Alabama Rig Fishing - Fall to Winter Transition
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Alabama Rig fishing has become a huge staple in the bass fishing industry. Andy Poss, the inventor, out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama started winning everything he entered around 10 years ago. Rumor was that he a had a new bait that was better than anything that has ever been invented in bass fishing. Some of us were skeptical... Wondering, "What could possibly be that good..??" Whats so genius about the Alabama Rig is that it defies logic. I delve into this topic quite often on guide trips.
Human logic vs Bass logic. It really is an oxymoron. We as fisherman try to impose our logic onto a bass, and it just doesn't work. The bass is a creature reacting to his environment. He is built with natural instincts to reproduce,kill, and destroy. That's basically my opinion of a bass. He wants to be as comfortable as possible doing these things. Now within this parameter there are countless patterns that you can operate within this paradigm shift. I really stopped thinking they're doing this because of this, this, and this. I just started accepting they're are just here right now to either reproduce, kill, or destroy. When you start being more open minded like this bass fishing, it opens up exponential opportunities for patterns you wouldn't have otherwise considered. Hence, the Alabama Rig Paradigm Shift.
Before this concept of the Alabama Rig, we never before considered that we could get away with throwing gaudy visible wires to fool a bass! We have been trending towards finesse, natural, and subtle presentations to catch more bass. Then here comes some 3 ounce rig splashing into the water every cast catching them better than anything that has ever been cast 2 catch. Catching doubles are common, even triples, and quadruples! All based on the principle of 5 wires and 5 swimbaits.
WHY IT WORKS!
The Alabama Rig works because of slight of hand. Just like humans our brains can only track and focus on so much; taking in whatever information presented to us. The bass species is no different. The Alabama Rig works as an illusion to a fish! I explain it to clients like this... "Imagine you saw 5 Boeing 747s in a tight formation low to the ground. If those airplanes were being pulled by a cable would you even notice? You would be totally freaked out and 9 out of 10 people would probably not even notice the cables. They would just see the planes! The bass only see these swimbaits swimming through the water, and they are blind to the actual harness dragging them through the water. To that note, the bigger the swimbaits on the Alabama Rig the better the illusion.
My Favorite Alabama Rig Setups
My top three go to Alabama Rig setups are as follows.
- Yumbrella Flashmob Jr.
- The Orginal Alabama Rig
- Picasso Finesse Alabama Rig
Now all of these Alabama Rigs can be outfitted with the heads and swimbaits I am going to discuss. My number 1 favorite rig 80% of the time is going to be the True Bass Swimbaits 1/8 ounce heads and 3/0 hook. My two baits are The Minner 3.5 by True Bass, and the Reaction Innovations Little Dipper! If you throw these on any of those three Alabama Rigs listed above you will be successful! My second favorite rig is a slightly heavier version, BUT it is based on the principle of greater illusion. I throw all 1/4 ounce True Lock Swimbait Heads with all Little Head 4.5 inch True Bass Swimbaits! Both of these triples pictured below were caught with this setup and on True Blue color.
Rod and Reel for The Alabama Rig
First we are going to need the right rod and reel combination! There are a lot of people out there throwing TOO HEAVY of a rod for this application. Yes if you are throwing the 1/4 ounce little head 4.5 inch baits you need a 7'8' Heavy action rod. If you are throwing my go 2 setup which is 1/8 ounce heads you will need just a 7'3'' Medium Heavy or 7'6'' Medium Heavy. If I am targeting bass around cover and making precise casts to boat docks or grass clumps I am going with the 7'3'' MH. Mainly because I can manipulate this rod way more efficiently and put the bait exactly where I want it. If I am fan casting and covering water I am going to opt for the 7'6'' medium heavy rod. My favorite one so far is the Mark Rose Ledge Series Swimbait Rod. Beautiful parabolic bend and enough backbone to hoist in 3 big fish at once when you have that triple! The reason for the longer rod is that I can cast it farther.
The reel is a huge factor in this. If I have to choose one gear ratio for swimbaits in general for the end of time it is a 6.4:1 gear ratio real. You can slow down when you need to and speed up when you need to. If you're throwing a 5 and you have one knock 4 foot of slack in your line good luck getting a hook in him. I would rather discipline my hand to reel the bait slower and have the ability to take up slack when I need to. If you are throwing it shallow over 3 foot of grass thats when you want a 7 or 8 to 1 type reel Just know its going to be harder to turn the handle because of the drag of the bait. I'm a big Lews BB1 Pro fan. Best 6.4:1 swimbait reel on the market.
How to Fish The Alabama Rig
Now on to actually fishing the Alabama rig... This is where most people start over thinking the fishing aspect. If you have the setup that I described above with the heads I listed above. You want to throw it on 50 to 65lb braid and just use a normal steady retrieve over whatever cover or structure you're targeting.
There are really three types of retrieves. The one where you start reeling when it hits the water, a countdown, lastly letting it hit the bottom before starting your retrieve. When you start reeling when the rig hits the water I want you to think what pace do I need to retrieve to hover this bait a foot over the structure. This is a big key. Once you finally get a bite remember the pace at which you retrieved the bait. Always remember this with any of the three techniques. When you're counting down the bait for suspending fish you want to know how many seconds equal how many feet. An Alabama Rig is generally sinking about 2 feet per second, and even faster with the 1/4 ounce head rig. A good starting place is a 5 second countdown to get it to 10 foot and then begin your retrieve. I opt for the last option of letting it hit the bottom if the fish are really positioned on the bottom and not wanting to come up to the rig itself. The other is that I am fishing it extremely deep as in 20 foot or more. Now if you're on the west coast or even a highland reservoir you're going to have to master the countdown for suspending fish.
Lastly, I want you to play with using fluorocarbon on your deep clear reservoirs. For some reason it seems to get more bites. They can't see the dang wires to the Alabama Rig, but they can see the line it seems.... However the line of sight to the line is a lot farther removed from the illusion of the swimbaits, so it does make sense.
Alabama Rig Conclusion
In the end the Alabama Rig is a bait that shook up the entire industry, and certain anglers even have made their career off of this singular setup. They have mastered the art of The Alabama Rig. It catches fish so well that it has been banned in every top tier professional circuit as of now. Pro Am circuits let you throw two dummies and three hooks. All in all if you're not throwing it starting in the fall you are really costing yourself a great fishing experience, because there really isn't a bait that can hold a candle to it when they start chasing shad. Go buy what we discussed above, and send me a picture of your triple!
Don't miss my WINTER SPECIAL!*** $375 for an 8 hour guide trip with a pro!
If you want to book a trip to fish with me just give me a call or send an email. God bless!
Ryan Salzman, Alabama Bass Guide