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TT Interview: Behind the Threads of Bad News Bass. Talking to B.N.B. Founder Erik Yamamoto


Date: 1/23/23
Interview: Erik Akira Yamamoto
Subject Bad News Bass
Interviewer: Zander

If you follow the swimbait scene you have likely heard of the growing brand Bad News Bass. This brand has deep roots in Northern California and works closely with local tackle shops, guides, and custom bait manufacturers to offer exclusive swimbaits and soft goods. We sit down with B.N.B. founder Erik Akira Yamamoto to learn more about the brand's origins, their exclusive offerings, and what's coming next.


Bad News Bass is an apparel brand that is very active in the community working closely with anglers, swimbait brands, and local shops to promote their products and the culture of swimbait fishing


Zander: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, we are excited to learn more about Bad News Bass and the details behind the brand. Letís start at the beginning, before you created Bad News Bass can you tell us where you grew up and some of your first experiences fishing?

Eric: I was born and raised in San Jose, CA. Throughout my youth, I honestly went fishing once or twice, and it just wasnít on my radar. My brother Edgar and friend Mario Saucedo were even doing tournaments together in Northern California, but I still didnít have any personal involvement. It wasnít until I became a father and had full custody of my son that fishing entered the picture. I would take him to the park where he naturally gravitated towards the water at only five years old. As his love and enthusiasm for learning about the sport expanded, it became a huge part of both of our lives.

At the core of the brand is Erik's son Berg, who is a dedicated angler and helped put the fuel in the fire of creating Bad News Bass

In the early days Berg already was bitten by the fishing bug and Erik would take him to his local lake after school and fish to the late evening before rushing home to crank on some homework. It's always special learning how fishing inspires and motivates each of us.

Zander: It really is interesting to learn about what brought each of us to this sport. I assume bass is your favorite species to target, what are your favorite techniques to target them?

Eric: I am amazed at watching my son take the extensive preparations he does before fishing. He takes into account not only the weather, but the moon phase, barometric pressure, and the wind speed. My preparations include deciding which photography equipment to use, charging all the batteries, and loading my car with it all. He will even prep my own baits for me. When I watch him carefully prepare, Iím in awe at the complexity and beauty of this sport. I have to give full credit where it is due, I learn from my son every single day when it comes to fishing, because he is the true fisherman of the brand. His time in the water has been since he was in elementary school, and his passion for this sport has driven him to learn beyond his years.

The Bad News Bass logo on the limited edition Midnight Berg hat

Zander: That's very cool. I've seen some of Berg's adventures online and it sounds like he's already becoming quite the swimbait angler. Was there a favorite body of water you both enjoyed fishing? And on the flip side, what are some of your favorite places to fish now?

Eric: Almaden Lake Park in San Jose was the closest lake to home. It became kind of an after school special my son and I would go to everyday. For being a neighborhood lake park, itís surprisingly diverse. Thereís sandy beaches, boulders/rocks surrounding the bridge, sunken trees and pipes, an island, a creek that feeds into the lake with steelhead trout. Itís such a unique place compared to anywhere else in SJ, and itís definitely a swimbait lake. As of today, I enjoy spending time at Coyote Lake the most, since itís basically a 24 hour lake. Some of my best memories are being there late at night with my friends and family. Iíve also seen double digit fish caught there in recent years, so itís definitely not lacking in opportunities to catch your next PB.

The "Peezy Red" hat was designed by a local neighborhood angler and dropped 11/11/22 at 11:00am

Zander: Letís talk about Bad News Bass, when did you start the brand and can you tell us the background behind the name?

Eric: Production on Bad News Bass began in the summer of 2019 and officially went public near the end of the same year. Iíve always had business ideas written down in my Notes app, which is one random, long list that could possibly span 5 miles, and also includes a bucket list of skateboarding tricks, video treatment plans, and songs saved to listen to later. Amongst that list was the name ďBad News Bass,Ē which Iím sure was a play on words about the movie Bad News Bears, and Iíve still yet to see it. That name had been written down back in 2017, and just to be safe, I decided to secure the IG handle but didnít do much with it until two years later when I decided to turn it into a brand.

Zander: I really like the clean look and style of your designs, the retro feel of some of them, and also the use of teal colors. Can you tell us more about your design philosophy?

Eric: When creating the logo, the look that I wanted to go for was sporty with a modern feel to it. I wanted to create something refreshing and diverse, that could look at home on a letterman jacket for a college sports team, on a race car, on streetwear, all at the same time. Within the first year, we made several variants of the logo, rifling off every idea that came to mind to make the biggest impact possible and establish the look of our brand.

Bad News Bass focuses on quality and many of their products are limited editions. This "Noir" hat was a collab with So Fresh Clothing on a 950 New Era Snapback and was available only at the @castandcrankpodcast Toy Drive just a month ago in Dec 22

One of Bad News Bass's very first supporters was Alex @apextran a well known Bay Area Angler who grew up fishing the South Bay Lakes and is now crushing them as a guide on Clear Lake

Zander: Can you tell us more about what are some of your signature products and where is the best place for people to find them?

