Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats, Russ Bassdozer

Shop @ Bassdozer Store | Lures, Rods, Reels | Boats, Motors, Electronics | Expert Articles | Reports | States | News | Forums | Tournaments | Clubs | Federations | Guides | Links | Books | Magazines | Surf Fishing | About Us  | Terms of Use

ICAST 2008:
ima Japan debuts North American exclusive baits at ICAST

By Russ Bassdozer

ima Lures

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 available now:

  1. Rock N Vibe. A new vibrating lipless crankbait.
  2. Skimmer. 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."

The 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 missile.

Slim 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 authority.

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.

Bringing 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.

Wild 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 behind it.

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 situation.

Competitive 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.

New 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 can't miss.

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 and action..

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 depths.

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!

ima 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 too.

The new ima Shad (top) and ima Flit Jr.

Special Features of ICAST 2008:

  1. Ardent: Ardent Shows Pretty Nifty Products
  2. Daiwa: Daiwa Stays in High Style
  3. Endless Innovation: Hundreds of Hot New Products at ICAST
  4. Frogs: Gambler, Gene Larew, Kanji, Mann's, Rein, Secret Lures, Snag Proof, Spro
  5. G.Loomis: G.Loomis Goes for the GLX Excellence
  6. Hooks: Good-Looking Hooks from Eagle Claw, Gamakatsu, Mustad, Owner, TTI, VMC
  7. ima: ima Japan Debuts North American Exclusive Baits
  8. Jackall: Day of the Jackall Lures
  9. Lines: New Fishing Line from Bioline, Blackwater, Cajun, SeaGuar, Sufix, Sunline
  10. Lucky Craft: Feeling Lucky and Crafty
  11. MegaStrike: Mega Strikes Again
  12. Optimum Baits: Optimum Debuts Double Diamond Swimmer
  13. Plano: Plano Wins Best of Show Award in Tackle Management Category
  14. Quantum: Quantum's New KVD Tour Rods and Reel Cover all Cranking Situations
  15. Rods: Rod Highlights from American Rodsmiths, Big Bear, Kistler, Lamiglas, St. Croix
  16. Sébile: Sébile Defines World-Class Hard Baits by his own Principles
  17. Shimano: Shimano Curado Voted 'Best of All' New Products
  18. Strike King: Kevin VanDam Comments on Strike King's New Bass Baits
Shop at Bassdozer's Store
Bassdozer Store
Men's Clothing at
Bass Pro Shops

May I ask you for a favor please? Please start here first whenever you shop online. Click on any store logo above or book below. Bassdozer gets a small sales commission if you begin shopping at these stores from here. You always get the same low price you would pay anyway. Thank you kindly for shopping at Bassdozer.

Kevin Vandam's Bass Strategies
Kevin Vandam

Secrets of a Champion
Kevin VanDam

Fishing on the Edge
Mike Iaconelli

Big Bass Zone
Bill Siemantel

Denny Brauer's Jig Fishing Secrets

Denny Brauer

Denny Brauer's Winning Tournament Tactics

Denny Bauer

Monte Burke

Thank you for visiting. Please enjoy!
Bass fishing lures, bass boats
Worldwide Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats