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Are Umbrella Rigs Legal in 2022? Be a Legal Eagle: Umbrella Rig Laws By State

Why are umbrella rigs illegal | What states are umbrella rigs illegal

You know how enjoyable fishing is. You know all about the right lures, rigs, lines, rods, reels, and, of course, the best snacks to make your next fishing adventure fun and fruitful. But you know what isn’t fun? Citations, fines, or fishing license suspensions.

Umbrella rigs aren’t new; saltwater trollers have used heavily-weighted versions for decades. It wasn’t until 2011 that the castable umbrella rig (ie; called the Alabama rig or A-rig for short) hit the national spotlight when Elite Series pro bass angler, Paul Elias, credited his major tournament win to it.

After seeing this kind of success many states and tournaments are placed extreme limits on these lures. So you may be asking yourself are umbrella rigs legal?   The answer is yes, in most States they are legal and allowed to be used to some degree. However, there are some exceptions that you must know of. There is even a state that makes fishing the Umbrella rig illegal! Furthermore, if you plan on fishing any tournaments or private lakes sometimes the people who manage those entities will place limits on the lures or even outright ban them. 

Most interestingly, the umbrella rig or A-rig is the only artificial lure to be banned by numerous competitive angling organizations, including B.A.S.S. and F.L.W. Outdoors. Honestly, that’s kind of a solid power move and testament to the efficiency that the umbrella rig yields. 

We know you want to do everything within your power to continue enjoying your favorite pastime, fishing. So, we’ve put our noses to the grindstone to bring the most comprehensive list of castable umbrella rig laws by hook number and state. (Plus, we’ll give you links to each state’s regulatory body for fishing and a few other fun facts.)

Without further ado, let’s get legal!

DISCLAIMER:  The material provided is for general information purposes only. It’s important to understand that any information provided in this article can change at any time. Any content or graphics featured are not to be used as legal advice. We provide links to assist you to make sure you can find the most up-to-date information. However if in doubt call the local fish and wildlife department managing the lake you’re fishing on.  Fishing Blueprint will not be responsible for any legal consequences you or anyone else may encounter.

What Exactly is an Umbrella Rig?

The umbrella rig, or Alabama rig or A-rig, is a fishing device with several wire “arms,” blades, hooks, and dummy baits extending from a central point. 

Most Alabama rigs consist of five wires. They normally have four equally distanced outer wires and one central, longer wire. There are other rig configurations, though. 

There are some strange setups when it comes to umbrella rigs. Some models have extra long “arms” built up to hold more than one lure. Other models have extra “arms” or multiple blades per “arm.”

Changing up the “arm” lengths, adding or subtracting blades, and adjusting the curve of the “arms” are all common ways that anglers will customize their umbrella rigs.

One crucial constant with an umbrella rig is the importance of creating one or two strike baits for bass to target. Most anglers will utilize three- and four-inch plastic swimbaits with light jig heads as attractant lures and brightly-colored central strike baits.

You can fish umbrella rigs in a wide variety of situations. You can use the A-rig in open water, on the sides of docks or bluff walls, over the tops of grass beds, or just about anywhere you see baitfish. 

Alabama rigs are best used in reasonably clear water. They’ll work in murkier waters, but it seems like the best snags come from clearer bodies of water.

Are Umbrella Rigs Illegal?

Yes they can be in specific states.

However, not all states will allow you to fish a five-hook umbrella rig. Many state regulations cite hook limits, which we’ll get into shortly.

However, there is one state in the U.S. that completely bans the use of a castable umbrella rig. Care to guess which state?…

It’s New Hampshire. 

The castable umbrella rig, or Alabama rig, is 100% illegal to use in the freshwater bodies of New Hampshire. The regulations outlined by New Hampshire Fish and Game state that a person can only have one artificial bait per line.

A castable umbrella rig is not a lure but an apparatus used for casting multiple lures at once, making any lure/weight/dummy lure combination wholly illegal in New Hampshire.

Are umbrella rigs allowed in tournaments?

photo: USGSgov

It depends. You must check your tournament rules first. As stated before B.A.S.S. and F.L.W. Outdoors outlawed the A-rig. 

Hook Limits By State

As already noted, many states set hook limits. This does not mean that you cannot cast an umbrella rig in these states; you simply cannot use hooked baits on all the “arms” of your umbrella. 

In states with hook limits, you may have to swap the standard five-wire Alabama rig for a three-wire version or rig your umbrella with dummy baits (lures with no hooks).

