The Poor Man’s Alabama Rig

A frequently asked question by readers is: What the heck is a Sabiki rig?

Simply stated, it is usually made up of four to six smallish files tied in tandem a few inches apart on a leader. The swivel on the upper end of the rig is attached to the terminal end of the fishing line and a weight or jigging spoon is connected to the other end. The Sabiki is then yo-yoed up and down just above the bottom. Don’t be surprised if you hook a fish on every fly and sometimes the spoon as well. The Sabiki rig is ideal for vertically jigging off deep water piers, docks and boats.

Saltwater anglers have been using Sabiki rigs for decades to catch baitfish with great success.  Some years back Lake Norman fishermen discovered that in addition to hooking herring and other baitfish the Sabiki would tempt crappie, perch, spotted bass, stripers and even flathead catfish. Sabiki rig are popular with white perch fishermen because its multi-hook design permits them to catch several at the same time. But, don’t be surprised, if you reel in a spotted bass or a flathead catfish. They eat the same forage as white perch and the Sabiki flies mimic small shad and herring.

Some call it a poor man’s Alabama rig, since it too is capable of hooking numerous fish at the same time. Although each is fished differently, one is fished vertically and the other horizontally, the Sabiki rig cost less than five bucks compared to twenty dollars or more for an A-rig. Sabiki flies are assembled with fish skin dressing, brightly colored feathers and beads that glow in the dark, making them highly visible in deep water.

A rod rigged with six Sabiki flies might be too long for a child to handle. So, consider cutting it in half and fish with three flies instead of six. The remaining flies can be used on another rod. Give the Sabiki Rig a try the next time you go fishing. Youngsters and adults alike enjoy catching multiple fish on the same cast.

Tips from Capt. Gus:  

Rather than reeling when you feel a bite, jiggle the rig a few times to entice other fish to hit the remaining empty hooks. If the fish are feeding aggressively, the Sabiki will catch one to seven on a single drop. When fishing slows, add a small piece of worm, cut bait or crappie minnow to one of the Sabiki hooks to entice more bites.

May Fishing Forecast:  

Now that the water levels have reached sixty-degrees or more, bass fishermen are casting topwater lures, jerk baits and soft plastics around docks, back coves and shallow points. Another pattern that is generating limits is casting deep diving lures, spoons and drop-shot rigs off the ends of deep water points.

Hybrid striped bass are spawning upriver where they are taken on live bait and mussels.  

Crappie and white perch will please those that enjoy catching panfish. Best bets for crappie the deep docks and boat houses in Mountain, Little and Reed Creeks.If its white perch you are targeting drift small minnows and Sabiki rigs along the channel edges and over deep drop offs. The larger fish are suspended in water from twenty to forty feet.    

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. is an Outdoor Columnist and a full time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman, NC. Visit his website at or call 704-617-6812.