The Impressive Alabama Rig Setup and How To Use It

Fishing has been an activity or livelihood to many people for over many years already. As time passed by, many techniques and developments have been discovered too so that the process is made easier and smoother.

Part of the developments are a number of techniques or lures that take the bassing world by storm. It was the Sluggo in the late 1980s, the Senko in the 1990s, and the Chatterbait and drop shot in the new millennium. During each such frenzy, initial dominant tournament catches fueled a rapid increase in sales, followed by each settling into a more regular presence in the great majority of angler’s boxes.

The Alabama rig, which emerged onto the scene in late 2011, nearly lapped the competition on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville in a FLW Tour derby, winning by a startling 17 pound margin, has since utterly upended the bass universe.

Since then, the Alabama rig has been caught between the storm of monster fish catches as well as controversies from anglers who don’t believe in its capabilities. Many claimed to surpass this rig but none of them were successful but the Alabama rig was still banner by both top tours.

Regardless of the controversy, and despite the fact that it is not permitted in major tournaments, the Alabama rig is without a doubt one of the most effective baits you can throw if the conditions are favorable.

The Alabama Rig

An Alabama Rig is essentially a smaller version of an umbrella rig, which has been used in trolling applications for decades. An umbrella rig is essentially a harness that allows you to rig numerous baits on one line.

Andy Poss, an Alabama bass angler and tournament fisherman, coined the term “Alabama Rig” to describe a superior form of an umbrella rig that could be cast using fairly standard bait casting equipment for bass fishing. Poss connected five bending wires at an angle before encasing the connection in a small shad profile head.

It is also known as the Umbrella or Yumbrella rig. These rigs are not the usual single artificial bait or lure but it is a collection of multiple artificial lures or baits each capable of catching a fish.

Laws and Regulations On Alabama Rig Fishing

In the United States, an angler can freely use teaser baits without hooks as long as the number is limited to the number of hooks one can use on a single rig. 

However, there are some states that just don’t allow anglers to use an Alabama rig with more than five hooks. In some states, you can only use one hook while other states allow up to three hooks. This is why it’s always important to check in with your local state DNR agencies to make sure that you are using Alabama rigs legally allowed in your local fishery guidelines.

Moreover, there are also states that are very strict with their rules and regulations. For example, anglers fishing in Minnesota’s inland lakes and along the Canadian border are only allowed to use only one artificial lure or bait on a single line. While each artificial lure or bait may have multiple hooks, just like in crankbaits, only one lure or tackle arrangement is permitted on a single line.

In the case of an Alabama or Umbrella rig, it would be allowed if it has no more than one hook or artificial lure or bait attached. An angler may use a single hook bait or lure on one of the lines and hookless spinners or plastic baits on the other wires.

Anglers fishing in border waters using two lines are not permitted to use any additional lines if two hooks, baits, or lures are attached to these rigs.

The 3W’s and 1H of Alabama Rig Fishing

In order to achieve the best results while fishing using an Alabama Rig, you must know the basics behind it first or its when, where, and how.

When To Fish The Alabama Rig

Most experienced anglers would agree that the dominant time they throw an Alabama Rig is during the winter. However, you really don’t have to wait until winter. An Alabama Rig starts being the best one to use during the fall.

This is due to the fact that baitfish are small and they move around a lot in the fall. In this way, the bass also gets really keyed in on baitfish movement in the fall. They will run up in the creeks and hear bait, and when a creek is teeming with baitfish, an Alabama Rig is a good method to grab their attention in the midst of all that bait.

Aside from that, you should be aware that the Alabama Rig consistently outperforms when fish are feeding on baitfish in deep water throughout the colder months.

The Alabama rig causes the most havoc when water temperatures dip in the late summer and remain hot during the pre-spawn. Fish will bite it all year, but the optimum times to throw it are when the bass are suspended, gathered together, and eating on shad.

Moreover, you can also rig up a couple Alabama rigs. Just make sure that the other one is with heavier heads and smaller bodies for fishing deeper while the other one is with lighter heads and bigger bodies for staying up in the water column. 

When the bait congregates, as it does in the fall and winter, an Alabama Rig is the attention getter you need to effectively cover a lot of deep water. The deeper you fish, the more water you have to cover, and a larger profile makes that much easier.

Where To Fish The Alabama Rig

The place where Alabama rigs can be used is also quite a lot. Ideally, you can throw it on ambush points that are in deep structures. You can also use them on reservoirs like ledges, humps, bridges, bluff walls, and over brush piles. If you’re going for a more different place, you can also opt for natural lakes with points, deep grass lines, deep breaks, and offshore rock piles that bring out the best of Alabama rigs. 

How To Fish The Alabama Rig

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with those things, it’s time to learn how to fish the Alabama Rig. What most anglers love about these rigs is its ability to provide such great performance even if the angler doesn’t have much of a prior experience. 

Just remember that the most crucial part of Alabama Rig Fishing is keeping the bait up  in the water column, around, or slightly above the level of the fish.

The key is to keep the bait up in the water column, around or slightly above the level of the fish. Simply cast it out, countdown to the depth you believe the fish are at, then wind it back carefully. The strikes are spectacular, and when bass are feeding actively, they will often come from a considerable way to bite.

Learning Its Setup

In recent years, the market has been saturated with Alabama rigs, and despite variations like the Booyah Baits Boo Rig, they all contain a central line tie with a series of wires running in all directions, to which snap swivels are attached. They are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from 2 to 12 wires of varying lengths. Attaching a swimbait at the end of each wire creates a “school of baitfish” effect when reeled through the water column. Anglers will use as many hooked swimbaits as they can, and thread hookless “dummy” baits on the remaining arms, depending on state rules and regulations.

