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What is the Alabama Rig? How is It Used? What Fishing Rod Should I Choose?

Alabama RigWhen times are tough, folks in the United States don’t just sit back and rest on their laurels … they go fishing.  When fishing is slow, those same Americans allow natural innovation and ingenuity to take hold of their thoughts and that’s when those world-class ideas hit you “like a ton of bricks.”  Whether that angler’s thoughts have wandered to “the next best boat cup holder,” “a lure adjustment to get to the right depth or have the right wiggle, bobble, splash or other subdued action,” or “just another technical approach on how that angler is going to fill the live well with their targeted game-fish” … it just happens.  That same angler comes up with a new idea, approach, or technique that not only makes common sense … but fantastic fishing-sense!  The newest fishing lure to hit the water, the Alabama Rig, is no different because to fish one just makes sense.

Recently, this new fishing lure has stormed not only the fishing scene, ranging from the avid recreational angler to bass fishing tournament pro circuits, but the fishing industry as well. So what is this “magic” fishing lure and how has it changed the way we think about fishing?  The now infamous “Alabama Rig”- a simple spinner-bait-like fishing rig that presents multiple lures simultaneously to would-be game-fish.  Some will argue that the Alabama Rig is just a modification of an old, very well know saltwater tool, the Umbrella Rig. Though, for the most part, true, however, the application is new to most freshwater anglers.

In the simplest of descriptions, the Alabama Rig (or sometimes referred to as the “A-Rig”) is the bass-fisherman’s means to present an artificial school of baitfish to their prey.  The A-Rig has four wire arms extending from a central post, with each arm and central post designed to mount separate lures.  The center of the four arms is a plastic head and a straight wire extends back from it and holds a fifth lure.  Each arm (or wire) may be bent to varying angles and each has a simple swivel to attach the lure.  When properly assembled, the Alabama Rig resembles a school of baitfish and let me tell you, so far has proven a sure-fire weapon in the tackle arsenal of serious anglers.

Whether fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, stripers, wipers, or other game-fish, the resemblance of shad or a school of baitfish has placed the A-Rig in a class of lures that stands all by themselves.  Before this innovation, species such as bass, have always received lure presentations of single lures: top water tackle, spinner-baits, crank-baits, swim baits, etc.  For the first time in the freshwater angling world, multiple lure presentations are now available due to the simple, yet effective design of the American ingenuity provided in the Alabama Rig.

So what type of fishing rod is required to cast one of these new contraptions and how do you fish an A-Rig?  For starters, you’re going to need a heavier outfit to cast the Alabama Rig.  It’s not the weight of the rig (approximately 3/8 ounces with no lures), but depending on the size and weight of the individual lures, can weigh in upwards of 3+ ounces (or the equivalent of a large, West Coast swim bait or muskie lure).  So if you’re accustomed to fishing a lighter rod, better hit the gym and bulk up those casting muscles, or better yet, just be sure your armed with a fishing rod designed for casting (and retrieving) this particular lure.  So again, what type of rod will I need?  Well, it depends on the lures your throwing, the water you are covering, and the technique your using, but a good place to find the right rod for you is to stop in to Cajun Custom Rods® and design the perfect Alabama Rig custom fishing rod.  There, you’ll have the opportunity to design your perfect fishing rod and leverage the world-class rod-building experience of their certified team.

In general terms, you’re going to need a 7-8 foot fishing rod that is at least medium heavy power and with rod action in the moderate to fast action.  Your rod blank and rod hardware should be capable of handling anywhere between 20-65 pound braided line and you’re going to require a fishing reel that can support the additional torque and load of the retrieve (at least a 6:4:1 ratio).  Choose a higher ratio reel for faster retrieves (like a 7:1:1) and be sure to select a reel that is nice and smooth so as not to tangle you’re the individual baits in mid-air.  Braided line is better designed to handle the intricacies of the Alabama Rig to include: casting, retrieval, hook set, as well as fighting and landing your fish.  Braid has less stretch, is more durable, and overall more responsive to the conditions you will encounter when using this particular fishing lure.  Additionally, using a heavier braided line will allow you to retrieve you’re A-Rig in the event that you get hung up (because they are not cheap and the lure itself starts out in the $25 range and go up in price depending on the price of the lures your place on your rig).

