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Lure Review

Unfinished Business: Our Soft Bodied Swimbait Tackle Drop (continued)

Imakatsu Javallon: As is customary, we could not leave any article of this magnitude finished without mention of a product from overseas. Before there was the craze for Basstrix minnows, there was a stirring from overseas over a bait created by Imakatsu. This bait featured a four section design, was available in a variety of sizes and was used in every method from traditional swimbait applications to dropshotting!


Introducing the Imakatsu Javallon shown here in the 160 size (top) and 200 size (bottom).


We, of course, are speaking of the Javallon. Like the Basstrix written about earlier in this article, the Javallon comes to us with a storied reputation and one that requires little validation. And like the Basstrix minnow, the Javallon, at one time, was in very short supply. At least one company has sprung up with an imitation product, but access to the Javallon has become a bit easier this past year. It is still a made for Japan only product, so you can't quite walk down to your local tackle store to acquire a package, but they can be found with some due diligence over the Internet.


Imakatsu Javallon Swimbait Specifications

Type Soft Bodied Swimbait
Depth Topwater to bottom depending on rigging
Class Floater
Size (Weight) 90mm, 110mm, 140mm, 160mm, 200mm
Colors/Patterns 12+ Colors
MSRP ~$15 per pack (2-4 baits depending on size)


Action: The draw to this bait? Like so many before it, it's all in the action only the Javallon does not have an action similar to any bait in this article, rather, it swims more like a hard bodied bait slithering in the water with a s-like swimming motion.

Rigging of this bait is typically handled with a single EWG hook - in this case a Gamakatsu G-Lock.

The biggest challenge once you've acquired this bait, really, is in its rigging. The standard sizes, up to about 160mm, can be rigged with a single EWG hook and while not ideal due to the mass of plastic the hook needs to move through, this is the most common method for rigging.

Eyes are sold as an accessory one can add onto their bait.


A particular challenge is trying to rig the 200 sized Javallon in this same manner - it just does not feel like you can get the hook through for a proper hookset. So with the help of some terminal tackle pieces in my box, I tried an alternate method of rigging consisting of a Reaction Innovations Screwed Up Bullet in the nose of the bait, a Mojo weight through the head, and a treble hook tied to the end of the line and buried into the bait's belly. I basically turned the 200 sized Javallon into a line-through bait.


A hint at the Javallon's range of motion shown here. 


This is how I had the bait rigged in the story I relayed during the review of the G.Loomis SWBR955C back in August of 2008. In short, I was rewarded in my efforts with a strike by a nice striped bass and a battle that had us spun around the boat a couple of different times. Since that time, I've had a Javallon rigged and ready to go anytime striper are expected in the area!


Our pseudo line through rigging of the Javallon 200.

A potential side benefit to this rigging is in the durability of the bait. With hardly a reputation for being a durable bait by any stretch of the imagination - how can it with the thin, soft plastic joints holding the bait together - I've not had any problems with premature ripping of my baits in this pseudo line-through rigging. All the wear problems have been in the head where the Mojo weight is pulling out and this can be repaired with the use of a soft bait glue.


The Javallon hard bodied bait is produced in limited numbers.


Javallon Hardbait: Of course, those who follow the Imakatsu story are aware of the new hard bodied Javallon being produced in seemingly limited quantities. They are hard to come by and while we were fortunate enough to procure one, I was quite disappointed over the bait's size. It feels like an oversized jerkbait but an undersized big bait. Hopefully Imakatsu will offer this bait in a larger version in the not too distant future.


And currently only comes in the 160 size.


Moving on from that point, as you can see in the photos, it is very much a hard bodied version of the Javallon but the swimming motion of the hard bodied version is not as pronounced. It is much more subdued and not quite as inspiring as the soft bodied version. In fact, our sample has only made it into the water once and has since been retired.


Range of motion is good for a hard bodied bait, but not as good as the soft version.


Moving past that second disappointment, an interesting characteristic of this bait is the plethora of hooks rigged on the underside. There are two trebles and a bonus frog-style hook at the tail held in place by an extra appendage at the tail- an interesting design nonetheless.


This bait comes pre-rigged with three hooks.


Including one with an extra special attachment at the tail.



Imakatsu Javallon Swimbait Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Very well made bait 8
Performance Fantastic swimming motion 9
Price As with all products shipped from overseas, they'll cost you a pretty penny to procure 6
Features A better rigging option would be great 6
Design (Ergonomics) Not very durable by design, but an ad-hoc line through rigging can help 7
Application Drop shotting this bait is popular in Japan - now that's versatility 8

Total Score

Ratings Key: Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
(For a detailed explanation of the ratings go here)

Pluses and Minuses:


J Not as hard to get as it once was L Can be expensive
J Unique swimming motion among soft plastics L A challenge to rig sometimes
  L Durability is always in question with those joints


Conclusion: So draws to an end, our incomplete coverage of some of the soft bodied swimbaits we tossed over the course of 2008. Noticeably absent were the Huddleston Deluxe 6" Trout, the ABT Soft Bodied Wagtail, The California Swimbabes Baby E, among others. A tackle editor's job is never done but maybe that's because we just need more time with those baits and aren't quite ready to share their respective stories just yet.


Catching striper is great fun, but getting them on big baits, for some reason is just all the more rewarding.


Rest assured big baits will continue to be in my arsenal during our Year of the Crank coverage as I already have a new pile of soft bodied swimbaits I need to check out including Roboworm's new EZ Shad paddletail swimbait and Huddelston's new 6" weedless trout. Swimbaits, crankbaits, jigs, spinners, rods, reels, and more, it never ends. It's time to get back to work and get back to "cranking" out more reviews!










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