Tackle & Techniques – Heavy Downshot

Tackle & Techniques – Heavy Downshot

Oct 31, 2013

Heavy Downshotting with Takumi Ito

and the Nories Escape Twin

By Mike Pehanich

The beauty of bass fishing is that it has become an international pursuit with creative anglers on both sides of the Pacific bringing fresh ideas and new twists to the game.  “Heavy downshotting” is a variation on the dropshot technique that plays as much to the “power fishing” game as it does to finesse angling. In “Pond Hopping with Takumi Ito,” SWF introduced the technique, which has led Japanese bass angler Takumi Ito to tournament winnings and professional prominence. Here we take a closer look at Ito’s technique.

The Tona River in Japan is Takumi Ito’s home water, and, like pro bass fishermen the world over, fishing familiar waters inspires the 27-year-old angler to experiment with new techniques and rigs.

Slack line is important to allow the bait on the heavy downshot rig to fall naturally, notes Takumi Ito.

“The Tona River may be my home water, but it is one of Japan’s great tournament waters, too,” explained Ito. “It’s a tidal river with trees and cover, and even though a  three- or four-pounder is a good fish on the river, even the two pounders you catch are very healthy fish.”

Of course, there’s little under the sun that is completely new in fishing, but creative anglers bring fresh twists to their art with the frequency that Picasso brought fresh looks to 20th century art. One of the rigs that Ito has employed extensively on the Tona is called the “heavy downshot.”

Heavy downshotting

For years, the dropshot technique fell entirely in the realm of “finesse fishing.” Fine lines, light wire hooks and subtle plastic baits were primary ingredients, and most of the dropshotting took place in relatively deep, clear water.

But it didn’t take long for anglers to shorten dropper lines and probe shallow water with the rig as well. Some upped the ante on sinker weight, too, and pretty soon the lines between finesse and power techniques blurred into insignificance.

In place of the subtle fall of a slim soft plastic, heavy downshotters triggered reaction strikes with the rapid drop of their bait.

They upped the ante on action, too, bringing larger soft plastics into play. In some cases, they were baits with multiple appendages and exaggerated action – creature, craw and beaver-style baits with extra kick.

“With a very short leader and heavy weight, the bait drops quickly into the strike zone, but the bait itself descends to the bottom with a slower dropping action,” says Ito.

His bait of choice is the Nories Escape Twin, a hyperactive soft plastic creature bait. Though the Escape Twin also works well on a standard Texas rig, Ito prefers the heavy downshot in most cases. “The dropshot allows the bait more action, especially in current,” he says.

For heavy downshotting, Takumi Ito uses dropshot weights from 3/8- to ½-ounce in three styles:

1)    Tear drop sinkers

2)    Bell dropshot sinkers

3)    Round dropshot sinkers

The Tear Drop style is the most snagless of the trio. The Bell and Round sinkers bounce and give more movement to the bait.

“Use a heavier weight for quicker movement,” Ito advises.

Working the downshot rig

Takumi Ito is a careful line watcher, and he has to be. His presentation calls for a natural fall off the initial cast, followed by a series of lifts and drops, pulls and pauses.

“Line slack is very important,” he emphasizes. “Don’t tighten the line. A natural fall allows the Escape Twin to keep its natural leg action. I’m always trying to keep my line loose.”

The Escape Twin often delivers the “kicker fish” he needs to win tournaments or finish high in the standings. “It’s very popular,” he laughs. “That’s why you see so many copies of it in Japan today.”

The heavy downshot technique has led to variations among both Japanese and American pros and tackle manufacturers to deliver soft plastics in similar fashion.

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