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When sitting on the deck of his Nitro boat, Bass Pro Shops pro Stacey King’s eyes light up when asked about anything new to share.
Imagine a snag-proof bait that can be bounced off the bottom or jigged through the water column. Served up as a flipping or finesse presentation, fish-laden bottom cover or standing timber is no match for the JIKA rig.
King traced the origins of this concept to Japan and chatted with a fellow Japanese FLW Tour competitor who presented the Missouri pro with insight and instruction into the JIKA rig. Used in Japan in 2009, the JIKA rig was overshadowed by other Japanese presentations, but is quickly emerging on the US pro tours.
Similar to a drop shot technique in that the bait can be presented in a stationary fashion, JIKA rigs leave baits in the strike zone to entice bass into biting. Sinkers are attached with split rings directly to the hook, as opposed to a drop shot with the weight on the line directly below the bait.
King has worked this JIKA rig through its paces on largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass at Table Rock Lake. While still learning, King is impressed with the results as he makes subtle adjustments and modifications in the way he builds, baits and fishes his JIKA rigs. For example, King’s JIKA rigs consist of split rings, a weight and an offset-shank worm hook. His finesse JIKA rigs are built with small offset-shank hooks and lightweight sinkers that can be fished with various soft-plastic finesse baits, similar to Western or Japanese soft plastics. A self-proclaimed power fisherman, most of his JIKAs show it! His hook is a Gamakatsu extra-wide-gap worm hook, ranging in size from 2/0 to 4/0. His sinker of choice is often a half-ounce bell sinker, but he will employ skinny drop-shot weights, diamond-shaped drop-shot weights and bullet-style slip sinkers. Some conditions dictate other weight sizes: 1/8-, 3/16-, 1/4- or 3/8-ounce sinker. A closer look at the split rings reveals two sizes of Bass Pro Shops’ Offshore Split Rings, which are made of 1-X heavy-duty stainless steel. A No. 1 split ring is attached to the No. 3 split ring and in turn to a sinker. Finesse presentations utilize smaller split rings.
Fishing this rig starts with a Trilene knot to the number 3 split ring with the eye of the hook positioned in the split of the ring to avoid having the knot enter that split. As for plastics, he uses most of them. From worms to his favorite, a 4 ¼-inch Bass Pro Shops’ River Bug, similar to a beaver type bait. Since fishing in heavy cover, King hand ties a bait keeper to his hook which keeps the bait weedless. He uses a piece of spinnerbait wire bent double and held in place with red fly tying thread and covered in super glue.
The JIKA rig brings all soft plastics to life, according to King, creating more action than conventional Texas rigs. Slack line presentations allow the bait to get to the bottom quickly as it easily penetrates grass and wood cover. Offering more versatility than a simple drop shot and in a more snag-proof fashion, King also finds his hook up ratios are higher. He employs “snap sets” to hook fish.
As a power presentation, King opts for a seven-foot, heavy-power, extra-fast-action Bass Pro Shops’ CarbonLite Micro Guide Rod with a 6:4.1 gear ratio Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris Signature Series Baitcast Reel spooled with XPS fluorocarbon line. Clear water with sparse cover, King downsizes to 14-pound test otherwise mostly spooling 17-pound-test line.
Short casts are key as King indicates he also wants the baits to drop straight down and strips off line quickly to create a direct drop on slack line. Though most of his bites are on or very near the bottom, King gets some hits on the initial drop. A slow lift and drop with a shake or two during movements, then allowing the bait to drop straight down again. Gravel bottoms and timber are his targets.
Longer casts are needed when fishing ledges or areas without wood cover. Here a dragging, hopping or shaking presentation is employed. Sometimes King will slowly swim the presentation along the bottom. For suspended summertime fish, King uses a vertical presentation. It’s fairly obvious King sees few limitations for his JIKA rigs. Look for him to provide more exposure for this technique in this year’s FLW Tour.