John's Journal...

Trolling Successfully for Bass

Day 5: Trolling an Alabama Rig for Bassing Success

Editor’s Note: If you’re a professional bass tournament angler, stop reading. The following killer bass-fishing method is not for you.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewAlthough the Alabama Rig was used to win some Bassmaster tournaments last year, BASS now has banned fishing the Alabama Rig in some of their tournaments. The man who makes the Alabama Rig that resembles a school of shad swimming together is Andy Poss of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He has been fishing with this rig for about 2 years and has a patent pending. Mann’s Bait Company has bought the rights to this lure. 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 allows an angler to put four lures on the outer wires and one lure in the center. When Paul Elias fished the rig at Lake Guntersville in north Alabama at a bass tournament, he won $100,000 and used five Mann’s HardNose swim baits in the Tennessee shad color on the Alabama Rig. According to Elias, “I cast the Alabama Rig out on a bridge piling under a bridge at Lake Guntersville, and immediately I caught a big largemouth bass. I cast the Alabama Rig on the other side of the piling and caught a bass that weighed almost 3 pounds. As I was bringing that bass in, I spotted four or five more bass following the Alabama Rig. I went to another bridge piling and caught a 4-pound bass. That’s when I said to myself, ‘Paul you need to learn how to fish the Alabama Rig,’ and I did - around grass, points, ridges and any other structure I could find. The Alabama Rig caught those suspended bass that are so hard to catch with any-other lure.”

Elias learned to catch suspended bass on the Alabama Rig by casting it out and counting it down to the depth where his depth finder showed the suspended bass were holding. Then he started reeling the rig. Most of the fish he caught were holding in 20- to 25-foot-deep water over a 30- to 40-foot-deep bottom. Once Elias learned the importance of counting the rig down, he caught bass on every cast. As Elias recalls, “The biggest bass I caught in that FLW 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. I cast the Alabama Rig on 65-pound test Spiderwire UltraCast FluoroBraid. I was fishing with a Pinnacle 7-foot 11-inch Perfecta rod with a heavy flipping action and using a 6.4:1 Pinnacle Optimus reel. 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 during the tournament. At the end of the tournament, I had brought-in 20 bass that weighed 102 pounds and a few ounces. I won this FLW Lake Guntersville tournament by 17 pounds.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“I believe that at certain times of the year, the Alabama Rig will be unbeatable in terms of bass fishing. You’re presenting more than one lure to the bass at one time, and the bass probably never have seen this type of presentation. Too, the Alabama Rig displaces much-more water then a single lure does, so the bass can zero-in on the rig much quicker and easier then they can on a single lure. The strikes you receive on the Alabama Rig are much-more violent than they are when you’re fishing a single lure. I believe the bass believe they’re busting into a school of shad and want to eat one of the shad and injure the other shad in the school. Some of the bass I’ve caught have had two lures in their mouths at the same time. Something else I’ve learned about the Alabama Rig is that it can be fished close to the bottom. As you know, when you’re fishing for suspended bass, you need to leave your hooks exposed. However, when you’re fishing the bottom, you need to make your lures weedless. This rig is weightless, and the entire rig weighs about 3/8-ounce. I was using 3/8- or 1/2-ounce heads, one on each wire with the Mann’s HardNose jigs, which allowed me to cast 3 to 5 ounces of weight every time I threw the Alabama Rig out, using swim-bait heads rigged with exposed hooks to catch suspended bass. However, to swim the Alabama Rig slowly and close to the bottom or the rocks, you’ll need Gamakatsu No. 6 or No.7 wide gap hooks with either a 1/8-ounce or 1/4-ounce weight already attached to the hook. Texas-rig each individual hook, and then the hooks won’t hang on the hooks or the bottom.”

How to Bass Fish Like a ProHow to catch the Biggest and Most Bass in any LakeThese tactics are just a sample of what you’ll learn in the new Kindle eBooks, “How to Bass Fish Like a Pro” and “How to Catch the Biggest and Most Bass in Any Lake” by John E. Phillips. Go to, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.


Check back each day this week for more about "Trolling Successfully for Bass"

Day 1: Trolling for Bass by Bottom Walking with Jack Wingate
Day 2: Trolling Points and Banks and Deep Trolling for Bass
Day 3: Trolling Humps, Vegetation and Tailraces for Bass
Day 4: Selecting Your Trolling Speed and Belly Boating Ponds for Bass
Day 5: Trolling an Alabama Rig for Bassing Success

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Entry 684, Day 5