BASS changed its rules in mid-January to limit bass pros competing in the Bassmaster Classic and on the Bassmaster Elite Series to the use of a single lure during practice and competition – a change that eliminates the Alabama rig, the lastest fishing craze – from the group's premiere tournament trail.

B.A.S.S. reported that its Bassmaster Elite Series rules committee recommended the change, which does not apply to Bassmaster Open or Federation events, nor College BASS events.

The Alabama Rig, which pro Paul Elias used to win a Professional Anglers Association event on Lake Guntersville last October, consists of a weighted head with five wire leaders trailing behind. Soft-plastic swimbaits and similar lurse are attached the leaders, imitating a schoolof baitfish. Members of the rules committee believe "the rig eliminates some of the skill that should be required in tournament competition at the highest level," according to a BASS announcement.

The change became effective on Feb. 1, but not before tens of thousands of Alabama rigs, and their knockoffs, were manufactured and sold.

"The Alabama Rig has become enormously popular in recent months, and it has definitely had an impact on the tournaments in which it has been used," said Trip Weldon, BASS tournament director. "Personally, I have enjoyed catching bass on umbrella rigs and found them to be very effective in some situations. I have witnessed first-hand the excitement this technique has generated in our sport.

"However, the Elite Series rules committee members unanimously asked to be held to a higher standard. We have decided to honor their recommendation."

The change in rules eliminates not only the Alabama rig, but a number of multi-hook rigs that pros have been using for years, including drop-shot rigs with more than one hook and finessee worm, topwater baits with jigs and grubs on dropper leaders and lures that are tied on up the line in front of topwater baits to assimilate baitfish being chased.

Davy Hite of Ninety Six, the 1999 Bassmaster Classic champion and a two-time BASS Angler of the Year, served on the rules committee and said that one of the issues involved in the discussion was exactly how many different lures to allow to be tied on an angler's line at one time.

"If five is too many, where do you draw the line?" Hite said. "Do you allow three or two? What is too many? That's what I think led us to just one lure."

B.A.S.S. officials emphasized that the decision should not be construed as disapproval of multi-lure rigs.

Bruce Akin, the CEO of BASS, said the decision should not be seen as an attack on multi-lure rigs.

"Our Classic and Elite tournaments simply have a higher standard for the sake of competition," he said. "The rest of us will enjoy learning how to catch more fish with these tools."