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The A-Rig Craze
These mini U-rigs made the difference at the Guntersville FLW tournament.
By Brad Gill
Posted Tuesday November 22 2011, 9:28 AM
Bob Behrle, of Hoover, fishes an Alabama Rig from his Ranger bass boat. (Photo by FLW, Rob Newell)
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The Alabama Rig is the hottest new bass bait in North America. Created by Andy Poss, of Muscle Shoals, this bait weighs less than 3/8-oz. and is a small umbrella rig that offers bass the chance to look at five grubs or swimbaits moving through the water in a tight “school.” Each bait is attached to an arm and a swivel, and together they mimic a school of shad swimming through the water.

The A-rig’s unofficial coming out party took place on Lake Guntersville during the Oct. 20-23 FLW Tour Open event. Most of the top anglers were throwing the A-rig, including Paul Elias, of Laurel, Miss., who won by more than 17 pounds using the A-rig.

Bob Behrle, of Hoover, placed second in the tournament and won $34,021. He, too, was fishing the A-rig.

“I only caught five fish on it in practice because I didn’t know it was going to be my main bait until the last day of practice,” said Bob.

Bob had known about the A-rig for two months but hadn’t been overly excited to fish it, until he began experiementing in practice and boated several fish, including an 8 1/2-pounder on a 14- to 16-foot deep flat in a creek that was an old peach orchard.

“I think (that spot) had more to do with the shad that were there... (they) were migrating from the river up in this creek,” said Bob. “I’m not going to say you could go there today and catch them. There were periods (in the tournament) when they weren’t there, and they would just show up.”

When the fish wouldn’t bite at the peach orchard, Bob would run into the back of the same creek and fish the A-rig shallower, in 7 to 9 feet of water. After day one, Bob was in third place with 19-lbs., 2-ozs.

“On the second day, I went to the back (of the creek) and tried to pick up some fish (on the A-rig) in the shallows,” said Bob. “I caught a 2 1/2-pounder on the second cast, and two casts later a 7-pounder hit me 2 feet from the boat.”

Bob spent the entire tournament either in the back of the creek or on his “sweet spot” of peach tree stumps that was holding bait and bass.

“Whenever I would fish back in the creek, the 1/8-oz. Storm swimbaits were better because the water was cleaner and shallower,” said Bob. “The baits (on the A-rig) were more a natural silvery, grayish, whiteish color with a black back. I had one bait in the middle (of the A-rig). It had a homemade Fish Head Spin type of spinner on the bait to give it a little extra flash.”

When fishing the deeper flat of stumps, Bob loaded the A-rig with 1/4-oz. shaky heads and grub baits from Action Plastics called Shad Grubs.

“I caught 85 percent of my 85 pounds on those Shad Grubs,” said Bob. “It’s a bigger pearl bait with a black back that would show up in a little deeper water and had a bigger profile,” said Bob. “But the thing I was doing was slow-rolling it on the bottom like a spinnerbait. I wanted it to be down by those stumps because when I saw the fish on the graph, they were no more than 2 feet off the bottom. They would just rip the rod out of your hand. It was just amazing.”

Bob’s favorite A-rig rod is a 7-foot, 7.5-inch medium-heavy, fast-action Powell Rod rigged with 80-lb. braid. The rod has backbone with some tip and will work great for heavy or lighter A-rigs.

“The A-rig is a great bait,” said Bob. “It’s not a magical bait, but you can catch more fish than you’ve ever caught before, but you have to be around fish and be smart enough if you see fish down to fish it down. If they’re schooling on top, you can fish on top all the way to the bottom.”

Bob says the A-rig should be productive anytime the shad are schooled up. He plans on experimenting with the rigs from now all way through the spring shad spawn, when the bass have shad pinned against the bank.

Every bass Bob weighed in during the FLW tournament was caught on an A-rig. In fact, many of the top pros were throwing the A-rig, and now demand for these baits is super high.

For more on the A-rig, log on to <www.thealabamarig.com>. At presstime, turn-around time on getting the baits was five weeks. There are some off-brand versions on the market, but Bob warns against them.

“The A-rig is quality made,” said Bob. “I saw one knock-off that had a lead head. The A-rig is not heavy in the front. You know when you’re trying to slow-roll a lead head, that lead head is going to go down in the water column and not look right. The A-rig stays horizontal.

“This guy (Andy Poss) has been perfecting the A-rig for over a year. Somebody a week later comes along and says they have one, but it can’t be near as good.”
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