Tokyo Rig Setup: How To Build And Fish It

Originally created in Japan as an alternative to the Texas rig, with a focus on being used in heavy vegetation to land big bass fish, the Tokyo rig has quickly …

Originally created in Japan as an alternative to the Texas rig, with a focus on being used in heavy vegetation to land big bass fish, the Tokyo rig has quickly made waves in the United States and other countries as well.

A huge number of bass anglers, walleye anglers and other fishermen have put this rig to the test in their favorite lakes and fishing grounds to see if it lives up to the hype. It’s been tested under a variety of fishing techniques, in heavy cover and open water, and has been directly compared to other rigs such as the standard Texas rig, the Drop Shot rig, and more.

Whether you are a brand new angler, or someone who has been fishing for years, the Tokyo rig is an excellent bottom fishing rig to work with for a variety of fish species. It will quickly and effortlessly send your bait down to the bottom and get it in the strike zone of those big trophy fish. If you fish a Tokyo rig under the right conditions, you can easily catch more bass in all seasons.

Creating a Tokyo Rig

It’s not difficult to find a premade Tokyo rig at your local tackle shop, as well as from online retailers. However, creating your own is extremely simple and is oftentimes a more preferable choice since you have full control over the components used. The Tokyo rig resembles a drop shot, so if you are familiar with making those you won’t have trouble with a Tokyo rig.

The Tokyo rig is an extremely simple rig to setup, which makes it a great entry-level rig for beginners to get started with. The basic Tokyo rig will consist of a hook, a barrel swivel, and a length of bendable wire attached to a central split ring. There will be a sliding weight or tungsten weights attached to the length of bendable wire to keep the rig on the bottom of the lake.

That’s it! That is the entire construction of most Tokyo rigs. It’s highly adjustable to suit your own local fishing areas, and can be changed up within minutes between casts as well if you need to adjust the length of the drop wire to prevent hang ups in thick cover.

You can easily adjust the size of the weight and hook as well to go from a robust fishing rig to a more finesse technique rig. Instead of using a new rig, just adjust your Tokyo rig to suit your needs in the moment so you can fish a Tokyo rig anyplace at any time.

What you need

Step 1

Open your split ring and ensure there is enough of an opening to slide things onto it. Be careful not to bend it too much or you can weaken the metal and cause breakage when in the water or when being tugged on your line.

Step 2

Take one end of the stiff bendable wire leader and form a small loop, similar in size to the loop on the end of your hook. The wire should be thick enough to hold its shape well and stand up to some tugging when on the line. A metal paper clip is a suitable substitution to use in a pinch!

Step 3

Slide the loop you just made on the bendable wire onto the split ring. Also slide on your wide gap hook and the barrel swivel. Close the split ring tightly to hold all three items in place.

Step 4

Select your weight and slide it onto the other end of the stiff bendable wire. Cut the wire at the length you prefer, though 3-4 inches is normally the common length used. Create a bend or loop at the bottom of the wire to keep the weight in place.

Harmony Fishing - Punch Shot Rig Kit (4/0 EWG Hooks) [Interchangeable Hook Leadered Punchshot Rig] – Tokyo Style Punch Shot Rig/Jig for Bass Fishing
Harmony Fishing - Punch Shot Rig Kit (4/0 EWG Hooks) [Interchangeable Hook Leadered Punchshot Rig] – Tokyo Style Punch Shot Rig/Jig for Bass Fishing
Harmony Fishing - Punch Shot Rig Kit (4/0 EWG Hooks) [Interchangeable Hook Leadered Punchshot Rig] – Tokyo Style Punch Shot Rig/Jig for Bass Fishing
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  • Available in a five (5) pack or ten (10) pack. Includes five (5) or (10) Punch Shot Rigs with five (5) or ten (10) Razor Series EWG Hooks (size 4/0).
  • The integrated heavy-duty split ring allows you to use the included hooks or virtually any other hook to match your soft plastic bait and fishing situation. The attached roller swivels keep your line from twisting and allow your bait to swing freely around the weight-stem for unmatched action.
  • Easy to rig – Simply attach your hook to the split ring, slip a weight onto the weight-stem wire and bend the wire upward to lock the weight on. Rig up your favorite soft plastic bait, and you’re ready to fish the Punch Shot.
  • Originating from Tokyo, Japan – the Punch Shot Rig is extremely versatile for fishing shallow cover, combing deep ledges/points, and more. The Punch Shot rig catches fish year-round.

