An anniversary ... of sorts

On October 23 we "celebrated" the second anniversary of the castable umbrella rig (CUR). It was on that date in 2011 that Elite pro and 1982 Bassmaster Classic champ Paul Elias used "The Alabama Rig" (now manufactured by Mann's Bait Company) to win an FLW Open on Lake Guntersville.

The CUR wasn't technically "new" then, but the relative few that existed were in the hands of TAR creator Andy Poss, his friends and a few customers. It took the big tournament win to really put CURs on the map.

Since then, of course, both major tournament organizations (B.A.S.S. and FLW) have banned the CUR from their highest levels of competition. Both organizations cited requests from tournament anglers in their rulings. B.A.S.S. noted the unanimous "recommendation of its Bassmaster Elite Series rules committee" (Jan. 17, 2012). FLW pointed to "the wishes of a majority of our anglers" (Aug. 28, 2013).

It was feared that the CUR would wreak all manner of devastation on the bass fishing world, but it doesn't seem to have happened just yet. Yes, some tournaments have been won on CURs, but bass populations have not been laid waste in the process, the tackle industry has not crumpled to its knees to beg for relief (at least not because of CURs) and lousy anglers haven't suddenly been transformed into Kevin VanDam, Rick Clunn or even John Wilson.

What's more, we've been denied the opportunity to learn from the very best in the business (the anglers who fish the Elite Series and FLW Tour) because CURs are banned from their competitions and these anglers have little time or opportunity to use them elsewhere.

This is a controversial topics in some circles, and it's likely one that will resurface from time to time. Eventually, I suspect that CURs will be allowed in some form or fashion in most states where bass tournaments are regularly held. Likewise, I expect that most tournament organizations will eventually permit their use when not otherwise restricted by state law.

There was an uproar to ban the plastic worm and sonar in the 1950s. In the 1990s, underwater cameras came under scrutiny. They've all weathered the storms, and at least in the cases of soft plastics and sonar are fixtures on just about every bass fishing boat out there.

The CUR doesn't threaten bass populations any more than its troll-able cousin threatens striped bass numbers, and trolled umbrella rigs have been used for stripers for several decades.

Ultimately, an angler's success or failure doesn't hinge on whether or not he has the latest and greatest CUR on the market, but on whether or not he can find bass and present an appealing bait to them at the right depth and speed.

I expect that I could tie on the finest CUR in all the land, festoon it with the most tempting soft plastic swimbaits and cast it with the best rod and reel ever built for the purpose and still catch far fewer bass than Kevin VanDam using the same setup rigged with soda cans.

And I look forward to the day when the best anglers will have the full arsenal of tools at their disposal.