Enough is enough.
Coming off a disappointing performance at the Guntersville EverStart, I was left with a feeling of regret that I didn’t join the A-Rig bandwagon – a choice that was so blatantly wrong that I had already set myself up for failure. I told myself I wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
One month later, at the recent PAA event on Lake Douglas, I once again made the drive home with a feeling of regret that I didn’t take “the rig” more seriously.
Instead of giving you a play-by-play of what happened during practice and competition at Douglas, and complain about lost fish and bad decisions, I feel it's time that I talk about my take on the controversial Alabama Rig.
Fear of Change
When the A-Rig made it’s debut in the fall of 2011 with Paul Elias’ dominating performance at Guntersville, I, along with everyone else, knew the sport was going to go through some substantial changes. Though at the time I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one and try it out for myself, I had a feeling I would learn to hate it if it worked the way it did at Guntersville for Paul.
The author has a little bit of experience throwing umbrella rigs, but to this point hasn't made it a part of his tournament arsenal.
I was right, the sport has changed because of it. But I was also wrong – I don't hate it because it works so well. I hate the fact that I haven’t embraced a new technique that is so effective. I failed to adapt.
Though in both the Guntersville EverStart and the PAA event on Douglas there were other patterns at work, there was no doubt that the A-Rig was by far the most dominant technique, and I failed to embrace it even though I knew it would be a factor in both.
Part of the problem was that I thought the A-Rig bite would fizzle after countless anglers pulled them in front of the fish’s noses, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, in both events I heard reports that the bite only got better.
Where I Stand
To be blunt, I don’t like the Alabama Rig.
There, I said it.
I think that it gives an unfair advantage to the angler and it makes a big bag too easy to catch.
One of the main reasons I love the sport of bass fishing so much is that there are so many techniques that can be implemented to catch fish _ and win tournaments. I believe that tournament fishing is an art form, and each angler becomes a true artist by learning different techniques and perfecting them in their own way. When the Alabama Rig is hot, it has the power to eliminate an angler’s artistic freedom by forcing him (or her) to use it instead of applying different techniques or baits.
Now, that being said, there is also another side to my opinion on the A-Rig.
I believe that even though it can make catching big bags easy at times, like any other technique, it can only become a consistent producer once the angler throwing it learns the technique’s intricacies.
So in other words, though I think it takes a lot of the creativity and mystique out of tournament fishing at times, I do believe that it takes skill to master like anything else – though it may be a little easier to perfect.
Personally, I believe that the Alabama Rig shouldn’t be allowed in tournaments, and if there were a petition to sign to forbid its use in tournaments, I would sign it without hesitation.
However, we all know in most trails it is legal, and there are many people who are for its use in tournaments.
This is where I'm going to contradict myself a little. Despite the fact that I am against it, I believe that as a professional angler it is my obligation to follow the rules without complaining, and embrace every tool at my disposal that will help me win.
For me to say that I did awful in the last couple tournaments because I didn’t want to sacrifice my fishing morals would be a cowardly excuse, and merely a way for me to wiggle my way out of owning up for a lack of proper preparation and utilization of the tools at my disposal.
As much as I don’t like the A-Rig because it has the ability to take away a big piece of the fishing puzzle, I believe that it is time I need to stop complaining about it and start taking the necessary steps to get my name at the top of the standings in the next “Rig tournament."
Miles "Sonar" Burghoff, a 2012 graduate of the University of Central Florida and the winner of the 2011 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship, chronicles his quest toward becoming a tour-level angler in his Sonar Sound-Off column. To visit his website, click here. You can also visit him on Facebook and Twitter.