By Jeff Samsel

You know about the big tournament wins and how castable umbrella rigs changed the face of bass fishing. You’ve heard the debates about whether they should be allowed in tournaments. You’re tired of hearing the curses and praises.

If you live in a state where multi-lure rigs are legal, you’ve most likely cast these bait-school imitators and caught fish on them, so you know the basic fishing technique. Like every lure or technique that’s had time to mature, though, secrets and tricks to catching more fish are developed.

The YUMbrella bite is happening now and will continue until the bass begin going on beds, so you have plenty of time to try different things to try out the following tips from guide and tournament angler Jimmy Mason, who has been in the middle of castable umbrella rigs since the before they burst onto the scene.

“If there’s anything I’ve learned through all of this, it’s that the fish can get conditioned to any technique, so you must be willing to adapt,” Mason said. “When the rigs came out, the catches were incredible,” Mason said, noting that anglers were showing the fish something they hadn’t seen before and were catching suspended fish that previously had been very difficult to fool. If anglers threw umbrella rigs in the right kinds of areas, they could pretty well count on quality catches.
“It’s not like that anymore. The bass have definitely gotten used to it, and you have to work more to figure them out each day,” Mason said. “Even so, if you’re fishing in a tournament where the rigs are legal this time of year and you aren’t throwing one – or don’t at least have it as a handy option – you’re not putting yourself in a position to win. The YUMbrella and smaller Flash Mob Jr. simply put more wintertime fish in the boat than any other lure or tactic.”

Rigs & Rigging
Mason uses various rigs from the YUMbrella family, with mainstays being the Flash Mob Jr., full-sized Flash Mob and original YUMbrella. He commonly has all three rigged and ready on his deck and will give each some opportunity to prove itself.

The Flash Mob Jr. is Mason’s workhorse. More often than not, the slightly smaller profile of this rig and the flash of the blades combine to produce the best results.

The bigger Flash Mob most commonly comes into play when heavy current carries extra stain down the river and he wants to maximize flash and offer a bigger overall profile.

The original YUMbrella shines when everyone else is throwing an umbrella rig and Mason wants to show the fish a different look. Bladed versions of multi-lure rigs have become so popular that a simple five-bait spread with no added flash actually serves as a means to mix things up.

Mason also mixes up the sizes and colors of YUM swimbaits he rigs on each YUMbrella, and he tries different combinations to see what the fish favor on any given day. Most commonly, he rigs the four outside jigheads with 3-1/2-inch Money Minnows and puts a 5-inch Money Minnow on the center jig, which runs a little farther back.

“That’s the one they usually hit,” Mason said.

He noted that it’s especially important to set apart the back bait to steer fish toward it in states like Tennessee, where only three hooks are permitted. In this instance, anglers rig several of the outside baits (normally the top ones) with “dummy” baits.  

Mason typically fishes a YUMbrella on a Team Lew’s Custom 7-11 Magnum Casting Rod – sometimes on braid and sometimes on fluorocarbon depending on water clarity.

Critical Variance
When umbrella rigs were first popularized, the standard (and almost universal) approach was to cast, let the rig sink to the level of suspended fish, and reel back steadily. That still works well some days, but at times it’s critical to alter the presentations, and finding the right approach for any given day requires experimentation.

Sometimes variations are slight. Periodic wrist snaps to make the baits jump or slight hesitations in an otherwise steady retrieve serve as trigging mechanisms and convert a lot of followers into biters. Other times, it’s simply a matter of finding the right depth or retrieve speed. Either way, little distinctions are far more important than they once were.
Other times, the presentation change is more wholesale. For example, one of Mason’s favorite ways to catch fish on a YUMbrella is let the rig fall all the way to the bottom, crank a few times quickly and let it fall again. He’ll continually alternate cranks and pauses, and fish typically attack while the bait is falling.

Target Bait
“I think one the most overlooked things about these rigs, especially smaller ones like the Flash Mob Jr., is that they are great for casting to targets,” Mason said.

Instead of just working out from steep banks for suspended fish, Mason often works tighter to banks and casts just past laydowns, flooded bushes and other targets, working the bait close to the cover and bumping it when he can just like fishing a spinnerbait.

For working cover, Mason uses a little shorter rod: a 7-3 Lew’s football jig rod. He doesn’t need great casting distance, but does need accuracy. He also trades the customary open-hook jigs for ones with weedguards.

Final Tips:  No true hook set is needed with a YUMbrella. In fact, a hard snap often results in missing the fish. Just lean into the fish when it hits, and you’re likely to hook up. Also, to transport the YUMbrella rig from spot-to-spot or even day-to-day, a rubber O-ring works great threaded over the arms to hold the whole rig together and out of the way (as pictured).