States with Two Hook Limits

There are ten states that limit hook numbers to two:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Vermont

States with Three Hook Limits

There are currently fourteen states that limit anglers to three hooks. These states are:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

States with Five Hook Limits

There are currently fourteen states with five hook limits. These states are:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas

No Limit Soldier States 

There are currently five states that have no limits on hooks. These states are:

  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

States with Varying Hook Limits

Illinois

  • There is no hook limit on many bodies of water in Illinois
  • There are 2 hook limits on specific bodies of water, meaning anglers 2 hooks per line, 2 line limit

Montana:

Western and Central Districts: 

    • Rivers and streams: 2 hook limit (2 hooks per line, 1 line limit)
    • Lakes, reservoirs, and ice fishing: 2 hook limit (2 hooks per line, 2 line limit)

Eastern District:

  • Rivers and streams: 6 hook limit (6 hooks per line, 6 line limit)
  • Lakes, reservoirs, and ice fishing: 2 hook limit (2 hooks per line, 2 line limit)

Nebraska:

  • Ponds, lakes, or reservoirs: 2 hook limit (2 hooks per line, 2 line limit)
  • Rivers and streams: 5 hook limit (15 hooks total, 5 hooks per line, 3 line limit)
  • Ice fishing: 2 hook limit (10 hook total, 2 hooks per line, 5 line limit)

New Jersey:

  • All bodies of water except Delaware River: 9 hook limit (9 single hooks, 3 treble hooks)
  • Delaware River: 3 hook limit (3 single hooks or one treble hook, 3 line limit)

Rod and Hook Limits by State

IG@ Krueger_fishing

This table gives you the rod and hook limit by state and a quick link to the complete regulations (if available) or the state’s specific fishing regulatory body. Remember, states change regulations like folks should change underwear, so it’s always best to check with the state you will be fishing in just to be sure you’re a legal eagle!

State

Rod Limit

Hook Limit

Regulations

Alabama

No rod limit*

5

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Alaska

1 rod

2

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Arizona

2 rods

2

Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arkansas

2 rods (unless posted otherwise)

5

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

California

2 rods**

3

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Colorado

2 rods**

3

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Connecticut

3 rods

5

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Delaware

2 rods

3

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

Florida

No rod limit

No limit

FWC: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Georgia

1 rod

No limit

Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Hawaii

2 rods (area dependent)

2

Division of Aquatic Resources

Idaho

2 rods**

5

Idaho Fish and Game

Illinois

2 rods (unless posted otherwise)

Varies

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Indiana

No rod limit

3

Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Iowa

2 rod limit

2

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Kansas

2 rod limit**

2

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks

Kentucky

No rod limit

5

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Louisiana

No rod limit

5

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries

Maine

2 rods

1

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Maryland

3 rods

2

Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Massachusetts

2 rods

2

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Michigan

2 rods (can vary by body of water)

5

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Minnesota

1 rod

1

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Mississippi

5 rods

5

Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks

Missouri

2 rods

3

Missouri Department of Conservation

Montana

2 rods

Varies

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks

Nebraska

2 rods

Varies

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Nevada

2 rods

2

Nevada Department of Wildlife

New Hampshire

2 rods

ILLEGAL

New Hampshire Fish and Game

New Jersey

3 rods

Varies

New Jersey Fish and Wildlife

New Mexico

2 rods

5

New Mexico Game and Fish

New York

2 rods

5

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

North Carolina

2 rods

5

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

North Dakota

2 rods

2

North Dakota Game and Fish

Ohio

2 rods

3

Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Oklahoma

2 rods

5

Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission

Oregon

2 rods**

3

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Pennsylvania

2 rods

5

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Rhode Island

2 rods

3

Department of Environmental Management

South Carolina

2 rods

No limit

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

South Dakota

2 rods

3

South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks

Tennessee

1 rod

3

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Texas

2 rods

5

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Utah

2 rods

3

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Vermont

2 rods

2

Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

Virginia

2 rods

No limit

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources

Washington

2 rods (can vary by body of water)

3

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

West Virginia

2 rods

No limit

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

Wisconsin

2 rods

3

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Wyoming

2 rods

3

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

*Weiss and Neely Henry Lakes have a 3 rod limit

**must purchase second rod permits

Remember, as we’ve already stated, rules and regulations change all the time. Ensure that you are using the most up-to-date regulation guide for the state you’re fishing in. 

I can promise you that conservation officers will not care that you’re referencing a three-year-old regulation guide and receiving incorrect information. There is no excuse for being unprepared.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local regulatory body to ask questions and clarify your state’s regulations. Legal jargon can be a bit hard to snake through at times. Like I previously said, law enforcement doesn’t really care about excuses.

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