Winning Baits

How Taku Ito got his 2nd blue trophy at Smith Lake

This is Taku’s 5th year on the Elites, and if you look at his finishes every year you might be surprised. Because believe it or not he’s not up there all the time. He’s solid and has a couple top 10s a year, one of which was a win in 2021 on the St Lawrence River, NY.

This season he had a 10th at the Classic, but other than that his best finish til last weekend was a 21st at Fork – and he was coming off a 90th at Wheeler, which wasn’t even his worst finish this year! If that sounds weird, a lot of times that’s what the finishes of winners look like – they risk, and most times it doesn’t pay off. But once in a while it does.

Anyhow, here’s how he won this one. Props to Taku for doing a full interview on his own in English. (Can you imagine doing that in Japanese??) Any mistakes are mine, for which I apologize.


> “Practice was looking for healthy but happy fish. 3 creeks….some creek, the fish were skinny. Some creek, the fish were fat. Some creek not so many bass.

> “I tried to focus on very healthy fish. I found those in Rock Creek and very close in the main lake.

> “It was only 25′ [and the bait was] crawfish and bluegill.”

> “I wanted to fish all day in Rock Creek. Rock creek has very healthy fish.”


He fished in that area:

> “Fish were getting the pressure [as the tournament went on]. It was pretty hard to get them to bite. [So he] tried to find a new area, a new spot – every day….

> “I always tried to find a brushpile. 25′ with a brushpile there were always fish there.

> “Every day I changed [spots]. Every day I changed areas. Spotted bass move fast.”


> “Every day I changed a lot. Every day I tried to change the lure and…rig – dropshot, Neko, many kinds of rigs. I would try another bait every day.

> “Some days [he’d catch ’em on] this one, couple days [a different] one.

> “I fished brushpiles every day. Brushpile fish [see] every cast. It’s so hard to get them to bite [with them] getting that pressure. I changed my bait every day. If [the fish] didn’t bite, I tried another one. But every day changed a lot.

> “Colors were almost all gp or watermelon.”

> Neko rig: 3.6″ Nories Flip KO Gill (I assume with his Bait Powder), 3/16-oz weight, 2/0 Ryugi Talisman Brutal HG Hook, 15-lb Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green Braid to 16-lb Seaguar JDM Grand Max Fluoro Leader, Shimano Vanquish SHG Reel (2500), 269 M Shimano Bantam Rod.

> Dropshot: 14mm Nories Field Side Saikoro Rubber Dice, same hook, 3/16-oz Ryugi TG Delta Weight, 15-lb Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green Braid to 16-lb Seaguar JDM Grand Max Fluoro Leader, same reel, same rod.

> Schooling spotted bass prop bait: 14g Nories Wrapping Minnow (discontinued), 10-lb Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green Braid to 10-lb Seaguar JDM Grand Max Fluoro Leader, Shimano Stella SHG Reel (2500), NXS 6100 MLS Nories Road Runner Structure Rod.


> “I used the NBT Marine 22-inch Battleship. …big screen, easy to see more detail. It’s easy to find a brushpile and it’s easy to find a big fish.

> “Sometimes it’s very hard to [choose a] fish. [With] bottom fish it’s easy to focus on big fish only. Fish that are swimming a lot, it’s very hard to find a big fish.

> “But bottom fish are not really schooling so I saw on the screen, Oh big fish. So it’s easy to understand – [these fish] are big, [these fish] are small.”

For transducers, I believe he said he uses an “ocean” transducer (which might be the Garmin LVS62) to find brushpiles and stuff 200′ out, and then the LVS34 closer in.


He said he’d like to thank his sponsors and family.

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