The time for some of the most amazing bass fishing is just around the corner. Those that are in-the-know with current trends know what I am talking about. IT IS ALABAMA RIG TIME!!!
To prepare for this, I recommend to anglers to gear up properly, or you can miss out on this amazing opportunity for a lot of fish.
Above all, I you need to get the right rod. A 7 ft.,11in. or 8 ft. heavy or extra heavy fishing rod with an extra fast action is a must.
A rod this stout is beneficial for a few reasons.
#1: Casting an Alabama rig is not easy; there is a lot of wind resistance to the rig, and the weight can vary from 1 ounce to 5 ounces. Casting this much weight all day, nonstop will be much easier with a long, stout rod.
#2: Is the quality of fish that are caught and the possibility of multiple fish on one cast. Having two 4-pound smallmouth and a 6-pound largemouth on one line is a lot of weight and strain for any rod, so think “broom stick.”
#3: Next is choosing the right line. I prefer the Suffix 832 braided fishing line in 80-lb. test. It has a vortex fiber woven into the line, making it a rounder braid enhancing casting and water repellant.
Many wonder, “Why such heavy line?” One reason is to prevent break offs on the cast; if you get a backlash while throwing the A-rig, you can easily break 50-lb. and even 65-lb. braid. I have seen this happen many times.
#4: Is for when you get hung up, having three, five or even seven open hooks you will get snagged. Having 20 or 40 dollars tied to the end of your line, you will want heavy enough line to pull it free.
#5: Hopefully, so you can manhandle large fish to the boat!
#6: Fishing reel. I have been using normal-sized baitcast reels with a 7.1 ratio reel, Shimano Curado 200 E. Any reel that will handle 20-lb. diameter line will do. Just set the drag so there is some give to prevent fish pulling free.
Getting Hung Up. It's Going to Happen. Here are my Suggestions:
The best thing to do when you get snagged is to first give the rig a hard pull with the rod tip pointed straight at your rig. This will keep you from breaking your rod and may straighten out your hook.
If this does not work, move to the opposite side of where you are snagged and, again, pull straight back. This will usually dislodge the rig.
And if that doesn't work, you have two options left: 1.) tie off your line to the boat and use the trolling motor or gas motor to dislodge your bait or break your line, or 2.) (this my choice) have a lure retriever.
Bass Pro Shops has three different lure retrievers -- one is used for all types of baits and is made by Bass Pro. This is the one I carry. The other two are made specially for A-rigs. The only difference between the two is the size weight and size hook on the lure retriever. I have had very positive feedback on both of these.
Next is lure selection. I recommend a variety of jig heads: 1/16 oz.,1/8 oz., 1/4 oz., 3/8 oz.,1/2 oz., 3/4 oz. and 1 oz. I know this is a lot, but with the changing conditions, a variety is a must.
Up next is swimbaits. I chose those with a paddle tail: Zoom swimming flukes, Yum Money Minnows and -- my favorite -- Big Hammer swimbaits. Mainly I rig swimbaits in the 4- to 6-inch range.
As colors go, the easy way is to have all pearl color baits and a selection of spike-it dye and some q-tips. This way, you can customize your baits to match different conditions and keep your tackle to a manageable amount. I keep black, blue, purple, pink, red, lime and chartreuse. Experiment with different color backs and tail colors. I always put a black dot on each side of my swimbaits. A small amount of pink or red on the head can really trigger strikes. I only mark the center bait in this fashion to make it stand out from the other baits. I also put on a larger-size bait on the center hook.
The last step is where to cast. If you have electronics, look for big clouds of bait and fish underneath them. If not, pick a steep bank that drops off fast and cast and wind. Vary your retrieve depth and speed until you catch fish. Main lake points and secondary points, bluff walls, bridges, wind-blown banks and any current breaks are good places to start.
Most of these baits and products can be found at the Bass Pro Shops online store.
I hope these tips will answer some of your questions, and that you boat some great fish this season. Please remember to catch and release the quality fish you catch. A picture is worth a thousand words.