Elite Man Caves

Elite Man Caves: Taku Ito

Inside an RV and boat storage facility is the Man Cave of Japanese angler Takumi “Taku” Ito. The north Georgia location is centrally located for travel to Bassmaster Elite Series events. This is Taku's home base when he's in the U.S.  <br><br> <em>All captions: Craig Lamb</em>
Photo: Shane Durrance - Inside an RV and boat storage facility is the Man Cave of Japanese angler Takumi “Taku” Ito. The north Georgia location is centrally located for travel to Bassmaster Elite Series events. This is Taku's home base when he's in the U.S. All captions: Craig Lamb
Taku, as he likes to be called, won the 2021 Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite on the St. Lawrence River, just weeks before these photos were taken in August. After winning, he departed Waddington, N.Y., and drove to Lake Oahe in S.D., to scout the 2022 Elite Series fishery. From there, he stopped in LaCrosse, Wis., to practice on the upper Mississippi River, where another event will be next season.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku, as he likes to be called, won the 2021 Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite on the St. Lawrence River, just weeks before these photos were taken in August. After winning, he departed Waddington, N.Y., and drove to Lake Oahe in S.D., to scout the 2022 Elite Series fishery. From there, he stopped in LaCrosse, Wis., to practice on the upper Mississippi River, where another event will be next season.
“Taku like smallmouth, and many smallmouth like Taku’s boat.” Indeed. Taku qualified for three of three “northern run” Championship Sundays during 2020, his rookie season. Before then, Taku had never caught a smallmouth.
Photo: Shane Durrance - “Taku like smallmouth, and many smallmouth like Taku’s boat.” Indeed. Taku qualified for three of three “northern run” Championship Sundays during 2020, his rookie season. Before then, Taku had never caught a smallmouth.
Taku is from Chiba, Japan, the capital city of Chiba Prefecture. The city is about 25 miles east of central Tokyo, on Tokyo Bay. Taku lives there with his wife, Chie, and their young son, Takeru.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku is from Chiba, Japan, the capital city of Chiba Prefecture. The city is about 25 miles east of central Tokyo, on Tokyo Bay. Taku lives there with his wife, Chie, and their young son, Takeru.
It’s early August, and Taku is preparing to go home. He’s not been there all year. While many of his American peers will spend the “offseason” hunting, Taku will be fishing.
Photo: Shane Durrance - It’s early August, and Taku is preparing to go home. He’s not been there all year. While many of his American peers will spend the “offseason” hunting, Taku will be fishing.
“I don’t have an offseason, because I go back to Japan and nearly every day is fishing work.”
Photo: Shane Durrance - “I don’t have an offseason, because I go back to Japan and nearly every day is fishing work.”
There are photo and video shoots, magazine interviews, social media production and more. “Every day I like to fish. Fishing is my hobby. Fishing is my job.”
Photo: Shane Durrance - There are photo and video shoots, magazine interviews, social media production and more. “Every day I like to fish. Fishing is my hobby. Fishing is my job.”
The rod tubes will be packed, boat winterized and put to bed, and the lights will go out in the Man Cave until January, when Taku returns from Japan.
Photo: Shane Durrance - The rod tubes will be packed, boat winterized and put to bed, and the lights will go out in the Man Cave until January, when Taku returns from Japan.
Taku will take a nonstop, 13-hour flight from Atlanta to Toyko. Before he does that, he’ll make one more very important scouting trip to Lake Hartwell, S.C., site of the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. But before he does that, he took us on a tour of his Man Cave.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku will take a nonstop, 13-hour flight from Atlanta to Toyko. Before he does that, he’ll make one more very important scouting trip to Lake Hartwell, S.C., site of the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. But before he does that, he took us on a tour of his Man Cave.
If this looks familiar, it should. Like all Elite Man Caves, there are shelves filled with tools, boat parts and accessories and racks of outerwear.
Photo: Shane Durrance - If this looks familiar, it should. Like all Elite Man Caves, there are shelves filled with tools, boat parts and accessories and racks of outerwear.
Another familiar sight? Yep, like his peers, Taku stores baits and terminal tackle in large storage containers, relocating what he needs for a given tournament in smaller tackleboxes inside his boat.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Another familiar sight? Yep, like his peers, Taku stores baits and terminal tackle in large storage containers, relocating what he needs for a given tournament in smaller tackleboxes inside his boat.
What’s not familiar is what’s inside of Taku’s storage containers. There are Japanese baits the likes of which you’ve never seen.
Photo: Shane Durrance - What’s not familiar is what’s inside of Taku’s storage containers. There are Japanese baits the likes of which you’ve never seen.
Every Man Cave has its own personal touch, with oddities standing out among the stacks of tackle.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Every Man Cave has its own personal touch, with oddities standing out among the stacks of tackle.
Taku had just purchased this Frigidaire Retro Mini Fridge. “Taku get hot in here during summer.”
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku had just purchased this Frigidaire Retro Mini Fridge. “Taku get hot in here during summer.”
Like everyone else, he stores favorite beverages inside, including cans of soda that can’t be found back home.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Like everyone else, he stores favorite beverages inside, including cans of soda that can’t be found back home.
