March 24, 2012 10:43:22 PM
There is a hot new bait out on the market in bass fishing.
The Alabama rig, an umbrella rig that has five wires with swivels attached, allows an angler to attach five baits to the rig and to fish on a single cast. Designed and sold by Andy Poss, he took the idea from the saltwater fishermen who use umbrella rigs to run teaser lures behind the boat while trolling to get the attention of saltwater fish such as marlin and tuna.
Once the Alabama rig was put into freshwater environments, the bass perceived the rig as schooling shad and immediately tackled it. There have been reports anglers have caught as many as five fish on a cast.
Paul Elias, a professional angler from Mississippi, won the October FLW event on Lake Guntersville by throwing this rig every day of competition. In fact, the top eight finishes used the Alabama rig.
Some were reluctant to throw the rig at the start of the competition, and didn't come close to Elias' final weights. He finished the four-day competition with 102 pounds, 8 ounces. The closest finisher was Robert Behrle with 85 pounds, 5 ounces.
Elias was fishing for suspended bass, which all bass anglers know are the hardest fish to catch. I watched the coverage and was shocked by how hard the bass would hit this rig. At one time, Elias almost had the rod ripped out of his hands by a nice largemouth.
But with anything good comes the bad.
Troy Morrow, another professional angler who fished the same tournament, hung his Alabama rig up and once he pulled it free, the bait began to fall apart. The wire arms broke off one by one until it only had a couple of arms left. Morrow found the rig wasn't producing like it was when all the appendages were in place, and didn't catch another fish on the rig after that.
The rig is designed to be cast on a long rod with heavy braided line so an angler doesn't lose it if it gets hung up.
That isn't the only bad news.
Many states are looking to ban the rig due because they're making efforts to conserve the bass population. Some professional anglers have said a bass sometimes will bite the rig and get hung up in the other four hanging baits, damaging its eyes or embedding a hook into its side, which increases the mortality rate for some fish.
In the state of Mississippi, the Alabama rig is banned from the following areas:
n Grenada, Arkabutla, Sardis, and Enid Lakes
n Spillways of Ross Barnett and Okatibbee Reservoirs
n Spillways of Grenada, Enid, Sardis, and Arkabutla lakes from spillway to the end of the riprap
n Bluff Lake spillway in Noxubee County
n Lowhead Dam on Ross Barnett from the dam to the end of the idle speed only/no wake zone area downstream of the dam
Tennessee has banned the Alabama Rig, and other states are looking into the matter.
Trip Weldon, the Bassmasters Elite Series and Bassmasters Classic tournament director, said in a news release, "I have enjoyed catching bass on umbrella rigs and found them to be very effective in some situations. I have witnessed the excitement this technique has generated in our sport.
"However, the Elite Series Rules Committee members unanimously asked to be held to a higher standard. We have decided to honor their recommendation."
Bass tournament rules always have been that an angler could only use one rod at a time. Another recent change mandated only one lure can be used at a time. The Alabama rig is considered one lure with multiple appendages. If you argue that it has five hooks on the lure, then what about a crankbait that has two treble hooks with six barbed hooks?
Until the final verdict comes in on what is legal for our states, I hope anglers who use the rig will take the extra steps to preserve fish populations.