Spreading the Sport with Pro
Angler Kota Kiriyama
Fishing Tournaments, Lures|
Introduction: Kota Kiriyama is one of the most well known
professional bass anglers out of Japan and is very involved in promoting greater
interest in the sport both here in the U.S. and in Japan. We catch up with Kota
as the American Dream Tournament, which he is heavily involved with, is in full
Pro Angler Kota Kiriyama fishes
for bass on both sides of the world
Brock: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us.
Let's start at the beginning, when did you start fishing and for what species?
Kota: I started fishing when I was around 5 years old for smaller Japanese fish
such as Oikawa, funa, and carp.
Brock: What region of Japan did you first learn to bass fish in?
Kota: Mainly Chiba prefecture which is located on the east side of Tokyo.
Brock: Do you have any fishing heroes in Japan?
Kota: Koji Yoshida, he was one of the pioneers to first come to the US to fish
Brock: Around what time did you fish your first bass tournament?
Kota: When I was in high school in Japan. There were more than 400 boats in a
small reservoir in Chiba and I took 13th place, and picked up a new reel!!
Kota catches a bass on famous Lake
Biwa in Japan
Brock: When did you decide you wanted to come over to America to fish and what
Kota: When I was in high school, I worked by the only International airport in
Japan. I saw many foreigners there speaking other languages that I could not
understand. Then I realized the importance of language in order to communicate
with foreigners, so I decided I wanted to visit America. I then worked hard to
make money to visit the US.
Brock: How is tournament fishing different in America vs Japan?
Kota: There are many differences. First of all, Japan is geographically much
smaller than the US as you know, so the number of lakes and rivers that are
available to tournaments is very limited. Many lakes have clear water and are of
smaller size which causes a high pressured body of water. So many tournament
fishermen in a small body of water at once results in high pressured water. The
lakes here are much bigger than lakes in Japan and they also offer different
types of bass such as spotted bass and smallmouth bass, and the Delta also
offers the added element of tidal fishing.
Brock: In 2000 you fished the world series of bass tournaments, the Bassmaster's
Classic. How did you get there and what was your first Classic experience like?
Kota: My first Classic was amazing. It was held at Chicago, IL. I had my
friends come over from Japan and we never slept!! I still took 4th place, but
there is always that should have could have deal! I just enjoyed being at the
Classic. I got to the first Classic through the western Invitational. I took
second place in AOY in Western Bassmaster Invitational. I could have caught a
few more good fish and won, but I lost 3 kickers!! Being impatient I broke them
off! Sleepless nights got to me also! hahaha, now it is both a good and bitter
Kota's tournament rig
Brock: Which techniques that you learned in Japan helped you the most in
America? Are there any techniques you have absorbed since fishing in America
that have helped you?
Kota: Since I started early when I was in Japan I really did not have anything
solid from there, but I knew the basic movement of bass based on fishing Lake
Inba in Chiba, Japan. I actually learned most of my techniques in the US.
Brock: Switching gears you have had the privilege to work with arguably one of
the most prolific lure designers of the last 20 years Mr. Seji Kato (Daiwa, Lucky
Craft, Jackall fame) how did this relationship start?
Kota: It was crazy and funny. When I was a student in New York, I called Lucky
Craft one day and asked for Seiji because I had a lure that caught many fish. I
knew I was crazy to do that out of common sense, but Seiji picked up the phone
and I asked him where I could get his lure. He said it is not available in the
US, so he said he would send it to me. Few days later, I received lures from
him and was happy. A few months later, I was working for him as an interpreter
when he visited the US. This was the beginning of everything. I am embarrassed
to write about this since what I did was considered an abnormal behavior in
Japan. Everything had to fit in the frame in Japanese society, but I was out of
Kota lands a chunk Smallie
Brock: How shortly after that did you meet Ty Ono (president of Jackall)?
Kota: I met him almost immediately after I met Seiji. When Seiji hired me as an
interpreter, I visited California, and that was where I met Ty who was with
Daiwa at that time. We got along very easily and we had a lot of fun as friends
first. He is a very humble man and showed me his ability of fishing by earning
himself a AOY in a Japanese professional trail at the first year of establishing
Jackall, Inc in Japan.
