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Yo-Zuri Live Bait Series Minnow

Overall score - 78% =(Good)

Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score

Reviewer: Don

For many anglers, a Yo-Zuri lure was the very first "expensive" lure they have ever bought. This was certainly the case for my friends and I when we were younger. I remember how proud I was when I bought my first Yo-Zuri Pin's Minnow with it's revolutionary Weight Transfer System. There was only one problem with my Pin's Minnow; I couldn't catch any fish with it! I remember lamenting, "this doesn't work like any of my Rapalas. What's wrong with this thing!?" I was young and didn't realize that these lures needed to be used with the proper jerk and stop techniques. I guess I was accustomed to letting the lures do all of the work for me! So low and behold, once I learned how to use the proper technique with my 2" Pin's Minnow, I caught my very first largemouth bass! It was a BIG bass too! I remember that the bass was so big that it actually bent the rear treble hook out of place and I barely landed it. That was the day - not only did I hook my first bass, my first bass also hooked me. I never really thought about it until now but I guess I have Yo-Zuri to thank not only for my obsession with tackle but my first largemouth bass as well!


Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score


- 2 3/4" - 1/4 oz.
- 3 9/16" - 3/8 oz. *
- 4 5/16" - 11/16 oz.
- 5 1/8" - 1 oz.

* Size(s) used during this review

Design features:

- Soft and flexible body
- Wire-through construction
- Floating
- Dives up to 3 feet
- Holographic finish
- Detailed eyes


- ALSM - Glow Greenback
- HYMT - Holographic Yellow Mullet
- ARB - Aurora Rainbow *
- HAJ - Holographic Mullet
- HKS - Holo Bunker
- PBSH - PB Shad
- HIW - Holo Sardine

* Color(s) used during this review.

Made in:

- The Philippines with components from Japan

Price when Reviewed:

- $11.00 to $13.00


Yo-Zuri has been making quality lures, fishing lines, and leaders for over 50 years in Japan. In June of 2003, Yo-Zuri America, Inc. was established for the purpose of succeeding the whole Yo-Zuri product business from GBS Distribution, LLC.  Yo-Zuri America Inc. now services all of the U.S.A., Canada, Central America, and South America from their headquarters in Port St Lucie, FL. Yo-Zuri has developed technologically advanced products that are constantly leading the industry. They have now become one of the top rated quality hard-bait companies in the country.


Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score

When I first held the box in my hand with the lure still packed inside I was impressed right away. Yo-Zuri actually secured the hooks together with a green twist tie to prevent damage to the lure during shipment. I have only witnessed a similar effort to secure hooks in the box with three other lures, the Megabass Ito Vision 110, Megabass Vision 100, and the Lucky Craft Snap Kick.

(I commend Yo-Zuri's effort to protect this nice looking bait from premature damage)

I was VERY impressed that Yo-Zuri took steps to secure the hooks to prevent damage to this bait during transport. I was a little disappointed at first with this bait's actual softness or lack there of. I must say, I was expecting this bait to be a little softer to the touch. I liked the thickness and positioning of the diving bill and that it seems quite sturdy. I felt that the details of this bait were pretty good and that they were on par for an $11 bait. I wasn't very impressed with this bait's hooks, whatsoever. Overall, my first impressions of Yo-Zuri's Live Bait Minnow were above average.

Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score

The Yo-Zuri Live Bait Series Minnow offers some very interesting things from a design perspective. The first things you notice about this bait are its nice looking Aurora finish and its relatively realistic details. The scale pattern is your typical cross pattern of etched-on lines with a slightly pronounced lateral line.

(A closer look at the secured hooks and the scale pattern)

As I stated above, I felt that the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow's finish was on par for an $11 bait, but that's not to say that it doesn't look nice. However, I found this bait's Aurora finish to be not very reflective overall. I believe this bait's finish would be more appropriate for use in clearer water conditions.

