FLW Tour pro Gary Yamamoto of Athens, Texas has redefined for himself what it means to fish for bass with spinning tackle. Now he is sharing what he’s learned and what he’s been using for the last few years.
Prior to this, spinning meant you were finesse fishing whereas spooling up with 16 to 20 pound test meant you were power fishing. These two mutually exclusive approaches have now become one, thanks to Gary.
Yamamoto has taken a technological leap forward by melding spinning gear with 16 to 20 pound test.
Gary reveals, “My basic spinning tackle for bass is either 16 or 20 lb braid with 16, sometimes even 20 lb fluorocarbon leader. The lightest leader I ever use is 14 lb test fluorocarbon. That’s even to dropshot or with a shakey jig – although the power of this set-up makes it usable with anything.”
Yamamoto has embraced an advanced braided line from Japan that makes this possible. Called Sugoi (which means perfect in Japanese), this breakthrough braid is now available through his namesake company, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits.
“Anyone can go after anything with spinning tackle now. I just did a television show with Roland Martin and landed a 30 pound redfish,” chuckles Yamamoto.
The way it was
“There’s no need for 10 lb braid anymore,” says Yamamoto. “The diameter of the new Sugoi braid (16 lb) is as small, it is smoother and it casts better.”
Yamamoto’s new Sugoi line has more strength and a smaller diameter than anything else on the market.
The diameter is a lot finer and it has a tighter weave than the others.
With some other popular braids, as you cast you can you can hear them scraping against the rod guides because they are not fine, smooth lines. However, the Sugoi line is so fine, smooth and friction-free that you can’t hear anything. “I would say 16 lb test Sugoi can cast 20% further than 10 lb test of other popular braids – that’s how much smoother this new line is,” says Gary.
Little else changes
Yamamoto says anglers can still use the same rods and reels they’ve been using with 10 lb braid – except with 16 to 20 Sugoi braid and 14, 16 or 20 Sugoi fluoro leaders now. So Yamamoto’s new Sugoi braid changes little about the spinning set-up – not the rod, reel nor the braided line diameter changes. It’s simply more powerful braid, finer, smoother and casts further than 10 lb braid.
Double Strength Leader
Perhaps the biggest change for anglers (in addition to small diameter 16-20 braid) may be getting used to 14, 16, 20 lb leaders used in Yamamoto’s system. Typically, many anglers used 6, 7 or 8 lb leaders with 10 lb braid. What Yamamoto’s doing now easily doubles the leader strength that most anglers are used to using – it eliminates that weak leader link from the system (as well as eliminating 10 lb braid).
“I use 16 lb clear Sugoi fluoro leader most of the time,” says Gary. “Just 5 to 6 feet of leader (maybe tying on 8 feet to start so you have a little to cut back during the day) is all you need.”
“Length of the leader is not so significant,” admits Yamamoto, “as long as there are 5 or 6 feet of fluorocarbon leader is fine. As the day goes on, and I cut back frayed line, the leader gets shorter and shorter. As long as it is still in good shape, I normally will not replace the leader until it gets much shorter than say five feet.”
Knot no longer any issue
Anglers have always mistrusted the knots used to attach the leader, always suspicious of the knot strength. By using 16 to 20 lb braid, the knot strength is now beyond concern. Essentially, there’s no breaking that line.
The knot Yamamoto uses is a simple one – and a one-sided knot. So to splice the braid to the leader, Yamamoto makes only one knot, not two. That’s one less knot than usual to worry about. All you do is make a loop in the fluorocarbon, pass the braid through the loop, wind it around the fluoro loop 8 times, and pass it back through the loop hole. There’s just this one knot, and the braid is the only side that is knotted.
If you used a double knot (one on both sides) like many anglers do, you’d have a heck of a big knot here. But with Yamamoto’s knot, the bulkier fluorocarbon side has no knot. So the splice is very streamlined because no knot is made on the fluoro side. It can go through the rod guide without any problem or noise.
It really is simple, secure and quick to make. “And it will not break if you use 16 lb braid and 16 lb leader,” emphasizes Yamamoto.
This particular knot is called an Albright Knot. Tying instructions may be found by querying on a search engine.
Yamamoto sagely declares, “There’s no other way you could use 16 to 20 lb test on a typical spinning rod for bass fishing. But with Sugoi braid, Sugoi fluoro and this one-sided knot – yes you can.”
Yamamoto’s Sugoi braid is lemon yellow in color. Again, this isn’t what many anglers have always been comfortable with. After all, line is supposed to blend in and disappear underwater so that fish can’t see it. Line’s not supposed to be a highly visible color – or is it?
“At such a very thin diameter, it would be tough to see green, neutral or even white braid,” explains Gary. “So there’s no doubt that bright yellow is better because if you can’t see your line, you are missing a lot of bites that may only be detected by line-watching and detecting strikes that cause the line to jump without feeling anything. You’re actually missing fish you can’t easily see without yellow line.”
Initially pricey but saves money over time
Yamamoto recounts, “I’ve used this set-up for the last 2 to 3 years now. When I get something new, I use the old stuff and the new stuff to compare it. So I’ve been doing that comparative evaluation for a few years – double-testing and comparing my previous choice of braid to this new braid – and I’m a believer in this new line.“
“The Sugoi braid is the best that I have seen, and I would guarantee that to anyone. It’s expensive but I can tell you, you don’t have to change it.”
“The thing that some of us do as tournament bass fishermen is we respool new line before the start of every tournament. Some even go out fishing for the day, come back in, pull all their line off their reels, discard it and put new line on for the next (and every) day’s competition,” observes Yamamoto.
“With this Sugoi braid, I don’t change my line all year. I just splice on a new leader.”
“Initially, Sugoi may be more expensive than other lines, but if I do not have to change line before every event or after every day I fish – that’s wonderful and the difference (versus throwing away and respooling line) means I am saving time and money. If tomorrow is a tournament day, I just change the leader and I am ready. So I am using less line than I have ever used – and I have better line and stronger knots.”
“Consider the braid as a given or a constant. Once you spool up it can last a long, long time. The braid will practically never be in contact with the fish or the fishing environment,” reasons Gary. “The braid is out of the picture. Only the fluoro leader will be in contact with the bottom, rub on cover, be a factor to a fish’s sight – or need to be replaced.”
We can learn a lot from Gary Yamamoto. He’s a true pioneer and innovator in our sport. One who constantly strives to bring us the best products and equipment. One who’s committed to teaching us the best techniques and set-ups he devises for better bass fishing.
He’s taken it upon himself as his way of life and purpose in life to design and share the best baits, hooks, rods, lines and applications for his and our shared bass fishing success.