In the fishing world, there is no shortage of rigs floating around. Some are new, some are not so new, and some look very similar to others. When it comes to the Tokyo rig and the Drop Shot rig, they might be somewhat hard to tell apart, especially if you are new to rigged fishing or simply an inexperienced angler. Both look very similar, but they each have their distinct differences and preferred uses by many anglers.
Let’s take a closer look at both the Tokyo rig and the Drop Shot rig to see how you can get the best results when using one or the other on your next fishing trip, whether you are a beginning angler or an experienced angler.
What is the Tokyo Rig?
A somewhat newer arrival to the rig collection, the Tokyo rig looks very simple but can provide some excellent results for anglers when used for bass fishing. With some skill, and maybe some trial and error, anglers of all skill levels will be able to use the Tokyo rig in almost all areas of the water column to target the largemouth bass or smallmouth bass fish you really want.
As a very basic description, the Tokyo rig is very similar to the Drop Shot in that it uses a short weighted wire below the hook and includes a swivel to keep your line from twisting. You can adjust the weighted wire to your preference, as well as to properly balance the soft bait or lure you are using. It also allows for targeted placement of the lure in the water so you can catch the exact fishes you want.
When used for bass fishing, a Tokyo rig can feel a bit more advanced than you may have first thought. While the Tokyo rig is a simple-looking rig, it makes use of a large circle hook that can handle a huge variety of baits, including the smallest swimming minnows to the massive and bulky crayfish, though a soft plastic worm is the most commonly chosen bait to use. This gives an incredible amount of versatility when fishing with a Tokyo rig since you can put just about anything on the hook.
You’ll be able to adjust the weights on the lower wire accordingly so the Tokyo rig sits in the water where you want it. This helps to ensure you are getting the attention of your target bass or other species. If you’re bass fishing with a Tokyo rig in deeper water and want to ensure the bass take notice, using brightly colored soft plastic baits that contrast well with the surroundings. This can help get an abundance of fishing strikes on your Tokyo rig when other bait does not get the same active response.
How does it Compare to the Drop Shot Rig?
If you compare the two rigs together at the same time, the visual differences are somewhat few. The Tokyo rig has a shorter lower wire for weights which means you can get your baits and lures very close to the bottom for catfish and lazy bass that might be hanging out near the mud or rocks.
The other rig is simply not as flexible when it comes to fishing depth, and instead will normally take your baits down low but hold them above the bottom quite a bit further unless you work the rod quite actively.
This is good for bottom ambushing species that swim up to strike, such as pike, but may not get full attention from deeper water fish like catfish or inactive bass during the winter or height of summer unless you sit and pop your rod on a regular basis to keep the lure away from cover and easily seen by nearby bass or catfish.
Both rigs can make use of a tungsten weight size of anywhere from 3/16 to ⅜ ounces. You’ll want to go with the bullet shape weight over anything else to work best with the lower wire and rig placement when tossed in the water.
The weight size can have a direct impact on how easy it is to free your Tokyo rig if it gets caught in heavy vegetation, thick cover, or long grass too. It’s normally not recommended to use any weights less than 3/16 of an ounce.
For lures and bait, both rigs can be successful with soft plastic worms or any artificial creature bait with a wiggling tail as long as the weights you use can keep the lure suspended where you need it.
When teased through the shallow water, the Tokyo rig can grab the attention of most fish when it hops around punching heavy vegetation, bouncing over rock outcroppings, and dancing around pylons more so than the longer lower wire of the Drop.
For your hook, you can use your favorite hook or go with any extra-wide gap hook you have in your tackle box. This hook style will give you the most freedom for choosing the right bass bait, favorite creature baits, or another fishing lure to use depending on your water depth and fishing season.
Advantages of Each Rig for Bass Fishing:
- Excellent fishing rig for bottom feeding fish
- Compact profile can slide into tight cover areas
- Heavy lower wire keeps your rig in place when popping lures
- Hook size on a Tokyo rig can accommodate a huge range of baits
- Specifically made to be weed-free for great dragging properties
- Tokyo rig can take some finesse on your rod tip to get the right popping
- Rigging can be difficult to cast at maximum distances due to weight
- Weight will sink fast if not actively popped or danced through the water
- 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.
