Taku’s secret Japanese baits revealed

Taku Ito's winning baits at Smith Lake were obscure, one of them borderline weird.

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Takumi Ito won his second career event at Smith Lake in Alabama using obscure Japanese baits, including one surreal concoction (not yet) available in the U.S.  
Ito, the fourth-year Elite pro from Chiba, Japan, is a fan-friendly favorite for his charismatic, outgoing personality, driven by his success early on. Ito has four Bassmaster Classic qualifications, possibly soon to be a fifth, along with the two big blue trophies. 
Even before the latest win, Ito listed Smith Lake as his favorite American bass fishery, where he targeted spotted bass suspended over brushpiles in water between 25 and 30 feet deep. 
Ito caught a spotted bass weighing 5 pounds, 12 ounces during the final hour that sealed the deal in his final weight of 58 pounds. The Japanese baits were the difference maker, no doubt, and will surely be sought out by American anglers wanting to give the bass a different look. 
Those baits are coming up but first, we give you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into producing the popular Top Lures gallery where the winning lures appear. Ito continued a long tradition of writing his Championship Sunday lure details in my notebook.
That began in 2019 at his second B.A.S.S. event, an Open on Toledo Bend, where he finished second. With his limited English skills, Ito voluntarily asked to write his lure details in my notebook, including diagrams of the baits. My collection of 15 pages like this — each for a Top 10 — continues to grow. 
We produce Top Lures on Sunday mornings before the anglers launch. I record the lure details for the captions, Dalton Tumblin shoots the gallery, while Andy Crawford doubles up and shoots additional photos for the takeoff gallery. 
We never know what will come out of Ito’s secret center storage compartment. He laughs and politely refuses each time we ask for a peek inside his secret Japanese stash. But when he does reveal a bait, it’s always something unusual, or borderline weird. 
Such was the case with this 14 mm Field Side Saikoro Dice Rubber Magnum, rigged on a drop-shot rig. Note the fish attracting powder coating residue on the rod handle. 
Just before this photo was taken by Dalton, Ito applied a generous shake of the powder to this 3.6-inch Nories Flip Gill. 
Another hot bait was this Nories Wrapping Minnow Spy Bait. 
A close up of the Field Side Saikoro Dice Rubber Magnum.
Ito pours the powder into bait boxes on the ramp at Smith Lake Park, attracting other anglers in the Top 10 to get a look. 
Only now are these OSP Saikoro Dice Rubber Magnums ready for battle. In its native form, the powder has smell so rank that Taku convinced its maker to add a blueberry scent. “Spotted bass love blueberry pancakes,” he said of the flat sided creature baits. 
Another shot taken by Andy of the powder-coated baits while Taku was tied up to the takeoff dock. 
Ito laughs when we once again ask for permission to shoot inside the compartment, or snap a shot of another lure he refused to identify. 
Andy eventually managed to sneak a pic inside the compartment, only to discover the storage box labels are written in Japanese. 
Finally, we gave up, leaving the identity of the secret contents to remain a mystery. Until Ito reveals yet another tournament winning fish catcher that no one else has seen … the American bass included.