Use heavier jig heads on the bottom wires and lighter (or weightless) jig heads on the top wires to keep the rig from spinning. Use 14 ounce jig heads on the bottom and center wires, and 1/8 or 3/16 ounce jig heads on the top two wires for a decent starting point for a 5 wire rig. Thread on your favorite paddle tail swimbait at the business end, trying to match the size of the prevailing baitfish population.

When you add the weight of 5 swimbaits, 5 jig heads, and the rig – you get a minimum of 3 ounces for most Alabama rigs, thus you need heavy tackle to fish well. Most top anglers use a 7 foot 6 inch or longer flipping stick coupled with a high-speed reel spooled with either 65 pound braid or 20 pound fluorocarbon, depending on your preference.

Best Alabama Rig Rod and Reel Setup

To start setting up the best Alabama rig rod and reel setup, you need to start looking for a rod rated for 1-3 ounces and has a bit more length. If you want to maximize its potential, it’s good to look for one with a longer handle too. An  8 foot Heavy or Extra Heavy Power rod with a fast to moderately fast action can be good enough.

If the action is too light, you will definitely just tire yourself from casting a heavier rig all day. On the other hand, if the power is too low, you will place additional torque on your wrist and shoulder while you cast, increasing your risk of repetitive use problems. 

Hence, it is better to choose a swimbait rod that’s rated for at least 2 ounces with a longer handle which will allow you to fulcrum and use energy transfer to effortlessly lob an Alabama Rig all day.

But for a reel, a 200 or bigger sized reel spooled with a 65-pound braid will be sufficient most of the time.

The Basics of Alabama Rig Fishing

Fishing an Alabama Rig or castable umbrella rig is simple. It’s mostly about having the correct equipment to handle such a massive mass and weight of lures.

Casting an Alabama rig

To utilize a transfer of energy cast, make a large circle with your backcast and then complete the circle into your cast. This does two things. It will prevent you from breaking a weaker rod and from injuring your wrist and shoulder from the torque of the lures being cast.

As you wind the bait in and start looking for the next cast, you should start low. Then, swing the rod back with the tip of the rod low to the water, then make a huge arcing circle with the tip rising upward and then forward. While doing so, use your non-dominant hand, whether right or left, to press the rod butt away from forward while simultaneously moving my top hand on top of the grip towards my goal. On a good swimbait rod, this is normally above the reel.

This fulcrum motion with both hands on a long grip propels the lure into a lobbing, looping arc of a cast, giving you more distance without harming your body. Furthermore, it protects the rod from a snap cast, which can cause stress cracks in graphite by loading and unloading the weight too quickly.

Retrieving an Alabama rig retrieve

Begin by allowing the rig to descend to depth as soon as it reaches the water.

It sinks quickly even with 1/4 ounce or 1/8 ounce jig heads. So, if you want to fish 10 feet deep, count to eight and begin reeling. As fishing in deep water, you must let it reach bottom and immediately begin reeling when your line becomes slack.

The retrieval operation normally begins with a quick pop of the rod tip to straighten the rig out behind the head. When you have wires, swivels, and several baits falling down the water column, you must perfect the rig before beginning your retrieve.

Depending on the weight and depth you wish to fish, maintain a constant medium to slow retrieve. Obviously, if you’re fishing near potential cover, you should use faster retrieves to keep above it. Stop reeling and pop the rod a few times during a steady retrieve to cause the rig to flare and the baits to dart for a fraction of a second. This is typically enough to get a fish that has been following an Alabama Rig for a long time to finally commit.

Setting the hook

When a fish bites, you will typically feel a startling strike or a heavy weight on the rod. All you have to do is lean back against the rod while speeding up your retrieve to drive a good hook. Because I have so many chances to hook a fish with this rig, I don’t set the hook hard and fast like I would with other single lures. A fish will frequently flare on one bait and miss it, but if you keep your retrieve, you can typically catch that fish on multiple strikes by allowing it to load up on one of the baits.

Which A-Rig Will Work Best With Me?

Now that you know the basics, you can proceed by weighing which Alabama Rig designs are best for you. Here are some of the choices you can find available from YUM.

YUMbrella Rig

The basic YUMbrella Rig consists of five wires connected by snap swivels to which the angler attaches swimbaits, curly-tail grubs, or other swimming plastics. From the fishhead hub, four wires flare “umbrella style.” The fifth runs straight back and often pulls a bait that stands out from the rest because of its size or a bright color.

Flash Mob Jr.

Smaller wires, four willow leaf spinners, and slightly shorter arms distinguish this. Mason’s favorite A-rig variant is the Flash Mob Jr. It has a lower profile than the standard Alabama Rig, but the little willow leaf spinners on each arm add to the sense of a moving feast.

Always remember that a lot of bass tournaments do not allow Alabama Rigs in the competition. There are even states that do not allow any form of Umbrella Rig usage. Some states have restrictions on the amount of live hooks that can be utilized on the rig. Anglers in such situations can use a 3-armed umbrella, such as the YUMbrella 3-Wire RIg, or add hook-free dummies  to remaining snaps.

The Bottomline

Without any doubts, the Alabama Rig has already proven its capabilities in the fishing scene. Even without prior experience, beginner anglers can expect great catches when using one.

Despite that, it also has many controversies and users need to take note of the factors that may affect its performance. But this isn’t something you should be afraid about. Just remember the things in this article and you are sure to experience the greatest catch of your life.

What are you waiting for? Use an Alabama Rig Setup now!

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