(A close-up look at the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow's Aurora finish)

I'm impressed with how nice the raised gills and eyes look on this bait. I feel that they are quite detailed for an $11 bait. I really love the way the eyes look on this bait! These eyes are sunken into the lure's head and look amazing next to it's detailed gills. These two features give this bait some of it's most life-like and attractive qualities. I was very happy to see that Yo-Zuri decided to reinforce this bait's diving bill to improve it's durability.

(A closer look at the raised gills, eye, and reinforced diving bill)

I expected this bait to be a bit softer to the touch and a little more pliable than it is. It took a little bit of effort to bend this bait while testing its flexibility. I would compare this bait's softness with the thickness of a soft ball's padding. I did like the smoothness of this bait which kind of feels a little like stiff leather. At first I was a bit disappointed with this bait's softness, and flexibility or lack there of. Once I took the time to think about this bait from a real world perspective I started to realize that this bait's quasi stiffness isn't necessarily a bad thing. In reality, the only truly soft part on a fish's outer body is it's stomach area. A fish isn't going to just cave like a pillow when you squeeze it a little (it's ribs and scales would help to resist the pressure.). After pondering these things for a while, I started to recognize that the softness of a fish is more than likely and extremely an hard thing to replicate. All things considered, I believe that this bait would make a bass hold on to it longer than your typical stick bait. The fact that a company like Yo-Zuri has managed to produce a bait that goes this far to reproduce the relative softness of a bait fish has not gone unnoticed by me.

(This bait takes a small bit of effort to bend)

Being an $11 to $13 bait puts this lure close to the price range of Lucky Craft and others. Let's take a moment and compare some of these lures based strictly on their outward details and appearance. Some of you may be thinking that the Aurora finish on this bait is somewhat similar to Lucky Craft's Aurora colors. Let's take a closer look at the Yo-Zuri Live Bait's appearance compared with some of the heavy hitters of today's tackle industry.

(There's very little here to compare Yo-Zuri's minnow to Megabass' stellar looking Vision 110.
In my opinion, Lucky Craft's Aurora finish and scale pattern are far superior to the Live Bait Minnow's)

As you can see from the picture above, the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow's details and appearance aren't quite in the same league with Lucky Craft and Megabass. I felt that the head area of the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow is more detailed and slightly better looking than that of Lucky Craft's baits. I would compare the head area more with Megabass' Ito Vision 110. The Vision 110 is still superior looking to anything I have ever seen or probably will ever see for quite some time.

One more point to drive home the fact that Yo-Zuri's Live Minnow bait is no Lucky Craft or Megabass is its hooks. These hooks reminded me of hooks one would find on a Heddon Torpedo, and that would be just fine if this was a $5 bait. Unfortunately this is not a $5 bait this is an $11 to $13 bait, a bait that costs more than twice as much. For a bait that's on the more expensive side I would expect better hooks to be used. At least the hooks are relatively sharp. Oh wait, my $5 Heddon Torpedo's hooks are sharp too... = /

(Not cool...)

Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score

Rod - G Loomis SJR782 IMX
Reel - Shimano Sustain 2500FE
Line - Spiderwire Stealth 15 lb.

I decided to test the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow down at the Ohio river and see if we couldn't catch any smallies. The water was a bit lower than normal so I figured we had a good shot.

(Enter one of the epic fishing spots in the Pittsburgh area)

From the onset, I was more impressed with the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow than I thought I would be. This bait casts very well at almost half an ounce. The extra casting distance enabled me to cover more of the shoreline with each cast.

(You can REALLY launch this sucker!)

After getting the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow into the water, I realized right away that this minnow has a great action during the retrieve. This Yo-Zuri minnow has a wide wobble that seems to do a great job at imitating an injured minnow. More than a few longnose gar took a swipe or two at the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow when I would twitch the bait just off shore. In my experience, longnose gar won't just bite anything. They will often stalk a lure before biting it as if they're trying to figure out if my lure is food or not. I have only caught gar when using lures with the most life-like actions so I was impressed to have seen a few take a shot at the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow.

