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Alabama Rig Walleye, Finally

Guest Blog by: David Harrison 8/28/2013

I bought two alabama rigs in the spring of 2012 with the intention of using them for trolling and casting for bass and walleye at Chatfield.  I was going to use them in specific situations and then also try them when the fish are really popping.  I was not going to use it to search for fish when I didn't know what was going on. 

I bought ABT rigs because you can replace some of the wires with dummy baits but in the future I would buy Berkley schooling rigs and cut the hooks off of two of the five baits.  (not to re-open the can of worms, I still haven't heard a ruling if the rig is one bait or five or three in Colorado).  

The first time I used them was in the spring trolling for walleye.  We had caught two good fish on the first pass so I traded two of the six lures for A-rigs.  The bite shut off.  No more bites.  Not a good start, but also not a fantastic comparison as other boats caught even less than we did that night.

Last fall I threw the rig when I was confident there were fish on a piece of structure.  Either I had caught a fish on a more traditional lure or saw so many fish I knew they were there.  My jig heads that I chose were pretty heavy so the rig was a bear to cast.  It did sink fast but when fishing for walleye 15 feet down the rig always seemed to pull out of the strike zone quickly.  I preferred a jig that hugged the bottom all the way to the boat. 

Last week I pulled the rig out again to compete with all of the new shad in the lake.  I replaced the paddle tail plastics with small spoons.  Bad mistake!  The treble hooks tangled with every cast.

Last night we were bringing in trout right and left with a few walleye mixed in.  A perfect time to try various new baits including the Alabama rig.  Since Dipsy Divers control depth I didn't need to know a sink rate or drop down like if I was running the rig behind a planer board.  We had the rig down for about 30 minutes and truthfully didn't even notice the walleye until we brought in the rigs to check (trout head for the surface and bend the rod and splash, even 17" walleye swim with the rig and don't make much disturbance).  Whew!  It worked!

While that first data point is vital, it is still just one fish towards the 50 you need to really have confidence in a presentation.  So, I will try again next week.  I can work colors and lure sizes, maybe drop it down with the downrigger, and see where it goes from there. 

For more tips and lake reports like Tightline Outdoors on facebook.  Thanks!

David Harrison is a freelance writer who lives near Chatfield Reservoir and Waterton Canyon in Littleton, CO. He has published articles in In-Fisherman, North American Fisherman, Colorado Outdoors, Salmon/Trout/Steelheader, Bass Anglers Magazine, and FLW Bass Magazine.
My first Alabama-rig Walleye
Blog content © David Harrison
Member comments
JKaboom, CO   8/28/2013 5:55:54 PM
Good BLOG - as far as I understand the CO regs the A-rig is legal provided there are only 3 hooks. That's a bummer the spoons got all tangled because I was thinking by your title you might have did an A-rig with blades...
David Harrison (PikeD), CO   8/29/2013 9:03:27 AM
The rules state that "each line shall have three common hooks" and a common hook is "...All hooks attached to an artificial lure shall be considered a common hook." So a manufactured lure (crankbait) with three hooks is only worth one hook. So you could legally string three crankbaits together on one line if you wanted. What is the difference between a crankbait and an Alabama rig? A crankbait comes assembled? What if I buy an Alabama rig assembled, can I then run three A-rigs in a row on one line? That would be fun trolling! Is the fact that I put the hooks onto the manufactured bait important? What if I buy a crankbait body from Jann's Netcraft (or make one myself) and put the hooks on myself? Can that lure have more than three hooks? What if I make my own alabama rig.....Can I tie a fly with four hooks? The fish are not going to eat the top two hooks anyways, but the hooks help keep the baits on the system during casting and trolling........ There is no clear answer and Wildlife officials will not provide a clear answer either. The best answer is to stick with three hooks. You can have five plastic bodies, but three hooks. If you do choose to have five you will get stares from other anglers but most likely not a ticket, especially if you buy a Berkley Schooling Rig which comes as one lure. If you are in a tournament you should ask first before you try to cast three alabama rigs on one line... I said this wasn't going to comment but hey, why not?
JKaboom, CO   8/29/2013 5:20:17 PM
I did not realize the wormhole went that deep LOL!!!
David Harrison
Guest Blogger