Although versatile enough to catch bass in any season, paddletail shad baits are most effective during the winter when the lures are affixed to an Alabama rig.
Other lures will work on an Alabama rig, but paddletail swimbaits are the most popular choice for the multi-armed rig. The flash of five paddletail shads running through the water creates an effect of a school of shad that bass can hardly resist.
How To Rig Your Paddletail In The Winter
Threading the paddletails on jigheads ranging from 1/8- to 1/2-ounce will allow you to fish your Alabama rig at various depths. You can set up your Alabama rig with paddletails all of the same size of place a larger swimbait in the middle of the rig surrounded by smaller paddletails. Shad-imitating hues work best most of the time for paddletails, but in clear water on a calm sunny day you might want to try translucent colors and if it’s cloudy or windy go to brighter colors such as white.
Slow rolling the umbrella rig with the paddletails is a productive way to catch bass suspending over deep wintertime haunts. It is also an effective tactic for catching bass holding on ledges or humps.
Another key time to throw an Alabama rig with paddletails is late winter/early spring when prespawn bass start moving to the shallows. A sunny day with wind that puts plenty of chop on the water is ideal for throwing the rig since bass see it better and come from a farther distance to nail the paddletails.
Use A Paddletail As Winter Ends
As the water continues to warm in the spring, I switch from the Alabama rig to a single paddletail shad. The lure serves as a finesse alternative for a spinnerbait, which might produce too much flash and vibration for skittish bass in clear water. I opt for a solid-body paddletail shad attached to an underspin jighead or a hollow-body model rigged with a worm weight and treble hook.
I set up the hollow-body rig by inserting a tiny plastic tube through the swimbait’s nose and then running line through the tube. I cut a slit in the belly of the lure, pull the line through the slit and slide the worm weight onto the line. I complete the rig by tying on the treble hook and then pulling the worm weight into the lure’s belly. I usually hook and land more fish with the treble-hook rig than the paddletail-jighead combo.
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