Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits keeps raising the bar higher and higher with each entry into the artificial lure manufacturing industry.
For example, owner Gary Yamamoto is proud of the fairly new Heart Tail Swimbait.
The Arizona entrepreneur and veteran pro bass angler was eager to talk about the Heart Tail Swimbait one afternoon in mid-July while he was at his camp in Fourchon, where he was speckled trout fishing as much as he could and planned to stay the rest of this year in the Sportsman’s Paradise.
One of the most-recognizable pro bass anglers on the planet, Roland Martin, dropped by to visit his long-time friend Yamamoto. The 76-year-old Martin said he gave the Heart Tail Swimbait a workout, and it quickly became his favorite soft plastic swimbait on his home lake of Lake Okeechobee.
“The real big deals the last few years have been swimbaits, like the Big Easy and Skinny Dipper,” Martin said.
Then, last summer, he got his hands on the new Heart Tail Swimbait.
“You can cover a lot of water with it,” Martin said. “The big grass flats have miles of cover. You look for holes in the edges of them.
“The big deal is making a super long cast — cast way out” because many of the trophy-sized bass he catches are far from the boat, which naturally makes a ruckus as the trolling motor pulls it through thick underwater vegetation.
“It casts like a dream,” Martin said, noting he fishes Heart Tail Swimbaits on 60-pound braided line. “When it’s really right, you have 10 strikes a day and they’re all over 4 (pounds). I’ve caught a bunch of 6-, 7- and 8-pound bass on it.”
The Heart Tail Swimbait’s design and production stages spanned two years in Japan.
Yamamoto called the lengthy process challenging because technicians overseas are so demanding — perfectionists, if you will.
He said he was on the phone with them every time they did something to one of the many prototypes of the Heart Tail Swimbait.
“It took many versions of it to make the bait swim like it is swimming,” Yamamoto said. “It was designed by our people in Japan, and they’ve very particular.”
But it was worth the wait to be able to tie on the finished product.
“I’d say it’s one of the best swim baits I’ve ever used,” Yamamoto said.
That’s saying a lot. Remember, his company also makes the highly successful Swim Senko, which has been one of the author’s go-to soft plastics for a few years.
At this year’s Lake Champlain Basmaster Elite Series stop, Yamamoto caught smallmouth bass after smallmouth bass on the Heart Tail Swimbait.
The 41/2-inch soft plastic (which actually fishes more like a 5- or 6-inch lure because of its unique design and profile) has a wider profile with more of a planing bottom and a cavity to conceal a weighted hook.
Yamamoto likes to put it on a 6/0 Owner Twistlock weighted hook to fish it weedless.
The wider profile and heart-shaped tail give it a distinctive wobble and kick — a vibration that can be felt on the tip of your fishing rod. It has a side-to-side roll that bass obviously hone in on.
“It’s got a great profile coming through the water,” Martin said. “It looks like a shad coming through the water; it’s pretty wide.”
Martin and Yamamoto prefer to use weighted hooks with screw-in prongs. Martin uses Gamakatzu models while Yamamoto likes Owners.
“I like screw-in deals,” Martin said. “They’re a little more fragile and tear the bait, but you get a higher percentage of hookups.”
Heart Tail Swimbaits, which went on the market first in Japan before making their way last year to the U.S., are available in 10 colors. Olive shad, black/blue, bluegill clear, goby and white seem to be the most popular day-in, day-out.
Martin said a color combination he uses a lot is olive shad.
“Colors are just a confidence thing,” he said. “In reality, a lot of colors work.
“Gary has some beautiful colors.”
For more information on Heart Tail Swimbaits, go to baits.com or call 928-645-3812.