UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Lake Erie

4 Umbrella Rig Applications

4 Umbrella Rig Applications

There’s been a considerable amount of innovation since umbrella rigs first broke out at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Guntersville in 2011. Though the principle of imitating a school of baitfish remains the same, the anglers who have put in the time to learn and refine the new rig have certainly reaped the rewards.

No longer a magic bait, and now illegal on the FLW Tour and restricted at the FLW Series and BFL levels, the rig can still put fish in the boat for anglers willing to throw it, especially in the winter months.

We caught up with a few anglers willing to reveal how they make it happen with the rig these days.

 

1. LeHew Goes the Whole Nine Baits

Shanes Baits - Blades of Glory

Shane LeHew is one of the more notable umbrella rig innovators on Tour. The young North Carolinian cut his teeth with the rig on Lake Norman, and he and his dad started Shane’s Baits to cater to those who admired their advanced umbrella rig setups.

LeHew’s favorite rig to throw is the Blades of Glory with the blades on the lower portion. The rig is essentially two umbrella rigs stuck together, reminiscent of the humorous Photoshopped renditions that made the rounds on Facebook back in the day. His go-to configuration is 2.8-inch Keitech Swing Impact FAT swimbaits (shad-colored in clear water and white in muddy water) all around on 1/16-ounce Shane’s Baits jigheads.

For tackle to match the beefy rigs, LeHew prefers the Fitzgerald Rods 7-foot, 6-inch heavy Okeechobee Rod, which is a heavy rod with a moderate tip, and a 6:1 gear ratio baitcasting reel paired with 20-pound-test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon.

While some like to throw big braid with umbrella rigs, LeHew prefers flouro for a number of reasons.

“I know it sounds wrong, because braid floats, but I think the fluorocarbon allows it to sink a little bit slower because of the big diameter,” he explains. “If you’re throwing it in the winter the fish are pretty lethargic, and you want to go slow.”

As far as actually fishing the rig on Norman and other Carolina lakes, LeHew has some pointers to keep in mind.

“Typically the retrieve I start out with is super slow. But, if you’re fishing it around docks or cover you don’t need to fish it as slow,” he says. “With our rig, I know it falls about 1 foot per second, so I can count it down and fish it really close to the bottom in the winter when the fish are sitting below bait.

“I run as many hooks as I can [and still be legal]. A lot of times the fish will crash through that rig without their mouths open, and you need more chances to hook them. A lot of times, if I’m fishing around brush, I’ll rig the front ones with a weedless jighead. Then you can feel them tick into the cover and pull it up so the bottom swimbait doesn’t get hung.”

When hung up, LeHew says a typical crankbait plug knocker usually is all it takes to get the rather expensive rig back.

 

2. Blaylock Hunts Big Ones

Though he initially was an umbrella rig detractor and still supports keeping them out of tournaments, Arkansas pro Stetson Blaylock has been known to chunk an umbrella rig and is now quite skilled with it.

“My next-door neighbor builds them for me,” says Blaylock. “I like either a five- or seven-wire rig with an unweighted head.

“I want the bait to fall hooks first so the head doesn’t settle down into structure and so that when you hop it up or start working the bait it looks like it’s moving up, not forward,” he adds. “I also never throw one without blades, but I think it matters to have blades a lot more on sunny days than cloudy days.”

Blaylock has no stated preference in jigheads, but he usually opts for 1/8-ounce heads around the perimeter with a 3/8-ounce head in the middle, depending on the swimbaits he’s throwing or how windy it is. Usually, 3- to 5-inch swimbaits get the call for the outside with a 5-inch bait up the middle.

“When I throw a rig I’m not fishing for numbers; I’m fishing for big ones,” explains Blaylock. “Anytime I throw it I throw it on braid with a real stiff rod with a soft tip. I’m usually fishing for big ones around cover. There’s no reason to have any give in the setup. You want to just reel them in and lift them into the boat.”

