The change becomes effective Feb. 1 and includes the upcoming Bassmaster Classic at Shreveport-Bossier City, La., Feb. 24-26.
Elite Series Rules Committee members, comprised of 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series qualifiers, seemed most concerned about new multi-lure rigs such as The Alabama Rig, which Bassmaster Elite Series pro Paul Elias used to win an event on Lake Guntersville in October. In the weeks since, tens of thousands of the multi-lure devices have been sold, and they have proved extremely effective in both recreational and competitive fishing.
The Alabama Rig and similar setups from other manufacturers consist of a weighted head with five wire leaders trailing behind. Soft plastic swimbaits and similar lures are attached to the leaders, imitating a school of baitfish.
Rules Committee members believe the rig eliminates some of the skill that should be required in tournament competition at the highest level. “It doesn’t matter how you work it,” said one of the anglers. “The fish can’t help themselves.”
“The Alabama Rig has become enormously popular in recent months, and it has definitely had an impact on the tournaments in which it has been used,” noted Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director. “Personally, I have enjoyed catching bass on umbrella rigs and found them to be very effective in some situations. I have witnessed first-hand the excitement this technique has generated in our sport.
“However, the Elite Series Rules Committee members unanimously asked to be held to a higher standard,” he added. “We have decided to honor their recommendation.”
The rule change follows a precedent of imposing more stringent restrictions in Elite Series and Classic competition than in other B.A.S.S. events. For example, landing nets are prohibited in the Elites and the Classic but not in other circuits. Additional rules specific to the Elites include off-limits periods, no-information restrictions and new limits on boats that can be used in competition.
B.A.S.S. officials emphasized that the decision should not be construed as disapproval of multi-lure rigs.
“We are as excited as the rest of the country about the new multi-lure rigs,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “We will continue to cover new ways to utilize these tools in Bassmaster Magazine and on Bassmaster.com. Our Classic and Elite tournaments simply have a higher standard for the sake of competition. The rest of us will enjoy learning how to catch more fish with these tools.”
A Rules Committee member added, “I don’t have a problem with the use of umbrella rigs or multi-lure rigs to catch bass. If you are out fun fishing, there may be nothing more fun to use. However, our events represent the highest level of professionalism in our sport and I think as participants of these events, we should be held to a higher standard, as well. I like the idea of one rod, one reel, one lure.”
January 17, 2012