When times are tough, folks in the United States don’t just sit back and rest on their laurels… they go fishing. When fishing is slow, those same Americans allow natural innovation and ingenuity to take hold of their thoughts and that’s when those world-class ideas hit you “like a ton of bricks.” Whether that angler’s thoughts have wandered to cadiahoangtuan.com “the next best boat cup holder,” “a lure adjustment to get to the right depth or have the right wiggle, bobble, splash or other subdued action,” or “just another technical approach on how that angler is going to fill the live well with their targeted game-fish”… it just happens. That same angler comes up with a new idea, approach, or technique that not only makes common sense… but fantastic fishing-sense! The newest fishing lure to hit the water, the Alabama Rig, is no different because to fish one just makes sense.
Recently, this new fishing lure has stormed not only the fishing scene, ranging from the avid recreational angler to bass fishing tournament pro circuits, but the fishing industry as well. So what is this “magic” fishing lure and how has it changed the way we think about fishing? The now infamous “Alabama Rig”- a simple spinner-bait-like fishing rig that provides multiple lures simultaneously to would-be game-fish. Some will argue that the Alabama Rig is just a modification of an old, very well know saltwater tool, the Umbrella Rig. Though,for the most part, true, however, the application is new to most fresh water anglers.
In the simplest of descriptions, the Alabama Rig (or sometimes referred to as the “A-Rig”) is the bass fisherman’s means to present an artificial school of bait-fish to their prey. There are generally two styles of these lures: 1) 3-wire set-ups, and 4-wire set-ups. In general, the A-Rig has wire arms (3 or 4 depending on the particular lure you’re using) extending from a central post, with each arm and central post designed to mount separate lures. The center of the wire arms is a molded lure head and a straight wire extends back from it and holds another lure. Each arm (or wire) may be bent to varying angles and each has a simple swivel to attach the lure. When properly assembled, the Alabama Rig resembles a school of bait-fish and let me tell you, so far has proven a sure-fire weapon in the tackle arsenal of serious anglers.
Whether fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped-bass, wipers, or other game-fish, the resemblance of shad or a school of bait-fish has placed the A-Rig in a class of lures that stands all by themselves. Before this innovation, species such as bass, have always received lure presentations of single lures: top water tackle, spinner-baits, crank-baits, swim baits, etc. For the first time in the freshwater angling world, multiple lure presentations are now available due to the simple, yet effective design of the American ingenuity provided in the Alabama Rig.
So what type of fishing rod is required to cast one of these new contraptions and how do you fish an A-Rig? For starters, you’re going to need a heavier outfit to cast the Alabama Rig. It’s not the weight of the rig (approximately 3/8 ounces with no lures), but depending on the size and weight of the individual lures, can weigh in upwards of 3+ ounces (or the equivalent of a large, West Coast swim bait or muskie lure). So if you’re accustomed to fishing a lighter rod, better hit the gym and bulk up those casting muscles, or better yet, just be sure your armed with a fishing rod designed for casting (and retrieving) this particular lure. So again, what type of rod will I need? Well, it depends on the lures your throwing, the water you are covering, and the technique your using, but a good place to find the right rod for you is to design the perfect Alabama Rig custom fishing rod.
In general terms, you’re going to need a 7-8 foot fishing rod that is at least medium heavy power and with rod action in the moderate to fast action. Your rod blank and rod hardware should be capable of handling anywhere between 20-65 pound braided line and you’re going to require a fishing reel that can support the additional torque and load of the retrieve (at least a 6:4:1 ratio). Choose a higher ratio reel for faster retrieves (like a 7:1:1) and be sure to select a reel that is nice and smooth so as not to tangle you’re the individual baits in mid-air. Braided line is better designed to handle the intricacies of the Alabama Rig to include: casting, retrieval, hook set, as well as fighting and landing your fish. Braid has less stretch, is more durable, and overall more responsive to the conditions you will encounter when using this particular fishing lure. Additionally, using a heavier braided line will allow you to retrieve you’re A-Rig in the event that you get hung up (because they are not cheap and the lure itself starts out in the $25 range and go up in price depending on the price of the lures your place on your rig).
It is important when rigging the bait to keep the baits as close together as possible without getting them tangled, unless of course you intend to “spread out” your particular presentation of schooling bait-fish or shad. Some anglers use the Alabama Rig as their “search” bait much like a spinner-bait is used to seek out schooling or suspended fish in open water while other anglers prefer to aim their rig at precise targets. They will fan-cast to points, piles, humps, and other aquatic cover in a technique similar to that of using a crank-bait. Still, other anglers will cast shallow, varying depth with their rig to where they believe the fish are hunkered down. A common presentation technique for this innovative tackle design is to cast out, count the amount of time it takes to reach bottom, and then retrieve. If a fish doesn’t strike the baits, then subtract a second from your count on the next drop-down to depth and retrieve. Repeat until either you catch a fish or conclude that you have covered that particular column and area of water. This tactic works well on deep drop-off points and submerged mounds or humps. Also, when fishing swim baits or jigs on your A-Rig, you can vary the weight of the jig heads to make it sink faster or slower as well as changing the retrieve speed to either sustain or descend your school of bait-fish in the water column. Ultimately, your presentation will depend on the where you believe the fish to be located and thus, how deep, shallow, slow, or fast you want to fish.