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Eureka! The Ika!

By Russ Bassdozer

I want to drop a few hints for fishing with the that everyone can share a few basic tips about this lure, which is a new model of solid-bodied tubebait.

What does it mean? Ika means "squid". It's Gary Yamamoto's rendition of a tubebait. Like most manufacturers of soft baits, they're all coming out with new models of tubebaits recently, and Gary's no exception!

Why is the Ika different? Most manufacturers are coming out with look-alike copies of the generic tubebait. You know, the same hollow body cavities with machine-cut tentacle tails. Gary's Ika is different. First, it's not hollow but has a solid, salt-impregnated body cavity. Second, the tentacle tails are individually injection molded rather than machine-cut. This results in the Ika tentacles being softer, more fluid and life-like in the water. Third, the injection molding process has inherently higher production quality controls than your typical machine-cutting process (some of which don't cut all that neatly). This results in the Ika tails being better-formed and of more uniform quality than many others. Fourth, the Ika body narrows a bit at the waist and then flares a bit at the hips. If nothing else, this is a nice artistic touch. As a master lure designer, Gary's baits always have that final touch of perfection in design which sets them apart from the rest!

How to rig it right? In a nutshell, there are really only a limited number of standard ways to rig any soft plastic lure, and the Ika is no exception. Although the following basic list may sound like lots of options to a beginner, it's really not that many once you gain experience using them as follows:

1) Jighead on bottom. I use Terry Oldham's Grass/Moss Screwlock for the Ika. It has a thin wireguard to make the hook point weedless and snagless, and a streamlined, pointy lead nose that comes through grass and moss. It comes with either a heavy or a medium hook. I prefer medium for the Ika. I usually clip the screwlock off with cutters, then superglue the Ika against the leadhead. Sometimes I thread the Ika's body up onto the bend of the hook, making the lure curve instead of lying perfectly straight. Very effective to let it settle onto bottom and then "rip" it with a sideways rod motion. This makes the lure jump up a few feet and then fall erratically back to bottom. The bend in the lure can cause unpredictable action when it rips and falls. Let the lure rest on bottom as you slowly wind in the slack. Now jiggle the line to feel for the weight of a fish, pause an instant, then rip it again. You will often find fish suck up the lure as it rests on bottom. Repeatedly rip-wind-jiggle all the way back to the boat. I like to do this in cool water with the chartreuse/silver flake (181) color pattern. In hot water, I also rip natural colors (236, for example) of the curved Oldham/Ika combo aggressively through grass bed tops, but without really letting it rest or settle too deeply into the grass.

2) Jighead - suspended. The Ika is very effective on a darter head jig for fish suspended in mid-water, a few feet above bottom, or just above the thermocline. Not all darter heads are created equal. You must look for one that is center balanced. A properly-balanced darter head can cause the illusion of a side-to-side natural movement as you shake or doodle the Ika. Very often, you need to imitate open water baitfish like shad or herring when you target suspended fish. So try blue some of the plaer white, clear or smoke shades such as 237, 238 or 239 for exaample.

3) Jighead in cover. This is your standard flipping/pitching presentation for cover with stout gear and fiberguard jig heads. I like Gary's Flippin' Jig Head with the Big Ika for this. An advantage is that the Ika does not get torn up by the fish or by rough cover as easily as other lures. For instance, it doesn't have the thin twister tails or claw appendages that often get torn off other lures. And if it does get torn - because the Ika is perfectly cylindrical and symmetrical - you can re-rig as if it was a fresh bait by using the "other side". Can't re-rig like that with many other soft plastics.

4) Texas rig. This is another standard flipping/pitching presentation for using the Ika in heavy cover with stout gear, bullet weights and offset shank hooks such as Gary's Sugoi (means "perfect") hook made exclusively for him by Gamakatsu. Often, natural shades of blacks, browns and greens are used, but I also like smoke-colored Ikas for this. If you peg the weight, just use the Ika. If you don't peg it, also use Gary's "Grub Guard" (see below).

5) Texas jig. Although they are not common, a few manufacturers make pointy, streamlined leadheads molded onto offset shank jig hooks. It's like a Texas Rig - but the bullet weight is molded right onto the offset hook. These often come in lighter sizes between 1/16 and 1/4 ounce. They are not often used by anglers. Nevertheless, one of my favorite ways to use the Ika in light to medium wood, reeds or weeds is on a texas jig such as Bobby Garland's TR leadheads which seems well-suited to the Ika.

6) Carolina Rig. Most soft plastics can be fished this way, including the Ika. Often I just twist a rubber-core sinker onto the line. But most anglers use a bullet weight or a fatter kind of special Carolina weight for rocky bottom, plus a bead, a swivel - and most importantly, a trace of leader line between the weight and the bait. Distance from the weight to bait ranges from 2-3 feet but can be longer or shorter. Functionally, longer leaders are used in order to make the bait more visible among weeds or irregular bottoms that might otherwise obscure the bait from sight. Use an offset shank hook (such as Gary's Sugoi hook). Because the face of the Ika is flat, you may want to use Gary's special "Grub Guards" which are little pointy nipples of rubbery plastic that you thread on your line just like bullet weights, then snug them up over the knot and hook eye. I like the contrast of the fluorescent yellow (192) caps with most any color Ika. With the cap, the Ika will come through weeds without fouling, and come through brush and snags without balling up on the hook.

7) Weightless on or near the surface. Gary Yamamoto sells a special kind of rounded, short shank hook. These are called "Split Shot" hooks made exclusively for Gary by Gamakatsu. In size and shape, Split shot hooks closely approximate what's more commonly known as a circle hook. You just insert this crossways through the nose of the Ika, cast it out and start twitching it on and near the surface. When a fish takes, you let the fish go down and swim away from you with the Ika. Don't worry, they won't let go. Just start reeling in line and the steady, gentle pressure of a slow sideways sweep of the rod tip causes the circle-style hook to catch in the corner of the jaw, hooking the fish without actually "setting" the hook! You can use offset hooks and the "Grub Guard" caps where it's too weedy to use the exposed Split Shot hooks. By the way, these Split Shot hooks work great for any weightless baits such as Flukes, Slug-gos and trick worms.

8) Splitshot - suspended. This is simply adding a light splitshot a few feet up the line from the weightless Ika with the Split Shot circle-style hook. You let it drift down through suspended fish - or engage the reel, thereby holding the bait at the depth that the fish are found.

9) As a trailer. Like many soft plastics, the Ika also can be used as a trailer on skirted jigs, spinnerbaits or buzzbaits. I especially like to thread the Ika all the way up over the eye of the trailer hook used on spinnerbaits or buzzbaits, and then impale the Ika by spearing the main hook through the Ika and therefore through the eye of the trailer hook. On a skirted jig, I just impale the plain Ika like you would a pork chunk. I insert and break off a piece of toothpick crosswise in front of the hook so bass cannot tear the Ika off so easily when they short strike at it.

Best Color? By the way, as I understand it from the folks at Yamamoto, their top selling color in the Ika is 178 (smoke w/black & red flake).

Hope you were able to pick up an Ika tip or two you can use from here. And don't forget to shout "Eureka" when you bag your first bass on the Ika!

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