Eric: Though weíre always open to trying new things, the cornerstone of the brand has always been premium headwear with a streetwear influence. When approaching the design, we knew we didnít want to go with the house wine; we were only interested in top shelf. New Era fit that criteria, and at the time, no one was using premium options in the fishing industry. The first New Era hat that we made was black camo with a red brim, and it was named after one of our very first supporters, Alex Tran. That was the beginning of what became not just a signature product, but a signature concept, with the brand: all inclusive, angler collaborations that pay homage to real people in this industry. The best way to stay current with our next release is to follow us on IG @badnewsbass.

Bad News Bass continues to partner with local tackle shop Coyote Bait and Tackle, which was the first retailer to make the brand's products available

Zander: Growing up in the Bay Area myself and fishing many of the same lakes I am always are excited to see home grown fishing brands. I also noticed you seem to do a lot of drops and exclusives, like the Hometown Team snapbacks, with local tackle shop Coyote Bait and Tackle. Can you tell us more about that?

Eric: Coyote Bait and Tackle, and shops alike, are the backbone of the fishing community. Being a small operation of our own, we want to promote other small businesses. When our brand was new, CBT was the first shop to believe in us and put our hats and stickers on their shelves, which will never be forgotten. Thatís why we love to pay homage to them and our local teams by having exclusive drops in store, a tradition we will continue to honor.

If you have seen teal Illude Baits Lunker Fighters Gas Rats, Lizards, and Zombie rats chances are these were made for collabs with Bad News bass

Launched in October last year was a collab with Illude Baits including a limited Zombie Gerbil and Lunkers Bad News Bass hat

Zander: Speaking of collaborations, you also have also released some limited edition clothing and baits with one of our favorite custom swimbait makers, Illude Baits, who to date has built my personal favorite wooden rat wakebait, the Rad Rat. These collaborations have included teal gas rats, zombie gerbils, and matching apparel. Can you tell us more about these collabs?

Eric: When you meet someone who has the same eye for detail, similar work ethic, and matches your energy levels, magic can happen. For me that person has been Lendl Ha of Illude Baits. Lendl continues to be a mentor, friend, and big brother. He has introduced us to his world of swimbaits, and our two brands have joined forces together for good. He takes care of the hardware, and we handle the soft goods. There will always be Illude x Bad News Bass.

Another example of the B.N.B. x Illude collaboration are Lunkers Zombie Gerbil Neck Gaiters

A closer look at the Illude Baits Lunker Fighter exclusive Zombie Gerbil that dropped with a Bad News Bass Lunkers Cap on 10/31/22

Another example of a previous Bad News Bass and Illude collab was the "Rats Only" capsule which included a teal zombie rat and B.N.B. heather grey hoodie

Zander: These days do you have much time to get out fishing yourself, and if you do what is the first bait that you tie on?

Eric: These days Iím fishing less than I ever have in my life, however, at the moment itís allowing me to focus on the daily operations with Bad News Bass. Iíll take my son, and yet Iíll find myself preferring to take photos or b-roll to use for the brand. Fishing is still a part of my daily life, even if Iím not at the lake; itís just in a different capacity. But when the mood strikes, I usually tie on a swimbait, and more often than not, I reach for Illude since itís my friendís bait, because it feels more rewarding if I do catch something.

Berg getting it done with the Illude Lunker Fighters Zombie gerbil

One of the fun things that Bad News Bass does for the community are swimbait tournaments including the Rats Only Night Bite Tourney

Zander: Thanks very much for all the time and giving us more background behind Bad News Bass. We are excited about what you are working on and look forward to what you come up with this season, is there anything you can share about what is coming from the brand in the near future?

Eric: This year will bring with it another chapter of premium New Era hats with streetwear boutique So Fresh Clothing. You can expect more Rats Only tournaments, hopefully in additional regions. Video projects with Jimmy NSX are on the horizon. Without a doubt, there will be continued projects with Illude baits, and as always, media by James Guirao visuals.

An example of how to show your catch in a previous Bad News Bass sponsored "Berg's Rat's Only Night Bite Tournament"

Grand Prize for the Bad News Bass Rat's Only East Coast Tournament was a coveted wooden @illudebaits Rad Rat Triple Double

Many Bad News Bass pieces pay homage to local bodies of water and hotspots in the Bay Area. An example is the "Russian River" Collaboration New Era piece with So Fresh Clothing

Bad News Bass also collaborates with guides as ambassadors of the sport. One example is So Cal hammer @jimmy_nsx

Examples of exclusive pieces with JimmyNSX. These heavyweight hoodies and tees were made available via the brand's website

Another example of an angler collab was this special edition Bad News Bass did with the the VSOP Gang @kennyvsop and @jimmyvsop

Zander: Sounds like a lot of great products and projects in the works. I love how Bad News Bass is not just a line of products but also gives back to the swimbait community, and you are all about the culture. In closing is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Eric: Thank you to everyone for the continued support, because the quality of people who are enthusiastic about the brand makes me only want to work harder to create the products that you really want. Thank you Zander, and everyone in the TackleTour community, for all your support.

Erik and his homegrown brand continue to crank out great new products while staying very active in the fishing and swimbait community

Looking for the latest drops and events from Bad News Bass? Follow them on IG @badnewsbass and visit the brand's website









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