History of Megabass Oneten
There are fish that only this lure can catch!
Coming in at 110.5mm and l/2oz, serious bass anglers will tell you that this slender minnow is an unrivaled fish-catcher. The ONETEN had a brilliant debut 17 years ago at the top level B.A.S.S. Bassmaster Classic tournament. Its spread in popularity from Japan to the US, Europe, and beyond embodies Megabass’ global spirit. For the 8th installment of History of Megabass we’ re going to delve deep into the story behind the king of jerkbait, the ONETEN.
HISTORY The birth of the ONETEN
It’ s likely that long time bass anglers have heard the name ONETEN. Renowned as the king of jerkbaits, it is said that there exist fish which can only be caught with this lure. The ONETEN is the quintessential jerkbait. To understand how the ONETEN was bom, you will need to know some background information about the state of the bass fishing scene at the time, and the position Megabass was in in relation to it.
The ONETEN was bom in the year 2000. It debuted in America, not Japan. Having brought products such as the V-FLAT and Z-CRANK to market in the late 1980s, Megabass had already progressed from being a personal project of Yuki Ito’ s, into becoming a serious manufacturer producing not only Megabass® branded products, but OEM for other brands as well. Megabass was steadily growing and improving with each day.
As an angler, Yuki Ito couldn’ t forget the desire he had to make the ideal equipment he dreamed of just for his own use. While the desire to create lures that weren’ t bound by cost, market demand, or Megabass’ obligation to clients seemed to be incongruous with the requirements needed to run Megabass as a business, these feelings are what define Yuki Ito.
From the 1990s up to the year 2000, the popularity of finesse games in Japanese tournaments was at its peak. A deep, pinpoint approach with a soft lure was the mainstream style. The approach of using hard lures to cover expansive shallow areas carried with it the stigma of being mainly a tactic used by leisurely weekend warriors. At the time, minnow plugs under 9cm were the focus. This is when the X-80 was released. Its explosive performance led the X-80 to achieve overwhelming success. It wasn’ t a minnow or a shad, but more of a shiner-style. Its moderate height and optimal 8cm size made it the perfect fit for the market at the time.
On his own time, Ito made heavy use out of minnows larger than the X-80 such as the GREAT HUNTING 95 (GH95) injection minnow made for trout fishing, or the handmade ITO SHINER. Using dynamic and tricky jerks, he would land many big bass at sites such as Lake Biwa and Ikehara dam. He came to America with the GH95 in hand, taking the shallows in 12 states by storm. As he explored the potential of jerkbaits, Ito was filled with inspiration for a new generation of lures.
At that time in America, jerkbaits were regarded as a universal lure that everyone used. Most stores carried various minnows such as the Smithwick Rogue. Bass pros that Megabass supported and who Yuki Ito called friends—such Randy Blaukat and Aaron Martens—were no exception. They also used standards like the Rattlin’ Rogue, but would tune them extensively to get the desired suspend/sink and action.
At the request of the US Pro Team, it was then that Ito devised a new minnow that combined the best aspects of the GH95 and the ITO SHINER, envisioning the action that remained out of reach of tuned standards, packed into a universally accessible size and profile. With this in mind, Ito struck out to produce the best jerkbait possible, paying little heed to the appetites of the local market in Japan, and instead focusing solely on the concept of ‘jerkbaiting’ . Megabass products often serve as a vehicle with which to express these kinds of ideas, regardless of market pressures. This approach is part of Megabass’ identity as a manufacturer.
The target client of this jerkbait was none other than Yuki Ito himself. The “I” in Ito’ s name can be read as the number 1, and the “to” as the number 10. Taking those two numbers, he decided on the exact length of 110mm. The name ONETEN came from the English reading of 110. This exquisite 110mm size came not merely from market demand, but also as a result of the creative process.
Megabass quickly began sales of the ONETEN in America, but sales didn’ t take off at once. Only a few stores carried it, and it was significantly more expensive than American made lures. Despite this, Ito was satisfied. He knew that it would be hard to succeed at the top levels. But he also had the conviction that the ONETEN was good enough to compete at those levels, and would someday reach them.
To add some more background information, the concept album Ground Zero from the year 2000 included the following: “Megabass began the production of injection minnows in 1989. The GREAT HUNTING trout minnow enjoyed great success all across Japan, and would later go on to become the improved X-70 and X-55, both of which incorporated new materials, internal structures, and design philosophies, as they expanded into the realm of bass fishing... We may have to ask our Japanese customers to wait a little longer, but for American anglers who have chosen Megabass minnows dating back to the GREAT HUNTING, we are happy to announce that the year 2000 will see the release of the ONETEN. This next generation minnow is designed to meet the demands and desires of American bass pros such as Randy Blaukat, Aaron Martens, and Gary Klein.”
The function of jerkbaits according to Yuki Ito
The term “jerkbait” covers a wide variety of minnow-type lures. So what makes a lure a true jerkbait? According to an interview in the December 2012 issue of BASSER, Ito shares his definition as follows:
1. Strong, variable darting action
Not just from side to side, but upward darting as well. A blend of both is needed for proper 3-dimensional darting. Also, variation in the distance of each darting motion is needed, as this can be very appealing to bass.
