Gary Yamamoto's Bio
Gary Yamamoto was born and raised in Hawaii. He started fishing
before he was old enough to help work around his family's farm. One
of his first chores in life was to catch fresh fish in a nearby
river for his family's dinner table.
Yamamoto left Hawaii after finishing high school, to attend
university in California. Before graduating, Gary answered his
country's call and he served proudly as a medic in the Air Force and
a tour of duty in Viet Nam, after which he completed his degree in
business administration and landed a job in sales in Los Angeles.
But the hustle and bustle of L.A. was not the ideal environment he
wanted to raise his young family (Gary has two sons and a daughter).
So in 1976, Yamamoto took a chance to own a campground on a
park-like setting near Page, a beautiful resort town in northern
Arizona. Page is situated on a famous reservoir, Lake Powell. People
say it's the world's most scenic bass lake, and it is visited by
millions each year, who journey from across the USA and from many
countries to vacation there.
spent many hours on Lake Powell exploring the bountiful fishery for
smallmouth, largemouth, stripers, walleye, crappie and more. Soon he
began entering local bass tournaments. In fact, he won a major
prize, an outboard motor, in the very first tournament he entered.
To go with it, Yamamoto bought his first bass boat. As everyone
knows, that's the point of no return.
From that day, Yamamoto became a dedicated bass angler, boater
and tournament contender with a love for the sport that would last
for his lifetime - a love he would pass along to his family, his
friends and ultimately, to every bass angler.
As an aspiring tournament angler, Yamamoto spent endless days on
the water, always looking for an edge, an advantage, and it came
down to lures. Gary realized his tournament success would depend on
his ability to customize the lures he had been doing well with.
Yamamoto sought more realistic colors, more natural actions in
lures, and he found a few sources that would custom produce the
lures that Yamamoto wanted to fish with, but he was required to buy
wholesale quantities for this privilege. So Gary kept what he wanted
and sold the rest to local fishermen. For those who tried them,
Gary's new custom baits began winning tournaments. Word soon spread
about the guy who had a very keen eye for the styles and colors of
lures that attracted fish. It wasn’t long before Gary was selling to
tournament anglers in a five state area - Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New
Mexico and California.
It wasn't long either, before an opportunity arose for Gary to
acquire one of the companies that was one of his custom bait
sources, and he renamed it 'Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits'. Along with
the company, he acquired a customer base including major tackle
wholesalers in Japan.
Yamamoto's Early and Lasting Success in Japan
With his own company now, Yamamoto stepped up his research and
development of unique new bait designs. However, Yamamoto's
wholesale customers in Japan were having difficulty moving Gary's
new bait designs there. Anglers were unfamiliar with them and unsure
how to use them. So Yamamoto decided to travel to Japan to teach
Japanese anglers the Western style of finesse fishing first-hand.
Based on Yamamoto's tournament success fishing his lures in the
USA, Gary personally and through example taught Japanese anglers how
to fish with his bass baits. Of course, once anglers started to
connect with their first few fish on these new lures, they couldn't
put them down. Their confidence, enthusiasm and ability to learn and
to discover new fishing tactics exploded.
Gary was the first to bring a modern high-powered bass boat to
Japan. Yamamoto put a twenty-foot 200 horsepower bass boat on a
plane and had it flown to Japan. That boat was no doubt the ultimate
bass performance machine of its time in the USA. Practically no
Japanese angler had seen a modern bass boat before Gary Yamamoto
single-handedly set out to show an entire country what bass fishing
was all about. Yamamoto paraded his bass boat to all the fishing
events and to popular weekend fishing locations across Japan, and
then he held a tournament where someone would win it.
That was in the early 1980's. Virtually no one else from the USA
was in Japan promoting bass fishing at that time, just Gary.
Fast forward to today, and Japan has become the second largest
bass fishing market in the world. What's fascinating is that bass
anglers in Japan still adhere very closely to the original Western
finesse styles of fishing that Gary Yamamoto first taught them
twenty-five years ago. To this day, despite much advancement in the
lure industry, Yamamoto's baits remain the unrivaled number one soft
baits in Japan. There are so many soft baits in the Japanese market,
yet Yamamoto plastics have always been the best sellers in Japan,
and still are today.
Yamamoto's International Acclaim
The same is true in many other countries worldwide. Gary Yamamoto
had been one of the first professional anglers from the US to fish
European waters during the 1990s. He was first to participate in
organized tournaments on the old continent especially Italy and
Spain where bass fishing is more prominent, and he has helped
pioneer and promote fishing tournaments in many other countries, in
Canada, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Zimbabwe, South Africa and
other places where Gary has had the same charismatic effects on
fishermen everywhere he goes. Yamamoto has left his legacy, a
blossoming appreciation of and market for his products wherever he's
Yamamoto's Success in the USA
Yamamoto's success in the US fishing industry arose relatively
recently. Prior to the year 2000, Yamamoto baits were practically
unknown outside the western states. So Gary decided to tour across
the USA, fishing the top national BASS and FLW tournament trails
where he has placed well for approximately the past ten years.
Through touring the USA over the past decade, Gary has introduced
the USA to his entire product line - some of the best bass baits
It sounds incredible but in less than ten years time, Yamamoto's
name and products have spread far and wide across the USA You can
ask any bass angler in the USA today who is Gary Yamamoto? Chances
are each one will speak of him highly and tell you how Gary's baits
are some of the greatest for bass fishing. Gary Yamamoto, his
company and products have become a household name among US and
worldwide bass anglers.
biography of Gary Yamamoto wouldn't be complete without mentioning
the Yamamoto Senko, Gary's most successful lure design. Many sage
observers consider Yamamoto’s Senko to be one of the single most
successful and effective bass lures of all time. In all, Gary has
designed and offers anglers over 60 models of soft baits, plus he
has designed and offers anglers the specific hooks, jig heads,
fishing rods and fishing line that work best with his baits, so that
anglers have access to the gear, tackle and accessories that work
best with Yamamoto baits.
Today, Gary enjoys spending much time with his wife Beverly
running their sprawling cattle ranch, dotted with trophy bass ponds,
where they live in Athens, Texas. He still tours nation-wide, having
fished over a dozen top FLW bass tournaments in 2009 plus
international events across the globe.
Gary continues to run and beautify the park-like campground he
acquired in Page, Arizona back in 1976. Many vacationing families
from all over the world have enjoyed memorable summer vacations at
his scenic campground.
His bait company offices are headquartered there, and his factory
where all Yamamoto baits are made, lies just down the road.
And that's the story and legend of Gary Yamamoto, the dedicated
angler who has a keen eye for the colors, actions and styles of
baits that fish like to bite and that are easy to use, so that
anglers everywhere may catch more fish and have more fun.