Blaylock’ setup consists of a 13 Fishing Concept E casting reel with 6.6:1 gear ratio, 65-pound-test Seaguar Smackdown Braid and either a 7-6 or 7-11, heavy-power 13 Fishing Envy Black casting rod.

When he’s fishing a rig, Blaylock usually likes to keep it low and slow.

“There’s more to it than throwing it out there and reeling it in; the fish are getting accustomed to the rig. I’ve had 5-pounders just come up and bump it, and that never used to happen,” Blaylock says. “I like to get mine all the way to the bottom and fish it almost like a jig or anything else. I want it right next to the cover I want to fish. Some days a steady retrieve is best, but it all depends on what the fish are telling you.”

 

3. Borofka Takes a Left Coast Angle

Jason Borofka's G-Funk rig.

Jason Borofka created a mini-craze of his own with a custom-designed umbrella rig back in 2014 in the FLW Series Western Division event at Lake Havasu. Now umbrella rigs have been embraced almost universally on the West Coast, and Borofka is at the head of the pack.

Out of necessity, Borofka and his friend and business partner Tom Nieto started building a finesse umbrella rig to their own specifications. Later, the two started G-Funk Baits to sell it.

The design of their rigs is based around having only two or three hooks with baits that are lighter and of higher quality. The G-Funk rigs are also designed specifically to fit a variety of Keitech Swing Impact FAT swimbaits. From Owner split rings to a proprietary head design, everything about the rigs is tuned to be tournament-ready.

As an example of the rig’s uniqueness, Borofka says that it lands more softly than other renditions of similar size and configuration. Instead of it plunking down with a splash into a shallow pocket, the G-Rig’s form and balance tend to make it land with a sound akin to light rain.

“My favorite G-Rig is the three-hook, five-wire model,” says Borofka. “I like to run three 1/8-ounce jigheads and two baits rigged just on springs.”

Borofka’s bait array is fairly simple: a pair of 2.8-inch Keitechs on the two top wires, a 4.3-inch Keitech on a jighead in the middle and two 3.8-inch Keitechs on jigheads on the lower wires.

“That whole configuration makes it come through the water perfectly just as soon as it hits the water,” he says. “A lot of times I’ll also make that middle bait just a little off-color –usually just a little more bold – compared to the other baits.”

For tackle, Borofka opts for a 6.2:1 Shimano Curado 300E, 20-pound-test Berkley Trilene Big Game mono and a 7 1/2- or 8-foot, medium-heavy-power swimbait rod. 

“I’d say 80 percent of the time I use a steady retrieve, though there have been situations when I’m doing something different, like maybe when I speed it up slightly,” Borofka adds. “If I’m fishing it around cover it’s good to make a long cast past the cover and then speed up or make some other little change when it gets to the cover. That can really help if you’re fishing behind guys or getting followers but not getting bit.”

 

4. Martin Rolls with a Variety

Picasso Bait Ball Extreme Rig

Casey Martin was in the boat as a co-angler when Paul Elias busted out the umbrella rig on Guntersville four years ago. A few seasons later Martin used it to win at Chickamauga in his rookie year on Tour. Suffice it to say, Martin has a lot of affinity for the rig – and the skill to fish it effectively.

As both a pro and a guide on Guntersville, Martin employs a variety of umbrella rigs. His preference is the Picasso Bait Ball Extreme, a giant rig with seven wires that each holds a blade, and up to seven hooks and nine dummies. For tournament competition, he’s forced to scale back to the Picasso School-E-Rig Bait Ball Junior, which is a traditional bladed five-wire model. Finally, Martin likes to use the Picasso Flash Back Junior, a five-wire, eight-blade version, on guide trips when his clients want to throw the umbrella rig but aren’t up to chunking the Bait Ball Extreme.

“My rig setup is a 7-10, extra-heavy Duckett Micro Magic Pro, a reel with a 6:1 gear ratio and 25-pound-test fluorocarbon,” explains Martin. “I don’t like braid because of how it digs into the spool on the hookset. I usually use Z-Man Grass KickerZ in ‘smokey shad,’ but I’ll go to pearl in muddier water. I’ve noticed the rig doesn’t excel in dirty water.”

