By Lawrence Taylor
For the first time in history a major B.A.S.S. tournament has been won by an angler throwing a castable umbrella rig (CUR), specifically the YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr. Georgia’s Patrick Bone weighed in 65-pounds, 4-ounces over the three day Southern Open tournament held April 4-6 on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake.
These rigs, which feature multiple arms for the attachment of up to five jigheads rigged with swimbaits, have come under fire by many pro anglers as being too effective. Like spinnerbaits, crankbaits or any other tool in a bass angler’s arsenal, however, there is a time and place that the rig is most effective. Catching tournament-winning stringers doesn’t come from simply tying one on and catching three fish per cast all day long.
Plus, as Bone proved, there are differences in the many versions of CURs available, and just like with any other lure category, size, action and other lure characteristics make the key differences that catch fish. Bone threw the diminutive Flash Mob Jr. all three days of the tournament.
“I caught every fish I weighed in on the Flash Mob Jr.,” he said. “The size and those flashing blades were the deal. Just about everyone in the tournament was throwing some type of umbrella rig.”
In the Douglas Lake Open with most of the approximately 180 pros throwing a rig, 21 anglers did not weigh in a fish during two days of fishing, and 51 anglers brought less than 6 pounds to the scales. Seventy-five pros brought in less than 10 pounds.
If all an angler has to do is tie one on and fish jump in the boat, wouldn’t everyone have caught 25 pounds a day?
There is no argument from anyone, however, that the CUR is a highly effective bass lure when fished at the right time and place. Like a spinnerbait, however, for best results the angler still must select the right size and action, as well as rig it with the most effective soft plastics.
The YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr. is a downsized rig with five stainless steel lure arms. No. 3 willowleaf blades are positioned at the mid-point of each of the four outer arms to provide extra flash and vibration. With no extra weight in the head, shorter lure arms and a lighter overall weight, the Flash Mob Jr. is less strenuous to cast than a full-sized version, yet creates the image of a full-sized school of baitfish.
Refining any lure to make it more effective than your competition is essential no matter the technique. Bone used 4- to 5-inch swimbaits in two different color patterns to catch his winning bass.
“I had two rods on the deck during the tournament,” Bone said. “One was for stained water and the other for clearer water. For clear water I like swimbaits that are somewhat translucent, and for the dirtier water I use the more solid colors like white.”
Bone threw the clear-water rig on 20-pound fluorocarbon and the dirty water rig on 65-pound braid.
Because Douglas Lake is in Tennessee, a state with a 3-hook restriction, Bone used hookless swimbaits on the top two lure arms, two ¼-ounce jigheads on the bottom lure arms and a 1/8-ounce jig for the center lure arm. The two heavier bottom jigheads provide the balance needed for the Flash Mob Jr. to run straight in the water.
He caught his bass in water 8- to 10-feet deep, targeting transition areas the fish were using as they migrated into spawning areas. He positioned the boat so he could cast parallel to the bank (or at most a 45-degree angle) so he could keep the rig in the right water depth the maximum amount of time.
“I started reeling as soon as it hit the water,” Bone said. “I retrieved it at a slow, constant pace, just ticking the rocks but not letting it get down in them or it would get hung up. I didn’t use any twitches or add any rod action.”
Bone didn’t catch tremendous numbers of fish each day, but his Flash Mob Jr. did catch the right ones. He boated 11 keepers on Friday, eight on Saturday and just 6 fish on Sunday, but all of the fish he caught were quality 3- to 5-pounders.
Mark Hicks, a Bassmaster.com columnist and tournament angler, fished the Southern Open as a co-angler and said that most competitors he saw were throwing smaller-sized CURs with willowleaf blades. Hicks said the two boaters he rode with did land a few fish on different versions of umbrella rigs, but that he never really got the bite going.
“I may have messed up,” he said. “Most of the guys were running dummy rigs on the top two lure arms, but I cut off the top wires, and I think that was a mistake. There is no doubt that the rig catches quality fish, and this was not an easy bite at all. Patrick (Bone) had something going, though. He was fishing behind guys and still catching fish.”
The Flash Mob Jr. has become the most-popular CUR in YUM’s extensive lineup of rigs and is available everywhere fishing lures are sold — including Wal-Mart – for less than $13. Bone said he’d tried a variety of CURs from different manufacturers, but threw the Flash Mob Jr. at Douglas for one major reason.
“It was the confidence factor,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in that rig.”