Ever since Paul Elias schooled the field at the 2011 FLW Tour Open bass event at Lake Guntersville, the Alabama rig, generically called the castable umbrella rig, has exploded on the bass fishing scene. Elias learned of the rig through Muscle Shoals, Alabama, tournament pro and Alabama rig creator Andy Poss. Poss couldn’t keep up with skyrocketing demand after Elias’s win, and soon sold exclusivity to Mann’s Bait Company. History, and a lot of discussion surrounding the controversial rig, continues to be made. Innovators are adapting the design for crappies and walleyes, too, and even muskies are getting a look.
Dozens of manufacturers offer castable umbrella rigs. You can buy rigs complete or as kits including wire harness, snap swivels, jigheads, and softbait bodies, or you can buy just the wire harness—head with 3, 4, or 5 wires and purchase the business ends separately. For a complete rig, you can easily drop $25 to $35. Harnesses alone run around $15. Add jigheads and softbaits and the total can be steep, considering you might want several rigs.
If you’re looking to save a few bucks and enjoy tackle crafting, several options are available, from making your own rigs from scratch, to buying kits, or purchasing wire harnesses and adding your own custom touches like home-poured jigheads and paint jobs. Lure Parts Online and Barlow’s Tackle sell components for making rigs, including wire shafts, wire harnesses with pre-molded unfinished heads you can paint (they sell painted ones, too), wire bending tools, swivels, jigheads, swimbait trailers, and more.
Boss Outdoors sells swimbait rig molds to build harnesses. Heads are molded with epoxy or Alumalite casting resins in one version, while another is made for lead. Size options of molds and harnesses are available.
With a rig holding up to 5 jigs, some anglers opt to pour their own heads to experiment with weights and styles. Some use jigs of different weights on the same rig so it rides balanced on a “keel.” Do-It Molds sells everything you need (jig molds, lead melting pots, hooks, paints, and more) for molding and painting jigs. Popular heads for castable umbrellas include bullet, swimbait, and shad head styles.
Do-It’s Bullet, Darter, and Style-9 Shad heads are made for hooks with a 90-degree bend at the hook eye. Some anglers modify molds like the Style-9 Shad head to accept a 60-degree bend. Another good option is the Shake-It jig mold, a ballhead design that accepts a Flat Eye 60° Mustad 32798 or a Gamakatsu 604.
Just a few ideas and sources to get you started. With many modifications and options available, the sky’s the limit. ■
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How To Make An Alabama Rig