UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

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Hollowell’s 1-2 Umbrella Rig Punch

Hollowell’s 1-2 Umbrella Rig Punch
Todd Hollowell

A half-dozen years ago, it was the hottest thing in the sport. Now, the umbrella rig is just another tool in bass anglers’ arsenal. Todd Hollowell is more than OK with that. Now that the multi-lure rigs have descended to the level of other ordinary bass options, there are times when he feels like he has them all to himself. And there are times when he makes them pay off in a big way.

Just look at what Hollowell did recently at the Costa FLW Series Championship on Kentucky Lake. Everyone knew the shallow topwater bite would be the main focus for big fish, but Hollowell also added a deep pattern with an umbrella rig that helped him stay more consistent than the rest of the field through three days and allowed him to finish second. That was a prime example of why Hollowell has incorporated the rigs into his regular selection of tackle whenever tournament and state regulations allow.

“In certain situations, umbrella rigs are still some of the most effective presentations,” he says. “People don’t throw them near as much anymore. Me, I always have one tied up, and if it makes sense I’m using it.”

 

Lowrance

Two times to shine

For Hollowell, there are two key scenarios where an umbrella rig shines: when the fish are suspended and when he needs to trigger bites.

Targeting suspended bass is the bait’s bread-and-butter and for what it’s best known.

“When the fish are suspended, particularly if you have clear, cold water, is always best,” says Hollowell. “If you think about it, that describes half the year up north, or at least October through February for many places in the South.”

Yet, most people don’t think of slow-moving umbrella rigs as fitting into the reaction-bait category. Yet, Hollowell is a firm believer that they trigger bites like any other reaction bait.

“Fish only feed a few times a day,” he explains. “That means often, most of your tournament-fishing day is spent trying to trigger bites. Something about an umbrella rig triggers their instincts to feed.”

The Costa FLW Series Championship presented both scenarios, with bass suspending and uneager to bite, making the rig an easy choice for Hollowell from the start.

 

Todd Hollowell's umbrella rig rod setup.
Bad Dude - Elite Rods

Two setups to make it shine

Of all the things that make an umbrella rig work best, Hollowell says your tackle setup is by far the most critical, especially with how he uses them.

“I have an open-water setup and a target-fishing setup,” says Hollowell. “If you have too heavy a jighead weight you might reel too fast, or vice versa. Or if your rod isn’t heavy enough or your line, or if both are too heavy, it all plays a role.”

Both setups start with a five-wire, homemade umbrella rig and a 6:1 gear-ratio reel. After that, things get more situational.

For his open-water setup, Hollowell starts with a 7-foot, 11-inch musky rod that allows him to make long casts and not wear himself out. He spools up 25-pound-test Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon, which he prefers because the sinking fluorocarbon helps the rig stay down, and its clarity helps elicit more bites.

“That line is more than strong enough,” says Hollowell. “The last thing I want in clear, open water is for the fish to see rope [braid].”

Todd Hollowell's umbrella rig setup.

He’ll then rig five 1/8-ounce jigheads, cutting off the hooks on the top two arms when necessary to meet state or tournament regulations.

“The whole rig should weigh about an ounce, even with the swimbaits, which I size to meet the forage,” says Hollowell. “If I’m on Kentucky Lake fishing around gizzard shad I’ll use 4- or 5-inch swimbaits. On a herring lake, I may use 3-inchers.”

For his target rig, Hollowell’s rod of choice is a new 7-foot, 3-inch fiberglass rod called the Bad Dude that he designed for Elite Rods. It allows him to roll-cast the rig like he would a spinnerbait. In this situation, Hollowell prefers the abrasion resistance of 50-pound-test Vicious Fishing Braid over fluorocarbon for casting around docks, dock cables or laydowns. He finishes the rig off with a 1/8-ounce jighead on each of the three bottom arms and a Tru-Turn HitchHiker on each of the top two for less weight.

 

Todd Hollowell

Two ways to fish

When fishing open water, Hollowell typically keeps his rig running at roughly half the depth or higher. Meaning, if he’s fishing in 20 feet, he wants his rig running no deeper than 10 feet. He’ll start by counting it down five seconds, then seven seconds and maybe 10 seconds – waiting for a bite to clue him in that he’s in the right zone.

The one exception is in current, like he encountered at Kentucky Lake. At the championship, the fish were holding tight to the bottom, and Hollowell had to have his rig running within a couple feet of the bottom to get bit.

When target fishing, Hollowell fishes the rig like he would a spinnerbait, making roll-casts and gently placing the rig on the surface of the water to minimize splashes.

“Typically, I’m casting alongside docks, and the fish will come out and eat it,” says Hollowell. “The key is stealth. If you make a big splash they’ll never eat, especially since I’m running the rig shallow enough for me to see it throughout the entire cast.”

This near-surface, target-oriented technique certainly isn’t the norm with an umbrella rig, which is one of the reasons Hollowell does it. In fact, with so many anglers ignoring the rigs these days or limiting the situations where they use them, Hollowell is more than happy to have them relatively to himself.

 

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