Never ask a celebrity for their opinion because 99 out of a 100 times they don’t know what they’re talking about. But now, we’ve come to learn, in the realm of bass fishing the same applies to the celebrities of the Bassmaster Elite Series. They’re definitely not as smart as they think they are.

In case you hadn’t heard, the Rules Committee for the high visibility, 100-angler elite circuit just came out with a truly Neanderthal ruling, eliminating multi-bait rigs entirely from the Elite Series and the Bassmasters Classic.  Indeed, the ruling is so stringent, it mandates only the use of “a single lure during practice and competition.”

As the latest press release states: “No longer permitted are double soft jerkbait rigs, drop shot rigs with jigs used as weights, double topwater setups and other multi-lure rigs, such as ‘umbrella rigs’.”

Of course, these geniuses are entitled to play by any rules they want–it’s a Bass Anglers Closed Society. But the justification is as lame as a wounded camel. There is nothing in the rationale about the arguable ethical or fish conservation concerns. Nope. According to the release, “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.”

Trip Weldon, the Tournament Director and admitted admirer of the technique, was quoted as saying, “… the Elite Series Rules Committee members unanimously asked to be held to a higher standard. We have decided to honor their recommendation.”

Even Bruce Akin, the CEO of BASS, doesn’t seem to recognize the implications of the ban. He was quoted as saying, “We are as excited as the rest of the country about the new multi-lure rigs…Our Classic and Elite tournaments simply have a higher standard for the sake of competition.”

This was reprised when yet another unnamed member of the rules committee was quoted as saying,  “…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.”

Yes, by all means, let’s eliminate innovation. Let’s go back to all fiberglass rods, or 150-horse engines or seven rods and 10 pounds of tackle. Let’s get Forrest Wood building those TR3’s again. And then, let’s turn our back on potential sponsorship visibility and move promotional elements as far away from the most recognizable circuit in the world.

Yep. Ask the bass fishing celebrities what they want and this is what you get. These cowboys just defined “a higher standard” as sticking with inferior tools and techniques. Makes you proud, don’t it?



32 Responses to “Bassmaster Elites prove they’re not so smart”

Wow! The fallout will go on for a while on this doozy!

A “higher standard” than, say, FLW?? That’s kind of funny.

Oh, well…it’s going to be great message board traffic I’m sure 😉

Sorry, but I completely disagree. BASS and its anglers are spot on with this decision. It is a very innovative technique, I agree with that. Clearly though at the heart of all competitive anglers is to go out on a level playing field and be the best in any event. limiting the field to 250 HP engines or whatever is fine with me. They could make it 200 for what its worth and I would be fine with that. I’m all for innovation and creativity but clearly this rig has demonstrated its effectiveness at levels we have never seen before. I’ve personally gone to areas in the complete middle of the lake and caught limits of bass that would blow your mind in places i was never even sure bass lived. You could reference any new innovative technique or rig and you will not find similar success compared to the A-rig. I’ve had my fun with the rig and I will throw it as long as the law allows it, but I feel strongly that it belongs in the same place as live bait fishing, trolling, jet drive boats and the 2nd rod stamp. They are all legal but aren’t allowed in tournaments. I’ll go fishing with live bait in the winter with my wife kids and family for a good time because there is very little skill involved. I go to the likely places and everybody joins in on the fun. I’ve put the A-rig up against live bait and it was no comparison….it was a landslide catch ratio for more and bigger fish than even live bait. So in closing I like the rig for recreational fishing (so does my wife, she can kick my butt now just like with live bait fishing) but leave it out of competition. Or if you want to keep it, go ahead and allow live bait, dead bait, aluminum boats of any size , jet drive engines, 2nd rod stamps and trolling. At least then it will all make sense. And I can quit competitive fishing, sell the boat and truck and get back to deer and duck hunting.

Maybe I will be able to use remote control doe robots equipped with “doe in heat urine” scent emitters. When I go duck hunting I could use remote control flying ducks on a oversize Alabama duck rig flying in formation, equipped with internal radio /speaker system. Oh wait that sort of innovation isn’t allowed because it has been labeled an UN-sporting manner. Well that and the duck call and decoy makers probably had a fit when those came out.

