After a rather lackluster year in the new tackle department, the final two months of 2011 has seen an explosion of what is known as multi-arm rigs, the result of publicity received by this type of rig winning two major bass fishing tournaments.

  Back in October, BASS angler Paul Elias used the original Alabama Rig (made by Mann’s Bait Co. now) to win a tournament on Lake Guntersville. He really blew away the field by 17 pounds using the multi-arm rig. He used it to catch suspended fish around bridges, fish he knew were there but could catch on any other lure.

  From there the multi-arm rigs started making headlines with other tournament wins and heavy catches. Suddenly all professional anglers were throwing them and bass fishing hottest trend was unleashed on the fishing public.

   Regional anglers that were able to get their hands on these rigs and fish them quickly learned they were legitimate additions to the tacklebox. From Lake Anna to Buggs Island (Kerr Reservoir) the multi-arm rigs catch fish, sometimes several at a time.

  Currently this type of rig is not permitted on Maryland waters of the Potomac River, however it is fine to use in Virginia.

   The design incorporates a solid head made of metal or high density foam with up to six wire arms attached. At the end of each arm is a snap swivel where anglers attach their favorite lure (not unlike an umbrella rig used for trolling).

   While initial publicity touted these rigs as the ultimate bass tournament limit finder, anglers guessed correctly that stripers love them, too! See sidebar.

   Fishing the multi-arms requires some different gear. So far the choice of rods is a 7’6” to 8’ medium or medium heavy casting rod with a high capacity baitcasting reel spooled with 14-20 pound test Berkley Trilene XT. Long casts are necessary as many fish want to follow the mini-school of baitfish, herding and chasing them before engulfing one. A soft tip rod is helpful because you don’t want to torque off multiple fish with too stiff a pole.

  You can choose whatever bait you want to attach to the five or six positions on the end of wire arms. An early favorite is the three-inch Berkley Rippleshad as well as the four-inch Berkley Hollow or Split Belly Minnow swimbait. Paddletail lures seem to be what triggers the fish to bite best.

  The Toothache Extraction or E-Rig uses the already popular Toothache spoon as a head (3/8-oz) and uses six wire arms for maximum potential. The super reflective holo-scale head starts the parade while the swimbaits that follow are just too enticing to gamefish.

   The other regional favorite, the Ala-Brella Rig from Dave’s Tournament Tackle features a 3/8-oz. tin head that comes in three paint schemes; pearl, sexy ghost or Tennessee shad, with five wire arms. Builder Dave Farrington also offers a Red Zone Gripper head in 1/8 and ¼ oz versions and the Dave’s Skinny Swimbait in four- and five-inch versions to complete the presentation.

  “I’ve had one fellow catch 80 fish on one Ala-Brella Rig and it’s still going,” Farrington told W2.

   A strong, smooth lob cast is the best way to launch these rigs that can weigh up to two ounces. Once the baits hit the water, count down a quick second per foot to the depth where fish are holding and begin a steady retrieve. You can also pause and “flare” the rig by pulling gently after pause to make fish following it engulf the nearest bait. Fish eat baits in all of the positions.

   No matter whether you cast ‘em or troll ‘em these multi-arm rigs are must for your tacklebox. We have had an absolute blast field testing all of them and caught bunches of stripers and largemouths.