Building a Tokyo Rig

The Whole System, How to Fish It and the Mods


Spring 2019

page 54

dropshot. “The benefits to the hook being up off the bottom is the action,” said Ike. “Most systems like this (a jighead, the wobble head, a jig head) have the weight on the head of the bait; but here, the weight is free-flowing at the back. It has up-and-down action, side-to-side movement, rotation – it is just very free and flexible. That means the fish are seeing a bait in a way that they’ve never seen before.”


The system allows the weight to take the “fishing abuse” as opposed to the bait, the hook or the knot.

“In traditional systems, the knot encounters the wear, bouncing around on the bottom, on the rocks, on the zebra mussels,” explained Ike. “You’re just constantly getting line damage. But, with the Tokyo rig, the knot, the bait and the hook are above the bottom. All of that is protected and out of the equation of getting damaged.”


Due to the design, when a fish eats the bait on a Tokyo rig, the weight is not part of the bite. Therefore, the weight doesn’t hit the bass’ mouth (forcing it open) during the hookset.

“You can talk to the best punch experts there are, and they will tell you, when you’re punchin’, the setup of the punch rig causes your hookup percentage to decrease,” said Ike. “When you jack that punch rig on a bite, it hits the bass’ mouth like a bullet, they open and it’s often a lost fish. It just happens! But, not with the Tokyo rig. The weight is below the bait; so, when you feel the bite and jack it…. It’s all hook! I cannot tell you how many more fish you can land with this system compared to a punch rig or Texas-rig.”


Punching and Texas-Rigging: “Use a 1-ounce weigh with the bullet facing down,” said Ike. “For added sound, use two 1/2-ounce weights (back-to-back) with a bead in between.”


For dragging deep water or deep ledges 20- to 40-feet, use a single weight,” he said. “Get a heavier one, due to the depth and face the point up. The round blunt-end goes towards the bottom, acting like a football head to reduce it getting hung up. I like to fish this with a boot tail-style swimbait, like the Keitech-style 3.8; but it’s really wide-open to style and size. There is a new one from Berkley called the PowerBait Power Swimmer that is perfect.”


Hanging Up: “It may seem like it would get hung up more; but it doesn’t,” Ike explained. “The rigid wire actually keeps the bait cleaner - like a ball and chain. Grass (milfoil, hydrilla, matted reeds - whatever) when you try to punch, the nose of the bait wants to pick up gunk from the grass as it penetrates; but on this, your weight (attached on the rigid wire) does the penetrating. It makes the hole and paves a way; so, the bait doesn’t get all the gunk.”

Texas or punch-rigging option #1 bullet facing down. Photo: Fisherman’s Warehouse

TOO MUCH HARDWARE: “All the components on the VMC Tokyo rig are black; but I don’t even think it matters,” said Ike. “The bait mesmerizes the bass so much, they just focus on the bait. It is like the Alabama rig. All the hardware just doesn’t matter.”


Don’t get bogged down in using use a worm weight! Try a barrel-style weight, which is good around rock, or football sliding weights for other scenarios. Basically, you can try any weight with a hole.

I don’t modify the rigid wire much; but I do see times when shorter or longer could be useful. You can adapt yours to the conditions you are in.

There is no specialized tackle required. The same rod you use to punch with or throw a deep swimbait is the right rod to use. I use a 7‘4” medium-heavy Ike Power Series rod. I can pitch with it. I can drag with it. It’s perfect for the Tokyo rig.

For the reel - again, use whatever you normally use for a punch, pitch situation. In shallow situations, I like an 8.0:1 to recover line quicker. When I need to slow down, out deep, I like a Revo 6.6:1 to force the slower retrieve.

Line is a matter of personal preference. I love it on fluoro; but when I am punchin’ gnarly cover, I use braid. My personal ratio is 60/40. Sixty percent on fluoro, which I use in mid-depth situations. In shorter or sparse cover, I like 15- to 20-pound Berkley 100% Trilene. In heavier stuff, I like 25-pound; but in mats or down in Florida-like places, I use Berkley X9 50 or 65-pound. •