Bassmaster Elite angler Patrick Walters with a largemouth landed on the Tokyo Rig. (wired2fish/)
It’s not that bass pro Mike Iaconelli had an issue with being outfished; he just wanted to know why his Japanese host was smoking him, like 4 to 1, during a 2017 trip to Tokyo’s famed Lake Biwa. Frustrated and curious, Iaconelli confiscated his host’s rig and found something he’d never seen—a leadered punch shot. This became the inspiration for his collaboration with VMC hooks, and three years later, they introduced the aptly named Tokyo Rig.
VMC’s proprietary model consists of a welded ring that links a rolling swivel line tie, a technique-specific hook (wide gap, flipping, or worm), and a 2 1⁄2-inch leader connected with another rolling swivel. Slip a weight onto the leader, turn the tip 90 degrees to prevent slippage, and you’re ready to fish.
The Tokyo Rig is different from earlier punch shot forms that linked the suspending weight directly to the connector ring. Also known as the Jika Rig or Jig Rig, this predecessor lacked the Tokyo Rig’s distinguishing leader.
Here's how to set up the Tokyo Rig. (wired2fish/)
“When I first saw this rig, I thought, This is going to be a great tool for punching, flipping, and fishing deep grass,” Iaconelli says. “Back then, I never saw the potential for it in a lot of other places, but it really has become a versatile technique.”
Case in point: During a 2018 Bassmaster Elite event on the St. Lawrence River, Iaconelli was looking for something between a finesse-y drop-shot and a powerfishing wobblehead jig presentation for targeting deep smallmouth bass in swift current. Rigging a Berkley Powerbait Jester creature bait on a Tokyo Rig with a 3⁄4-ounce VMC tungsten weight enabled him to fool big smallies by mimicking the gobies and crayfish scurrying over the rocky bottom.