ima Japan debuts North American exclusive baits at ICAST
Established in 1998, ima is the number one hard plastic lure
manufacturer for saltwater lures in Japan.
What's interesting is that ima's fine freshwater bass baits
are only made for and sold in North America.
Igarashi, who owns ima, says he has no plans right now to
offer ima's freshwater bass baits in Japan. The company is aware
that a few die-hard bass fanatics in Japan have been ordering
them over the Internet from US online shops.
"Anglers in Japan expect to see only the best from ima,
and US anglers are starting to hold these same lofty expectations
of ima too," says Matt Paino, CEO of Optimum Bait Company in
Temecula, California who handles all of ima Japan’s marketing
and distribution throughout North America. Matt refers to the
satisfaction US anglers are already enjoying with ima's initial
product releases from 2007 - the incredible Roumba wakebait, Flit
jerkbait and Shaker flat-sided crank. Those three were
painstakingly designed and tested by ima engineers in
collaboration with B.A.S.S. Elite and FLW touring pros Fred
Roumbanis, Michael Murphy and Bill Smith.
I asked Igarashi how he felt ima's foray into the North
American market was going so far? Angler acceptance and awareness
of the product has gone very well, says Igarashi, much quicker
than he expected. He attributes the quick acceptance in part to
having picked the right US pros to ride for the ima brand. Fred
Roumbanis, Michael Murphy and Bill Smith are all well-respected,
well-know and featured in ima ads and on the packaging, thereby
facilitating market acceptance of the ima brand. Plus anglers
recognize the exceedingly high lure quality. And picking Matt
Paino to steer ima though US waters has been the best choice,
Igarashi explained to me.
A few members of Igarashi's team.
L to R: Matt Paino, Igarashi, Capt. Karl Bunch, Tony Paino
At ICAST this year, ima introduced two new products that are
N Vibe. A new vibrating lipless crankbait.
A new topwater walking bait
Both were worked on in Japan throughout the past 2 years by
ima's lure designers. They possess degrees at top Japanese
universities in marine science or engineering degrees
specializing in CAD systems. This coupled with being experienced
fishermen enables ima to move from a concept - to a prototype -
to a perfected lure at record speeds with the utilization of CNC
machines. This does not mean they rush the job. It means they can
rapidly evolve, creatively explore and fine-tune a lure concept
by making infinite changes to any dimension or feature
whatsoever, and have a computer-machined version of the changes
ready to field test within minutes. It may take traditional lure
manufacturers weeks or months to produce modifications that ima
can make in a moment. That means many other lures only undergo a
fraction of the testing and design refinement that ima does.
ima's ability for rapid, iterative design, development and
testing brings out the best in every bait concept. It's not just
the computerized machinery, but the advanced understanding of
lures and fish that ima's designers possess.
"A growing group of sophisticated bass anglers out there,
are realizing that by simply tying on a lure like one from ima,
they are gaining an equipment advantage, almost leapfrogging over
other anglers," believes Paino. "We see guys who will
finish better in tournaments simply because of using ima lures.
They'll be first to tell you they're not necessarily the better
anglers, but by using ima lures, they acknowledge they are
boosting their chances to catch better fish and finish higher.
It's not magic. They're simply using better tools for the job,
and that helps."
new ima Skimmer. It's 4-1/2 inches long and
weighs 3/8 oz with two sticky-sharp premium #4 Owner trebles.
The ima is hard plastic, but it
helps to think of it like a soft stickbait on steroids, one that
casts like an arrow, and cruises the surface like an explosive
Shape Appeal. The ima Skimmer is unique among
hard plastic topwater stickbaits in that the Skimmer has the
slender body shape of a 5" soft plastic stickbait. This slim
profile has proven to be one of the most appealing bass lure
shapes ever. There's a whole lot to be said simply for this
slender profile and silhouette, and the Skimmer is one of the
only topwater hardbaits that has it.
It has a lively, light action. It knifes across the surface,
dancing, skating and swimming strongly like a svelte Olympic
swimmer in top condition. You may want to simply get a strong,
rhythmic side-to-side swimming motion going, where the Skimmer
uses its entire body length to swim, sculling across the top with
The Skimmer's movement is a skating, dancing, wriggling thing.