Nascar has rules to keep things fair and let the best teams come out on top.

MLB has rules prohibiting PED’s and other equipment rules. (foreign material on the balls the pitcher is throwing, corked bats) but they have proven to be effective.

NFL won’t let players use stick-em or cleats longer than 3/4 of an inch or something like that. among other rules.

Hockey doesn’t…..well who cares about hockey. (just kidding hockey lovers, I am just ignorant to the rules of hockey)

Track and field, Soccer, basketball, bowling, golf, hunting and even fishing have equipment limitations and governing rules that have been made to protect the essence of the the sport and allow ability, skills, and experience to elevate the competitors. not some innovative design.

In my opinion that is the issue with the A-rig.

by George Kramer

It’s not about lines on the playing field; it’s about a sound rationale behind drawing them. Something clearly missing in this case.

George I value and appreciate your views, sincerely. However I could say the same thing only that clearly “sound rationale was used in this case. It’s all about integrity and protecting it and the competitive aspect of it.

Why would the NFL ban stick em from its competition? it clearly works, right? Maybe it was just too good and it leveled the playing field against skill and ability to catch/hold on to the ball. Also, you could argue ( although I wish they hadn’t left it in the amateur ranks) that they are giving the technique its due time and allowing it in the amateur ranks prior to making a final ruling on allowing it or not; so as to protect the highest level of competition we have.

Would you feel any different if the A-rig goes on to win all or 75% + of all tournaments this year?

Oh George….what have you done now? Hehehehe! You do know how to stir the pot! I love reading your stuff. Your friend always, Mike.

by George Kramer

Mike Tuck, I appreciate your stance as well. However, your argument does not appear in the B.A.S.S. press release. And frankly the Alabama rig would have come and gone on the tournament scene…but with this, they’ll end up with rehashes from the 1970’s and little incentive to be smarter. I don’t believe the West will stand for such a pedestrian view as the B.A.S.S. model.

You make a good point. They could have certainly issued a more clear statement as to the why’s and why nots etc. and showing a clear concern for the future of not only B.A.S.S. , but for all of competitive fishing. I do like the idea of having an advisory panel for the anglers at each level and organization to make sure that the angler’s voices are heard. Too often the loudest of voices aren’t the actual customers.

I have spoken with many of my peers and so far I can say that they are united to a degree about not wanting it at our events.

Our volatile sport would take a big hit if we allow the A-rig into our sport and it goes on to win most all of the events this season. At that point the public perception would be that you only have be the most innovative person or the luckiest person to have the next best thing in order to beat the last best thing.

And don’t we try hard enough to bring some sort of legitimacy to a sport that is still widely considered just a get lucky alcohol consuming southern pastime?

Let me give you a little hint as to why this action was taken. Some of those pro’s have alot of money to lose if they don’t sell any crankbaits, spinnerbaits, worms, shakey heads, you get my drift. The A-Rig dominating the standings would have devastated the tackle companies that support the big show. In fact a friend of us all told me that some anglers make more money off the lures they sell if they can show they used them in the Tournament, than they make from WINNING an Elite event and its 1st place prize money. I hope FLW does the right thing and follows the state laws as they stand and does not try to play to the politics.

I must suck because I can’t get a sniff on the A-Rig. Diamond Valley Bass are either too snobby to eat that thing or too intelligent. I give up on that p.o.s. 😉

by Jojo Norwood.

They should have gave it a chance…It was the hottest thing to hit Bass fishing in a long time & it was that hot in the “off-season.” I’m thinking they have stepped on the “slippery slope” w/ these picky rules. What’s next? No Prototype baits? I mean if they want a level field ALL 90 something of them should be “issued” the same bait.

