Cory Schmidt of Merrifield, Minnesota, is a fellow In-Fisherman field editor, writer, and Finesse News Network member. And on the morning of Jan. 3, he sent us a note about Nikko Baits, which is a Japanese company.
He crossed paths with their baits and Scott Barrett of Manassas, Virginia, at the 2016 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show.
"They make," Schmidt said, "some pretty impressive stuff, utilizing a special food grade softbait materia." He thought some of their baits might catch the fancy of Midwest finesse anglers and the black bass that they pursue.
Schmidt, who is an ardent and talented multispecies angler, said that he has fished with Nikko's Bait Balls, Pin Worms, Pin Worms, Kiji Worms, and Tadpoles. And straightway he was impressed by their texture and durability. What's more, he hailed them as "fish catchers."
After we exchanged several emails, Schmidt hooked us up with Barrett, who provided us with an array of information about Nikko Baits. And on the evening of Jan. 3, Barrett sent us an 810-word email brimming with details about Nikko Baits, which created its first soft-plastic bait in early 2011. Subsequently, he emailed us a 261-word and a 184-word discourse on Jan. 4 and a 469-word and 1,855-word discourse on Jan. 5.
Barrett is the sole importer and distributor of Nikko Baits in the United States. He handles some overseas accounts for them. He is a retailer for them, too. What's more, he is involved in product design and field testing. He says, "My main job is to get business growing in the U.S. by doing whatever I need to do. My official title is probably something like North American Sales Manager."
When Barrett attended a nanotechnology exposition in Tokyo, he discovered Nikko. He said: "Once I saw what they were doing and what kind of people they were, I was hooked. I was living in Japan at the time and started helping Nikko a little here and there with overseas business. I was in the big earthquake in 2011, which pretty much bankrupted me. So, I headed back to the U.S. to try to get their baits established here."
Barrett began his Jan. 3 treatise with 15 bullet points that highlight the attributes of Nikko's soft-plastic baits:
- super soft and flexible;
- very buoyant;
- extremely durable -- regular models sometimes go into hundreds of catches per bait;
- impregnated with natural scent -- no liquids, sprays, etc. needed. Just stretch to recharge the scent;
- highly detailed features -- most baits were originally designed to replace live bait;
- completely toxin-free;
- phthalates- and plastisol-free;
- no environmental hormones;
- safe for the fish, animals and humans to swallow;
- no swelling if left in water;
- no hardening or drying out if left out in the open;
- made of medical- and food-grade plastic;
- biodegradable in real life conditions within a short time frame;
- higher melting point than ordinary soft-plastic baits:
- softer in lower temperatures than ordinary plastic baits.
To accomplish these tasks, Barrett said that Nikko employs a state-of-the-art nanotechnology system that is not available outside of Japan. And he has been told there are only three machines in the entire world that are capable of performing some of the steps required to make this nanotechnology system work and create Nikko's soft-plastic baits.
Barrett elaborated extensively about the environmental impact of Nikko's baits, exclaiming that they have close to zero impact. He explained that the baits contain no substances that are inimical to human consumption and intimate contact with the human body. He described the baits as being medical- and food-grade plastic. Likewise, Nikko's proprietary natural scent formula that is impregnated into the baits is classified as a food-grade substance, and, therefore, an angler can eat them without suffering any adverse effects. Likewise, fish and animals can ingest them without begin harmed. If they are accidentally left in the water or along a shoreline, they will completely deteriorate and ultimately disappear.
He also extolled the fish-catching attributes of the baits, saying that they are the best soft baits that he has used. In fact, they are so effective that he rarely uses other manufacturers' baits.
One of the most vivid exhibitions of the effectiveness of the baits that Barrett has witnessed occurred in 2016 at the Richmond Fishing Expo at Doswell, Virginia. It revolved around using a double-hook drop-shop rig in the Expo's fish tank. One hook was affixed to Nikko's Tadpole. The other hook was affixed to a soft-plastic bait made by other manufacturers, and they experimented with several baits made by various companies. Barrett said it was an astonishing sight to see the Tadpole allure and inveigle the fish in the tank, while the other soft-plastic baits were ignored.
Barrett also noted that anglers are using Nikko's baits "outside their original design parameters." For instance, some crappie anglers use the Okiami Shrimp, some largemouth bass anglers use the Squid Strips, some tuna anglers use the Bass Worms, and some largemouth bass and smallmouth bass anglers use Bait Balls and TakoBait.