2. Consistent performance
Jerkbaits are easily influenced by the tackle setup. It’ s important that jerkbaits can reliably dart regardless of the tackle and regardless of the unique control characteristics each angler brings to the table.
3. Moderate rolling which allows for flashing
It* s important to have good recovery characteristics from darting, but to also facilitate moderate rolling that allows for flashing. This enables the lure to appeal to bass hiding in deeper water.
Of course, the ONETEN fits all of these criteria well. It doesn’ t have one specific area of expertise, or a new type of movement. It simply extracts maximum performance, while maintaining an all-important balance of responsiveness, flash, and flight distance.
The vision is realized. Then continues to evolve.
This was the backdrop for the ONETEN’ s September 2000 debut in America. Ito felt that it would be some time before demand for the ONETEN would develop in Japan. Unexpectedly, sales in Japan began just two months later. The reason behind this was that products from the American market were being imported back into Japan and being sold at a premium in the marketplace. This was hampering the initial goal of spreading the ONETEN throughout the American market, so in order to stop this from happening, the ONETEN was officially released in Japan as well. The year after that, the VTSION95, modeled after ayu, was released. And so the foundation was laid, allowing Japanese anglers the same access to jerkbaits that their American counterparts had. Thanks to these efforts, the ONETEN was a huge hit in America.
“There was a delay between when the ONETEN was released and when it truly became a hit product. But in actuality, it was being used very early on in American tournaments. Many pros who were receiving support from Megabass could not disclose much information about the lure, and it was treated as a sort of secret. But once it came to light, its popularity quickly spread across America, and then to Japan. That’ s what happened. The speed at which it happened was quite amazing,” says Ito.
From there, the ONETEN has evolved into many variations that feature minor changes from the original model. For example, the FX-ONETEN Tour Premium was developed to provide an added edge to Megabass-sponsored pros, elevating them above the competition. The moving lip folds up during casting to increase distance, and when jerking the lip changes angle resulting in unpredictable darting. This special version made for Megabass pros is truly befitting of the name Tour Premium. The ONETEN+1 is a model designed for deeper waters than the original ONETEN. “The original ONETEN was designed to lure in bass cruising at a depth of about 2m. The lure itself operates at a depth of about 1.5m, but with the ONETEN+1, it’ s able to dart even deeper.
At the time, there weren’ t any jerkbait that could dart well at that depth,” says Ito. The longbill lip is designed for deeper waters, but manages to limit the pronounced wobbling seen in many diving models, and is designed for optimal flashing performance at its intended depth. The body incorporates a flat side design, allowing for effective flashing despite the lower light conditions present at its operational depth. Aside from the ONETEN, Megabass ’ jerkbait lineup features many formidable models, from the X-80, VISION95, and FLAPSLAP to their predecessors such as the LIVE-X REVENGE and SHADING X. Our product range allows for systematic jerkbaiting under any condition. Even then, the impressive ONETEN stands apart as the king of jerkbaits.
The shock wave and sound emitted during jerking is one of the ONETEN’s greatest strengths
Yuki Ito explains, “At the time, using suspended long bill minnows with a “stop and show” tactic was the widespread approach to jerkbaiting, but the ONETEN I developed is a slow-floating type of lure. By jerking it ferociously without letting it come to a standstill, I was able to catch bass after bass. A high-floating type was later released, but actually the first ONETEN I built for myself was a high-floating type. I was focused on the floating aspect because that was my ideal type of fishing, to draw fish up with a floating type of lure. Regardless of the rod position, you could jerk from multiple angles and draw fish out from cover and from great distances in shallow areas. I also paid special attention to the merits of floating behavior around cover. Bass often tend to bite upwards, especially ones that have come up into shallow areas. The floating ONETEN displayed amazing performance in those situations where the fish tended to focus on targets above their line of sight.”
“Another secret to the ONETEN’ s effectiveness is the sound it creates from its movement thanks to the internal structure,” Ito continued. “The tungsten weights of the moving balancer system create a knocking sound and shock wave as it flashes and darts. This is where it really comes together. The wide darting, flashing, shock waves, and knocking during jerking. These are the abilities that I strived for when designing the ONETEN. This is why it’ s good in muddy water with low visibility, and good for drawing in targets from far away. I made many prototypes when developing the ONETEN, and tested them in many places. From Lake Biwa, to Ikehara dam, to Kasumigaura, to Hachirogata. I performed countless tests at many, many fishing spots. From gauging the reaction of fish, to seeing how the lure reacts to water flow, to casting distance, I thoroughly examined all aspects of each lure. I also experimented with many variations of tackle to devise a lure that could perform consistently under a wide range of conditions. It was hard to choose just one lure out of the ten or so that made it through all of my testing. As a craftsman, I felt that they all were excellent, and I felt an attachment to each one. But I believe that making that difficult final choice for balanced action is what has allowed it to become popularized and accepted by anglers across the world.”