A Fishing Lure So Good It's Illegal - World Fishing Network

A Fishing Lure So Good It’s Illegal

Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 12:00 AM | Angling & Sport Fishing NewsGear
An Alabama Rig calmly sits on a boat, waiting patiently for its chance to catch more fish. An Alabama Rig calmly sits on a boat, waiting patiently for its chance to catch more fish. Rob Newell/FLW

The Alabama Rig, the hottest piece of fishing gear in decades, is now illegal in the Bassmaster Classic and Elite Series, the highest profile bass fishing tournaments in the world.

The A-Rig’s setup – which consists of a weighted head with four or five leaders with swimbaits attached and fanning out behind it – has been seen as breaking Bassmaster’s ethical rule of “one rod, one reel, one lure, one cast at a time.” Rather than a lure that is meant to resemble one piece of bait, the Alabama Rig imitates a school of baitfish, something fish are not at all used to seeing from anglers.

alabama rig
An Alabama Rig calmly sits on a boat, waiting patiently for its chance to catch more fish.
Rob Newell/FLW

In a press release from B.A.S.S. on the subject, the Rules Committee believed the rig eliminated some of the skill required for competition at the highest of levels.

“It doesn’t matter how you work it,” said one of the anglers. “The fish can’t help themselves.”

Such a ruling has no effect on smaller B.A.S.S. tournaments as the A-Rig is still legal to use in Bassmaster Opens and the Federation Nation.

But B.A.S.S. has a history of holding its top-level tournaments to a higher standard, so this ruling should come as little surprise. For example, landing nets and trolling are illegal at the Classic and Elite Series tournaments, but not so in other circuits.

Other Elite specific rules include off-limits periods, no-information restrictions, and limits on boats that can be used in competition.

When it comes to the FLW Tour, bass fishing’s other major tournament series, things get a little more complicated. As of right now there have been no indication of banning the Alabama Rig or other multi-lure setups at any level of competition for future events.

Again, this may not come as a surprise, considering an FLW Tour event on Lake Guntersville was largely responsible for sparking the craze in the first place.

alabama rig
Paul Elias kickstarted the Alabama Rig craze when he annihilated the competition using one in an FLW Tour win in October 2011.
Rob Newell/FLW

Meanwhile, there are legal issues even for regular recreational anglers outside of big-time tournaments. Departments of Fish and Game from across the nation have fielded numerous calls for what laws are in place for their own state.

Some states, like Mississippi, won’t allow it on certain lakes altogether. Other states allow the A-Rig, but no more than three or four arms at a time.

Be sure to consult the regulations for your own home state or province when it comes to the legalities of multi-lure rigs.

Alabama rig
Some regions allow Alabama Rigs, but limit the arms to four, like this setup made for Ontario.

But what makes the A-Rig so controversial?

There’s no doubt that the multiple arms of the Alabama Rig has been a touchy subject for anglers, as evidenced by the debate here on WFN

Anglers point to a few reasons why the A-Rig spells trouble for the fishing industry:

  1. It’s not one lure, it’s technically five attached together. What’s next, 10 lures at once? Will we be able to use nets to catch fish down the road? Where does it stop?
  2. The chance of foul-hooked fish increases, meaning catch-and-release may not be an option if a fish is harmfully snagged by accident.
  3. A rig this good is going to harm the fish populations, not only for the potential for greater catch limits being met, but also for anglers who mistakenly release fish that end up dying later because of their wounds.

For more on the pros and cons of this controversial rig, click here.

What it all boils down to is that there is a significant chance of catching more than one fish with one cast when using the Alabama Rig. Indeed, Paul Elias admitted he caught a couple keepers in one cast when he won the FLW Tour on Guntersville last October.

For many anglers, it’s not true sportsmanship to use a rig with multiple lures attached, despite the fact that you still need skill to properly use it. For example, if you don’t find a school of suspended bass, you’ll hardly catch a thing, no matter how many casts you make in a day.

Regardless, the notion of the rig being a “magic lure” guaranteed to catch fish, combined with the increased probability of catching more than one fish at a time, and possibly foul-hooking them, is enough for B.A.S.S. to say “off limits” for its best tournament anglers.

Looks like competitors will have to find other ways to Beat Kevin VanDam at the Classic.

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