The TakoBait has yielded an impressive array of black bass for Barrett. He described it as an octopus- , squid-, or tube-style bait. Across the years, it has undergone several name changes. Originally, it was called TakoBait, and then it was called Squid Rubber, and now it is called TakoBait again. Tako in Japanese means octopus. Barrett says it is a very popular bait in Japan. Initially, it was manufactured in two sizes: 2.5 inches and 3.5 inches, and now it is available in five sizes: 1.5 inches, 2.5 inches, 3.5 inches, 4.5 inches, six inches, and in the near future, there will be an eight-incher. The six-incher is popular with the tuna fish anglers in Japan, and these anglers have found that it is more economical to use than live squid. Furthermore, it is incredibly durable, exhibiting the wherewithal to catch hundreds of fish before it becomes too tattered and torn to use.
Nikko recently launched a new line of baits called Dappy, which means molting in Japanese. They are designed to replicate the softness of a newly molted insect or crustacean. They feel more like a gel than a soft-plastic. For black bass anglers, there is a three-inch Dappy tadpole and a 3.9-inch Dappy worm. According to Barrett, the downside to these baits is that they will not have the durability of the original Nikko baits, but they should be more durable than the traditional soft-plastic baits made with plastisol.
Barrett says Nikko's state-of-the-art soft-plastic baits are more expensive than the run-of-the-mill soft-plastic baits. A survey of several online venders reveals that a package of five 2.2-inch Bait Balls cost $5.29, a package of three three-inch Tadpoles costs $6.99, and a package of eight four-inch Kiji Worms cost $5.99. But the durability of the Nikko baits, according to Barrett, more than compensates for the cost.
Once an angler acquires some packages of Nikko's soft-plastic baits, Barrett recommends keeping them in their original packages.
To keep the scent from dissipating, these baits should be kept in air-tight bags. The original packages are resealable. Zip-lock bags are another storage alternative.
He also warns anglers that ordinary soft-plastic baits will destroy Nikko's soft-plastic baits. Therefore, Nikko's baits should never be mixed and stored with other kinds of baits.
If Nikko's baits are stored cattywampus in a package for a lengthy period of time, they can become contorted. Barrett said Nikko used to package all of their baits in trays to prevent this phenomenon. Barrett said, "Nikko will eliminate trays [this year] for their Fluke Minnows, Tadpoles, and Bass Worms because this issue has mostly been fixed. However, the plastic still retains some willingness to remember the [contorted] positions." But if an angler wants to create a cattywampus bait, which some Midwest finesse anglers like to use at times, it can still be accomplished.
After an angler uses a Nikko bait, he can put it back into the package, and it will not decay in the package. Barrett says he has used and reused baits that are five years old. They will decay rapidly if they are left in the water or on the ground.
Barrett says Nikko's new Dappy Baits should not be stored with other kinds of soft-plastic baits, and it is best to store them in their original packages. And they can become twisted and deformed if they are stored improperly. To help prevent these baits from becoming misshapen, Barrett says it is best not to store the packages on top of each other. Because they are not as durable as the other Nikko Baits, their packages are not resealable.
(1) Here are two links to two websites where anglers can garner more information about Nikko Baits: http://www.itsumofishing.com/and www.nikko-fishing.com. Anglers can purchase the baits at http://www.itsumofishing.com/.
(2) Cory Schmidt has penned some words about the manifold virtues of Nikko Baits that will appear in In-Fisherman's 2017 Panfish Guide.
(3) In one of Schmidt's email, he elaborated about three of the Nikko's baits that he thought Midwest finesse anglers can employ in their pursuits of black bass.
The one that he is the most enchanted with is the Bait Balls, which he affixes to a No. 8 drop-shot hook on a drop-shot rig. In his eyes, the gyrations and undulations of the Bait Balls are unique. And he has used this combo to catch scores of crappie, largemouth bass, sunfish, and even catfish. He suspects it will be a dandy bait for Midwest finesse anglers to use when they are bass fishing for trout. Midwest finesse anglers will not use it on a drop-shot rig. Instead, they will rig it on a 1/32-ounce jig with No. 6 hook, and rig it wacky style. Schmidt theorized that the Bait Balls will show the black "bass something they instinctively recognize as food, but in a manner they don't see very often; undulating and quivering with underwater currents. It will be interesting this coming season to test the hypothesis that bass and many species love to eat fish eggs, when the opportunity presents itself."
The other two baits that caught Schmidt's eye are the Tadpole and four-inch Kiji Worm.
The Tadpole has a bulging torso that is adorned with two tiny and undeveloped posterior legs and feather-like or Reaper-like tail. And Schmidt suspects that Midwest finesse anglers will rig it on a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig with an exposed hook.
Schmidt describes the Kiji Worm as possessing a thick grub-style body with a very delicate pin tail that exhibits incredible undulations. And Midwest finesse anglers will affix it to a small mushroom-style jig.
(4) Nikko Baits has scores of soft-plastic baits, such as their Bass Worm series and Fluke Minnows, that we hope to write about as 2017 unfolds.