Any bass fisherman who has been around for a while has experienced the dilemma of reeling in a bass and having another one come right in alongside the first. The second fish is often another hungry fish from the same school and is actually trying to take the bait out of the mouth of the first one hooked. The feeding frenzy caused by your initial lure offering must be capitalized on quickly. Usually by the time you unhook the first bass, straighten up your lure and cast again, the second fish can't find the school of bait it thinks it was chasing, and has disappeared into the depths. You think, "If only I had another lure on my line, I surely could have caught the other one as well.
Using a two-lure rig is exactly what some Bassmasters do to try to catch more than one bass at a time, although that is not the only reason to use the pair of baits. The anglers who use this tactic are often trying to imitate a small school of baitfish that frequently will get the attention of one or more bass quicker than just a single offering. To a bass, some of the two-lure rigs may actually look like a larger forage species trying to eat a smaller one. And bass, being prime time opportunists as fishery biologists tell us, would see the presentation as an ideal feeding moment. It makes sense then that one or more minnows swimming erratically by would be more enticing to a bass than just one offering. The multiple-lure presentation is also something different that bass in many areas haven't seen, and at times can be the key to triggering a strike or two when single offerings go unnoticed.
History of two-lure rigs
Two-lure rigs are nothing new, but they have never really received the attention they deserve. Years ago, Heddon and Rebel introduced the Drop Zara Spook and Drop Pop R, respectively. These lures, which consisted of the plug along with a jig attached via dropper line, were used to catch fish that missed the topwater bait and could be caught on the second dropping lure.
Lunker Lure also introduced the Carolina Jig Weight some years ago. This rubber jig rig is intended to replace the weight on a Carolina rig. With this setup you have one lure at the weight and another at the end of the leader. Although both rigs have accounted for fish that would have otherwise not been caught, neither proved to be a huge commercial success.
Today's two-lure setups
Terry Scroggins, recent winner of the January 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer on Lake Okeechobee, uses a two-lure rig. He used it as part of his winning strategy to score a victory in the 2001 CITGO Bassmaster Eastern Open on the St. Johns River. And using the two-lure rig has helped Scroggins win more than 300 tournaments on the St. Johns River. The rig also was part of the arsenal that enabled him to catch over 60 fish during the December Bassmaster Eastern Open tournament that he won.
While most of his fish were caught on a Carolina rigged Zoom Finesse Worm, some key fish also were taken on a gold/green Heddon Zara Spook with a white Norman Front Runner teaser tied inches in front of it.
Scroggins used the Spook whenever he spotted schooling bass periodically surfacing in the areas he was fishing.
Mark Burgess, a Northeastern Skeeter Bass Boat rep and tournament angler from Norton, Mass., uses the same two-lure setup Scroggins uses.
"The two-lure setup works great on schooling fish," says Burgess.
"Although it's rare to catch two at a time on the rig, you can do it. It's a great rig to get a quick limit — usually smaller fish."
Burgess especially likes to throw the rig in tournament practice to help find schools of active fish. He prefers using the rig on clear bodies of water that have lots of smallmouth bass, such as Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Burgess uses other two-lure rigs as well. "While fishing a tournament on Lake Hartwell in Georgia, which is a premier clear topwater lake, a local angler showed me a two-lure rig using two Zoom Super Flukes." The Lake Hartwell rig consists of tying your main line first to a three way swivel.
Then you tie leaders of approximately 1 and 2 feet long to each of the two swivel eyes. Next, tie on two unweighted hooks and rig two soft plastic jerkbaits on the hooks. "I like to use a pink jerkbait that will ride up on top, and a silver jerkbait on the other hook," says Burgess. The rig is cast over points and extended sandbars and worked back to resemble a small school of baitfish that are fleeing. The rig can be used during postspawn periods to find schools of females suspended over deep water.
When I fish the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, along with other Northeastern bodies of water, I fish a couple of similar rigs as well. One rig is designed to catch active smallmouth bass on shallow flats and ends of points. This one consists of using two soft jerkbaits rigged on the same line, much like a drop shot rig. First, I rig this by tying on a weightless soft jerkbait hook, such as a Mustad Mega Bite Ultra Point hook, with a Palomar knot so that the hook point is riding straight up. Next, a weighted Mustad Impact Soft Plastic Ultra Point hook is tied to the end of the line about 10 to 18 inches down from the top hook. The top bait, like the one described in the Lake Hartwell rig, consists of a bright indicator lure (such as one in all-white, pink or chartreuse) and the bottom bait is a more natural color (such as alewife or watermelon). It's worked much like the Hartwell rig.
The second rig is basically a double drop shot rig. This two-lure setup is assembled by substituting the bottom drop shot weight with a jig or tube bait. With this rig, a bass angler can work the bottom fish with the tube and present a suspended soft plastic bait to bass cruising 1 to 6 feet above at the same time.
Alan McGuckin, Public Relations and Promotions Manager for Terminator Lures and an avid bass angler, uses a unique two-lure Carolina rig.
McGuckin first slides a ½-ounce Top Brass sinker on his main line. Next he ties on a three way swivel. Then he ties on a short leader with Berkley 20-pound-test Big Game line to one swivel eye. The first leader — only being about 4 to 6 inches long — is connected to a 1/0 or 2/0 Mustad Mega Bite hook. Next, McGuckin attaches the same hook to a 3-foot leader on the other swivel eye with 15-pound-test Berkley Big Game line. McGuckin likes to use either a Gene Larew Salt Craw or Twin Tail Skirted Grub with the shorter leader. On the longer leader he likes to use either a Gene Larew Salty Lizard or a HooDaddy.
"I use 20-pound test on the shorter leader because it's so short there is no room to give," says McGuckin. "I catch about half of my fish on the short leader lure and the other half on the long leader bait. No matter what level of angler I'm fishing with when I use the rig, I'm always asked questions about the setup."
The rigs mentioned above are more than likely not the only two-lure rigs being used by bass fishermen today. With ever increasing pressure on bass fishing waters, anglers are coming up with unique ways to catch bass. By employing two lures on your line at once, you too can increase the odds of finding and catching more fish.