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The Alabama Rig Exposed

February 9, 2012

By Chris Erwin

Have ya heard the news about this hot new lure? I got it in emails; I’ve heard about it in the tackle shops and everywhere else we fishing nuts tend to gang up! I know… excuse the poor English, but when you hear about someone catching 14 lbs of smallmouth in a single cast, I tend to listen.

As I started reading about all the big catches on this lure, I knew it was time for me to take a look at this bad boy!  When I did get to see it, at first glance, the words just blurted out of my mouth: The Umbrella rig!

Ken Golub catches five smallmouth in one cast on the Alabama rig. (Photo courtesy of Ken Golub)

“Nawwa,” I was told in that Andy Griffith voice of one of my old fishing buddies. “It’s an Alabama rig. It was invented by an old boy down in Alabama,” I was told. After all that, I figured it was about time I did my homework.  In the words of my old hunting and fishing buddy Hershell Crum, “Learn yourself sumpin boy!”

As depicted in the picture, the Alabama rig is a five legged bait delivery rig. The center, which carries the lead, ranges from 3/8 to ½ ounce and the legs are made from .40 gauge stainless wire. Crappie size rigs are made of .35 gauge wire. Both are rigged with snaps and swivels.

The most popular way to set this rig up is to put a heaver bait on the center leg, then four of the lighter weighed lures on the other four wires. The idea is to give it some balance so it doesn’t tumble or roll as it’s coming through the water.

One of the reasons this lure made such a splash here in Kentucky was because of the big win that Dan Morehead of Paducah, had in the EverStart Championship. He used the Alabama rig and boated a whopping 61 lbs. 4oz. in four days, which consisted of 20 bass.

Here were his fishing notes:

Alabama Rig gear – 7′ heavy-action American Rodsmiths rod, Shimano Calais casting reel (6.2:1 ratio), 65 lbs. Spiderwire Stealth braided line, Alabama Rig with original 1/8-ounce swimbait heads, Berkley Hollow Belly swimbaits (Tennessee shad).

An Alabama rig sold by Mann's Bait Company. (photo by Chris Erwin)

Morehead had two Alabama-Rig setups – one with four 4-inch swimbaits and a 5-incher on the center wire. The other had five 5-inch baits that he used for culling after he’d caught a limit.

His topwater gear was 6 foot 6 inch medium-action American Rodsmiths rod, same reel, 17-pound P-Line monofilament line, Zara Spook (bone).

This tournament landed Morehead a  four day total of 61-04 that bested the field by about 4 1/2 pounds. It garnered him $50,000, a new Ranger boat and a guaranteed slot in next year’s Cup at Georgia’s Lake Lanier.

If you remember at the beginning of the article, the word’s Umbrella rig blundered out of my mouth. That’s because being as old as dirt, I’ve seen this rig before – it was used to catch strippers off shore. While they look very much alike, I am reminded of the little changes that make it suitable for freshwater fishing.

The inventor is Andy Poss, of Muscle Shoals, Ala. He is the owner of Slick Lures LLC, which started marketing the lures. However, this year they announced that they would become partners with Mann’s Bait Company and that the Alabama rig will be marketed exclusively by them. Mann’s is one of the largest producers of fishing lures. The rig costs about $28 dollars and can be purchased at most tackle shops.

I will be testing this rig this year, maybe between you and me, we can showcase how to best use this exciting new rig.

Good Fishing!

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