When to Use
While many bass anglers will use the Texas rig when fishing offshore, the Tokyo rig setup offers a great combination of features and can be much more successful in many cases too. One of the biggest benefits to using a Tokyo rigging when offshore fishing is that you can easily hop this rig across the bottom with almost any type of rod to grab the attention of nearby fish without having to worry about snagging the rigging weight in the vegetation.
Even if you do get your Tokyo rig lower weight snagged in grass, weeds or lily pads, the ultimate design of the Tokyo rig’s lower weight and the fact that your soft plastic bait will float freely above the trouble spot ensures you can easily tug the rig free without risking breakage or tangling, even if using a more delicate braided line in thick cover. This helps save time and ultimately lets you get in more fishing for the day.
Additionally, the Tokyo rig works great when targeting big bass in their nesting or bedding grounds or around rocky bottoms where other rigging is very prone to snagging. You can use the weight to quickly sink this rig directly into deep water and dance it around in place to draw inactive fish out of hiding for a quick strike and better hookups. This fishing rig is extremely compact and can get right down into heavy cover areas to maximize the reaction strikes of big fish to your creature baits or other soft plastics.
Drop Shot Rig
- Longer lower wire on this rig leaves your bait above the mud
- Can entice timid fish out from hiding with wiggling soft plastics
- This rig can be cast at much further distances without much hassle
- Gives good feel for the bottom with the long wire drop shot weight
- Extremely easy to adjust the height your bait hangs in the water
- Rig can be prone to snagging in heavy vegetation
- Requires a swivel to prevent braided line twisting on this rig
- Rig sinks extremely fast and drop shot weight can scare some fish
- Effective for catching largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, as well as other fish. The Punch Shot works great in shallow or deep grass, dragging along edges and points, and flipping into shallow cover such as stick-ups, dock pilings, walls, and more.
- Hooks are made of high carbon steel, with super sharp, durable and corrosion-resistant, whether fishing in freshwater or saltwater.
- Makes16 Drop Shot Rigs with 16 EWG Hooks (size 3/0)
When to Use
Drop rigs are really one of the best rigs to consider for very deep water fishing, especially during the winter when fish move lower and become much more inactive. This simple rig will get your bait down low where the fish are hiding out, and give them something enticing to ambush in their strike zone.
Many bass anglers swear by this rig being one of the best late winter fishing rigs for soft plastic baits, but this rig also does amazingly well in the height of summer when the water temperatures soar. Fish will move into deeper and cooler water, and may not be actively searching for food, but will still take an easy catch.
The entire point of this particular rig, especially when compared to another popular rig such as the standard Texas rig, is to get your bait right down into the fish’s face. When bass are lethargic and sluggish, they won’t be actively searching for food but will still take an easy meal. You want your bait to be that easy meal, and this exact rig can get that bait into easy striking distance for even the most stubborn bass, even more so than the much more popular Texas rig can do.
Final Thoughts on Tokyo Rigs vs Drop Shot Rigs
As you have seen by now, both the Tokyo rig and Drop Shot rig each have their time in the water. While they both look similar, and inexperienced anglers may not be able to easily tell them apart, one rig can be much better for fishing in heavy cover and shallow water, while the other rig can do better targeting those big lazy deep water bass when sight fishing by providing a bit more action from the bait and hook.
Whether you are a beginning angler looking to try their first rig or an experienced pro testing out the various rigs available on the market, you may have to give both rigs a try to see which rig works better for your unique situation and helps bring in more bass.
They are both highly versatile and easy to adjust to your liking, so don’t be afraid to try something new with either rig even if you aren’t sure it will work. Whether it’s as simple as changing the hook style or switching the type of soft plastic bait you run with, you never know what might get the best results for your particular fishing location.
Some of the best new rigs came about through trial and error, and if the Tokyo rig or Drop rig don’t end up working for you, there are a hundred other rig options out there to consider until you find your perfect rig.