Umbrella Rigs

By Bill Carson

A few tips on how to use an umbrella rig to catch more fish.

Fishing charter captain Bill Carson with a striper catch

U-Rigs And State Laws

A little about umbrella rigs and how to use them. First of all, there are laws in some states (like Tennessee) that quantify the number of hooks on "an array of baits" and most u-rigs are either 3 arm or 4 arm. A 3 arm rig can have either 4 baits or 7 baits and a 4 arm rig can have either 5 baits or 9 baits. Which number of baits is up to angler discretion.

In Tennessee I use umbrella rigs but I remove all of the hooks except on the middle bait and I make the leader going to the middle bait a little longer than the other leaders. Most of the time I use 45 lb. leaders in the 5" variety for all leaders except the middle where I use a 9" or 12" leader. Since this one trails behind the "school" of bait it is the one getting most of the bites.

Best Baits

The colors that seem to work the best are white and chartreuse for trailers and the sky is the limit on baits. I do use a lot of Captain Mack's jigs and rigs which can be found at a number of retail dealers or on the internet at or to name a few. Tsunamis, flukes, bass magic and a whole array of swim baits will all work.

The single most important must have item to purchase before all of the other stuff is a u-rig retriever and is carried by all of the suppliers listed previously.


Of course it is virtually impossible to use the umbrella rigs with out a good sonar and cartography combination unit and this is why I choose the Lowrance HDS unit with Navionics maps. The safety contour option is a great tool for targeting the fish at this time of year since they are "pointed up" or on the points. Try crossing or "clipping" the points where the shallow water drops off into the deeper water.

These fish will be constantly hanging in 15-30 feet of water this time of year and this method of "clipping points" will produce some big numbers. When you locate fish on a point you can many times catch more than one fish on the same point by making turns and revisiting the point from differing angles of approach. Some times the fish will hang on walls of rock ledges such as those that exist in Lakes Cumberland and Cherokee. I have had 100+ fish days a number of times on both of these lakes as well as in rivers below Kentucky and Barkley dams.

Umbrella rigs are a great way not only to locate fish but a great and productive way to catch fish.

Some of the best fishing and boating times of the year are before us and please let me remind you of the importance of having up-to-date insurance coverage for your boat prior to hitting the waterways. I use BoatUS because they provide some of the best coverage not only on the water but when the boat is on the trailer too.