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Nothing in the fishing world has been met with as much fishy anticipation and latent opposition as the Alabama Rig. This “new” rig is a miniature striped bass umbrella rig producing giant results when retrieved past largemouth bass. Last fall Paul Elias’ rig dominated a 4-day FLW tournament.

This rig is five lures. Not five-in-one, five lures period!  A fish bites, swims away or is winched toward the boat, when another fish bites and then another!  One cast; one, two or three fish…even five!  Not for lightweights…a rig can weigh in excess of half a pound, requiring an 8-foot broomstick rod to launch. It’s a workout! 

For a “sport” that boats sporting rules, it’s a stretch to include a “five against one” fishing strategy when rules disqualify anglers making a cast with one rod and, while the bait is in the water, picking up another rod to cast. Five lures on one rod is OK? Accidentally hook a fish outside the mouth while sight fishing, toss it back. Having one fish swim around until it hooks another is OK? 

Three Potomac jurisdictions stab the heart of Dixie’s rig. Maryland, the Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) and the District of Columbia allow hooks on only 2 of 5 Alabama Rig baits. Virginia has no hook restrictions in the Potomac’s Virginia Creeks. Dave Fauntleroy, director of LAPR Bass, will institute local regulations into his rules, modifying this stance to parallel B.A.S.S. and FLW (which allows it this year), leading and encouraging anglers to use them. Probably because just about every lure maker, and potential tournament sponsor, has knocked-off bent and twisted wire to snare anglers while the iron is hot. Perhaps, after the big money is made, cooler and more sensible heads will prevail. Behind the scenes many top pros are opposed to multiple hookers. Publicly a handful has come out in “non-opposition”. Finally B.A.S.S. announced in late January they’re banning the rigs from their Elite Series only.

Hauling in multiple fish presents a fish-handling dilemma. Culling two or three at a time means sloppy fish care…flopping on carpet creating anti-fishing group photo-ops. As fish are dragged to the boat, they twist and turn causing hook injuries. Co-anglers burning up a fishing spot make it tougher on pros to make a living. Increased catch and release will increase delayed mortality and the spread of Largemouth Bass Virus. In total, all of these actions present unsavory evidence for anti fishing advocates.

New technique? New lure? Or just a bass fishing trotline? Internet anglers are viewing this scenario with polarizing lenses. Part-time tournament anglers don’t want to blink…refusing to relinquish their right to use pentagonal rigs. A handful sees the sport through old school bi-focals…the thrill of seining in 5 at a time with an eye on the future of the sport. Umbrellas are for rainy days; umbrellas rigs shouldn’t take the fishing world by storm. Alabama Rigs should be a passing event strengthening the sport rather than a tide washing it away.

Capt. Steve Chaconas, Potomac bass fishing guide, BoatUS “Ask the Expert” (
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