Do you remember a few years ago when Paul Elias won a big tournament on the new Alabama Rig and shocked the world with such a big catch?
Well, we’re real close to the A-rig season. In fact, it’s already in full swing in the north where water temperatures are plunging into the 50s.
That seems to be the key to A-rig fishing – cold or cooling water.
For those unfamiliar with the Alabama Rig, it consists of a multi-wire apparatus on which you snap on jigheads matched with swimbaits. You can add up to five baits on one rig, providing your state law allows it.
Those multiple swimbaits resemble a school of baitfish moving through the water column and the bass will come up and slam it.
It seems to be equally effective on largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. And why not? Those fish are dialed in on baitfish during cold-water periods, so it has natural appeal.
Most of the time you’ll hook one or two fish, but there have been those instances when an angler has landed several fish on one retrieve.
We can’t use the A Rig in tournaments, but I have played with it in my free time and recently filmed with Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show in which we used it. Mark Zona, a good friend of mine, is a huge fan of the rig.
We’ve learned through trial and error the subtleties of A-rigging and how to make it more versatile.
One of the many things I’ve learned is that the size of jigheads is critical. I think it’s important to use as light of jigs as possible for the depth of water you are fishing.
It seems like a slower presentation – where the baits waggle slowly through the strike zone – is vital. When you have too heavy of jigs heads, you have to speed up the retrieve and that can work against you.
I’ve also found that using a different-colored swimbait in the grouping can be more effective than using all of the same colors. When one swimbait is oddly different that tends to be the one that gets bit.
I’ve also discovered mixing styles, whether it’s one with one with a smaller or bigger boot-tail, can matter.
A couple of my favorites are the Strike King Rage Swimmer and Swimming Shiner; they both have uniquely different swimming actions. For whatever reason, adding one or two different styles in the grouping piques the bass’ interest.
You can get bit on this rig by simply casting and reeling slowly. However, I’ve seen bass follow a steadily reeled rig and not eat it, but if I change speeds or motion they will clobber it.
It’s very similar to what I will do when fishing a crankbait or spinnerbait. A sudden burst of speed followed by the slower speed can trigger a reaction.
I use the Strike King Tour Grade Titanium A-Rig for a number of reasons. First, the titanium wires won’t get bent or out of shape like generic rigs do when you catch fish. Also, the titanium wires flex with changes in speed. When I suddenly crank the handle quickly, the wires collapse momentarily and then flair open. That’s a great way to get a bass to commit.
Some A-rigs come with small spinner blades on the wire shafts to add flash. I like those when the water has some color to it. When it’s ultra-clear, I prefer the rig without blades.
The A-rig is heavy and awkward to cast so you need stout tackle. I throw it on a Quantum Flipping rod, a 7-10 heavy action model, with a 6.6:1 Smoke HD reel with a large capacity spool. I spool with 20-pound Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon line.
The A-Rig isn’t for every fishing situation, but it offers a great way to cover water and trigger strikes when the water gets cold and other lures aren’t getting it done.
Remember, it’s all about the attitude.