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Lure Review

Power Up With Gary Yamamoto Chikara Crankbaits (continued)

100- This is the Chikara you'll want for fishing the shallows as it's made to dive to about four feet. The 100-sized baits I tested sported a wide wobble for fishing amongst wood and ran true out of the package. Because of the action, the sensation transmitted to the rod tip is more of a thump than a distinct vibration. The action also allows these to contact wood more often and get an erratic deflection.

200- Select a 200 size when probing depths down to six feet. This bait runs quite differently than the 100, with a tighter wobble that vibrates the rod tip. Unfortunately, one of my 200-sized cranks was not tuned properly from the factory, running hard left no matter what the speed.

Performance Ratings for Gary Yamamoto Chikara Crankbait

Castability (1-5)
Ease of Actuation(1-5)
Quality of Movement (1-5)
Position at Rest (1-5)
Durability (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

A head-on view of the mean-looking Chikara 200.

Features: There is not a whole lot to talk about in regards to features. These baits come with about what you'd expect to find on the vast majority of crankbaits: a diving bill, two Mustad Triple Grip treble hooks, three split rings, and internal rattles. Their ability to resist snags was about average for me. While I didn't get to throw either of them too much around big laydowns or other thick wood cover, I did cast them a lot on rocks and isolated timber. The Chikaras came through well enough, but I still experienced the occasional snag.

The bellies of the baits have a very clean appearance.

Design/Ergonomics: The baits I received for testing showed the same level of consistency as far as cosmetics and design are concerned. The weight is excellent for easy casting on most medium to medium-heavy cranking rods, and the body sizing is very good. For the most part the overall realism ranks high, but a few of the color schemes seem a bit overdone, especially when you factor in the holographic shine as well. At the time of this writing there are no deep-diving Chikaras available.

Design & Ergonomics Ratings for Gary Yamamoto Chikara Crankbait

Bait to Bait Consistency (1-5)
Weight (1-5)
Realism (1-5)
Available Sizes (1-3)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Shown here fresh out of the package, the bill of each bait held up and not one broke during testing. The robust line tie also held its position pretty well, thus allowing the baits to track straight.

Application: Depending on the model, Chikara crankbaits will wiggle down between four and ten feet in depth. Crankbaits are a year-round lure that can and should be thrown 12 months of the year on many bodies of water. I have experienced days where the fish weren't showing much interest in slow-moving jigs or plastics, but climbed all over cranks or other reaction baits. Never be afraid to experiment!

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Yamamoto Chikara Crankbait Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Chikaras are nicely-constructed baits and the stock hooks are a good size and have decent sharpness 9.5
Performance No real disappointments other than the fact that one of my testers ran crooked out of the package 9.2
Price The price of crankbaits is truly all over the place. At eight bucks a pop, it's a pretty good price for the product 7
Features Pretty standard as far as features are concerned. 6.66
Design (Ergonomics) Nice bait-to-bait consistency and a broad color selection, but there's no deep diver available 8.88
Application Depending on where you live, these cranks can be successfully fished all or most of the year down to the 10-foot depth 7.5

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Nicely constructed baits - One bait wasn't tuned properly from the factory
+ Decent stock hooks - No solid non-holographic colors available
+ Lots of available colors  
+ Good action  
+ Priced right  


A Chickamauga chunk chased down the Chikara on a chilly day.


Conclusion: Shallow and medium crankbait fishing has quickly become a couple of my favorite techniques the last several years. I previously had done most of my cranking with lip-less or deep-diving baits, but square-bills and other shallow-to-medium divers have rapidly earned spots as some of my top confidence baits at certain times. They are great picks in a variety of situations and are just plain fun to fish whether in open water or around cover-laden banks. The Yamamoto Chikaras have proven to be yet another solid option to add to your list in an ever-growing crankbait market!


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