So I know both men and we have worked hard to make better baits and dedicate a
lot more time on R&D than any other companies out there. We all are hardcore
bass fishermen and we understand the need of tournament fishermen by being at
the highest level of competition in both countries. We have the latest
technology to create lures that no one can follow. Our main HQ is located at the
best place Lake Biwa (where the tied World Record bass has been caught). Our
dedication and passion in bass fishing is at the highest level in tournament
participation, and with the latest technology we are always striving to be the
leader and create innovation in the fishing industry.
Brock: I've heard Mr. Kato often goes through 50-100 prototypes for one design,
can you speak to this?
Kota: That is very ordinary for what he would like to pursue. I am working with
him now on a new lure and we just passed about 30 and are still working on it!
Kota can't resist the Jackall
Brock: What is your favorite hard and soft bait out of the Jackall lineup?
My favorite hard bait is the Squad minnow 95. My favorite soft bait is the Crazy Ninja Crosstail shad!!
Brock: Let's talk about the Swimming Ninja for a minute. Aside from the notable
success you found at Lake Amistad in Texas with it how has this bait helped your
fishing style and do you throw other swim baits?
Kota: I do throw other baits. The Swimming Ninja works well especially in the
clear water and slow conditions. So when fish are biting well, I pick up other
swim lures to catch them also. Swimbait fishing has helped me cover water faster
and I get to pick the size of fish in many conditions.
Fishing the Alabama Rig
I've heard you run a custom outfit on the tour, can you talk a little about your
rod and reel pairings?
Kota: With my style of fishing and the fact that I'm not a big person I need to
have equipment that is lighter yet strong. I need equipment that I can continue
using for 2 weeks in a row without getting tired without having broken parts.
Based on this R&D concept, I design everything. My sponsors have been working
with me closely and this is the only way that I can work. So whatever I use and
produce, it has to be extreme. Fishing the toughest conditions on the US tour I
can provide good information. Coupled with the latest technology and the super
hard working mentality in Japan, I can come out with the best equipment in the
world. There is no doubt about it.
Brock: With all the various fishing lines out today which do you prefer using in
Kota: I prefer using mainly fluorocarbon line when I fish under the surface such
as when fishing worm, jigs, jerkbaits, Alabama dropshot (Carolina rig), flick
shaking and dropshotting. I love to use braid for top water fishing and
sometimes deep cranking. I also use braid when I fish grass areas with vibration
lures shallow cranking. Flipping mats are good with braid also. I almost use no
mono except for smaller top water lures like the SK popper and smaller prop
baits. Sometimes when the water is clear, I choose mono. I do not use much
Spreading the spot on the American
Dream Tournament trail
Brock: I’ve also heard that on the tournament trail in Japan has been a great
success, what inspired you to start the American Dream tournament trail and can
you tell us a little about it?
My inspiration to start the American Dream tournament comes from wanting to be
the bridge from Japan to the US. Since I am living in the fishing industry, I
wanted to have a tournament that could take people who aspired to widen their
view of life! Because of my own experience being in another country, there are a
lot of things to learn and that made me mentally rich. I would never had become
who I am if I did not leave my country when I was 18. By leaving my country, I
see where I come from and who I am. By knowing this, I will see what I can do in
my future to connect different cultures because there is so much out there we
all should see and know about as a human beings. This is why my father told me
to go to America, I realize that now, and I would like both Japanese and Americans
to know each other.
Brock: Thank you Mr. Kiriyama for the great stories and insight into your
If you would like to follow Mr. Kiriyama's tournament life, new lures, as well
as new techniques check out his English blog at www.ninjatacklebox.com (Japanese
blog http://kotakiriyama.com/blog). American Dream tournament information can be
found at www.kotaamericandream.com He also is on Facebook and Twitter under Kota
Kota would like to thank his sponsors: Jackall, Shimano, Basscat, Yamaha, Owner
hooks, DNA sunglasses, Power Pole, Decatur-Morgan county CVB, Adventure
Advertising, American Dream Realized, LLC, Torklift international