For Martin, the umbrella rig is a year-round tool.

“When I’m fishing deep on ledges in the summer I usually go with five 3/8-ounce Picasso Smart Mouth jigheads,” he says. “In the winter you’re usually fishing it higher in the water column, and I use 1/8-ounce heads then.

“I was fishing with heads that were too heavy when I first started out,” details the Guntersville pro. “Most of the time, you want to be fishing lighter heads to keep it in the same part of the water column as a suspending jerkbait.”

Martin also offered some advice for getting the elusive umbrella rig double.

“If you leave the rig out after you set the hook – just hold for a minute and don’t crank – more often than not you’ll catch more than one. It’s hard to risk in a tournament, and it doesn’t happen as much in the winter, but it happens a lot in the summer.”

Tags: umbrella-rig  jody-white  article 

ROY Update: Mississippi River

ROY Update: Mississippi River

The most recent Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries at the Mississippi River was a pivotal one for the season-long points races. On the Angler of the Year side of things, Ron Nelson widened his lead tremendously. In the Polaris Rookie of the Year race, Kyle Hall roared from third place into first. READ MORE »

TITLE Bubble Watch

TITLE Bubble Watch

There’s a lot at state in the final Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Erie. Aside from someone taking home the $125,000 top prize, Angler of the Year and Polaris Rookie of the Year will be crowned. But there is another important thing to be settled on Erie: finalizing the field for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay. The top 50 anglers in the points will qualify, and while some are already just about locked in, others will need to fish down to the wire. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Mississippi River

AOY Update: Mississippi River

Ron Nelson has led the way in the Angler of the Year race in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit since the very early going. Now, with just one event left, he’s opened up a fairly massive gap between himself and the rest of the field. READ MORE »

Pro Circuit Heads to Sandusky

Pro Circuit Heads to Sandusky

The season finale of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit will take place on Lake Erie, out of Sandusky, Ohio, on August 11-14. The third of three special Super Tournaments, over 200 pros from FLW and Major League Fishing (MLF) will fish in the event. The winner will take home $125,000 and the event will decide who wins the Angler of the Year title, the Polaris Rookie of the Year title and which Pro Circuit anglers qualify for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay. READ MORE »

Breaking Down Poche’s Disqualification

Breaking Down Poche’s Disqualification

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Rule No. 12 regarding Boat and Horsepower Regulation recently came under scrutiny after Major League Fishing pro Keith Poche’s day one weight was disqualified at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at the Mississippi River presented by OPTIMA Batteries. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Mississippi River

Top 10 Baits from the Mississippi River

The top pros in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament presented by OPTIMA Batteries on the Mississippi River ended up using fairly similar tactics to attack the river, but with slight variations throughout. Tom Monsoor won with a variety of unique jigs, but many of the other top finishers used more standard fare. READ MORE »

Mississippi River Practice with Buck

Mississippi River Practice with Buck

In his fourth year on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, Grae Buck has really come into his own. A standout collegiate angler at Penn State, he’s now in the thick of the Angler of the Year race and cruising toward qualification for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for the Mississippi River

FLW Live Schedule for the Mississippi River

With just two events left in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season, it’s time to turn attention to the northern part of the country. Presented by OPTIMA Batteries, the Pro Circuit Super Tournament on the Mississippi River out of Stoddard, Wis., will not only crown a winner with a $125,000 payday but also shape the Angler of the Year race. READ MORE »

Alvin Shaw Withdraws from Remaining Super Tournaments

Alvin Shaw Withdraws from Remaining Super Tournaments

Citing emergency surgery to remove his gall bladder, pro Alvin Shaw announced today that he is withdrawing from the remaining two 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit events. Shaw, a 16-year FLW pro, has 15 top-10 finishes and two career victories in FLW competition. READ MORE »

