The Carolina Rig: Tricks, Tips and Tactics to Catch More Fish
A Carolina rig is a bass fishing basic. It's one of the most efficient tools and it's a tool that each and every one of us ought to use regularly. Simply stated, a Carolina rig catches fish when other methods fail.
Dragging a rig around all day doesn't sound like much fun — and at times it's not. It can get really boring. But, when you get on the fish, it will be one of the most action-packed periods of a bass angler's year. Try to keep your Carolina rigging simple: use the same line, rods, reels and baits for most situations. It works well shallow or deep, ultra-clear water or stained. It also works all year long but is best in the post spawn through the summer months.
The rig works well because it keeps the bait on or near the bottom better than any method out there and it covers lots of ground. When bass are relating to the bottom they will eat a Carolina rig. When they aren't relating to the bottom of the lake, try something else. A C-rig just won't work.
Many touring pros look at the rig as a search bait. They use it to cover a lot of water, and once they start catching a few bass they will slow down and switch to another more focused bait. That can be a good plan -- but not always. As the old saying goes, dance with who brought you to the party. That's never been more true than with the rig. If you are catching fish with it, why change?
To rig a Carolina rig thread a ¾ ounce sinker on your main line, then a bead and then use a Trilene knot to tie on a swivel. Then tie on a leader (normally about three feet long) and attach a hook designed for rigging (like the Fusion19 offset EWG). This may vary with the conditions but not a lot. For main line use 20-pound Berkley® Ironsilk® and Berkley Vanish® for a leader. The main line needs to be tough and low stretch; the leader needs to be invisible to the fish. These lines do just that.
Two good bait options are Berkley Gulp!® and tBerkley Powerbait®. There's no ifs, ands or buts -- Gulp! and Powerbait work. It's all about the scent and how it's dispersed in the water. If a fish gets near the bait, it will instantly recognize it as something to eat and trigger an impulse to grab it and hold on. Gulp! and Powerbait give anglers an advantage when they Carolina rig, no question about it. The two baits to use are the Gulp! Sinking Minnow and the Powerbait Fight’N Bug in green pumpkin or watermelon with red flakes. Try to switch baits and colors and let the fish tell you which to use. These colors work for in almost all conditions, but when the water has a tannic color, try using the June Bug color.
Try using a tungsten sinker. Being denser it stays on the bottom better and sends more distinct vibrations up the line so you can tell more about what's going on down there. You will feel the rocks, gravel, logs or whatever and after time you will know instantly the bottom composition. If the fish are deeper than 20 feet or so, a heavier weight works better; in shallow water or heavy cover, a lighter one may be in order -- but the 3/4-ounce tungsten sinker is the best overall. Use a bead to protect the knot but make sure of two things: first, the bead needs to be made of plastic (glass breaks easily in the rocks); and second, the bead needs a hole in it large enough to go over the knot. Never use any clackers or other noisemakers near the sinker. You want the fish eating the bait and not the sinker. If they still continue to hit the sinker, you can always shorten the leader.
Sometimes you can vary the leader length. Heavy cover and shallow water requires a shorter leader. Hang-ups are less frequent and when you hit a stump or other cover you know the bait is close by and can get ready to react. Try to always use a sweeping, side-arm hook set.
Use a seven-foot Berkley Emotion™ medium heavy rod. It feels good for a Carolina rig rod. Long enough to take all the slack out of your line to set the hook and sensitive enough to feel the bottom and the bites. If you use an Abu Garcia ® Revo® SX reel with a 6.4:1 gear ratio that also helps keep control of the line.
A Carolina rig is every man's method to catch more bass. It's easy enough for the beginner yet dependable enough for the pro. Just throw it out there over a hump, point or other deep water cover and drag it in two feet at a time. Boring? Maybe. But who cares when the fish are biting?