Article Date: Monday, March 26, 2012
By John E. Phillips
At the end of October, 2011, when professional bass fisherman Dan Morehead of Paducah, Kentucky, accepted a $50,000 check and the keys to a fully-rigged Ranger boat worth $40,000, for wining the EverStart National Championship at Kentucky Lake, he helped to write a new page in the history of bass fishing with the new lure the Alabama Rig, created by Andy Poss of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The week before Morehead won the EverStart Championship on Kentucky Lake, longtime professional bass angler Paul Elias of Laurel, Mississippi, had won an FLW Tour event on Pickwick Lake with the Alabama Rig.
What Is the Alabama Rig?
The rig consists of five wires coming out of a hard-plastic baitfish body. These wires are spread out, so two wires come out from the top side of the bait, and two wires come out of the bottom. All of them stretch out to the side of the bait. In the middle of this spread of four wires, there's a fifth wire that comes out of the center of the hard plastic body. On the end of each wire, there's a swivel where you can attach lures. "I learned to fish the Alabama Rig by trial and error," Morehead says. "I used several different types of lures on the wires, until I settled on the Berkley Hollow Belly Swimbaits."
What Were Morehead's Winning Patterns?
"I used two-different patterns to win the EverStart National Championship," Morehead explains, "I was fishing around the big rocks in the shallow water where the shad feed, using the Zara Spook, often in water only about 1-foot deep. If I didn't catch the bass there with the Zara Spook, then I'd fish a little deeper on the 45-degree underwater banks that dropped-off from 1- to 10 - to 15-feet-deep, using the Alabama Rig. The bass would be suspended-off the bottom. I fished the Alabama Rig in the same places where I'd historically had caught bass using a jerkbait in October. I'd cast the Alabama Rig up to 1 foot of water and engage the reel as soon as the rig hit the water. I caught a few bass in water so shallow I could see the bass attack the Alabama Rig. But as the Alabama Rig came-away from the bank, I'd slow-down my retrieve to cause the rig to run through the depth of water where the bass were suspended." Out of the 20 bass that Morehead weighed in, 18 of those bass were caught on the Alabama Rig.
What Else Dan Morehead Knows about the Alabama Rig:
One of the unique characteristics of the Alabama Rig is that you can fish a wide variety of lures on the rig. "I know of a guy who instead of fanning the wires out like an umbrella on the rig makes them all in a straight line coming out the back of the Alabama Rig," Morehead reports. "He then put five Horny Toads (made by Zoom Bait Company, Inc.) on each of the wires and caught bass over the top of submerged grass." Morehead says. But I think the Alabama Rig is most adaptable to bass fishing when bass have the tendency to suspend. Don't get me wrong. I don't think the Alabama Rig will replace all the lures in your tackle box, but I do think it will be responsible for more bass tournaments being won." The Alabama Rig's wires and the snaps are designed to hold up to 120 pounds. The Alabama Rig presents a new concept in freshwater fishing, although the idea of multiple lures pulled by one line to imitate a school of baitfish is a tactic often used in salt water, and will catch many species of fish with a wide variety of lures used on the Alabama Rig.
How Paul Elias Learned about the Alabama Rig:
"I was at Pickwick Lake on the Mississippi/Alabama/Tennessee border helping with a weigh-in at a cancer benefit, when one of the fishermen in that tournament called me over to his boat after the event ended," Elias reports. "He told me he wanted to show me a new rig for catching bass, the Alabama Rig, which would hold five lures on five wires that came out the back of a hard-plastic body. He had the wires rigged-up with plastic grubs, and another Alabama Rig with five swim lures on it. I wasn't very impressed with the rig, until the guy told me the weights of bass he'd been catching with it. He'd won some 1-day tournaments with five bass weighing 5 pounds each or more and one, 2-day tournament with 10 bass weighing a total of 57 pounds. I got really interested after I heard the weights of bass this rig had produced."
How the Alabama Rig Works:
"The man who makes the Alabama Rig is Andy Poss of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and he's been fishing with this rig for about 15 months and has a patent pending," Elias explains. "At the top of the Alabama Rig is a plastic fish-looking body with five wires coming-out of it that are spread-out like an umbrella. Four of the wires are spread on 45- or 50-degree angles to the back of the body, and the middle wire comes straight-out of the back of the body. This design allows an angler to put four lures on the outer wires and one lure in the center. When I fished the rig at Lake Guntersville, where I won the $100,000, I used five Mann's HardNose Swimbaits in the Tennessee shad color.
"I caught suspended bass on the Alabama Rig by casting it out and counting it down to the depth where my depth finder showed the suspended bass were holding. Then I started reeling the rig with a medium retrieve. Once I learned how to count the rig down, I caught bass on every cast. The biggest bass I caught in the tournament weighed more than 6 pounds, and I doubled (caught two bass or more at the same time) three different times. The two biggest bass I caught at one time was a 4 pounder and a 3-3/4-pound bass. I fished the Tennessee shad color in Mann's HardNose Swimbait, because the bigger bass were feeding on the large gizzard shad at Guntersville. I fished with one Alabama Rig all day long, and the wires never broke - although I was catching and releasing 30 to 40 bass a day. At the end of the tournament, I'd brought-in 20 bass that weighed 102 pounds and a few ounces."
Why to Fish the Alabama Rig in December and Any Month When Bass Are Suspending:
"I believe the Alabama Rig is the best to catch the most bass when bass are suspending, particularly in December," Elias says. "The Alabama Rig works best when there's current. On the lakes with suspended bass, the points, the breaks, the currents and especially the rocky points that break the current up near the dam are places where the Alabama Rig will produce largemouths, spotted bass, smallmouths, stripers and a few drum." To learn more, visit www.thealabamarig.com.