By Marc Marcantonio
Luck can be defined as that moment in time when preparation intersects with opportunity. Read that again, as it is a profound statement that will make you a better angler, and a more successful person in general. I have no idea who first said this, but I first heard it from fellow Yamamoto Prostaffer and author Dean Sault. Dean, your simple statement has triggered so much thought and shaped my actions in ways I can never repay.
Preparation in bass fishing is all about understanding which details will result in luck when the opportunity presents itself. Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits are proven lures known by anyone who has ever cashed a check in a bass fishing tournament, and many fishing fans who have experienced a great day of bass fishing. Matching great baits with the right hook is a key detail that allows you to be fully prepared to make your own luck when the opportunity presents itself.
Part 1 of this feature focused on rigging details for the world-famous Senko, but additional lures produced by GYCB are also big winners, so let’s continue to discuss more details for rigging those non-Senko styles.
Shad Shape Worm and 4.5” Tiny XL Ika, Dropshot Nose Hooked
The first trial package of Shad Shaped Worms I received resulted in a 22lb bag of smallmouth bass and a first place trophy in a tournament on Lake Sammamish in Washington state. I always rig the Shad Shape Worm on a dropshot rig. If there was ever one hook that amazes me others don’t use, it is the Gamakatsu Split Shot/Dropshot hook in size #4. I wish Gamakatsu made this size in the G-Finesse series, but the #2 is the smallest of the G-Finesse.
The traditional Split Shot hook in size #4 is the perfect size for nose-hooking small dropshot baits. Don’t let its small size fool you, as it will catch as big a bass as your line size will allow. I even caught an IGFA World Record 6lb test line class record walleye on this hook at 13lbs 14oz. When used with a Shad Shape Worm on a dropshot rig, you have one of the best bass catching rigs imaginable. The key is to nose hook the Shad Shape Worm so that when hanging vertically, the nose of the bait remains below the hook point (see photo). This reduces the instances where the bait turns around and the hook point buries into the worm instead of the bass during the hookset. The thin diameter of the wire and sharp point will even penetrate through the tooth patch of a bass, where you will need pliers to remove it.
No other hook has won more tournaments and boats for me than the #4 Gamakatsu Drop Shot Hook. If there is a better hook for dropshotting with 4 to 6-pound test line, I simply have not found it. Another option with the same rig is the new Yamamoto Tiny XL Ika. The squid-like tentacles on this worm provide movement and attraction which makes it a better choice when the bass want more action than the Shad Shape Worm offers.
Kut Tail Worm, Pro Senko, and other worm styles (Texas-rig or Dropshot)
Another relatively new hook that is one of my favorites for Texas-rigged soft plastics is the G-Finesse Light Worm with Tin Keeper. In my experience, there is no better keeper and hook made for soft plastics like those used by Yamamoto. As the name states, the keeper material is lightweight tin. Unlike the plastic barb keepers used by other hooks, the tin keeper barb stays in place and firmly holds soft plastics, without adding weight to the hook that will ruin a lively presentation. I use this hook for dropshotting in places where a nose-hooked bait would get snagged. The light-wire hook penetrates the worm and bass easily on a pressure hookset, so you can use light line and still have a weedless presentation.
For shaky-head presentations there is another new hook by Gamakatsu, the G-Finesse Tricky Head. This hook also has a tin barb keeper, and the head is designed to keep your shaky head rig in an upright position where it allows your lure to wiggle and get noticed from a long distance. The upright posture also aids the bass in picking up the lure off the bottom and getting securely hooked. I haven’t yet tried this as this jig hook is new, but I can’t wait to also rig a Zako on this jig head and fish it as a shakey head so it looks like a minnow rooting in the bottom for insects.
D-Shad, Yama-Frog, and Zako
One of the best post-spawn lures is the Yamamoto D-Shad soft jerkbait. My favorite and most often used hook for the D-Shad is the G-Lock in the 4/0 size. I prefer to use this rig with no weight, which provides maximum action and excellent hooking results. Most times I fish this on 12lb test Sugoi fluorocarbon, but occasionally on 10lb test as well.
When fishing in river current or in wind I also use the 4/0 Superline Spring Lock hook. The heavy hook provides the needed weight for current and wind, without changing the balance and action of the D-Shad. I generally fish this on 12lb or 14lb fluorocarbon on a 7-foot Lamiglas 4-power baitcasting rod. The Yama-Frog is another excellent post spawn bait that I also rig on both of the same hooks depending on how heavy the cover is I am fishing. In open water the G-Lock is best, but over weed cover I much prefer the Spring Lock Hook. The same hooks apply to the Zako as well, but in a 3/0 size hook. Many don’t realize how good a Zako is when fished by itself weightless (fished like a Senko), and also as a weighted Texas rig.
Flappin’ Hogs for Pitching (Texas Rigged)
The Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog not only excels as a jig trailer, but also as a pitching bait. The profile and size of the Flappin’ Hog as it sinks next to cover brings jolting strikes from largemouths thinking it is a crawdad scooting to the bottom. My favorite rig is to match this with a 5/8 oz. tungsten weight pegged with a bobber stop to 16 to 25-pound test fluorocarbon line. For the hook I use the G-Finesse Heavy Cover Worm Hook in 3/0 and 4/0 sizes. Besides the slick nano-coated tournament grade wire, this hook sports a tin keeper that securely holds the soft Flappin’ Hog throughout rigorous pitching activity. A snell knot works great with this hook and improves hooking and landing success in heavy cover.
Yamamoto Kreature for Pitching and Carolina Rigging
The Yamamoto Kreature is one of my all-time favorite pitching baits when rigged on a 3/8 or 1/2 oz. pegged tungsten weight and 14 to 16-pound test line. I choose this first when looking for a lure to sink vertically in willows or next to other standing cover. Those long swimming arms seem to make bass pounce on this lure as it races to the bottom with frantic action. I prefer to use a 3/0 snelled G-Finesse Heavy Cover Worm Hook, although I also use a Palomar knot with success on this rig.
Did you ever discover a new way to use a lure by accident? After unsuccessfully pitching a Kreature bait along a line of willow bushes, I wondered if the bass had moved into deeper water. Not having a Carolina-rigged Yamamoto lizard handy like I often use in this situation, I turned my Kreature rig into a C-Rig by sliding the sinker a couple of feet up the line, moving the bobber stopper below the weight, and then tied the Kreature back on. The bass hanging around deep beaver huts crushed it. Since that day I regularly use the Kreature as my go to C-Rig, but I prefer to use a 3/0 G-Lock hook.
Being on the Pro staff of both Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits and Gamakatsu for almost two decades has afforded me the opportunity to experiment with many hook styles and bait configurations. These rigs are proven combinations that many rely on for tournament situations.