Tokyo Rig

Tokyo Rig Setup And Fishing

Fishing Techniques
Tokyo Rig

Occasionally there are unique baits and rigging that come to fishing. I would put the Tokyo Rig in this category. Fishing with the Tokyo rig these last few years, I have been able to put this delivery system to the test, and I'm highly impressed with the results that I have gotten.

During this time, I have fished the Tokyo rigs I purchased and one I have put together with parts from Lure Parts Online. The parts from LPO allowed me to modify the setup to see if my thoughts of adjustments made a difference. In some cases, my adjustments allowed me to tweak my setup better to the conditions I faced when fishing. So, let's break down the Tokyo rig and discuss some of the fishing options. I'll also lay out the parts you'll need if you would like to add to your Tokyo assortment.

Tokyo Rig Breakdown

Bought vs Made Rig
Bought vs Made Rig

The Tokyo Rig is a bait delivery system consisting of a swivel on the front side connected to a welded ring with a hook (opposite end of the swivel) and a dropper wire (in-between swivel and hook) added before being welded closed. This setup lets you pick the bait you'll rig onto the hook. The dropper line is where you place your weight. Some anglers use one weight, while others will put multiple weights with a bead between them on the wire, trying to generate more sound when the weights clack as the Tokyo Rig is fished along the bottom. A few notes about the premade Tokyo rigs with the welded ring, you can't make any changes to the initial setup. It will make you purchase more pre-rigs you won't be able to change the dropper wire or the hook it comes equipped with.

This was why I started looking at other available options. I wanted to change the hook or the dropper wire to adjust the length to fit better the fishing situations I faced. Taking a few looks, I didn't find any companies offering Tokyo Rigs that you could adjust with different options. Having made my spinnerbaits and buzz baits in the past, I looked at the parts that were available from Lure Parts Online, and I could find all the components needed to make my own Tokyo rigs. The main difference between what I can buy and what I'm making is that the center ring isn't welded; I'm using a split ring.

Here are the parts I have used to make my own Tokyo Rigs from the parts I bought from Lure Parts Online.

  • Ringed BB Swivel size 1 or 2
  • Split Ring size 1, 2, or 3 Black or Silver
  • Looped Wire Shaft - .035 or .040 Wire 6” or 8” Remember, you can trim the length down with a wire cutter. More on that to come.
  • Your Favorite Hooks I use EWG Hooks, Keeper Hooks, and Offset Worm Hooks.
These are just a few hook examples you can use with the Tokyo rig.

I have never had a split ring fail, and I can change the components on the fly if needed. For example, if I want to change the hook to better match the bait I want to use, I can do this within a matter of seconds and get right back to fishing.

I honestly think the whole reason for making the original Tokyo rigs with a welded ring was you had to buy another Tokyo if you wanted a different hook style or if the dropper wire got too short. You could not replace the dropper wire again. You had to buy a new rig. So looking at the big picture makes perfect sense.

Why Is the Tokyo Rig So Successful?

When looking at a Texas rig compared to a Tokyo rig, one of the most significant differences is where the bait is as it's fished. When you take a creature bait rigged Texas, where is the bait when it's fished on the bottom of the lake? If the lake bottom is muddy or has silt when you're fishing a Texas rig, chances are your bait is in the silt or mud, and the only time the bass can see or find the bait is when it sinks on the fall or when it's coming over something or on a hard bottom area.

When your bait is rigged on a Tokyo rig, it has an excellent chance to be above the bottom where the bass can see and strike the bait as it's being fished. In addition, the Tokyo rig allows a more natural action from your bait because the bait is free to move. Being drug behind a weight in a silt bottom takes action away from the bait.

Tokyo Rig
Lines for Toyko rigs

One of the biggest reasons when rigged on a Texas rig is that a bass comes up behind the bait and takes it into its mouth. When you go to set the hook, you're pulling the bass's mouth open. With the sinker leading the way, the sinker has to come out of the bass's mouth before you start to get the hook into the bass. It could be a big reason you feel the bass bite but miss them when you set the hook. We all blame the bass dropping the bait when it could be us ripping the bass mouth open with the sinker, and the bait follows the sinker out.

If the bass comes up behind the bait with the Tokyo rig, they aren't getting the sinker in their mouth as they suck in the bait. Instead, they're getting the bait on the hook with a closed mouth. There is no pulling the mouth open with a Tokyo rig. Most of the time, the weight is outside of the mouth. Also, add more action your bait will put off with the Tokyo rig. This overall factor will trigger more bites in your day of fishing.

What you fish the Tokyo rig on will depend on the pattern and bait you're fishing. If I'm fishing my Tokyo rig in situations in which I would have fished a Texas rig, I'll fish this on a 7-foot MH baitcaster that is teamed with a reel spooled with 16-pound Sunline Sniper line. On the other side of the coin, if I were using this for a flipping situation, I would turn towards either 20-pound Sniper line or Sunline Asegai braided line to get a better hook set.


Tokyo Rig

When it comes to baits, open your plastics box and start to experiment. Swimbaits and creature baits are the ones to start with and then expand from there. If you're making your rigs change the hook to better match the bait you're fishing to get better hookups.

A simple rule of thumb is if you can fish your bait on a Texas rig, it can be fished on a Tokyo rig better. You'll get more action out of your bait with the makeup of a Tokyo rig and more and better hookups. Your bait will be up off the bottom, getting you more bites in your day of fishing, and it will get noticed.

I hope this makes you think about how a Tokyo rig can improve your fishing. It's simple to buy a few and see what the results are. Does it improve your catch ratio or not? You won’t know until you try it.

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