In just a few short years, the castable umbrella rig has turned into a lightning rod across the bass fishing community. Its ability to catch bass (and big ones) as well as its controversial nature have placed it front and center in many angler circles – and although many lures claim to have been banned by tournament organizations for their effectiveness, to our knowledge the umbrella rig is the only one that actually has.
All controversy aside, the castable umbrella rig is legal across most of the country – and it’s a heck of a tool for catching bass when in the hands of a skilled angler. For that reason, we thought it would be a good idea to put together a little guide on how to set it up, and how to effectively fish it.
Pay attention to these 10 tips for umbrella rigs, and you’ll dramatically shorten your learning curve:
1. The Umbrella Rig Is Not A “Cure-All”
Don’t let the major tournament ban fool you; the umbrella rig won’t catch every bass in your lake. Just like any other presentation, you need to be around bass to catch them – and its effectiveness also varies quite a bit seasonally. The best places to throw an umbrella rig are where the bass are feeding on shad, and seasonally the best times are in the cold water seasons of spring and fall.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Umbrella rigs are not idiot proof, so the more you fish it, the more fish you will catch on it. Spend some time on the water figuring out the best retrieve speeds, bait combinations, and structures to fish it on. The more comfortable you are with it in your hand, the more effective it will be.
3. Use The Right Setup
A fully rigged 5 wire umbrella rig typically weighs at several ounces, and it casts like it’s even heavier. Use a rod and reel that are up to the task. Ideal umbrella rig rods should be 7 ½ to 8 feet long, heavy or extra heavy power, and paired with a heavy duty baitcaster in a low gear ratio (5.4:1). There’s a lot of money rigged on that thing as well – so use at least 20 pound line if you opt for fluorocarbon, or 50 pound if you’re a braid lover.
For more tips on how to set up your Alabama rig, check out LakeForkGuy:
4. Vary Your Weights
When choosing jig heads, use heavier weights on the two bottom wires, and lighter weight jig heads on the top two. Doing so will prevent the rig from spinning on the retrieve, and also minimize the number of fouled casts as it lands in the correct position more frequently.
5. Try An Umbrella Rig “Teaser”
Rig your center wire with a “teaser” bait – that is slightly different from the other four. Many anglers use a slightly bigger body for the center wire, or use a dye marker to make the center one stand out with a little chartreuse or red. This gives bass a target to home in on, and you will draw the most strikes on this wire.
6. Blades Or No Blades
Umbrella rigs come in both bladed, and non-bladed versions. There are definitely times when one shines over the other, so keep both on hand and experiment through the course of a day. In general, the clearer and calmer the water, the more they’ll eat the more subtle non-bladed version. In wind or stained water, the bladed versions usually shine best.
7. Keep It Off The Bottom
The umbrella rig excels at drawing bass in from a far away. It’s got a huge profile and looks like a school of baitfish. To maximize its drawing power, keep the rig up high in the water column so more bass can get a look at it. Many times bass will come from long distances to strike an umbrella rig, so don’t worry if you’re not on the bottom. You’ll also lose way less tackle if you keep the rig above any snags.
8. Mix Up The Retrieve
Although you can catch fish on an umbrella rig just winding it, the best anglers consistently mix up their retrieves. Try changing your retrieve speed, rod angle to the water, and even mix in some twitches or pops during each retrieve. Bass often follow an umbrella rig, so these little changes of pace are what often turns followers into strikes.
9. Have The Right Umbrella Rig Expectations
Don’t expect to set the world on fire the first time you throw an umbrella rig. Instead, try it for an hour or so each time you go out until you start catching fish, then as you build confidence integrate it more and more into your arsenal with your other lucky tackle.
10. Stay Legal
In many states, the standard 5 wire rig is illegal. Pay attention to the fishing laws in your state, and rig up appropriately. Many states only allow three hooks per bait – and umbrella rig anglers in those states have to use 3 wire versions, or rig up dummy baits (with no hook) on two of the wires.