Davis–Change Directions with the Umbrella Rig

Bucks Skeeter Yamaha

by Clent Davis

It was a little over a year ago on Lake Guntersville, here in Alabama that Paul Elias changed the game with an Umbrella rig. Although the Umbrella rig hasn’t changed much over the past year, we have definitely found ways to increase its chance of success.

Immediately following that Lake Guntersville event the Umbrella rig craze began. Most people just rigged it up as best they could and started casting it to the same places they would catch fish on other baits, and that worked. Over the past 15 months, anglers have taken the Umbrella rig to a new level and found new and better ways to fish it.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you have to have the right equipment for the job. By the time you have the rig ready to fish it can weigh anywhere from 3 to 8 ounces. Make no mistake, regardless of how good a shape you are in, throwing that all day will wear you out. I throw it on a 7’11” extra heavy Halo Twilight rod. That rod casts the bait very well and with less effort. Once you get bit, it has a great hookset and the backbone to handle one giant bass or multiple fish on one rig. I’ll add a Halo Atom 6.3 to 1 reel spooled with 65-pound Spiderwire braid.

As for the rig itself, I use a Bad Hass baits Umbrella rig most of the time. What sets this rig apart from others on the market is that it has five baits and four spinner bait blades. I will rig it with any number of soft plastic swim baits. The soft plastic swim baits I use most are Reaction Innovation Skinny Dippers or Keitech Swing Impacts. The most important part of fishing an Umbrella rig is making sure you have a good strong Umbrella rig and the soft plastics match the size of the bait fish as closely as possible.

I rig the soft plastic baits on Bad Hass Mr. Gillz hooks with a 5/0 for bigger baits (five to seven inches) or a 3/0 hook for smaller baits (3.5 to 5 inches). These are stout hooks and perfect for the Umbrella rig. These are by far the best jig head hooks I have found for the Umbrella rig.
Where we have really started to understand the Umbrella rig is on the retrieve. It does work, and sometimes really well, to just cast it out and retrieve it straight back to the boat. However, I have found that a change of directions in the bait can really entice fish to strike that might not otherwise have bit the lure.

There are lots of ways to change direction in the lure. The easiest would be vertical change. Let the bait fall and the quickly begin the retrieve, that will cause the bait to snap turn upwards toward the boat. You can create a similar change in direction just by changing the speed of your retrieve.

Directional changes left and right can be obtained by casting the bait then moving the boat before starting the retrieve. A perfect example of this is to cast the bait under a dock or down the side of a bridge piling. Then move the boat a short distance. As little as five feet can be enough. On the retrieve the bait will track to the piling on the dock and then bank the piling and change directions back to the boat. This technique can be deadly if the fish are holding on docks.
Another thing to keep in mind is the kind of bait you are mimicking. For Blue Back Herring lakes, like Lake Hartwell in South Carolina, it seems to work best when you burn it. To get the bass to commit to the bait it has to have a good amount of pace on it.

One final tip for any of you who might fish dirty water. For dirty water the Bad Hass bait with the blades can really improve the number of bites you can get. Give one a try. They are hard to find, but they do carry them at the Fish Ranger stores here in Alabama.