One of the coolest ways to catch bass is with an Alabama Rig, also known as the “A Rig.” If you’re a fan of it like I am, you already know why it’s so good. The term that I often use is that it mesmerizes them. It really does. Out of the water, that contraption looks bulky and complicated, but in the water, it comes alive. It’s one of the best baits ever made to mimic a school of baitfish.
The one downfall of the traditional Alabama Rig is the limited number of places where you can fish it. With multiple exposed hooks, it can be amazing in open water or around sparse cover, but it doesn’t do well in weeds, timber, brush or around docks. That’s why my until-now-secret modification is so awesome. It makes the rig weedless and snagless. Now you can fish it in all of those places that were previously inaccessible.
The change is really simple – just replace your open-hooked darter or ball head jigs with weedless swimbait hooks. They can be weightless in super-shallow water or over grass, or weighted to achieve the desired depth. I use VMC Ike Approved Weighted Swimbait Hooks from 1/16 to 1/2-ounce. They incorporate a really cool little keel weight that keep the whole rig running straight.
Despite changing the hooks, I still usually stick with the same swimbaits that I use on the open hooks. I love the Berkley Power Swimmer which has a boot tail in sizes from 2.8 inches all the way up to 4- or 5-inches. The 3.3 is a good all around size. Just make sure that you mimic the forage. Just stick the hook’s screw-lock into the nose of the bait and turn it clockwise until the head of the lure is snug against the eye of the hook. Make sure it’s nice and straight and “Texpose” it for maximum effectiveness.
One of my favorite A Rigs is Shane’s Mini Blades of Glory. It’s smaller than some of the massive rigs that were popular a decade ago. It’s almost like a big spinnerbait, which means that you don’t need a highly specialized rod and reel to fish it. You can use a standard baitcasting setup.
My two favorite rods are an Abu-Garcia 7’6” when I want to make precision casts to cover and a 7’10” when I need to make longer casts. Both are medium-heavy actions. If you go heavier than that, you won’t allow a striking fish to grab the bait, and if you go lighter you won’t be able to set the hook or control the bass.
I match my reel speed to what I’m doing with the bait on that particular day. Usually it’s a pretty methodical retrieve, so I use the Revo Ike in 6.6:1, which allows me to slow down. If I’m burning the bait or trying to keep it up over grass, though, I’ll go up to the 8.0:1.
The biggest mistake I see many anglers make with these lures is their line choice. Even in extreme heavy cover, do not use braid! Don’t use braid to a fluorocarbon leader, either. I want you to use straight fluoro. This will allow the bait to maintain its maximum action, coming in straight and natural. It will also allow it to sink. It’s particularly critical in clear water, where the line’s lack of visibility will get you extra strikes. Finally, I want a little bit of stretch, a little bit of give, when the fish bites, and this provides that attribute. I might go as low as 12 or 15 pound test on the lighter side all the way up to 25 or 30 in the thickest cover.
If you love fishing the A Rig as much as I do – or even if you’ve never tried it – give this simple modification and system a try. It will allow you to throw it in places you would never, even throw a traditional A Rig and mesmerize populations of fish that have never seen it before.
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