When done right, it practically comes alive, and that's an action
to concentrate on making - the movement and motion of the
Skimmer's slender swimming body versus the splash and confusion
of traditional stickbaits.
It's the strong swimming movement, not the splashing around,
that's key to the Skimmer's slim shape appeal.
Out the Best Action. Since the Skimmer is
thinner, its action is cleaner and crisper than bulkier baits.
Make no mistake, a lot of hand-to-eye coordination is always
required with any member of this class of surface-walking lures.
There's an art to pulling these puppets to life on the end of
your string. As always, practice makes perfect.
The way to work the rod will vary a little depending on the
angle you cast it relative to the wind and based on the surface
condition (smooth, rippled, choppy and so on). You need to vary
the rod movement under different conditions based on what your
eye sees in terms of lure action. In terms of where to keep your
eyes, watch the head and eyes of the Skimmer.
Tune out the surface disturbance it's making. Don't even look
at that. Focus in on the bait's body movements, and you're going
to use what you see it doing in order to coordinate and adjust
your hand movements with the rod. There's a certain sweet spot
with the Skimmer that you'll recognize when you see it. The
side-to-side movement suddenly isn't mechanical any more. It
becomes more of a gasp or a flop or a jump to each side, and
there's a certain slo-mo 'hang time' that seems to occur that
visually lasts longer than it really is. Difficult to describe in
writing, but you'll recognize it when you see it on the water.
Boiling Action. The tail-weighting is another
key to the Skimmer's appeal. If you've seen mating dragonflies in
early summer and the female dipping the tip of its tail
depositing egg after egg under the surface, locked in synchronous
flight with the male, the graceful tail action of the Skimmer is
not unlike that.
Another way to think of the stir caused by the Skimmer's tail
action is to compare it to one of those flat wood paint stirrer
sticks they give you with a gallon of wall paint - the tail has
the same stirring effect on the surface of the water.
A large part of the Skimmer's action is caused on the ending
note of each zig or zag as the tail-weighted back end of the ima
Skimmer dips and stirs the water causing a large boil to swell up
Every time that the Skimmer zigs or zags left or right, the
final movement is the weighted tail stirs the surface into a
widening boil, and the Skimmer slips out barely ahead of the
boil, just like a desperate baitfish narrowly escaping a bass's
lunge. Each wide and sudden boil stirs the surface in an
instinctive and universal signal of a competitive feeding
Feeding Signals Call Bass in From Afar. The
Skimmer's action then becomes a non-stop series of ever-widening
boils emanating behind it. It's like having a school of
surface-feeding bass on the scene, all taking their best shot,
boiling the surface behind the ima Skimmer's tail.
If there's ever anything that gets a non-committal bass to
bite, it is other bass feeding in front of it - and that's the
competitive feeding cue that the Skimmer's tail-stirring movement
sends out to every bass within range of sensing the
surface-feeding boils trailing out behind the Skimmer.
Rock N Vibe Lipless Crankbait. ima's latest
offering for you in the pursuit of your fishing dreams is the
Rock N Vibe lipless vibrating crankbait.
It is compact at only 2-1/2 inches long yet weighs a full 1/2
oz and sports two oversized premium Owner trebles that fish just
Before tying the Rock N Vibe on your line, cup it carefully in
the palm of your hand and shake it. You'll hear and feel a
vibrancy not found in other lipless cranks. It's almost the noise
and feel of something alive in your hand, such as a cicada or
other noise-making insect.
The Rock N Vibe does not make an excessively loud noise, but
it is a more natural or vibrant noise than many other rattling
cranks. In addition to noise, the Rock N Vibe generates a high
vibration that feels like a buzz between your fingers.
Next, tie it to your rod, hook it securely onto a rod guide
foot, and put that rod inside your car or truck with you on your
way down to the lake. As you motor down the bumpy highway, listen
to the rumbling noise made by the rapidly-vibrating Rock N Vibe
on the rod in the vehicle with you. It's more like a constant,
low rumble than a rattle. More of a shivering or quivering sound
all abuzz like some sort of insect or something alive.
As you cast the Rock N Vibe, you'll notice that rumble and
buzz manifest itself in the rod tip in a way that no other
crankbait does. It's not the way you feel a wide or tight wiggle
with other crankbaits, but it's a sort of bouncy, buzzy, vibrancy
in the rod tip.
