How to Fish a Tokyo Rig for Bass: Techniques, Setup, Tips

The Tokyo rig is a new-age technique that covers the shortcomings of several other power fishing applications. Developed in Japan, the technique was tested in order to try and catch bass that are extremely pressured or have been released. Japan has become one of the most innovative countries when it comes to catching bass, thanks to having immensely pressured waters. We’ll give the full lowdown on how to fish a Tokyo rig for bass while outlining why this technique could play a massive role in power fishing as a whole.

How to Fish a Tokyo Rig for Bass: Techniques, Setup, Tips

Understanding the Tokyo Rig for Bass Fishing

The Tokyo rig is still very much making its way into the bass fishing world. It’s still considered very ‘new’ and there’s plenty of confusion as to how this application works.

One key thing to note with the Tokyo rig is that it’s a power technique. It involves a heavier weight (or two) and it excels in fishing shore-based cover such as weeded mats, brush piles, and other cover that’s pretty heavy on tackle.

The main line is tied to a swivel, with the swivel having a pitching-style hook and a wire which the weight is attached to. This means the hook and the bait are separate from the weight, which is different from a Texas rig. The wire and weight sit at the bottom, with the hook and bait just above.

What is a Tokyo Rig
The Tokyo Rig

Why Fish a Tokyo Rig?

So, why should you look to fish a Tokyo rig? Why not just fish a Texas rig? The Tokyo rig covers a few shortcomings that the Texas rig has, making this technique a pretty good substitute if you’re not getting bit on your go-to traditional punch rig.

Here are some reasons why you should consider trying the Tokyo rig:

  • Unique, but epic action on the bottom: Once your Tokyo rig hits the bottom, it’ll create a small cloud of silt/sand. The epic part is that your bait will still be very visible as this cloud is created by the bottom weight. This whole presentation often brings about some serious curiosity in bass
  • Bait has more freedom of movement: As we spoke about earlier, the hook and bait are separate from the weight of this rig. The hook is connected to the mainline via a swivel and this gives the hook and bait very little resistance to move freely and entice a bite
  • It ‘punches’ through vegetation very effectively: The Tokyo rig is also known as the ‘Punch Shot’ - a combination of both a Texas rig and a drop shot rig. It gets through all kinds of vegetation very smoothly and it has a pretty close resemblance in terms of action compared to a drop shot rig - what a combo!
  • It gives you access to some of the most attractive cover: Just like the Texas rig, the Tokyo rig is weedless and you can really target some of the juiciest cover on any system. Who doesn’t enjoy throwing a bait into the deep stuff?
  • Versatile in operation: The Tokyo rig is versatile in that it can access any water column whether you're fishing deep water or shallow pockets

How to Fish a Tokyo Rig for Bass

Fishing a Tokyo rig requires a slightly altered approach to fishing a Texas rig. There is however one thing that they have in common - you’ll often be throwing your bait into the rough stuff with the goal of finding a bass's strike zone.

The Tokyo rig truly shines in shore-based cover and vegetation. When you want to get your bait through a mat or a brush pile, the Tokyo rig will do a great job in doing that - just like a Texas rig. As we know, largemouth bass especially love hugging warmer, shallower water with dense cover.

  1. Cast your bait into heavy cover and let it sink to the bottom. Unlike the Texas rig, you have less chance of getting hit on the initial fall, purely because of the profile of this rig.
  2. Once the bait is on the bottom, try keeping a pretty tight line and twitch your rod in a similar fashion to the way you’d treat a drop shot. Remember, it’s called a ‘punch shot’ after all. It’s important to keep bottom contact and give movement solely to your bait - unless you’re looking to slowly hop your Tokyo rig along the bottom.
  3. After only a few twitches, retrieve your bait and try to feel for any cover transitions, such as a grass to rocky bottom or wood to gravel. If you feel a transition, leave the bait there and give a few twitches.
  4. Otherwise, no cast should last too long. Remember, this is a power technique and you’re looking to cover a lot of attractive water with this application. Pitch into your target zones and always have an eye for your next cast.
Where to fish a Tokyo rig
The Tokyo rig thrives in thick vegetation

Tokyo Rig Setup: Rod, Line, Bait

In terms of tackle and equipment, you can use your flipping setup for this technique comfortably. Remember, this is a slightly heavier application and you’ll be fishing some pretty threatening areas - you’ll need the gear to match it. 

Tokyo Rig Rod Setup

A baitcasting rod with a heavier power is important for this technique, with a medium-heavy being the absolute minimum. 

A fast or extra fast action is also crucial for this application. Your hook point is hidden in the bait and you’ll need a backbone nearby to set the hook accordingly. 

Anything from 7’2” in terms of length will do just fine. 

Best Line for a Tokyo Rig

As usual, this could be the most important factor. Line application for the Tokyo rig is similar to a Texas rig, but it can be altered ever-so-slightly. One thing is for certain, you’re using fluorocarbon for this technique.

Line diameter plays a vital role in the overall presentation of a bait. With a Texas rig, we see the mainline being connected directly to the hook, meaning line test choice is crucial. If you can, you would want to go with lighter line, as this has a thinner diameter and therefore less resistance to the free-flowing movement of your bait. However, sometimes we are forced to go with heavier line to deal with vegetation - this results in a more stagnant bait appearance. 

The Tokyo rig is different in that the mainline is not directly connected to your hook, but rather the swivel in between. This means that no matter what line test you go with, the hook and bait will have the same movement and action. 

This is the main reason why anglers will often go with heavier fluorocarbon on the Tokyo rig. It’ll give them greater security from getting cut off, while not losing out on a free-flowing action in their bait. 14-20lb fluorocarbon is a common choice for this technique. The minimal stretch in fluorocarbon will also help with getting a clean hook set, even with a hidden hook point.

Braided line is also an option for the Tokyo rig. One can look to braided line when they are fishing seriously thick cover or other threatening vegetation such as lily pads. Big bass will often hug the thickest of cover, and braid will give us access to these potentially threatening zones. The zero stretch in braid will also help with better hookups.

Tokyo Rig Baits

One doesn’t need to be too picky when it comes to bait selection for the Tokyo rig. Standard pitching baits will work just fine, but you can throw virtually anything on your hook for this presentation. 

The weight below does the work in getting your bait to the bottom, so choose a bait that you’re confident with and try to match the hatch with colors. 

Don’t be shy to choose a bait that has a few flailing limbs. Remember, this bait will sit just above the bottom and will be more visible. Any creature bait will work well with the Tokyo rig.

Wrapping Up

This Tokyo rig is new and exciting and I personally can’t wait to see this technique dominate in all forms of bass fishing. I feel we still haven’t seen the best of this rig, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty of prize money handed over because of it. 

Understand why this rig is different and try it out next time to get out on the water. It’s always great fun throwing a Texas rig into heavy cover, but this time, mix it up and throw a Tokyo rig with your favorite bait. 

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