Fishing Tips

Tokyo Rig | How to Fish and Rig

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Tokyo Rig Swimbait bass

The Tokyo Rig began as a finesse rig developed in Japan. Basically it is an extension of the Jika Rig which is nothing more than an EWG hook with a drop shot weight attached to the eye of the hook via a split rings. 

WHAT IS A TOKYO RIG

The Tokyo Rig is a hook with a wire dropper on it that puts the weight below the hook a further distance. Making it similar to a drop shot except the weight is connected to the hook via the wire and not a leader of line. The rig allows a weight to sit on the bottom while a Texas-rigged plastic is free to sit horizontally a few inches off the bottom. This results in a cleaner pick-up by the fish to get a better hook set. 

Often referred to as power dropping, its other advantages are that it actually casts better and can be used in more ways than just a bullet sinker in front of a worm.  The Tokyo rig, with its unique setup, excels at several different fishing applications. We’ll show you how to rig a Tokyo rig and how to fish a Tokyo rig.

tokyo rig setup

HOW TO RIG A TOKYO RIG

The rigging of the Tokyo Rig is pretty straight forward. You simply Texas Rig your plastic or thread the plastic straight on the hook. The key to rigging it properly is making sure the weight is down on the Tokyo Rig on the split ring before you start threading the plastic onto the hook. It can get twisted up in your terminal tackle box and sometimes you will rig the plastic on and realize the wire is twisted into your rigging.

But as a long as you take that one precaution, just Texas rig the plastic and go. 

The weight however might even be easier to rig. Simply slide your favorite barrel weight, egg weight, bullet weight or bass casting weight. Then bend the end of the wire to hold everything in place. If you use a heavy weight you will want to do more than just but a 90-degree L-bend in the wire. 

TOKYO RIG FOR BASS

Because of the uniqueness of the rig, you can do a lot of things well beyond it’s intended use of just displaying a lure a few inches off the bottom. Some of the most effective ways we’ve found to employ a Tokyo Rig include the following:

  • Punching Mats
  • Bed fishing
  • Fishing Texas rigged plastics offshore
  • Fishing swimbaits deep on the bottom
  • Fishing it as swing head

We’ll go in depth on each technique.

tokyo rig

TOKYO RIG FISHING

The Tokyo Rig fishes just like a Texas-rigged plastic if you want it to. You can cast it out and drag it along the bottom until fish pick it up. But where we think it really excels is in targeting fish in specific locations or continual movement along the bottom. It really gets a fish’s attention either being shook in place or swimming a long. 

Punching with Tokyo Rigs

This was one of the bigger surprises on fishing Tokyo rigs. The fact that it’s a tremendous punching rig. The trick to it comes from the fact that when you punch the weight is at the bottom of the rig and your line so it pulls the rig down through straight through and easy. With a Texas rig and a bullet weight, your lure has to actually turn around the weight goes through and pulls the plastic it sort of to the side of your line as it goes through. 

So a Tokyo rig actually goes into cover cleaner. And you’re not as likely to snag because the hook and bait is free to move out of the way a lot. It’s extemely effective for punching through matted grass and then you can set it on the bottom and shake it and create a lot of action. While the weight stirs up the bottom. 

And it handles really heavy line well because you can swap weights or add additional weights instead of having to carry around big 1 ounce and 2 ounce weights. You can just put a bunch of 1/2 or 3/4 weights on the wire and beef up the offering.

Fishing Swimbaits on the Tokyo Rig

Another surprise application is rigging a swimbait on a Tokyo Rig and then crawling it a long the bottom. The weight keeps good bottom contact and the swimbait is free to swim without getting hung on the bottom or bogged down in grass or mud. So you get a very clean presentation with a lot less snagging.

I will often rig a swimbait with the hook sticking out the back of the swimbait with a flipping hook with good keepers and Tokyo rig weight under it to keel it along an uneven bottom terrain. Then just steady reel it slow trying to maintain decent bottom contact.

This is a tremendous offshore presentation out deep in the summer and winter.

Fishing a Tokyo Rig as a swing head

I’ve likewise fished a Tokyo Rig like a swing head. Put a crawling plastic like a Biffle Bug or Rage Craw on there and just swim it slow along the bottom and I get a better cleaner presentation than with a swing head as the bait stays just about the cover and contact. I again like to use a weight that lets me touch bottom at the speed I want to reel. If you want to reel faster, add more weight without adding more snags.

Bed fishing with Tokyo Rigs

Similarly, bed fishing is highly effective with a Tokyo Rig. I prefer a lighter weight in this fishing scenario. I want just enough weight to hold the bait in one place and then when I shake my rod or pop the rod butt, the weight is digging around and the bait is dancing but the rig is almost not moving at all. Lots of action in one place to really make it look like something is messing with their nest.

BEST TOKYO RIG SETUPS

Best Rods and Reels for Tokyo rigs

A baitcaster and medium heavy casting rod make sense for most of my Tokyo Rigging but I will go up to a flipping stick with a heavy duty casting reel when I punch with a Tokyo rig. But for the most part, I like a 7-foot medium-heavy rod with a fast action. 

Best Tokyo Rig Hooks and Weights

You can buy pre-made Tokyo rig hooks with the wire or you can pick your favorite hook, add a split ring and a wire yourself. So if you just want to get into it quickly or be more DIY with your fishing, here are the Tokyo rig components we recommend.

Best Tokyo Rig Plastics

The real beauty of the Tokyo Rig is that it is a presentation that can be used with nearly every soft plastic out there. But for our fishing we seem to go to a few staples over and over again. I really like it with beaver style baits, kicking type craws, small swimbaits and big worms. You can use finesse weights and finesse worms and fish them as modified drop shots, but I tend to fish this rig on bait casting gear and usually larger soft plastics. 

Here are some of our favorites:

WHAT A TOKYO RIG LOOKS LIKE UNDERWATER

As you can see from this video it gives your plastics a more natural horizontal presentation in the water. 

OTHER TOKYO RIG TIPS

There’s no right or wrong way to fish it. But use its versatility and its ability to present fishing lures in ways that a lot of fish haven’t seen. It’s a great way to fish for pressured fish that see the same lures day after day, fished the same way day after day. It’s also a great way to fish plastics on a steady retrieve. 

The options are limitless. We’ve caught fish with real light weights and finesse baits. We’ve caught fish with real heavy weights crashing through matted vegetation. We’ve caught fish dredging bottom out in 20-plus feet with swimbaits pulling it along on a steady retrieve. And you can adapt it to your regular fishing gear. 

Check out the fishing gear above and give it a whirl and tag us in some of your Tokyo Rig catches on Facebook or Instagram.