One look at the Rock N Vibe as it nears boatside, and you'll
see that same vibrant quality in the bait's action. One way to
describe the action is to say there's a lot of side and belly
movement in the swimming behavior of the Rock N Vibe that's not
found in other lipless cranks.
The sides and belly seem to wiggle and flicker like there's no
tomorrow, and the detailed color patterns simply dance and play
like alive. It has a rather realistic baitfish swimming movement
When paused, the Rock N Vibe falls straight and true. It is a
true countdown lure since it won't tangle the line as it falls.
Most all lipless cranks sink, but many spin or foul the line as
they do, so they're really not useful for counting down to deeper
depths. That's the last thing you want - a lipless crank that
fouls itself when it falls or is paused, ruining cast after cast.
The Rock N Vibe won't do that. It falls perfectly true when
paused or on the sink, making it useful to countdown to various
This doesn't mean the Rock N Vibe will never tangle. When
popped sharply on a lift-and-fall or jigged erratically using a
yoyo presentation, any bait will occasionally tangle. It's just
the nature of such techniques. However, the Rock N Vibe's ability
not to tangle on a typical stop-and-go or jerk-and-pause approach
is a key design feature since fish often hit on such pauses or
change-ups in the action.
Plus the Rock N Vibe will stay down at the depth it was
counted down to. Most other lipless cranks won't do that. Even if
you can count them down without fouling themselves, many lipless
cranks tend to rise up higher like kites once the retrieve is
started, not staying at the desired depth like the Rock N Vibe
will for you.
Feeling reckless? Try 'worming' the Rock N Vibe along bottom
in deeper water as if you'd fish a worm or jig. Don't flatter it
by treating it in any special way. Totally disregard that you
even have a lipless crankbait tied on, just hop and drop it the
same way you'd work a worm or jig! The perfect, controlled
sinking behavior of the Rock N Vibe is ideally suited for
'worming' it this way in deep water.
The fact you can worm it hits upon another valuable feature of
the Rock N Vibe. You can use it at any retrieve speed. This bait
can be fished at any speed from painstakingly slow to blazingly
fast and all speeds in between. So whether the bass just want to
lazily suck it in or aggressively chase it down, the Rock N Vibe
will match the mood.
The Rock N Vibe is as much at home on medium spinning gear as
on baitcasting, and it casts like a rocket on either outfit.
Give it a try and you'll see why the pudgy little Rock N Vibe
has that watchful eye and worrisome look on its face, because
some big bully of a bass is constantly chasing after it!
Shad Crankbait and Flit Jr. Two other hard
plastic baits that ima exhibited at ICAST are a circuit board
lipped crankbait called the ima Shad. This is a little larger
than the existing ima Shaker crankbait, and the new Shad is a
little different style of crankbait than the Shaker. So the Shad
fishes differently. It's not just a bigger model of the Shaker.
The Shad's a different bait.
Also available in 2009 will be the Flit Jr. - a junior version
of the existing ima Flit.
A rattling version of the ima Roumba wakebait is in the works
The new ima Shad (top) and ima Flit Jr.
Special Features of ICAST 2008:
- Ardent: Ardent
Shows Pretty Nifty Products
- Daiwa: Daiwa
Stays in High Style
- Endless Innovation: Hundreds
of Hot New Products at ICAST
- Frogs: Gambler,
Gene Larew, Kanji, Mann's, Rein, Secret Lures, Snag Proof, Spro
- G.Loomis: G.Loomis
Goes for the GLX Excellence
- Hooks: Good-Looking
Hooks from Eagle Claw, Gamakatsu, Mustad, Owner, TTI, VMC
- ima: ima
Japan Debuts North American Exclusive Baits
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Fishing Line from Bioline, Blackwater, Cajun, SeaGuar, Sufix,
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Lucky and Crafty
- MegaStrike: Mega
- Optimum Baits: Optimum
Debuts Double Diamond Swimmer
- Plano: Plano
Wins Best of Show Award in Tackle Management Category
- Quantum: Quantum's
New KVD Tour Rods and Reel Cover all Cranking Situations
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World-Class Hard Baits by his own Principles
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