by Michael Jones

Apparently, I’m a little late to the party. But here goes … I would characterize this lure ban as moronic but that insults morons everywhere. As they say “You can’t cure stupid” and this is just another dagger to the heart of a sport that has been bleeding red for years. What the BASS braintrust is missing is precisely what bad fishermen have embraced for centuries – there must be a secret, can’t-miss lure. Anyone who has spent anytime in this sport should know that believing such nonsense is completely idiotic. Short of C4 or hand grenades, there is no such thing. It’s bad religion with a twist. They think they know better than the rest of us “average” fishermen. They believe they are “elevating” the sport of tournament bass fishing. In fact, they are destroying it. Brick by brick, they are taking apart the very core of what makes bass fishing interesting, addictive and exciting – creativity. Their distorted reality of competition, one where past-their-prime, gray-haired, hip-hop happening jackwagons throw the same thing (i.e. crankbait, spinnerbait, jig) over and over again to the thumping beat of music and quick-cut editing, only accomplishes one thing – maintaining the status quo so a select few can make money. These people have hijacked our sport. They are everything that is wrong with bass fishing. To politely discuss this topic is only a means of furthering their stupidity. If you support or even benignly accept this edict, you are deserving of what the future holds for tournament competition – mediocrity … or worse.

The playing field will never be level as long as anglers are using prototype, hand made one of a kind, special color baits, etc. that other anglers don’t have access to. The only way to level the playing field is to limit the tackle used to products that are available on the open market to every angler entered in the tournament.

by George Kramer

Like an Alabama rig, ACP? 🙂

Exactly George!!!

What if berkley releases a remote control swimbait next month? trust me the technology is there.

Remote controlled swimbait? I’d at least try one!

What about trailer hooks on spinnerbaits? What if I attach a soft plastic bait to that trailer hook? At times I put trailer hooks on jigs and attach pork to the trailer (more action, bigger profile), am I using a using a “multi-lure” rig?

Who decides if you are using multiple baits with single hooks or a single bait with multiple hooks?

Chris, some of that will be decided by “definition” from various governing agencies in their specific angling regs. But you bring up a core issue of this Elite “Rules Committee” decision. It was very short-sighted, a classic case of “throwing out the baby with the bathwater;” a decision made without thought to the consequences.

by Terry Battisti

I have a thought here. This only pertains to the Elite Series. Not the Opens, Federation, etc. It’s their rules that they decided on. Shouldn’t we let them police themselves?

It’s just a thought…..


by George Kramer

One word, Terry: “Precedent.” Precedent always has consequences.

by Terry Battisti

But, not all “precedents” succeed. And, do we know it to be a precedent? Now, if they had changed the rules for all the circuits, we may have something to squawk about. But who says if the results from the Opens show that it isn’t as deadly as it first appeared, it’s possible they powers-at-be could make it legal in the Elites. You can bet your Nitro that a number of the Elite guys will be fishing the Opens and after this year they will have a solid opinion on the technique. These are just my thoughts. Like I said before, I have no dog in this race. I don’t fish the Elites. 🙂


PS: I got my “Eagles” mag today. You guys did an awesome job with it George. I can’t wait to read it cover-to-cover.

PPS: For those of you who haven’t bought the “Eagles” mag, do it now!

by speedy griffin

BASS really don’t recognize us on the west coast anyway they could care less, the cal delta /clear lake or anything in California.The things that they come up with sometime is plain dumb that’s the very reason a lot of them is going to the PAA, just talk to Derek on the way to FL to fish the PAA with Russ Lane. If there not careful they are gonna lose a lot of good names to other recognizable circuits. They are taking all the fun out of fishing. WOW.

I don’t get it. The raison d’etre of the BASS organization and their top level product spokesmen/endorsers (ie, the Elite field) is to fuel and sustain sales for the industry. How exactly does this ban accomplish their primary goal???

Zara Super Spook

The Bass College

20.Jan.2012 by Kathy Fennel
The Alabama Rig has taken the bass-fishing world by storm. Every discussion about its use seems to generate an emotional response unlike anything I’ve seen in my more than 30 years in the sport.

For every passionate plea that it be banned from tournaments, there is an equally passionate plea that it be allowed. No matter which side of the debate you are on, one thing is undeniable: The Alabama Rig has generated a level of excitement and interest in bass fishing unlike anything that has come before.