This shelf of the Man Cave is off limits except for one person.
Photo: Shane Durrance - This shelf of the Man Cave is off limits except for one person.
“This is my wife’s stuff.”
Photo: Shane Durrance - “This is my wife’s stuff.”
Here is a glimpse at what’s inside the secret containers. Each one we opened had treasures like this one, likely never seen by an American bass.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Here is a glimpse at what’s inside the secret containers. Each one we opened had treasures like this one, likely never seen by an American bass.
This 4.25-inch Nories Escape Twin, Brush Pile Craw, is a favorite soft plastic bait.
Photo: Shane Durrance - This 4.25-inch Nories Escape Twin, Brush Pile Craw, is a favorite soft plastic bait.
The bait comes in 30 colors, including Tequila Green, Cherry Cola, Smoke Mustard and many other unusual name patterns.
Photo: Shane Durrance - The bait comes in 30 colors, including Tequila Green, Cherry Cola, Smoke Mustard and many other unusual name patterns.
Taku fishes the soft plastic bait on a Cherry Rig. What the heck is that? “In Japan there is no such thing as a Tokyo Rig. We call it the Cherry Rig.” Taku fishes the rig in heavy cover, offshore, through brushpiles and more.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku fishes the soft plastic bait on a Cherry Rig. What the heck is that? “In Japan there is no such thing as a Tokyo Rig. We call it the Cherry Rig.” Taku fishes the rig in heavy cover, offshore, through brushpiles and more.
This was an eye opener.
Photo: Shane Durrance - This was an eye opener.
Called Glitch Oil, the Japanese low viscosity oil is ideal for spool bearings, shafts and other high revolution moving parts.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Called Glitch Oil, the Japanese low viscosity oil is ideal for spool bearings, shafts and other high revolution moving parts.
“Taku uses this on spool shaft of Stella reels.”
Photo: Shane Durrance - “Taku uses this on spool shaft of Stella reels.”
He said the oil is longer lasting than other oils, and that he can apply it once a month during the season.
Photo: Shane Durrance - He said the oil is longer lasting than other oils, and that he can apply it once a month during the season.
Taku said the benefits of the oil are even smoother drags, which is very important when fighting hefty smallmouth on light line.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku said the benefits of the oil are even smoother drags, which is very important when fighting hefty smallmouth on light line.
Here are Taku’s favorite rods for casting and spinning. At top: 6-foot, 10-inch Nories NXS Structure Sensitive Motion Rod, medium/heavy action, designed for baits ranging in weight from 1/4- to 3/4-ounce, and line ranges between 12- and 16-pound test. At bottom: Nories Road Runner Voice Jungle Spin.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Here are Taku’s favorite rods for casting and spinning. At top: 6-foot, 10-inch Nories NXS Structure Sensitive Motion Rod, medium/heavy action, designed for baits ranging in weight from 1/4- to 3/4-ounce, and line ranges between 12- and 16-pound test. At bottom: Nories Road Runner Voice Jungle Spin.
Lining the wall is Taku’s arsenal of Nories and Shimano rods.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Lining the wall is Taku’s arsenal of Nories and Shimano rods.
Taku holds his winning Elite Series spinning setup.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku holds his winning Elite Series spinning setup.
It is also the primary rig he uses for catching feisty northern smallmouth that notoriously hang around line breaking zebra mussels.
Photo: Shane Durrance - It is also the primary rig he uses for catching feisty northern smallmouth that notoriously hang around line breaking zebra mussels.
The reel is a Shimano Stella 2500 SHG, spooled with 10-pound Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green Braid, with 8-pound Seaguar Gold Label Fluorocarbon leader.
Photo: Shane Durrance - The reel is a Shimano Stella 2500 SHG, spooled with 10-pound Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green Braid, with 8-pound Seaguar Gold Label Fluorocarbon leader.
The rod is a 6-foot, 10-inch Nories NXS Structure Sensitive Energy STN 6100MLS.
Photo: Shane Durrance - The rod is a 6-foot, 10-inch Nories NXS Structure Sensitive Energy STN 6100MLS.
Taku loves his Shimano Metanium SVS Infinity for casting reel applications.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku loves his Shimano Metanium SVS Infinity for casting reel applications.
Taku also loves catching smallmouth, something he is very good at doing.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku also loves catching smallmouth, something he is very good at doing.
Every Elite Man Cave has a work space, and this table gets a lot of use, customizing Japanese baits.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Every Elite Man Cave has a work space, and this table gets a lot of use, customizing Japanese baits.
There are American baits, too, and lots of tools of the trade.
Photo: Shane Durrance - There are American baits, too, and lots of tools of the trade.
Taku uses American and Japanese hard baits, in this case, the Nories Shot Over Series.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku uses American and Japanese hard baits, in this case, the Nories Shot Over Series.
The Shot Over comes in several sizes that run at varying depths and actions.
Photo: Shane Durrance - The Shot Over comes in several sizes that run at varying depths and actions.
You are about to finally see a secret revealed.
Photo: Shane Durrance - You are about to finally see a secret revealed.
