MAKE IT CLEAR- THE A-RIG CATCHES FISH
On certain lakes at certain times of year, magic can happen. That happened on Lake Guntersville in the Co-Angler Division for Arkansas’ Jason Sandidge when he tied on an Alabama rig. By the end of the three day tournament, Jason had a new Phoenix bass boat and the MLF Toyota Series Championship title. The A-rig or CUR (castable umbrella rig) cannot be used in every tournament, but guys who know when and how to fish it are in for a lot of fun. Our kayak specialist Zach Warren is new to A-rig fishing because a good friend of his is now making a clear umbrella rig using 300# fluorocarbon for the arms. These clear rigs have caught on like wildfire in Oklahoma where they are made by Tornado Innovation- a company always working to come up with innovative ways to catch fish. Their hottest lure today is this clear umbrella rig.
The castable umbrella rig (CUR) first made big headlines when Classic Champion Paul Elias took the Andy Poss invention and started winning tournaments across the south. Paul’s instant success caused a lot of changes in the CUR landscape but much remains the same. The idea behind the rig was really nothing new as this type of umbrella “spread” had been used for a while in saltwater angling. The rig simultaneously presents multiple lures (usually three or more) to mimic a ball of shad or other schooling bait such a bunker for striped bass fishermen.
Haven’t tried a CUR for freshwater bass? Well, according to Zach, you’re really missing out (always remember to first, check your local regulations). Mann’s Bait Company designer Andy Poss and Elias are credited with starting the A-rig craze and over the years and since then, there’ve been some variations in bait interchangeability and modification. These rigs vary in weight from a couple of ounces to nearly a pound, and between the weight and the large number of arms, casting such a device- sometimes called “heaving the chandelier”- requires some skill development.
According to Poss, “the key to casting the Alabama Rig is having the right rod.” If your rod’s too short or has wrong style tip, you’re going to “wear yourself out in just a couple of hours.” Clearly the right mechanics are important, too. If you snap your wrist or make an underhanded roll as if you were throwing a spinnerbait, you’re not going to have a good result. like the results. “CURing”, that’s Zach’s word, requires more shoulder, more forearm and more upper body pivot than other casting techniques. You are basically “heaving it” out there so you’ll be using the muscles in your shoulders and biceps to launch the rig. You will need to experiment to find the optimum mechanics for your body- to little use of those muscles or too much will both end with you needing a break for a massage.
For the right rod, you’ll need one between 7 1/2 and 8 feet with a tip action that can handle rigs weighing from one to eight ounces. When you’re casting something this heavy and bulky, you’ll also need a strong reel spooled with heavy line. That means not only a strong reel but one with adequate line capacity for the heavy line and making long casts. Your best bet is a heavy braid. Poss recommends 100-pound-test. You read it right, 100-pound-test! “You don’t want to break off when you’re fishing the A-rig, and using heavy line means you’ll get your rig back with a little finesse or some pulling, says Poss, “but don’t just grab your line and pull when you get hung up. That’s a great way to get a line cut that’s going to require stitches.” Instead, carry a piece of hardwood like a hammer handle and wrap the line around it so that it overlaps and crosshatches like it does on your reel. Remember, nothing cuts fishing line quite like fishing line. Poss carries a lure retriever, but acknowledges that the best way to free the rig from an obstruction is to get over top of the snag and shake it until it works itself free.
What makes Innovations rig unique is that unlike conventional umbrella rigs that use wire leaders as the arms, the Clear Umbrella Rig utilizes extremely heavy, ocean sized fluorocarbon for arms which gives it a near invisible look as it runs through the water. Several Oklahoma Kayak Anglers members have used the clear rig successful for stripers, and largemouth. Zach says it retrieves seamlessly, and will turn followers into eaters.