While itís a good producer on other lakes in warm weather, we donít catch bass on umbrella rigs around here in the summer. Instead, the bass will get on them starting in late fall and continue on until the spawn next spring.
I guess itís because thereís so much bait movement going on and the bass are running up and down the banks chasing big gizzard shad and threadfins. So you can catch them now, or when fish start moving back out or when theyíre suspended on the drops and deep bluffs in late winter. Right now, itís best to fish channel swings, bottom changes such as where it goes from deep bluffs to flatter bottoms and that sort of thing. You can look at the shoreline and pretty well tell where those changes are, or look at your electronics for channels and drops.
Iíve messed around with umbrella rigs long enough now to know that sometimes bass donít want a lot of flash and wiggle. Sometimes a Zoom Fluke or a straight-tail works better. I might put it on a horsehead jig with a spinner, or just put it on a plain jighead. Sometimes the fish want a swimbait like a big Keitech with a lot of wiggle, or they might want grubs with swimming tails.
As far as the size and the type, a lot depends on whether the fish are feeding on gizzard shad or threadfins. A week or so ago, we had to throw the big 5.8-inch Keitechs because one of the first bass we caught had a 6- or 8-inch gizzard shad sticking out of its throat. Fishing umbrella rigs is like fishing anything else ≠Ė once you get a feel for what theyíre eating, itís fairly simple. The first place to start is where there are a lot of shad.
Like I said, Iíve learned a lot about fishing umbrella rigs since they showed up. About 99 percent of the time I throw three baits with hooks in them. I use a five-arm deal, but the top two arms have screw heads attached to the snaps and I just screw a couple of swimbaits on them for attractors. The bottom three arms are the ones that have jigheads with hooks. The weight acts like a keel and keeps the baits running true. But the main reason I want those weighted swimbaits on the bottom is because fish will come up from below when they get after an umbrella rig and thatís where the hooks need to be. If you put the baits higher, youíll miss some fish. I also like the arms to be all the same length. If you make one arm a half-inch longer, it will be the one they tend to take, or at least hit at. I want the fish to have three chances to get hooked, so most of the time I keep all the arms of the umbrella rig the same length.
If you fish winter tournaments in the Ozarks, you better have an umbrella rig tied on. Everybodyís throwing them. You might not win a tournament with an umbrella rig, but youíll darn sure get beat by one.