The Crazy Carolina Rig – Lake Havasu

A simple set-up and deadly on the bass, the Carolina rig has become very popular with today’s bass fisherman.

The Carolina rig has been around a long time, but with the increased popularity of the pros using the rig it has soared to new heights in its use among the every day fisherman. The Carolina rig is made up of a slip sinker threaded on the main line followed by a glass bead and a barrel swivel. A leader line is then tied to the barrel swivel and a hook which holds the bait of choice. Typically, the Carolina rig is used where the bottom structure is mostly rock and void of heavy brush and cover and is thrown with a 7 ft, fairly heavy action rod. Light line is used for the leader with the main line being heavier. This set-up allows you to remain in contact with the bottom and cover a lot of water while presenting natural, soft plastic baits like worms and lizards to the bass. However, with every passing day, anglers are finding new ways to use the Carolina rig. I will go through several below:

The most common use of the Carolina rig is to set-up the rig with a 1 oz. slip sinker, glass bead, barrel swivel, 1-3 ott hook and attach a plastic worm or lizard to the hook. This rig is then presented to the bass around rocky structures mostly void of cover with an emphasis on points and flats. Eight times out of ten this is how I am fishing the rig. I am using it as a search bait around points and across flats. The Carolina rig allows me to feel what is on the bottom and present a natural bait like a worm or lizard and still cover a lot of water. When fishing tournaments, time is of the essence which is why the rig is so popular. There are other ways and places to fish this rig.

Downsize the rig for finesse needs. Many times on heavily pressured lakes, during the middle of a hot summer, or when the bass are spawning, I like to downsize my rig to include a 1/8th to ¼ oz sinker, glass bead, small swivel, light line, a 1 ott hook and 4 in. finesse worm or tube jig. I will then present this rig to submerged tree tops, grass beds, rocky areas, and the bedding fish in the spring. It allows me to drift the setup subtly through these areas and entice finicky bass into biting. You will be amazed, especially during the summer, how many bass you can catch from an area that refused to bite more conventional approaches.

Another big use for the Carolina rig is to fish it along submerged grass edges. Set your leader length to the height of the grass so your bait will stay above it while the sinker pulls through it. This approach is a strong way to catch deep summer bass in weedy lakes. I like to downsize my weight slightly to ½ or ¾ oz. weight so it doesn’t burry up in the grass quite so bad. Again, this approach is for the outside edge of the deep grass. If you try to fish it through the heart of the grass bed, it will drive you crazy.

One last thing to keep in mind is to be open to experimenting with different lures on the end of this rig. I have had good success using a soft jerkbait, stickbaits, crankbaits, tubes, finesse worms, 10” worms, lizards, etc. Also, there is no right or wrong way to work it. Most fisherman use a sweeping motion with the rod where they drag and pause until the bait is under the boat. Others use a more conventional hop and drop approach like fishing a Texas rigged worm. Experiment and find the type of retrieve you are most comfortable with and you will have the most success. What you will find is that you use several different methods depending on the rig’s set-up and the condition of structure you are fishing the rig around. When you get a bite on a rig, slowly reel up your slack as you move the rod tip toward the fish before setting the hook. Your hook set will be more of a sweeping motion. Bites on a rig can very greatly from a slight tap, to noticing the slack pulling out of your line, to an outright jerk the rod from your hands bite. With practice, you will get good at feeling all of them and begin catching a lot of bass!

David Burlington
Bass Fishing? Ask Dave…
Professional Guide and Tournament Angler

– Lake Havasu

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