By Ken Duke
"Man, this thing's gonna work!"
That's what Bassmaster Elite Series pro and 1982 Bassmaster Classic champion Paul Elias said to himself when he first rigged a few soft plastic swimbaits to an "Alabama rig" and pulled them through the pond behind his Mississippi home.
He was right, too. The Alabama rig worked for Elias on Lake Guntersville to the tune of a $100,000 FLW Tour Open victory in which he lapped the rest of the field, cracking the 100-pound mark with 20 bass and besting second place by more than 17 pounds.
Elias is no stranger to introducing new techniques. In 1982, he won the Bassmaster Classic by "kneeling and reeling" (immersing most of his fishing rod beneath the water to get extra depth out of his crankbaits).
Twenty-nine years later, he's doing it again.
If you've ever trolled for striped bass or other pelagic species, you probably know all about the "umbrella rig." It's essentially a wire harness sporting multiple "arms" to which lures or baits are attached. At its center is a line-tie (in the case of the Alabama rig, a hard bait body) and multiple arms emanate from it, almost like the spokes on a wheel. Because they're wire, you can bend and adjust them to suit your desired presentation. Think of a mobile for a baby crib — with hooks! — and you'll get the idea.
Elias first met the Alabama rig, and its developer, Andy Poss, at a Pickwick Lake charity tournament a few months back. Poss introduced himself and showed Elias the rig outfitted with some curled-tailed grubs. He talked about his tournament success with the device and gave Elias a couple of them. That's when he took them home and tried them in his pond.
"I thought it was going to be great at Guntersville," Elias said. I was going to run up to Nickajack Dam and give it a try in practice, but then the tournament officials put Tennessee waters off limits [see more about umbrella rigs and Tennessee waters below], so I almost forgot about it."
Mann's Mannâ€™s Original Alabama Rig - Camo Black - TAR65-01 - Wire Baits
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