Fishing the Alabama Rig
By Tom Branch, Jr.
What type of fishing rod, reel, and line should you be using to cast one of these new-fangled contraptions called an “Alabama” Rig (also known as The Deadly 5, Bait Chaser Rig, The Swarm, Umbrella Rig?) For starters, you’re going to need heavier types of outfits, as your fishing rods and reels must be able to handle heavy weighted lures.
It’s not just the weight of the rig, which alone can weigh up to five-eights ounce without any baits attached to it. Add five three and a half inch Paddle Tail Shad in white and five quality jig heads and you will be pushing a total weight in excess of four ounces. Some of us bass fishing guys are just not used to casting a lure that weighs as much as a wet tennis shoe. So, you guys fishing with your lightweight rods – BEWARE. Fishing with a lighter rod will cause you to make a return trip to your local tackle store to purchase another fishing rod.
In general terms of rod selection for this Rig, what you’re going to need is a minimum of a seven foot, six inch fishing rod that is at least medium heavy power. The rod action should be a moderate to fast action. Make sure you are using a fishing rod designed for casting (and retrieving) this particular lure. I like a rod that is light in weight, tough, and can handle the stress of the weight. Make sure the rod has some nice performance features; which should include a high grade eighty-five million modulus graphite blank at a minimum, good carbon wall construction, with strength and power. I have been impressed with the Fuji New Concept stainless steel K-guides with Alconite rings. These guides can handle a braided fishing line between sixty-five and eighty pounds without any problems. The reel seat should be comfortable in your hands, be low profile, and have a two-piece exposed-blank reel seat with a Soft Touch finish.
When choosing a fishing reel you should remember it will be handling a heavy rig with some very heavy line. You must get a top-quality reel that will be able to give you power and support the torque. I chose a reel that has at least a 6.4:1 gear ratio. I would suggest finding a reel that is “bulletproof inside and out!” The frame needs to be die-cast aluminum and should have removable side plates. This allows for a thorough cleaning and allows you to adjust the braking system on most reels. Lately, the aluminum spools that float on stainless steel ball bearings have become very popular. Quality reels will come with Japanese stainless steel bearings. Just as important as the bearing, a quality drive gear is number one in my book. The gear does all the work when you really need the torque to reel in that monster bass. A dual braking system on a baitcasting reel will assist you more by minimizing your backlashes. You are going to backlash your reels when you cast this rig, just be prepared. There is no such thing as a backlash-free casting reel! Remember, you are only tossing this Rig, not overhead casting it. If you start casting it like a spinnerbait you are not going to last thirty minutes. I do not like using the slower gear ratio reels on this Rig because I lose too much power. It is also importance that you choose a reel that is nice and smooth so as not to tangle you’re individual baits in mid-air, and you can crank it for a few hours with minimal stress.
Braided line is better designed to handle the complexity of the Rig. It casts smoothly, has a good retrieval, a very strong hook set, and will not break under pressure. The purpose of all braided lines is to have less stretch, be durable, and overall be able to handle heavy conditions and fish. The heavier line will allow retrieving those Rigs when they get hung up. I would rather straighten a few hooks than lose a complete rig.
Don’t go out there and waste your hard-earned money on junk! I want you to catch more fish so you will buy more rods, reels, lures, and line. So invest in the quality gear and catch more fish with tons of confidence. Fishing success has been incredible using the “Alabama” Rig and similar baits. I have heard of people from coast to coast catching with them. It’s a proven tournament winner lure. Take what I have told you to heart and fish with confidence!
My rig combo of choice is the Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series II Trigger Rod Model JML76HT. My reel is the Johnny Morris Signature Series Model JMX10HD with a gear ratio of 6.4:1 and my line choice is Vicious Fishing Braid in either sixty-five or eighty pound, in moss green.
Thanks for reading…… BRANCH
About the author: Tom Branch, Jr. is a freelance outdoor writer and a full time Lieutenant/Firefighter-Paramedic with over twenty-six years of service with the Gwinnett County Fire Service in Georgia. He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over sixteen years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and participates in different forums, radio & television shows. Tom and his wife, Kim, live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their two labs “Jake” and “Scout."
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