MINNETONKA, Minn. — Punching through grass mats with heavy tungsten weights is sometimes the best way to get bass to bite and the hardest way to keep them buttoned up. The new VMC® Tokyo Rig does both jobs better, triggering more bites and bringing more bass into the boat.
VMC’s Tokyo Rig is a premade set-up for punch-shotting, a technique Rapala Pro-staffer Michael “Ike” Iaconelli, who played an instrumental role in developing VMC’s groundbreaking new offering, first learned on the waters of Japan. Punch-shotting is like heavy-duty drop-shotting through thick vegetation. Imagine a drop-shot rig on steroids — with a big hook and indestructible metal leader — and you’ve got the picture of a Tokyo Rig.
The VMC Tokyo Rig features a VMC Heavy Duty Wide Gap Hook, barrel-swivel, welded O-ring and rigid wire dropper arm to which anglers can attach a weight or two of their choice.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been flipping or punching, had a killer bite, set the hook and came back with nothing. I missed the fish because I pried its mouth open — that big weight on the rig hurt me on the hookset,” says Iaconelli. “But not on the new VMC Tokyo Rig. It’s one of the hottest, brand-new techniques around.”
The Tokyo Rig can dramatically increase an angler’s hook-up ratio when targeting bass under hydrilla mats or in other thick vegetation. Its key design innovation is a heavy weight positioned below the bait and away from the impact zone. This nuanced feature helps ensure nothing gets between a bass and the hook during the hookset.
“Your weight doesn’t get in the way,” Iaconelli says. “The hook is unimpeded, so there is nothing there to stop that instant hookset.”
The VMC Tokyo Rig also allows favorite soft-plastic baits to impart much more action than with a punch rig or Texas Rig.
“It’s free-flowing, side to side, up and down,” Iaconelli says. “It’s not obstructing the action of the bait.”
Easily customizable, the VMC Tokyo Rig can carry enough weight to punch through a mat of vegetation or just enough weight to get down fast to bass buried in thick grass. To keep weight(s) in place, anglers can simply use narrow-nose pliers to bend back the end of the rig’s rigid, 2 1/2-inch dropper wire. Iaconelli favors two back-to-back VMC Tungsten Worm Weights. They slide in and out of heavy vegetation easily and “tick” when they collide.
“I love to fish this thing as a punch-bait,” Iaconelli says. “That big, heavy weight below the bait is going to act as a ball and chain and it will suck it under that mat. Once it’s under the mat, that bait is free-flowing — something they’ve never seen.”
Iaconelli typically favors flipping a Tokyo Rig and also targeting laydowns, bushes and stumps.
“You can set it in place and shake your rod and that bait will stay off the bottom in one spot, with a tremendous amount of action,” he says.
The VMC Tokyo Rig has increased Iaconelli’s hook-up ratio. He’s confident it will improve the outcome for bass diehards nationwide, too.
“If you want to stay ahead of the curve — if you want a cutting-edge technique — try this punch-shotting technique,” he says. “Grab one of the new VMC Tokyo Rigs and modify it however you want. I guarantee you’re going to present a bait to the fish in a different way and you’re going to catch more bass.”