Tyler Anderson can attest to the effectiveness of the umbrella rig, especially in the winter months. During the winter months, the bass fishing can be slow and daunting, but an Alabama Rig can change that feeling entirely. So, without further delay, here are 5 Alabama Rig tips from Tyler to help you up your umbrella rig game.
Alabama Rig Tips #1: Use it as a Search Bait
In the wintertime, bass often feed and suspend at various depths. The umbrella rig gives an angler the ability to fish various depths of the water column better than other baits built to fish one particular depth.
“In the wintertime, I know fish are feeding on bait fish. But if I were to throw a crankbait, I’d be tied to that particular depth of water. The umbrella rig allows me to cover a lot of water columns and a lot of water quickly. It’s an excellent search bait to figure out what depth of water the fish are in. Once I get bit, I can throw a hair jig, a crankbait or a lipless to catch more of them but the umbrella rig just allows me to find them a lot faster.”
Alabama Rig Tips #2: Counting it Down
“To target fish at various depths with an umbrella rig, I count the rig down”
If you see fish on your electronics at a certain depth below the boat, you can ‘count’ your umbrella rig down to that depth by throwing it out and letting it sink before you start your retrieve. The rate of fall (ROF) depends on a number of variables including weight of the overall rig, slackness of the line, type and pound-test of the line, resistance of the baits and blades, etc.
A good rule of thumb is 1-foot per second. So if you see fish in an area that are suspended 12-feet below the surface, cast the rig out and count it down 12 seconds. One thing Tyler notes,
“A bass’s eyes are on the top of its head, so they feed up.”
So, when you’re counting a bait down and are unsure of the exact ROF, it’s better to come over the fish than under them.
Alabama Rig Tips #3: Braid Versus Fluorocarbon
There’s a fair amount of debate on whether fluorocarbon is necessary for stealth when throwing an umbrella rig. The initial assessment of the gaudiness of an umbrella rig with its metal wires, swivels, and other accoutrement leads one to believe the fish won’t notice a little braid. But with more and more emphasis on blades to mask the metal arms and even some companies testing out clear arms in place of metal ones, who’s to say fluorocarbon couldn’t help a little in certain situations.
“I throw it on braid the majority of the time because it’s more of a reaction strike to me. But I do get more bites on 25-pound fluorocarbon if the water is gin clear. The water I usually fish in Texas just doesn’t get too clear very often. However, I could see using fluorocarbon more if I fished in a gin clear water more often. ”
Alabama Rig Tips #4: Customize Your Alabama Rig
There’s not really a standard umbrella rig anymore. In the beginning, the actual Alabama Rig had 5 wires, each of which an angler would attach a jig head to and a swimbait would be placed on each jig head. That could still be viewed somewhat as the basic setup. But now, you can find an umbrella rig to meet any rule requirement or desire you have. There are rigs with blades, rigs without blades, rigs with over a dozen baits, rigs with dummy baits with no hooks and the list goes on.
Each angler can build their own go-to rig and develop a little extra confidence knowing that his or her setup isn’t exactly like all the rest.
“I use a YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr with 1/16-ounce jig heads. But if I’m in a tournament situation, especially for the FLW, I can only have 3 hooks. But I still want 5 baits on there, so two of them have to be dummies. I’ll put two swimbaits on the top two wires with screw locks. The middle wire and the bottom two wires will have the jig heads on them and that makes it come through the water better with the weight on the bottom of the rig.”
Tyler also likes to customize his umbrella rig by altering the middle swimbait. He’ll either use the same size bait in a different color or use a little bigger bait on the middle wire.
“I have found that, especially when I do just a slightly different color, the middle one is usually the one that gets bit.”
Tyler also changes the colors of all the swimbaits defending on the water clarity. In clearer water, the more natural color baits work well. The more stained, the more he leans towards chartreuse and white.
Alabama Rig Tips #5: What to Throw Your Alabama Rig On
“I tend to throw it on a fairly long, stiff rod. I have found that as long I don’t slam into them, I can get a much longer cast with a 7-11 than I can with a little shorter rod. And it also puts a lot less strain on my wrist when I’m casting. I could probably make more accurate casts with a shorter rod but when I’m throwing an umbrella rig I’m just paralleling bank.”
You also need a heavy duty reel when lobbing an umbrella rig.
Tyler stresses the importance for the reel to be made out of strong, metal parts and not plastic like a lot of reels are these days. He uses a Lews Pro Ti which is made out of titanium. The rod he uses is a Lews Custom Plus 7-11.
See more winter Alabama Rig tips from Tyler Anderson here: