When it hit the West a few years ago, expressions like, Dude… sweet!, insane!, butter… strictly butter and nice… very nice all could be heard from the bow of a few privileged bass boats. The same accolades could be applied to the fluid agility and appearance of your buddy’s new Ducati motorcycle.
These expressions have nothing to do with amazing Italian race bikes and all to do with a fluid motion of Japan’s liquid Dance called FlickShakin. Japan’s newest approach to finesse fishing is also known as Ichi -Wacky, the most potent finesse system since the Tsunek Ichi or the drop shot technique.
Point of Origin
Much Internet chatter has taken place since the introduction of this rig hit Japan’s waters. Although, Japan can be credited with the refinement of the system, it’s birth place is interesting. The actual rig originated in Korea. Believe it or not Korean anglers are subtle participants the American past- time.
One of Jackall’s prostaffers, Takuma Hata was first introduced to the rig’s high lights and humble beginning in 2004. Together he and Jackall Company’s V.P., Toshiro Ono, one of Japan’s top tournament anglers, began the refinement of the rig’s action.
Mr. Ono is known through out Japan as one of the most successful pro-anglers. In 1998, he captured the AOY in the JP circuit (equivalent to our Bass Master Circuits). In 2004, Ono was Basser All Star Classic Champion. In the 2006 season he was ranked 6th in in his country. And in 2007, he won JP’s Top 50 event at Lake Kasumigaura sky-rocketing him to the number 1 rank position after that event. If that is not enough, Ono is also Jackall Lure Company’s Vice-President.
During the development phase Jackall’s prostaffers discovered that worms in a fixed position offered a greater amount of movement. From their hypothesis, Ono and well-known Seiji Kato Jackall’s President determined a specific worm design was in order (one that would respond to hydrodynamics). Most industry professionals know of Seiji Kato because of his famous lure designs for companies like Daiwa and Lucky Craft.
Old Song New Moves
In 1998, Seiji Kato gave us the little Japanese secret called Drop shotting. During a tough Bassmaster’s tournament, it was TV cameras that captured Seiji Kato in action using a “one- two punch” twitching a jerkbait and drop shottin to shoot him up the leader board. His two techniques were so infectious his pro partners pleaded for a quick lesson in finesse fishing. In fact, the top pro in that event kept his lead position by adapting Kato’s drop shot presentation.
Some things never change. During the 2007 Elite Series Tour at Lake Amistad, Kato did it again, this time by Flick Shakin. The Jackall President brought a combined weight of 48-08 pounds to the scales. The 3day total easily dominated the event.
The system has also been part of the “go- to” arsenal for the Elite Series contender, Kota Kiriyama. Although Kota is slow to talk about the systems amazing idiosyncrasies, he is now resolved to admit its unique effectiveness.
“The leader” of the dance is a custom hook forged and shaped to Mr. Ono’s specifications. The hook’s noticeable curve and gap allow for better leverage. “The hook, head and titanium weed guard placement is necessary for increasing hooking ratios and snag resistance”, explained Ono.
At the forward portion of the hook is molded tungsten. The perfectly balance tungsten head has been strategically attached on the shank just below the eye at a 90 degree position. This placement creates a better gap for pegging fish. The head also has no collar offering better balance tighter profile
Tungsten has several benefits over lead. It is more consistent in weight description. Lead can vary dramatically. A ¼ oz lead head can weigh nearly 3/8th oz. Over-pouring is common. The tungsten heads are smaller giving less wind resistance during casting.
The follower of the system is the Flick Shake anatomy created through an injection mold process. Every bend, band and curve has purpose to the baits ability to transmit motion.
When anglers view a plastic worm they view it from the head to the tail. The Flick Shake worm should be studied from the mid-section outward. This is where it draws its energy. The egg sack region is perfect in circumference. However, follow the worm to the right or left and you will witness the worm’s circumference change dramatically. It takes an oval or flattened appearance.
As your eyes reach the head portion you will see a thick area flatten with a slight curve. This area is responsible for creating a heavy wave movement. At the opposite end or the tail region of the bait, you will notice a significant bend and distinct tapered end. This portion of the worm is designed to cause a tight intense vibration. The worm is laden with scent and salt, which disperses aroma and flavor. Salt impregnation also aids in casting the worm greater distances.
Dressing this rig out takes seconds. To maximize the bait’s inherit traits and action the Flick shake head and bait are mated at the egg sack region of the worm. Simply center hooking the egg sack you are ready to fish.
