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Fishing the Umbrella Rig

By Capt. Hap Farrell

The Umbrella rig is to me an insurance policy. By this I mean if nothing elsewill work, the umbrella rig will. For the most part this is true. There are times that no matter what you put in front of a fishes face they will not touch it. So, when you find fish that won’t strike anything you through at
them and frustration is at it’s peak try using an umbrella rig on them. If that won’t work either, you can be assured you’ve done everything humanly possible.

Umbrella RigSo what is an umbrella rig anyway? Well, it has four to six arms extending from a lead center which canweigh up to 4 oz. From these arms hang “bugs” or plastic worm like tubes with hooks in them. Down the center of the rig is a leader which can have a swimming plug, another “bug”, or a Toni Asseta spoon #17 or #18. I prefer the spoon but I have used swimming plugs also. I also only use the six arm rigs. It will attract all the bluefish you want and if there are any bass in the area you might hook up on one of them. The four arm rig is for bluefish primarily and is not noted as a bass rig. Now, we must see what we can do to modify this insurance policy, the umbrella rig, to make it fish to our liking. Each charter captain has his own way of changing the rig to make it fish better. Some use different colors on the tubes with the hooks. For example, all red “bugs”, all black “bugs”, or a mix of both colors. Some go with all white or green or a number of combinations. What I’ve found that works well for me is the combination of black and red “bugs”. I do have an all white rig made up and try it when the other rigs aren’t working very well. The brighter colors seem to attract more bluefish than bass. Where as the more subtle colors, dark reds, black, and white will attract both bass and bluefish.

This is what works in our area. Other parts of the country the color preference could easily be different. The other thing I do is shorten up the leaders on the bugs so the leaders are only 3 to 4 inches long. This helps you when you set the rig in the water. One other modification is the addition
of two niantic spinners, a small leaf shaped spoon which spins with no hook, replacing two of the teasers. These spinners flash and attract the fish to the rig. One very important aspect to using the umbrella rig is when you set it in the water as you start to troll. It must go in untangled. Any tangle, even a slight one, will make the rig less effective. Also, you should keep slight pressure on the line with your thumb as it goes out. If you let the rig go out
too fast it may tangle on itself and therefore not fish well. As your moving and the trolling speed of 3.5 to 4 knots you carefully set the rig in the water beside the boat, not off the stern in the turbulent water. When you get the rig fishing correctly you will get the results you want and have a successful day of fishing.

2 nice stripers caught on an umbrella rigFinally, the type of rod and reel you must use. First of all you must use wire on the heavy rigs. The most commonly used is 50 pound test wire. The other is you must know how much wire you have set out. Most of the charter captains use either 150 feet of wire or 200 feet of wire. I would suggest use 150 feet on your gear. You’ll be able to fish it in as little as 14 to 15 feet of water. We fill our reels with 130 pound test dacron backing. The reel is of the size and style to handle wire. Most of us use the 113 H Penn 4/0 Senator. The rod must also be capable of using wire and have a medium action. Having a roller tip is optional but I suggest it. If the rod you have doesn’t you can put one on it. It helps the knot between the wire and backing go through the tip easier. When fishing the rig you want all the wire out with the knot 5 feet past the tip. When fishing in deep water you can let the knot out further and add weight to the rig to get to the desired depth. All this comes with experience in using the rig. You have to try different speeds, length of line you set out and amount of weight you add when your fishing. Once you have the right combination the rig will work very well. First though, you must have the basics down.

Once you have it down landing fish like these two 38 inch bass with become the norm rather than the exception.

Capt. Hap Farrell
E-mail - stunmai@copper.net

Visit our web site at http://www.capecodbaycharters.com

 
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