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The FLW’s recent decision to ban castable umbrella rig (aka Alabama rig) for the 2014 Tour events no doubt generated plenty of spirited feedback on both sides of the fence. I’m on the side supporting that ban – but only at the Tour level.

Personally, I have nothing against the umbrella rig. For subsistence fishing, it’s a pretty handy tool. Ditto for tournament anglers looking to fill out a five-fish limit and hoping for that kicker bite.

Here’s the thing: Too many anglers have become so dependent on the rig that those who opt out immediately accept a potential competitive disadvantage. Go a step deeper and this trend has probably curtailed some of that amazing tackle and tactical innovation the angling public has come to expect from the sport’s top-tier competitors.

Certainly, innovation is not exclusive to the FLW Tour or the Bassmaster Elite Series where umbrella rigs were already disallowed. I’ve seen plenty of cool tricks at the regional and local events I’ve covered. I’ve even seen some pretty impressive ideas at the college fishing level.

But national-level bass pros have the fishing world’s constant attention. They’re the sport’s most visible ambassadors, so they set the pace for that sport’s development.

Do they owe us that? No, I really don’t think they do. I’m very familiar with the industry’s inner workings and I can attest that these guys live a demanding lifestyle that’s not nearly as glamorous and lucrative as it may appear. Therefore, come tournament time I support an angler’s right to use any legal and ethical means of catching fish.

I think the umbrella rig will have a place in bass fishing for a long time to come. I also believe that its elimination at the sport’s top level will push the pros to stoke the fires of creative development.

I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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