Taku adds a Japanese lure attracting formula to the containers.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Taku adds a Japanese lure attracting formula to the containers.
It’s not just any lure scent. He just smiled and laughed when asked the ingredients.
Photo: Shane Durrance - It’s not just any lure scent. He just smiled and laughed when asked the ingredients.
It’s rather pungent, and he applies a Japanese hand cleaner to rid his hands of the smell.
Photo: Shane Durrance - It’s rather pungent, and he applies a Japanese hand cleaner to rid his hands of the smell.
“Smallmouth like Japanese baits. Smallmouth like American baits too.”
Photo: Shane Durrance - “Smallmouth like Japanese baits. Smallmouth like American baits too.”
Maybe American baits are like Big Mac. Very, very big. Sometimes smallmouth want to eat like sushi. A smaller food.”
Photo: Shane Durrance - Maybe American baits are like Big Mac. Very, very big. Sometimes smallmouth want to eat like sushi. A smaller food.”
“Maybe sushi bait is healthier than American food.” (laughs)
Photo: Shane Durrance - “Maybe sushi bait is healthier than American food.” (laughs)
The hard plastic containers are like the barrels used to age fine whiskey bourbon.
Photo: Shane Durrance - The hard plastic containers are like the barrels used to age fine whiskey bourbon.
The baits inside the container will remain in the solution for one year, when they will be placed inside smaller containers stored inside the boat. Taku said the aging process works magic for his soft plastic baits. They will come out just in time for the 2022 Northern Swing through New York, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Photo: Shane Durrance - The baits inside the container will remain in the solution for one year, when they will be placed inside smaller containers stored inside the boat. Taku said the aging process works magic for his soft plastic baits. They will come out just in time for the 2022 Northern Swing through New York, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Here is the lineup of baits you might see Taku use in New York and South Dakota.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Here is the lineup of baits you might see Taku use in New York and South Dakota.
Clockwise, from top left: Eco Gear Aqua Bug Ants, Eco Gear Aqua Swim Shrimp, Eco Aqua Super Dojou that resembles small eel.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Clockwise, from top left: Eco Gear Aqua Bug Ants, Eco Gear Aqua Swim Shrimp, Eco Aqua Super Dojou that resembles small eel.
Those baits will be added to containers containing the scent.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Those baits will be added to containers containing the scent.
Another favorite bait going into the special sauce is this 4.5-inch Nories Escape Twin.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Another favorite bait going into the special sauce is this 4.5-inch Nories Escape Twin.
The baits will be used as trailers.
Photo: Shane Durrance - The baits will be used as trailers.
And as weedless wacky rigs.
Photo: Shane Durrance - And as weedless wacky rigs.
“I always happy, always smiling, because fishing is fun.”
Photo: Shane Durrance - “I always happy, always smiling, because fishing is fun.”
This container came out of Taku’s boat following a nearly two-month road trip.
Photo: Shane Durrance - This container came out of Taku’s boat following a nearly two-month road trip.
Inside are the baits he used to win the Elite Series event on the St. Lawrence River.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Inside are the baits he used to win the Elite Series event on the St. Lawrence River.
The collection of hard baits is smaller than the soft plastics, but they are still a key part of his lure arsenal.
Photo: Shane Durrance - The collection of hard baits is smaller than the soft plastics, but they are still a key part of his lure arsenal.
Inside the boat box are Japanese and American baits for every depth, action and need.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Inside the boat box are Japanese and American baits for every depth, action and need.
Here are the trio of baits used the most by Taku.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Here are the trio of baits used the most by Taku.
Each run at a different depth in the water column.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Each run at a different depth in the water column.
The lineup: Nories Shot Over 2 (7-foot running depth); Nories Shot Over 3 (9-foot running depth); Nories Shot Over 5 (17-foot running depth).
Photo: Shane Durrance - The lineup: Nories Shot Over 2 (7-foot running depth); Nories Shot Over 3 (9-foot running depth); Nories Shot Over 5 (17-foot running depth).
Before leaving for Lake Hartwell, Taku does what Taku does best — which is spend hours working on tackle.
Photo: Shane Durrance - Before leaving for Lake Hartwell, Taku does what Taku does best — which is spend hours working on tackle.
There is plenty to do, and lures to sort out. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
Photo: Shane Durrance - There is plenty to do, and lures to sort out. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When I was teenager, I dream of fishing in American tournaments. Now I fish in Bassmaster Elite Series.”
Photo: Shane Durrance - “When I was teenager, I dream of fishing in American tournaments. Now I fish in Bassmaster Elite Series.”
“My dream came true. I played bass fishing video games when I was a teenager. I won lots of trophies. Now I come to America and win dream come true. The blue trophy. The Bassmaster Elite trophy.”
Photo: Shane Durrance - “My dream came true. I played bass fishing video games when I was a teenager. I won lots of trophies. Now I come to America and win dream come true. The blue trophy. The Bassmaster Elite trophy.”
“I love U.S., and I love U.S. people.” We feel the same way about Japan and Taku.
Photo: Shane Durrance - “I love U.S., and I love U.S. people.” We feel the same way about Japan and Taku.