5 pro anglers (reluctantly) reveal their top-secret tactics for bass, lakers, muskies and walleye


Pro Derek Strub retrieves an Alabama rig (below) close to the bottom to fool walleye


TARGET: Walleye

TACTIC: Retrieve an Alabama rig

If you met Derek Strub at a boat launch at the end of the day and asked him how he made out, he would likely show you images of the big walleye he’d caught and released. If you then wanted to know what he caught the fish on, the chances are also good he’d tell you a swimbait. What he might neglect to point out, however, is that the swimbait was one of four adorning an Alabama rig.

“Like a lot of things, I got on to the pattern by accident,” Strub says. “In the shoulder periods of spring and fall, I like throwing A-rigs for smallmouth. It’s just such an effective presentation when the bass are on a bigger bait bite. But it never failed that we would also catch our biggest walleye, and much bigger fish at that than average.”


For those unfamiliar with the Alabama rig, it resembles the wire frame of an umbrella, hence its other name, the umbrella rig. The centre arm is typically slightly longer, surrounded by four others, each with a snap swivel to which you attach a swimbait. Together, the arrangement mimics a school of baitfish swimming through the water.

The Alabama rig mimics a school of baitfish

“After making a long cast, I’ll count the A-rig down until I touch bottom,” Strub explains. “Then as I retrieve, I’ll keep my cadence such that I might touch every four to six feet. I’ll give it a soft pop every once in a while, too, but I want to know that I am close to the bottom throughout the retrieve.”

Always check your local fishing regulations, but across most of Canada you’re allowed to use four hooks, so on a five-arm A-rig such the YUMbrella Flash Mob that Strub uses, one of the baits is a decoy with the hook cut off. And while he favours natural shiner-, smelt- and alewife-coloured swimbaits—the Jackall Rhythm Wave is his favourite—he always alters the centre offering to make it stand out and appear the most vulnerable.


“I might dip the tail in chartreuse J.J.’s Magic Dippin’ Dye to make it look different, or use a slightly bigger swimbait—anything to make it more conspicuous,” Strub says. “Most of the walleye come on the centre swimbait.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, Strub’s walleye A-rig presentation is anything but a finesse tactic. That’s why he uses either a three- or four-power G. Loomis NRX+ flipping rod and reel spooled with 50-pound braid and a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. “When they see that cluster of four- and five-inch swimbaits coming through the water,” he says, “it provokes an aggressive bite from the biggest fish.”