Umbrella rigs can be very useful tools when trolling for Hybrids and Stripers as they simulate a school of baitfish. We often use umbrella with our Bucktail Shadz and Bucktail Spinz. Other good choices for lures are sassy shad. Umbrellas can be used while flatlining and with downriggers. There are a number of styles on the market. These vary in the number of arms (3 and 4 are most common) and the weight of the rig. Two lures can be attached to each arm and one additional lure in the center. To make the umbrellas easier to rig, we often attach a snap swivel to each of the lure attachment points on the arms. For Hybrids, we typically set up the umbrella with 1/4 oz jigs on the outside arms and a 3/8 oz jig in the center. For Stripers, we’ll up this to 1/2 oz on the outside arms and 3/4 oz in the center. To better simulate a school of baitfish, we use all the same color jigs and trailers. The outside jigs are attached to 12 inch leaders, the inside jigs to the swivels, and the center to an 18 to 24 inch leader. The leaders should be of lighter test line than that of the reel you are using. This way, if you hang up you can usually pull the whole rig loose and only lose one jig.
The umbrella causes increased tension so fighting a fish is somewhat harder. For this reason, many people will use a heavier rod and line than usual for trolling. We find the umbrellas to be most useful when the fish are somewhat scattered. If they are schooled up real well, we prefer a single jig. If you are fishing in cloudy water, you can also attach spinner blades in place of the inner jigs on the umbrella to create more flash and vibration in the water.
Using an Umbrella Rig
To use the rig, place it into the water carefully and be sure all jigs are tracking correctly. Then let your line out slowly, so it doesn’t sink to fast or tangle. When trolling with umbrellas, we usually run one off each side of the boat. A different color is used on each side. We advise against putting too many rigs in the water at a time as they will tangle. Any turns that you make should be wide. Troll in a s-shaped pattern and run the rig slightly above the depth where the fish are suspended. When you are making the slow s-shaped turns, the inside rig will sink slightly while the outside rig will raise up. You can also trigger a strike by slowing down then speeding up every once in a while. This causes the rigs to act like scared baitfish.
To make rigging umbrellas easier, we pre-rig jigs for the umbrella by placing each in a separate plastic bag with the leader attached and a loop in the other end. The loop will attach to the umbrella arm. The center jig is labled as such and the trailers for the jigs are placed in their own bag. All jigs for the umbrella are then placed in a larger plastic bag and the outside labled as to size/color of jigs and trailers. A small box can be used to keep all these pre-rigged bags organized. This way you can quickly find the size and color that you want and rig them on the water. This also allows for changing over one rig quickly if one color is working best.
One additional concern with using umbrella rigs is that it is not uncommon to hook into multiple Hybrids or Stripers on the same rig. For this reason, we do not recommend using the umbrella rigs when Hybrids and Stripers are schooling real well. This is especially true during the hot summer months or when running the umbrellas off downriggers. Under such conditions, one risks hooking multiple fish and going over their limit. This results in fish being released that will most likely die within 48 hours of being released.