Winter Smallmouth Fishing with Alabama Rig??

The big boom heard around the fishing world is the famous “Alabama Rig.”  For those of you who have not heard this bait was invented by Andy Poss of north Alabama.  The lure was then made famous by Paul Elias’ miraculous showing this last fall on Guntersville.  I was skeptical about this lure at first.  I knew it would catch fish in the fall when the bass have the bait pushed up and feeding.  But what about winter, spring, and summer?  This question will have to wait awhile to be answered.

To give a quick run-down of the “A-rig,” it is simple.  Five steel or aluminum wires rigged with swivels and snaps.  It is meant to hold five swimbaits, imitating a ball of baitfish.

Here is a picture of Andy Poss’ creation.

Recently, I fished a TCBFT tournament on Lake Chickamauga.  During practice my partner and I decided to lock through to Lake Nickajack.  We fished current breaks in the river with these Alabama Rigs.  Using big All Pro Rods and 65 lb braid, it was a beast to cast.  But I was shocked!  In three hours, we caught seven fish.  Five of these bass were four pounds or better, in just three hours!  This made me a believer that they A-Rig was definitely something I needed to keep in my arsenal of bait choices.

I then experimented with it once more these last couple of weeks.  My home lake is Tim’s Ford.  Here, smallmouth bass are the fish to chase, especially in the winter months.  This lake is deep and clear.  I wanted to put this A-Rig to the test.  Being this lake is so clear, I honestly thought it would effect the Alabama Rig’s success. With its bulky presence, I didn’t think the bass would chase it if they got a good look at it.  So my good friend Nolen Spencer and I head out to the lake.

Our first stop was in a pocket right off the main lake.  It was a fairly deep pocket with depths up to 25 foot.  We started throwing the A-Rig and about five cast into it, I watched a five pound smallmouth follow my rig to the boat.  I then knew the water was too clear for this rig unless I burned it.  The next cast I burned it fairly fast then BAM, a good smalljaw was hooked up!  As I was reeling this four pound smallmouth on top of the water, another smallmouth came up and hammered it on top!  I didn’t hook up with him but was shocked what I had seen.  So then we started to parallel a few bluffs at the mouths of the creeks catching several smallmouth up to four pounds.

We then headed to a spot near the dam right before dark.  We started to let this rig sink to depths of 30 feet deep.  We caught seven, let me repeat, seven smallmouth extremely quick!  I couldn’t get over how hard they hit this thing.

After my first experience with this bait on Tim’s Ford, I decided the next day I would head up the river to catch some largemouth.  The water temp was 49 degrees.  I fished two hours with shakey heads and crankbaits only catching four fish.  I then started to graph the creek channels on my way out.  I found a few fish chasing but not many.  I decided to give the Alabama Rig a whirl.  My first cast I caught a keeper.  The next cast, I caught another keeper.  This continued for thirty minutes catching over thirty fish in one area.  I was sitting in 25 feet of water and let my rig sink to 15 feet.  I was absolutely shocked how good this rig works when the bass are suspended.

After it’s all said and done, there is no doubt that the Alabama Rig is the biggest break through in bass fishing to date.  But like most lures, fish will get adapted to it.  I have already heard of situations like these on Guntersville this lake week, where everybody is hammering the fish with the rig.  But the best success has been with a scrounger head and a fluke with limited success on the rig on occasions.

As a tournament angler, I wish this rig would be banned from all my tournaments.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a fun way to catch fish.  But it is also another lure I have to keep in mind at all times.  If the fish are biting it and I don’t throw it, I know that I will get my butt kicked.  I also think an average Joe can pull up somewhere and catch over 20 lbs and beat me in a tournament.  It’s a bait anybody can throw whether you fish deep, shallow, or in between.  But until some rules change, you better believe I will have several in my boat.  The rig’s success is yet to be determined in other times of the year, but who knows.  It may be something an angler can throw all year and be successful.

If you have any questions about the A-Rig feel free to contact me at cmgass42@students.tntech.edu.  I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you have about the rig, or fishing in general.

Below are some smallmouth caught on the A-Rig recently.  All fished were released safely.

God Bless,

Cody Gass

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4 Responses

  1. Good job Cody. What are the rulings on how many hooks we can use in Tennessee and what sizes.

    • Hey Don! In Tennessee, an angler is only allowed three hooks on the A-Rig. But the hooks can be any size. Now if a man could make the fish key in on a certain one, in TN you can throw five baits with only one hook bigger than a #6. But the other four baits would not have any.

  2. You are right this Rig is more versatile than people think. Me and Jay Murray went out to Tims Ford a few weeks back to try it out and we decided that we where going to see what it could do around cover if we found fish so we got to the back if Lil Hurricane found some fish around laydowns we had 4 keeper Largemouth within and Hour. And its was fairly easy to get out if u happened to hang up as u said its a fairly IDIOT proof bait. Like you I’m afraid it won’t take long for fish to adapt.

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