Bass anglers and tackle manufacturers are great about taking credit for something, even if they had nothing to do with it initially. Good examples of this would be a person who was shown a good spot and then when they take someone else out, they claim they found it and have been fishing it for years. Another example would be a company that “introduces” a “new” concept in bass lures only it isn’t new but a knockoff of something that’s been made before. That never happens – right?
Well, with all the hoopla the last ten years, after Paul Elias won the FLW event on Guntersville, about the “newly invented” Alabama Rig ® – this cartoon I found in the Spring 1969 issue of Bassmaster Magazine really hit home.
This bait delivery concept, known as a spreader or umbrella rig, has been around for a long time, more than 50 years that I know of. Striper anglers have utilized it most but even I have used it trolling bass in the early 2000s fishing with Jerry Rago in southern California – but with the 2-ounce off-shore striper version. I was witness as well as catcher of bass up to 18 pounds while trolling the spreader rig with three Rago Generic Trout – something you’d only do if you were the maker of the $300 baits.
But I digress. Back to the topic.
What you see in the opening picture is Harold Sharp’s cartoon of an angler asking the Tournament Director (not Harold at that time) if it was okay to use this crazy contraption. The funny thing is who knew that over 50 years later this exact scenario would surface in professional bass fishing and it wouldn’t be so funny.
The Alabama Rig ® would bring to the forefront of bass fishing a ton of controversy both on the water and in the courts – some of which has been settled and a lot of which hasn’t.
One thing I am going to start pushing for, though, is that Harold get his due as one of the earliest pioneers of the rig for largemouth and smallmouth bass.
One a serious side note, what many don’t realize was Harold Sharp had the job as Bassmaster Cartoonist before he took the job with B.A.S.S. as their first real Tournament Director. In the old issues there are a large number of cartoons penned by Sharp. Over the course of time we’ll be putting them up for all to see. I’m sure you’ll like what he had to share back then as a number of the topics are still relevant today.