Something Fishy

Something Fishy
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Once it was the Big O, now its the Alabama rig for bass anglers

        Remember the craze about the Big O bass lure?. There were tales of them being rented on a day-to-day basis.
Everybody wanted one back in 1967. Founder Fred Young couldn’t build them fast enough. They were handcrafted from balsa wood.
Eventually, Cotton Cordell’s company obtained the rights to the lure and began mass producing the lure, which caught lots of big fish.
There have been other lure crazes, but that was the biggest I recall until maybe now. Now, it’s the Alabama rig. It’s a bass catching sensation.
The lure (or lures, there are multiple baits and hooks) appears to be loosely based upon the “umbrella rig”, which has been used to catch strippers. The first one I saw was a few years back at Lake Cumberland. They were trolled behind the boat and were meant to resemble a school of bait fish.
My friend Gerald Savage is an avid bass fisherman, who pursues the largemouth most every day. And he has spent considerable time studying the Alabama rig. He stopped by to show me a couple of rigs and explain their use.
Andy Poss was the inventor/developer of the Alabama rig, and it burst onto the fishing scene last November at the FLW bass tour event on Lake Guntersville.
Pro angler Paul Elias started throwing one in practice and began landing big and multiple fish. The word of Elias’ success spread like wildfire. He won the tournament with a four-day total of 102 pounds of fish. Eight of the top 10 anglers in the tournament used the rig. From that point on, it was difficult to obtain one. They quickly became scarce.
According to Gerald, the Alabama rig will catch fish anytime of the year, but appears to be especially effective in the fall and early winter when bait fish are schooled or “balled up”. The rig with multiple baits is designed to look like the schooling baitfish.
The rig doesn’t work in all conditions. It is best used in open water and doesn’t work well--at least for most anglers--in vegetation. 
The rig itself is light and has five arms or wires which hold five baits, which can vary in size and weight. For most anglers, it requires somewhat of a sidearm cast. It requires a seven-foot plus stiff rod, and a reel loaded with 50-60-pound braided line.
An Alabama rig costs around $25 from a retail store or on-line, plus then there is the cost of the baits or hooks added to the rig. Lures vary from jigs and swimming baits to larger lures. Most success comes from matching the lures to the bait fish in the area, often translucent colors. However, brighter colors work well in stained water.
The bait can cast and worked either deep or shallow during the retrieve, and one rig can land multiple fish. There have been reports of five bass being caught on a single rig.
“They are not a cure all,” says Gerald Savage, who not only makes his own rigs, but adds, “they will catch fish. I really don’t know how it will work in the spring and the summer, because they really haven’t been extensively fished then.”
Gerald is experimenting with a crappie lure, which would pull three jigs, and the Alabama rig folks (Mann Bait Company) reportedly also are working on a crappie rig.
Some states limit the number of hooks which can be legally fished by an angler, so it is wise to check local regulations. Most bass tournaments are permitting their use, however they have been banned by the BASS Elite tournament trail.


     PHOTO AT TOP  -- Gerald Savage of Winchester, TN, hold an Alabama rig. one of the hottest devices to catch largemouth bass.

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