D. B. Jackson
The Carolina rig is one of the most effective bass fishing techniques on the planet. Two top 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series pros – Peter T and Kenyon Hill – consider it a mainstay in their arsenal on the tour. Between them they have banked over $1,000,000 using the technique.
And, the great thing about Carolina rigging is that you don’t need to be an expert to use it effectively. It’s easy to make and even easier to use.
The basic rigging is as follows: Thread a sinker and a bead to the main line running off your reel. Then, tie a swivel to the line. The bead should be between the sinker and the swivel.
Tie a leader to the other ring of the swivel and a hook to the far end. Attach your favorite soft plastic lure. Toss it out over your favorite structure or near your favorite cover and you’ll should be good to go.
Those are only the basics, however. To make your rig more effective give these refinements a try.
1. Sound: Beads are made from different materials. Each has its own unique sound as it smacks against the weight; some are loud and clank, others are soft and barely tick. Change beads to create a different sound.
2. Line size and strength: The line running from your reel to the swivel is important but isn’t visible to the fish. It’ll have no effect on lure action or movement. Heavy fluorocarbon or braid increases feel and sensitivity while reducing break-offs. Give one of them if you haven’t already.
3. Tie knots carefully: There are three knots in a Carolina rig – two on the swivel and one on the hook. That’s three places for trouble to develop. Take your time, tie your knots carefully and retie frequently throughout the day.
4. Adjust leader length: The length of your leader directly affects the way your lure looks to a bass. Short leaders tend to keep your bait near the bottom and restrict its action. Longer leaders do just the opposite.
5. Hook size and design matters: A round bend model is not an offset worm style. And, neither is a circle hook. Make sure your selection suits your style of fishing and the bite pattern of the the day.
Buy good, high-quality hooks. Keep them sharp and make sure they’re big enough. Bass have very big mouths. They can handle a big hook.
6. Get creative with your lures: You can rig darn near any bait available with a Carolina rig. Hill used a 10-inch worm on his during the Pride of Georgia. And, don’t think plastic lures are your only choice.
Small, shallow-running crankbaits can be Carolina rigged. They wiggle just fine as they’re being pulled behind a sinker along the bottom. (Rapala minnows and Shad Raps are especially effective when fished this way along sand and rock bottoms.)
7. Vary your retrieve: Most anglers drag the rig back to their boat. That may work some of the time but it won’t work all of the time. Try varying the speed of your drag, give the assembly a hop every now and again. And never be afraid to do something different – radical – if you’re not catching bass.