It is important when rigging the bait to keep the baits as close together as possible without getting them tangled, unless of course you intend to “spread out” your particular presentation of schooling bait-fish or shad.  Some anglers use the Alabama Rig as their “search” bait much like a spinner-bait is used to seek out schooling or suspended fish in open water while other anglers prefer to aim their rig at precise targets.  They will fan-cast to points, piles, humps, and other aquatic cover in a technique similar to that of using a crank-bait.  Still, other anglers will cast shallow, varying depth with their rig to where they believe the fish are hunkered down.  A common presentation technique for this innovative tackle design is to cast out, count the amount of time it takes to reach bottom, and then retrieve.  If a fish doesn’t strike the baits, then subtract a second from your count on the next drop-down to depth and retrieve.  Repeat until either you catch a fish or conclude that you have covered that particular column and area of water.  This tactic works particularly well on deep drop-off points and submerged mounds or humps.  Also, when fishing swim baits or jigs on you’re A-Rig, you can vary the weight of the jig heads to make it sink faster or slower as well as vary the retrieve speed to either sustain or descend your school of baitfish in the water column.  Ultimately, your presentation will depend on the where you believe the fish to be located and thus, how deep, shallow, slow, or fast you want to fish.

If you need a starting point to hone your individual equipment for your new tackle and fishing skills, here are a few fishing rod ideas to begin design your next performance Alabama Rig rod on our Build Your Rod palette:

 

A-Rig

Shallow Water:

- 7’3″ (SC) 4C73MHF-SC IV (NSi) / Medium Heavy, Fast / 12-25 lb / 3/8-1 1/4 oz

- 7’4″ (SC) 4C74HF-SC IV (NSi) / Heavy, Fast / 14-25 lb / 3/8-1 1/2 oz

- 7’3″ (NFC) MB739-1(IM) / Magnum Heavy, Fast / 14-30 lb / 3/8-2 oz

 

Deep Water / Light Lure:

- 7’6″ (NFC) SW768-1(IM) / Magnum Medium, Moderate / 12-25 lb / 1/2 – 3 oz

- 7’6″ (SC) 4C76MHMF-SC IV (NSi) / Medium Heavy, Moderate Fast / 12-25 lb / 3/8-1 1/4 oz

- 7’6″ (NFC) SW765-1(HM) / Medium Heavy, Moderate / 12-25 lb / 1/2-3 oz

 

Deep Water / Heavy Lure:

- 7’10″ (SC) 4C710HF-SC IV (NSi) / Heavy, Fast / 14-30 lb / 1-4 oz

- 7’11″ (MH) SWB956-MHX / Heavy, Moderate Fast / 12-25 lb / 1/2-2 oz

- 7’11″ (SC) 4C711HMF-SC IV (NSi) / Heavy, Moderate Fast / 14-30 lb / 1/2-2 oz

 

Note: these are but a few recommendations, we carry over 1000 rod blanks – so perfection is only a few clicks away at: (http://www.cajuncustomrods.com/)

A few additional points to consider when selecting the right rod for your Alabama Rig fishing rod:

  • Choose a fishing rod that is “right-sized” for you – too heavy and you’ll be miserable on the water and sore the next day … too light and you’ll never get the results you’re seeking (casting distance, accuracy, hook set leverage, control for fighting and landing the fish, etc.).
  • Be prepared to have several Alabama Rig fishing rods on the deck of your boat – there is no panacea rig or A-rig rod that will work in every situation.  A good rule of thumb is to plan for a heavier rig and rod set-up for deeper water/heavier lure presentations and one that is downsized for shallow water presentations.
  • Invest in the “right-sized, right-performance” fishing equipment and tackle … you’re fishing a fishing lure that costs upwards of $30 dollars, with braided line that will cost $30-40 dollars a spool, using an expensive spinning or bait-casting reel (maybe hundreds of dollars?) … so invest in the best performance fishing rod possible … and that will most likely be the fishing rod option that provides you the most confidence (read more: “Custom vs. Production Rods” and “Why Choose a Custom Fishing Rod?”).
  • This lure is new.  The techniques are new to freshwater anglers.  There is no “perfect” presentation.  So find “what” works for you.  Practice your style and become an expert at your technique.  Grow confidence in your Alabama Rig and how you fish your rig.
  • Begin fishing your new A-Rig on water you know routinely produces good “numbers of fish.”  After a few successes, begin testing your presentation and honing your skill.  Once you gain some comfort and confidence, you’ll be landing those “lunker” largemouth bass in no time!

Whether casting or spinning, match your rod blank of choice to the guide set of your choice.  Again, select a guide set that is designed for heavier loads and shock forces because when you find those fish you’re going to need gear that can withstand the strike, hook set, fight, and landing of your catch.  One more thing, “Hold on tight because you’re in for the ride of your life!”

Also, be sure that your Alabama Rig fishing rod has hardware that can handle the meanest of braided fishing lines.  We recommend American Tackle NanoPlasma or NanoLite guide rings on either casting or spinning guides.  Why?  Simply stated, the American Tackle hardware is second to none in as much the quad-leg design of their casting guides, the A-Frame design of their spinning guides, and the heavy duty design of their micro guides engineered to sustain incredible forces (both static and dynamic shock loads).  Additionally, we recommend the American Tackle guides because they leverage a United States patent in their Ring-Lock design which is a double press of their guide rings into a solid fame rod guide (read as: that ring is never coming out).

Be wary of the number of guides, the guide set-up, and the guide spacing on you’re A-Rig rod; pay attention to the guide ring material (hardloy, alconite, and other light ceramics will groove under line tension while other inferior materials and ring design fail under dynamic loads created on this heavier tackle set-up); know how your fishing rod is designed, balanced, and tuned because every detail counts when working your Alabama Rig.  Sure, there’s certain to be a rush of rod manufacturers that will readily hand you over an “over-powered, over-priced, and under-performance” fishing rod which they claim will be just “perfect” for you and how you fish your Alabama Rig, but if you’re spending the time and money to learn this new fishing technique then we ask the simple question, “Why wouldn’t you want to use a fishing rod designed specifically for your individual technique, style, and is custom-fit to you?”  At Cajun Custom Rods®, we guarantee your rod design will meet your individual specifications … and we go the next step and guarantee your performance custom fishing rod for life!

Regardless of your intended use, your decision will be based on your personal experience, as there is no “perfect” location to fish your Alabama Rig or tackle-specific set-up; there are just too many applications for the A-Rig to name them all, many of which have yet to be discovered by you.  Just remember, no one fishes the way you fish, where you fish, has your technique, style, or knows your specific angling requirements.  At Cajun Custom Rods®, we provide you the “freedom of choice” with over 5000 fishing rod components available for your next Alabama Rig custom fishing rod design.   At Cajun Custom Rods®, we’re serious about fishing and especially about fishing with the right performance custom fishing rod.

Check us out at: http://www.cajuncustomrods.com/ where we assist anglers to design the fishing rod of their dreams, for their specific fishing style and per their specifications.  Once designed via our Build Your Rod webpage (you visually design your own performance, custom fishing rod), you can purchase your design and then we get to work, leveraging our rod-building experience to handcraft your customized, performance Alabama Rig fishing rod.

 

“Experience the Cajun Custom Rod® difference … one custom rod at a time.”

 

Jaesen Yerger

Cajun Custom Rods®

Web: www.cajuncustomrods.com

Email: info@cajuncustomrods.com

Phone: (904)-738-0301

 

 

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Phone: (904)-738-0301
Phone: (904)-419-RODS
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