(This Yo-Zuri minnow has some unexpected life-like appeal)

The Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow's diving bill enabled me to quickly get this bait down to my targeted depth of around 3 feet and it would slowly float up during a pause in my retrieve. After a few retrieves however, I noticed an undesired side effect of the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow's soft outer layer. The rear treble hook would sometimes stick into the Yo-Zuri Minnow's side during a retrieve. My friend brought up a good point when he suggested that some fish may be lost if there was a bite when the hook was stuck in its side.

(Well, that kind of sucks!)

I'm happy to say that I did not experience any lost fish with the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow thanks to its insanely sharp hooks! This is the part where I eat my works with all of the indignity that it entails because I said that these hooks were "not cool" earlier in the review. Well, I was wrong because these hooks can really stick it to smallies! Anyone awesome enough to fish for smallmouth bass knows that a they would take great pleasure in throwing the lure you think you just caught a smallie with right back in your face. Having the right equipment helps, and having the right hooks on your lures really helps. I found that this bait's hooks do a great job at penetrating very quickly and holding on to the fish.

(These are devastatingly sharp hooks!)

Smallmouth bass would viciously slam this bait when twitched in the slack water just outside of the current. I even caught a 16" walleye on the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow. As I was reaching for my camera, the walleye sensed a moment of weakness and squeezed out of my hand like a wet bar of soap. I was inconsolable...

My buddy Chris even caught a few smallies while we were out. Chris just recently started fishing so I told him I would take him out to catch some REAL fish. This was his first experience catching smallmouth bass and he unwittingly summed up why I'm so obsessed with smallies in one sentence. "These fish fight like they're so much bigger than they actually are!"

(Not bad, Chris. Keep it up!)

Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score

After a few long days of jerking and twitching with our Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow, it ended up with a few scratches from its hooks. To be honest, I was surprised that more damage wasn't done to this bait by its own hooks. It could have been worse so i'm not going to complain about it. I found that the paint was quite durable and I think it's going to last quite a while longer.


Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score

At $11.00 to $13.00 the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow isn't exactly expensive but it isn't cheap either. I would think that most anglers would rather stick with their floating Rapalas and save a few bucks. This bait does have some redeeming qualities like it's soft flexible body, but I didn't find the bass willing to hold on any longer than they normally do with any other hard jerkbait. I think that this is a pretty good lure for the money but I don't think we'll see any anglers weeping bitter tears when they don't get one for Christmas.

Specs First Impressions Design Performance Durability Price Final Score

The good - Flexible soft body and decent design quality in the gills, eyes, and scales. Wire-through construction.

The Bad - I would have liked to have seen some other more attractive colors offered.

The Score - 80 out of 100

The good - This bait's sharp hooks are good at holding fish! Good action during the retrieve. Casts very nicely.

The Bad - The hooks can sometimes stick into the side of this bait during your retrieve.

The Score - 81 out of 100

The good - The paint seems like it doesn't want to flake off right away even after being scratched.

The Bad - Our Yo-Zuri minnow sustained a little bit of damage from its own hooks.

The Score - 76 out of 100

The good - Decent features for the price.

The Bad - A bit expensive. I would imagine that many anglers would think themselves better served with a floating Rapala while saving a few bucks at the same time.

The Score - 75 out of 100

Overall score - 78% =(Good)

For more on how we score our reviews and the score's meanings

(The Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow sticks it to yet another river smallie)

I had a good time fishing with the Yo-Zuri Live Bait Minnow and I found it to be a pretty good lure. I think that many people will see this lure more as a novelty than a serious lure. It's fun to show your friends that you have a lure that can bend and all that but I really didn't get the feeling that this lure's flexibility helped a whole lot. At the end of the day, this is still a well-made lure and it should catch you some fish; it certainly did for us. That's why I have no problem recommending this lure.

We recommend this product.