the tungsten weight with the pointed end down to penetrate the grass more cleanly, when fishing offshore structure Swindle has it face in the opposite direction – with the point of the weight toward the soft plastic – which he believes maximizes feel. He keeps his line relatively light, again to increase sensitivity. Whenever possible he’ll stick with 14-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon. He’s not picky about reel speed, usually choosing something in the 6.3:1 to 7.3:1 range, and adjusting his retrieve speed in accordance with the mood of the fish, while always ensuring to keep the bait in contact with the structure.
As the name suggests, this rig came from finesse-happy Japanese anglers, but Swindle has quickly become convinced that its novelty, distinctive action and the ease of fishing it produces more and bigger bites, especially on pressured waters with educated fish. It is infinitely customizable, fishes well through a variety of cover, and allows the lure to stay in touch with the bottom while creating a seductive, seemingly free-floating motion that has an allure all its own.
If you want to learn some of Swindle’s other Tokyo-Rigging secrets, including the lures he’s likely to use on it for big northern smallmouths, check out his full on-the-water video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.