Umbrella rigs do one thing very well, and that’s catch fish.
Umbrella rigs, or Alabama rigs as they’re sometimes known, are not without controversy.
They’re jigheads with up to five wire arms attached. On each of those is a hook that can be rigged with an artificial swimbait.
They catch fish so readily that B.A.S.S. and FLW have banned their use in tournaments.
Weekend anglers can use them, however, including in this state. They became legal in Pennsylvania in 2014.
That’s not to say they’re easy to use.
“The problem is throwing them. It’s like throwing a football all day,” said Greensburg tournament angler Brian Campbell.
They do catch fish, though, he said.
“You just can’t beat it,” agreed Bill Lortz, a tournament pro and bass guide from Rochester, N.Y.
It’s not just that umbrella rigs have five baits and so offer five chances to catch fish, he said. It’s what they do to them, he added.
Any lure works when it triggers a reaction based on one of a fish’s senses. Umbrella rigs spark all of their senses simultaneously, Lortz said.
“There’s so much stimulus there, they come unglued,” Campbell agreed.
They can be fished anywhere from two to 30 feet deep, he added, with adjustments to the weight of the jighead determining how deep they go.
Both he and Lortz prefer ones with blades, and fish them in open water and around shoals.
Lortz likes to use minnow-colored swimbaits on four of the five hooks. He’ll put a different colored one – in white, silver, gold or bluegill flash — on the fifth hook, in the center.
That’s the one that most often gets bit, he said.
Tournament bass pro Mike Delvisco of Tennessee likes a rig where that center hook extends a few inches further back than any of the others, too. The bait on that one – seeming to be struggling to keep up – draws strikes, he said.
“If you think about it, those fish in the front aren’t going to get eaten. The one in the back is,” Delvisco said. “That’s the one that’s going to get bit.”