The Alabama rig (Umbrella rig) and smallmouth bass

As a full-time fishing guide, I try my best to stay on top of current trends, techniques and even tournament results when it comes to bass fishing. One technique that’s absolutely taking the bass fishing world by storm is the Alabama Rig. To those of you familiar to off- shore trolling techniques in salt water, you’ll know this rig as the umbrellas rig, which has been around for decades.

While many saltwater fishermen have taken freshwater bass techniques and applied them to their saltwater tournament bag of tricks, it’s been much more rare for a saltwater technique to sneak its way into the competitive bass fishing world. While variations abound, suffice it to say that the umbrella rig (aka Alabama Rig) is designed to mimic a school of baitfish. Using sturdy wire to connect to a single weighted head, up to 5 baits can be swum in the water at once, resembling a school of baitfish. Soft plastic swim baits, grubs, soft jerk baits, and even hard jointed swim baits have been found to be effective in various applications.

While it’s been used to great effect to trigger solitary fish, this presentation has been found to be extremely potent when bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, themselves are schooling and chasing prey. Multiple hooked fish are very often the result when schooling fish are the target. One smallmouth angler caught 5 fish, in a single cast, weighing 19.7 pounds on this rig.

While I’ve only experienced the fish-catching ability of the umbrella rig when saltwater fishing, I certainly plan on experimenting to see how our trophy smallmouth bass react to this rig. Could be fun!

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