A more refined approach is to skin the bait. This is accomplished by threading the under portion of the worm just under the skin, eventually moving the point of the hook into it’s up right position (see picture). Skinning the bait is not necessary, however it is a way to ensure the baits centered position.
Line selections are important for this technique. They improve trajectory, casting distance, strike detection and simply keeping a fish pegged. The Japanese are meticulous about their lines. There’s a reason. Using line weights between 3 and 8 pound will keep you in better contact and allow you to easily manipulate the rig’s motion with little effort. Our Asian brothers prefer lines like Toray BAWO Superfinesse that rate smaller in diameter, yet are supple and maintain tensile strength. Additional lines recommended are Daiwa, Seaguar R-18, and Toray Premium Plus Hi-Grade.
The retentiveness in Japanese rod actions will continue to amaze the American market. They are very high- end- fast tapered, light actions but impressive in strength and weight. These Japanese rods are specifically designed for this technique and will hopefully reach the US. For example, Lake Police and Jackall has a special Ichi Wacky Rod that may show its face at the 2008 ICAST Show. However, if you haven’t been exposed to these actions you will do fine using a medium action finesse rod. Rod lengths between 6 and 7 foot give you the necessary leverage. When using light line use a spinning reel with an excellent line carrier and drag system is essential. Unfortunately, small diameter lines fine their way into production interstices in certain bail systems thus wedging and eventually shearing line.
The Liquid Dance
The best way to articulate what Flickshakin looks like in the company of water is difficult to describe. What is evident, is its ability to captivate you.
The rig’s movement gives the illusion of being encapsulated energy bursting with intense intermittent disturbances, with absolutely no modulation (or control).
It can be fishing on bottom (rock piles, clay, sand or lay-downs) or along weed-lines, docks or steep bank angles. Fishing it for suspended fish makes complete sense once you observe its swim and descending action. It is a very versatile.
When working this bait in a shake and retrieve cadence, you can witness approximately four various actions occurring simultaneously. As the tungsten head is lifted and dropped by rising and dropping of your rod -tip, the body of the bait rocks forward and backward, much like the rolling of a log. Second, a motion is generated mid position of the worm, causing it to quiver. Third, as you retrieve the slack out of your line the bait swims and pulsates. This bow and flexing is reminiscent to a swimming action. Last, remember the curvatures created at each end of the bait? Each end begins to flap and vibrate. The larger end “thumps” to it’s own beat, while the opposite end flutters like the wings of a hummingbird. These wag movements are accentuated when the bait is free falling.
There are three easy methods worth mentioning as you get acquainted with Flickshakin: The moderate shake, the slow shake, and the “drop and wag”.
Moderate shaking is accomplished by casting the bait to your desired target, with the rod time between the 9 and 10 o’clock position begin shaking the bait back to the boat with an even cadence. The bait can be on the bottom or suspended.
The same is true for the slower shaking method. This is executed by slowing your shaking down to nearly a one -second interval. This is an excellent deep- water technique. When the rig is on the bottom the bait actually hovers above bottom, making the bait more assessable.
The ‘drop and wag’ method is used for target fishing. Approach your favorite dock, pitch the rig out and let it descend. The ends come alive and suspended fish follow it.
Making It Stick
Learning how to hook set on Flick Shake fish is vital. Please note if you are using 4- pound line, timing is important. Upon a strike, immediately reel up the slack in your line like you were burning a bait. Once the line tightens and the rod loads, pull your reel seat to your chest while reeling and keeping pressure on the fish. You are trying to ‘slide’ that sharp thin wire hook deep into flesh. Popping the hook or swinging aggressively through your hookset will only warn the fish to release the bait or put undue stress on your line. When bass take the flickshake , they commit to it entirely. It takes the worry out of the bite.
Unlike the Texas-rig or Drop Shot worm, the FlickShake Rig generates a greater amount of vibration and motion. This is due to the increase in pressure waves. These larger wavelengths are transmitted across the entire body of the bait.
As we sit in our easy chairs there are several touring pros that know of this dance. It is a technique that catches big fish and numbers of fish from pressured waters. These pros are not going to speak of the advantages. Knowing what they know why should they?
This system will captivate your visual acuity, strengthen your prowess, while using it’s deadly, sinuous, and fluid movements to turn predator into prey. Its potent action seduces what ever it comes in contact with. Who knows what positive accolades you will think up with but you won’t have to wait 10 years to say them. FlickShakin is Japan’s liquid dance.