Yamamoto Yamatanuki Review

The product recommendations on our site are independently chosen by our editors. When you click through our links, we may earn a commission. 

The heavy plastic craze is officially stateside. Folks in North America are getting to see the power of heavy plastics that Japanese anglers have been enjoying on lakes like Biwa for a few years. Yamamoto actually came out with the Yamamoto Yamatanuki several years ago but it has only been available in Japan until this year.

More than likely the surge in interest for ned rigs has made the heavy plastic options a lot more palatable for US anglers now than it probably would have been years ago. To me the heavy plastics like the Yamatanuki is almost a cross between a weightless senko and a ned rig that is heavy enough to fish on baitcasting tackle. And there are a lot of things you can do with it. I think we’ll see a lot more baits like this being developed in the next few years.

This profile is basically what Dr. Keith Jones proved was the preferred size and profile a bass wanted in his testing more than a decade ago. And now manufactures are coming up with new shapes, baits with tentacles and more self-weighted plastics that just need a hook to be fished.

The Yamatanuki Design

This bait basically looks like a small bowling pin. There is a knobbed tail (or head depending on your perspective and rig). The plastic has salt impregnated in a proprietary way to give it a much heavier and quicker fall with more action than most plastics similar to their Senko.

The bait itself is 3 1/2 inches long and weighs 5/8 ounce without a weight on it. I have been fishing a 5/0 BKK Nemesis EWG hook on it most of the time.

The head slightly tapers and the rear is a bit more bulbous with the added tail coming out the end. The tail has a lot of action. As it skips along the bottom or pulls over cover, the tail is always undulating.

The sides have grooved channels, perfect for hiding the point of an EWG hook in it. I’ve rigged it both from the tip of the bowling pin to the other way around with the bowling pin top or what I call the tail coming out the bottom. I much prefer it rigged with the hook point coming out of the big end and the small end acting as a tail as you fish it. A lot more action and a lot better hookups.

Applying the Yamatanuki to Fishing

This heavy weight plastic gives you a very castable bait without any weights added. It actually skips pretty well, can bomb out there on a long cast, it’s easy to pitch and flip to targets. It’s a little tough to get it to sink into thick cover, but pitching it around docks, logs, laydowns, boulders, and stumps has been really nice with this bait on a medium heavy baitcasting setup and heavier 15 to 17-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon.

My favorite application this spring has been pitching it to isolated pieces of sparse cover and fishing it around docks. It has been a lot of fun catching both smallmouth and largemouth that were spawning, cruising and fry guarding. I had a couple great afternoons just last week with the Yamatanuki as you’ll see in the photos.

It’s a really unique bait. I’ve caught a bunch of fish pitching it to targets and a lot of fish get it on the initial fall like a Senko or a Ned Rig. I’ve caught just as many, or maybe more, simply dragging it on bottom. And you can really feel them thump this bait when they bite. I don’t know if that’s because of its added weight but its very easy to detect bites with.

It can be a little cumbersome to feel what the bait is doing as you fish it. Without having a hard weight to transmit bottom contact and a more pronounced hitting bottom, this bait can get lost if you are not really paying attention to it.

I know some guys have been putting them on standup heads and having some good success. I have liked it on the BKK Silent Chaser 4/0 1x EWG Round Head. To me it’s a power ned without being overly bulky. It’s heavy for sure on a weighted head. But it’s a pretty neat profile and gives you another way to fish it.

My added thoughts

Yamamoto has some of the best colors and the Yamatanuki comes in a bunch of those staples and some new ones like Mimizu and Brown Purple Laminate. I have been fishing it weightless most of the time and pitching to targets with great success this spring. I don’t know what they think it is. A bluegill nosing down around them or their babies. Or maybe it just looks like a crawfish or some other small morsel rooting around on the bottom.

I think it has a natural movement in the water and that has to be some of the appeal. I plan to try it fishing offshore, maybe on a Carolina rig. And some other things like that. I think guys will probably unlock a lot of new things with the heavy plastic effect of the Yamatanuki.

Fish I’ve Caught on It

I’ve had dozens of smallmouth on it. I’ve had a bunch of largemouth on it. Most of those were spawning and post spawn fish. I’ve had a wide range of sizes of fish. Some of my better fish the last two weeks have come on it. So I’ve really enjoyed playing with a new bait this crazy spring on Kentucky Lake.

I’ll be interested to see what others figure out with it as well.

You can find the Yamamoto Yamatanuki now at these retailers:

A Fun New Bait that Gets Bit