The bass weapon everyone's talking about
Last October, bass pro Paul Elias used a strange new rig to win an FLW Tour event on Lake Guntersville. He weighed in more than 102 pounds of bass in four days, rivaling tour weight records that are normally set in spring. A week later, Dan Morehead fished the same rig to win another major FLW event on Kentucky Lake. Three of the other top five finishers on Kentucky Lake used it, too.
Elias's and Morehead's secret weapon was the Alabama Rig. And it's been on back order ever since.
Basically a castable umbrella rig, the Alabama Rig is a far cry from your standard bass bait. Five 1⁄8-ounce jigs tipped with swimbaits (or other plastics) are attached to a wire harness. With a simple cast-and-retrieve, the plastics swim in tandem to imitate a school of shad. "I've fished competitively for 18 years," Morehead says, "and I've never seen anything trigger a predatory response in fish like this. When bass are suspended and targeting baitfish, it works like nothing else." Morehead once reeled in three fish at once-including two 4-pounders.
An Alabama Rig is heavy, so it requires heavy tackle. Morehead uses a 7-foot 4-inch, medium-heavy swimbait rod and a baitcasting reel with 80-pound braid. "It'll wear you out by the end of the day, but anybody can fish it," he says. "And it'll work on largemouths, smallmouths, stripers, you name it. I even hear they're coming out with a smaller version for crappie fishing."
In January, BASS outlawed the Alabama Rig in Elite and Classic tournaments, and it has been declared illegal in some states. Check regulations. -W.B.
The two-in-one meal trout can't resist
Combine a strip of bacon (a mealworm) with a delicious egg (a synthetic floating salmon egg) and you've got a rig that trout can't resist. The bacon-and-eggs rig not only presents two morsels at once but does so in a way that gets the bait in front of big trout more often. By ditching the natural salmon egg and opting for a synthetic one, such as those made by Z‑Man or Berkley, you've got an eye-grabbing attractor and a means to float a mealworm just off the bottom as it ticks through a run. First, slip the egg onto the hook and push it up to the eye. Now run the hook through the worm and add a split shot or two 18 inches up the line. It's best fished on 4- to 6-pound-test. You can cast the rig to distant seams and eddies without worrying about the egg flying off like delicate natural roe. -J.C.
The newest artificial baits bass hit out of hate
In late spring, pro bass angler Jami Fralick passes over the shad and crayfish lures in his box. He has something else that'll tick the bass off-something they don't eat as much as attack. That something is a bluegill. "The cool thing about a bluegill lure," he says, "is bass don't have to be in a feeding mood to hit it. They'll smack it out of sheer aggression."
The lures come in several styles, and the newest models, such as the Ultimate Bluegill or the Giron (pictured), look as good as the real thing...only they can cost upwards of $20 or more. But as Fralick puts it: "That's a small price to pay for a heavy sack of bass in a major tournament." Or a fat lunker on your wall. -D.W.
Thumbnail images for this story courtesy of JustyCinMD on Flickr