Since their inception, tournaments have been the spawning ground for lure, equipment and technique innovations that help recreational anglers catch more and bigger fish. It’s the reason fans tune in to our television shows, visit our websites, read our magazines and attend our events. There are millions of bass anglers out there with an insatiable appetite for cutting-edge information that will make them better at their sport. To argue that the Alabama Rig and other castable umbrella rigs be banned from tournaments is to believe that we’ve finally reached the end of innovation; that the great equalizer has been found; that the only thing separating novice anglers from the world’s top professionals is a weighted head with five wire leaders and swimbaits. There is nothing more to learn.

We believe professional anglers deserve more credit than that. We believe their skill and intuition will not be undercut by a baitfish-imitating technique that helps less experienced anglers catch fish when otherwise they might not. Will it force some pros to elevate their game and adapt? Of course it will. Just like GPS, side-imaging sonar, sight-fishing, shallow-water anchors and countless lure, line and rod innovations have done over the years. Buzzbaits and ChatterBaits were once considered radical, as were flipping and sight-fishing. But they are all simply tools of the trade now. The same will hold true for Alabama Rigs. It’s not the end of fishing as we know it.

Anglers are still held to a daily five-fish limit. Tournaments are still catch-and-release. Our conservation ethic has not changed. We’ve taken the additional step of contacting wildlife officials in each state hosting an event in every FLW circuit to urge them to study the effects of castable umbrella rigs on live release rates. If conservation issues are discovered, we will reevaluate our rules accordingly. For now, we are leaving that in the capable hands of the experts within each state, and castable umbrella rigs will be permitted in our 2012 tournaments.


Kathy Fennel

President, Operations Division

FLW Outdoors

I don’t get it…why are the people on the opposed side making such a fuss about the A-rig not being fair? All they have to do is tie it on and throw it. And the fish are not ALWAYS going to bite the A-rig, just like they don’t always want to bite a spinnerbait or crank. What about the days the fish are not in the mood to chase, and the only way to get them to bite is to drop shot a small worm or drag a Carolina rig? Anyway, that’s my two cents.

The loudest don’t always represent the mostest. 😉

Remember fish locators were banned by several states. B.A.S.S. banned Dee Thomas flipping with long rods and now the single lure regulation, brilliant decisions.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”–George Santayana

But not everyone has your longer view, Tom.

The corporate overlords at Pure Fishing will have to intervene and put the kibosh on BASS’ silly ban. It’s cutting into potential sales of their knockoff product before it even has an opportunity to reach the market.

I think tournament fishing should be stopped completely as it is to over whelming in this age. I fished tournaments for over a decade and after I quit, it dawned on me the few times I would accompany a ex club member just how silly it really is… It seems that everyone is a bass fisherman these days and everyone has a $150;000 shiny boat and truck… I seriously feel sorry for people who live on these lakes and pay taxes and have to put up with outsiders just beating the living [snot] out of the fish population in the waters surrounding them…

Its mostly innocent when you consider a local bass angler trying to have fun with their buddies oppose to a federation trail, but in the same token when you consider hundreds of local wanna be pros beating these lakes its plan ignorant to try and justify that its not affecting anything in a negative way…

I say ban it forever and stop trying to gamble over wildlife and stick to poker.

Disclaimer- please don’t fault me for my opinion as I don’t mean anything bad by it.. Just take into account future generations of people growing up who should be able to enjoy nature without having to make it a sponsored sport at the sacrifice of a fishery..

by George Kramer

Jingle: Probably good arguments on either side. Right now, the “money” is winning over the preservationists. It could change…

Mr. Kramer,

Well at the moment the economy is helping to keep a few people off the water.

Sometimes when I look around me I feel we lost what it means to be humble. As times change and things become harder then it will just naturally take its course.

I’m almost afraid to tell people I enjoy catching and eating bluegills in fear they will start tournament fishing for them, lol.

I will say we have evolved from the days of Tom Manns and huge stringers of fish being taken during tournaments, but just the same there were less involved in the sport. Now its so huge that its silly.

As far as any bass angler being “elite” pfffff c’mon… Its like being a rockstars who carts themselves around the states living from hotel to hotel. Nothing “elite” about that. Quotas and big dollars is the game of tournament fishing!