Scouting Pool 8 with Ormond

Scouting Pool 8 with Ormond

For Jake Ormond, this is his first time fishing north of Tennessee, and thus his first time fishing the upper Mississippi. He’s not the only one lacking Mississippi River experience in the field, but considering many of the Major League Fishing (MLF) anglers that are part of the Super Tournament field have competed on the river a number of times, he’s got his work cut out for him. READ MORE »

MLF Analyst Marty Stone Joins "FLW Live"

MLF Analyst Marty Stone Joins "FLW Live"

FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, and Major League Fishing (MLF) announced the addition of veteran MLF NOW! analyst Marty Stone to the FLW Live broadcast team. READ MORE »

2nd Place Earns MDJ Bonus Bucks

2nd Place Earns MDJ Bonus Bucks

Major League Fishing pro Mark Daniels Jr. took home $3,000 of Toyota Bonus Bucks thanks to his second-place finish in the final Bass Pro Tour event of the 2020 season. “MDJ” had an extremely close, back-and-forth battle with eventual winner Justin Lucas on Sturgeon Bay before finishing the Championship Round as the runner-up. READ MORE »

Northern Division Returns to Sandusky

Northern Division Returns to Sandusky

FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today that the organization will shift its Aug. 18-20 Toyota Series Northern Division event from Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, New York, to Lake Erie and Sandusky, Ohio. The move was made in response to New York’s expanded travel restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic. READ MORE »

Under the Cap: Look Inside Justin Lucas’ Truck

Under the Cap: Look Inside Justin Lucas’ Truck

Although he makes his living fishing on the front deck of his Phoenix boat, MLF pro Justin Lucas spends as much (or more!) time in between competition rounds and Bass Pro Tour events working out of a four-wheeled tackle garage that includes an A.R.E. Z Series truck cap. READ MORE »

BFL Winning Patterns – July 18-19

BFL Winning Patterns – July 18-19

The weekend of July 18 featured eight Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine events spread across six different divisions. With a pair of double-headers mixed in, it was an action-packed weekend on the water. READ MORE »

Assessing the ROY Race

Assessing the ROY Race

With the final two events of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit regular season slated for the Mississippi River and Sandusky Bay, on Lake Erie, there’s really no candidate that is perfectly suited for both. Because of that, the final two events set up well to test true fishing talent, and it won’t be easy for someone to get on a roll to close it out. READ MORE »

Pro Circuit Events Move to Great Lakes

Pro Circuit Events Move to Great Lakes

FLW, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today that the final two Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit events of 2020 have been moved. The final Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament scheduled for Aug. 11-14 has been moved to Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio, while the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota, scheduled for Aug. 24-29, has been moved to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. READ MORE »

Lake Martin TV Show Premieres Tonight

Lake Martin TV Show Premieres Tonight

The 2020 season of “FLW Fishing” features 13 two-hour episodes, showcasing competition during each of the six regular-season Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit events, plus all six days of the Tackle Warehouse FLW TITLE presented by Toyota, the Pro Circuit Championship. This week, the Pro Circuit event at Lake Martin is on tap.  READ MORE »

Cifuentes’ Chickamauga Mayfly Pattern

Cifuentes’ Chickamauga Mayfly Pattern

Adult mayflies only live for about 24 hours out of the water, but during that brief window, they can dramatically affect the prospects of catching a bunch of fish. At the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga, Miles Burghoff based a lot of his success on schools of bass that were related to the mayfly hatch. Joey Cifuentes also keyed on the mayfly hatch, and his strategy provides a great playbook for responding to mayfly hatches in a variety of situations. READ MORE »

Apex Watercraft Funding Next Kayak Venture

Apex Watercraft Funding Next Kayak Venture

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler Eric Jackson’s new company Apex Watercraft is setting out to build carbon fiber fishing kayaks that are faster, lighter and just as stable as the competition. Apex Watercraft is currently offering fans the opportunity to back the groundbreaking kayak-building venture on Kickstarter and via their website at apexwatercraft.com.  READ MORE »