What is an Alabama Rig
An Alabama rig, also known as an umbrella rig or a-rig has a swimbait style head with wires branching out similar to an umbrella. The number of wires differs from rig to rig but the most popular is a five wire. These wires have swivels and snaps on the end that allow you to rig hooks on each wire. This design allows you to mimic a baitfish school.
Setup an Alabama Rig
The first thing to do when considering fishing an A-rig is to look up your state law for hook limits. Most states allow 3 or 5 hooks while some have no restrictions. Your state’s limit will determine how you set up your umbrella rig. You can find your state’s laws below.
The most common a-rig setup for bass is 5 wires. With 5 wired setups the top two wires should be bent up and out. The middle wire stays straight and the bottom 2 wires should bend down and out.
When bending the wires it is important that all sides match. All bends should start and end in the same place. Each outer wire should mirror the other 3. If they don’t match, the rig could roll and not perform properly. This is extra important on rigs limited on hooks.
The next thing I do is remove all the factory snaps. Factory snaps tend to be weak and a common point of failure. Alabama rigs often draw in giant bass so I remove them so I never have to worry about losing a bass of a lifetime due to snap failure.
After bending out all the wires and removing the factory snaps you can start modifying and adding hooks based on your state’s laws.
Fish an Alabama Rig
When fishing an Alabama Rig a simple steady retrieve will catch fish but adding some variation in speed will increase your success greatly. As you are reeling in, add rod pumps or quick reel turns every couple of feet.
These occasional bursts of speed will get the wires to pulse out and in. This pulse of movement mimics baitfish in a school panicking and darting away but then coming back for safety. This action causes bass that is following to decide quickly whether to ambush the rig.
Target any Depth
The most important thing to figure out when fishing an umbrella rig is the depth bass are holding at. A fish finder can make this easier but it can also be determined by trying different depths and figuring out a pattern.
Umbrella rigs can be fished at just about any depth by counting down and letting them sink each cast. To do this you need to determine the rate of fall for your rig. The easiest way to do this is to put your rod vertical and allow enough line out so your bait is hanging right at the end of your rod handle. This way you know exactly how much line you have out, it will be the exact length of your rod.
With this information, you can put your rod tip at water level and count how long it takes the bait to fall to that depth. From there it is simple math. If it took 6 seconds to drop 8ft and you want to target 20ft down then you need to let it sink for about 13-15 seconds. This allows you to better target certain depths while also helping prevent you from getting hung up on the bottom or cover.
Now head over to your favorite sports store and grab yourself an A-Rig and start learning the art of this fish-catching rig.
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