How to Fish The Tokyo Rig for Bass

The point of the Tokyo rig is to keep your soft plastic worms or creature baits above the bottom of the water. The lower weight will sink into mud and silt on the bottom while your bait remains in the strike zone for bottom feeding fish.

It also helps provide a highly natural looking movement when using a swimbait. The weight at the end of the stiff bendable wire will be suspended a few inches above the bottom weed beds of the lake or river which gives the illusion of a small baitfish darting in and around rocks and vegetation cover.

The swivel attachment on the rig is what your braided line is attached to. This helps keep the rig in position and limits the amount of line twist you get. As a result, this also helps prevent weakness in your braided line from the twisting, so you can freely tug the line and punch through vegetation in deeper water without worrying about snapping the line and losing your rig.

Tokyo rigs are great for working through submerged deep grass, even tall grass. Since the bottom several inches of the grass will be full of stems, the position of your soft bait and the height it is above the root bed can make it easy to swim and dart even a robust soft plastic craw through heavy vegetation.

Advantages of the Tokyo Rig over the Texas Rig and Drop Shot Rig

The Tokyo rig takes some of it’s design from the more common drop shot, and can be adjusted to your liking so it also offers a wide range of versatility in open water as well as grassy cover. The Tokyo rig is also extremely simple to make and adjust between casts which makes it great for beginners or inexperienced anglers.

Most anglers use a Tokyo rig with pitching and flipping techniques, but it’s versatile enough to be used in almost any way you are comfortable. In fact, both bass anglers and walleye anglers have had luck using the Tokyo rig for swinging jigs and pure sight fishing.

Not to mention, with the weight being suspended and secured by a bendable loop, you can easily switch out weights on all of your Tokyo rigs without having to struggle with retying anything. This makes it very simple to do on the boat, between casts, or by someone who may not be familiar with making and adjusting their own rigs.

Tokyo Rig for Walleye and Other Species

While the Tokyo rig was originally created with bass fishing in mind, similar to the Texas rig, it is extremely versatile and can be used for walleye fishing, catfish angling, trout fishing and a wide range of other fish species that stay lower in the water column. While it might not shine in every situation, there can be some situations when no other rig can beat the Tokyo rig, especially across a hard bottom or in grassy cover.

Since you are not locked in to any one component, nor are you restricted to a single bait or hook type, you can adjust the whole rig to suit your needs. It’s excellent with soft plastic baits, creature baits, and swimbaits, but can also work well with live baits such as nightcrawlers and leeches especially when you cast into deep water or heavy cover. 

The presentation of your bait is similar for both bass and walleye, so this rig is excellent as a bottom bouncer when you really want walleye or other fish species to take notice of your large worm bait. Or, since you can go with a wide variety of baits, give it a few quick yo-yo tugs on your rod and pop it up and down a few times to mimic a bait fish darting around looking for food in the cover water or rocky bottoms.

Or slowly move it through the water and heavy grass to mimic a leech or flatworm moving around. At the same time you can run it much quicker across the rocky bottom as a swimbait with live or artificial minnows or other baitfish giving big fish a chance to chase and ambush your bait or lure.

You can also very easily and effectively change up the hook and lure on a Tokyo rig. Since a hook or lure that is suitable for big bass might not work for walleye or other species, changing the hook or lure you are using on your Tokyo rig is quick and simple. In fact, you can go with a fine wire hook to turn this rig into a finesse rig, or stick with the heavy weight wire hook or lure when fishing for those monster sized trophies at depth.

Final Thoughts on Tokyo Rig Fishing

For beginners, the Tokyo rig is an outstanding rig to get started with. It’s very easy to build, or can be purchased already made. It’s also very versatile so you can adjust any of the components and the weight size to your liking. In the water, the main difference you may notice is that it can be very forgiving and it’s hard to make a wrong movement with your rod, plus it provides more action than some other rigs out there.

For more experienced anglers, you’ll love being able to quickly drag the Tokyo rig through tall grasses and bounce your rod and move it over rocks quickly. It can also be used with extreme finesse with a few adjustments to the weights and bait. Whatever technique and style you are more comfortable with, the Tokyo rig can meet your needs and help you hook more fish today.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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