The Sanshouo

There’s no wrong way to fish this salamander lookalike

Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits’ (GYCB) latest hot lure, the Sanshouo, almost didn’t make it off the cutting room floor.

About two years ago GYCB vice president of operations Ron Colby had a hand-poured version sent to him by his friend Bub Tosh Jr. of Modesto, Calif. It was one of 12 made by the Western pro who wanted a soft plastic that wasn’t just another copy of an existing artificial lure.

Colby said, “He asked me what I thought about it and I said, ‘Yeah, there’s nothing like it on the market.’ ”

Colby, 54, said he put the hand-poured model on his desk, where it stayed for about a month or so. One day when he looked for it, the bait was gone. Unbeknownst to him, it had fallen on the floor and had been cut it in half by a wheel of his office chair.

Colby said, “I called and asked him ‘Do you have any more.’ He said, ‘No. I only made a dozen. That was the last one.’ ”

The lifelong Salt Lake City resident said he took the pieces to his “CAD (computer aided design) guy” who examined them, then created a duplicate of it. A chain of prototypes followed.

Tosh’s model, which he wanted to resemble a salamander, had a body that was bigger and thicker than desired by Colby. And, of course, it didn’t have salt impregnated in it.

The two men went back and forth with their recommendations, a nip and tuck here, adding appendages there, including a large fairly flat tail and, notably, two pairs of short “legs” on each side, one set near the head and one at the rear.

“We got to playing with the legs as far as position on it and get it right so they’d vibrate,” he said.

Colby put extra effort into the Sanshouo. The former computer graphics expert always searches for details, which he did by looking at photos of salamanders and watching videos of them walking to determine the exact position of the legs.

“Then we got the prototype like we liked it,” he said.

The 4 ¾-inch Sanshouo has a unique, pronounced vertical tail that one might say looks like a rudder. It also adds action to the soft plastic.

Its position on the fairly flat, concave-shaped body left the designer with a dilemma. Should the company use a “clamshell” package to prevent it from bending like it could in a bag?

“We had never produced an artificial lure that had a horizontal profile and a vertical profile at the same time. I was thinking about putting it in a clamshell, which is one reason it took a little longer to get it out on the market,” Colby said.

Sanshouo Salamander

The artificial lure manufacturer sent the early models to pro staffers in a bag, which resulted in a few tails being bent and increasing the action.

“Like I said, an unintended action helped the bait,” he said.

The finished product gives bass anglers something that resembles a salamander, sculpin, goby or bream, according to Colby.

Tosh, a 36-year-old union carpenter and accomplished veteran on the FLW, Bassmaster and WON BASS circuits, agreed and said, “It has a lot of action and gets a lot of bites. It falls through the water differently. I’m not sure what it is about the tail.

“It does really well on the (California) Delta. They absolutely eat the fire out of it. I don’t know if they think it’s a crawfish or a bluegill.

“I know people are reluctant to try something new. If they start trying that thing, they’re going to get bit. It’s a good bait. ”

What’s more, Tosh said, once bass get it in their chops, they don’t let go.

“They’ll swim 10 feet with this thing,” he said.

He has caught bass on it here in the states as well as at a major bass tournament in Japan, where he finished seventh against some of that country’s best bass anglers. Using a spinning rig, light tackle, he had bass up to 9 pounds on it during the BATNET Classic, he said. The Sanshouo accounted for each bass he put on the scale for a total of 24 pounds, 3 ounces.

The Sanshouo can be Texas-rigged, Carolina-rigged, flipped, pitched, punched and impaled on a swing-head jig or a football head, Colby said. It is effective deep and shallow for largemouth from California to Lake Okeechobee in Florida and trophy smallmouth everywhere, including Lake Erie.

“There’s no wrong way to fish it. It’s been working pretty good. If we get a lot more people using it I think they’ll enjoy it. It’s going to be a good bait,” he said.

“We’ve been pretty happy with it. I’ve been catching big smallmouth here on Lake Powell. The smallmouth eat it up here,” he said, noting he puts the Sanshouo on a leadhead on trips to Lake Powell.

Tosh said, “I really think the smallmouth guys will actually crush them on any of the Great Lakes. It looks so much like a goby (which is green and blue).”

Colby said Yamamoto Baits got it on the market in October to make sure it was on shelves in outlets like Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s “so it’d be out there in the spring for the jig fishing. You know how they like to eat salamanders.”

Bass anglers like FLW pro Jimmy Reese, who lives near Clear Lake in California, like to Texas rig the Sanshouo or punch it through heavy grass, according to Colby.

For punching purposes, the Sanshouo can be enhanced by adding a punching skirt, like Tosh’s Paycheck Bait Punch Skirts or a 12-point skirt made by GYCB.

Colby said he has fused the 12-point skirt to the nose of the Sanshouo.

“That adds a dimension to it, too. That’s a future option,” he said. “If anybody wants to use a skirt, use a regular punching skirt, or a jig. It really adds another dimension to the bait.”

For more information about the Sanshouo and other GYCB artificial lures, go to or call (800) 645-2248.

About Don Shoopman 519 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.

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