Carolina Rig: The Do Nothing Fish Finder

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Story and photos by Shane Smith

Ok, let’s go ahead and call it what it is.  The Carolina Rig is an extremely effective way to find and catch bass anywhere in the country.   However, it is one of the most boring ways to fish on the planet.  When lethargic summertime bass are on the bottom and scattered out across long tapering points, the Ol’ C-Rig is hard to beat.   It is easy for a beginner and money maker for the tournament angler alike.

First, let’s dispel a few myths regarding the C-Rig before we get into the nuts and bolts of terminal tackle.

  • Your typical soft plastic is floating up off the bottom. Throw that worm or lizard overboard and watch it sink to the bottom.  If it is not a FLOATING soft plastic like an Xcite or Grande Bass air tail, why would salt impregnated baits float?
  • Mono floats, so it makes my bait float. Mono does float, however, it will not float a sinking plastic and the hook in that plastic.  See #1.
  • You have to use glass beads all the time. People think glass beads are essential when using a C-rig.  If you like them, great.  But you will see they are not essential.  Remember 10-15 years ago when we all used beads on Texas rigs?  And now, very few anglers use them.

carolina-rig-1-1000Ok, now we have the dock talk addressed, let’s dive in to the components of the C-rig.  Basically you have a weight, beads or clacker, swivel, leader and bait.  I have shown the 3 types of set ups that I use when Carolina rigging.

The far right is a Strike King E-Z rig.  As the name implies it is ready to go.  Just tie on your main line and leader and you are fishing.  This is my rig of choice 75% of the time.  I use this with a 30lb braid main line and a 17lb mono leader.  I use mono due to it’s high stretch capabilities, NOT because it floats.  See #2

The rig in the middle is the most typical you will see.  It has a brass weight, bead, clacker and swivel.  This is the C-rig in it’s truest form and what most fisherman use.   I have gotten away from this rig in the last few years, as other are easier and faster for me.  That being said, you need to know how to set this rig up.  I typically use 20lb Floro main line and 17lb Mono leader.  The Floro is low stretch and more sensitive than Mono.  If I do get hung up, I would rather the Mono break and get back my rig.

The rig on the far left is a Carolina keeper rig.  It uses two small slotted pieces of plastic that let’s you adjust the leader depth on the go.  You simply squeeze the keepers and it opens a tiny slot so your line will slide through.  I use this rig almost exclusively in the spring time.  I like to be able to adjust my depth on the fly and it is more of a finesse presentation.  When targeting prespawn and spawning fish.

As far as weights I use ½ or ¾ oz in the summer and ¼ or 3/8oz in the spring.

I typically use a 2/0- 4/0 worm hook for all of my C-rigs.  It is small and doesn’t over power the bait.

Now, let’s talk baits.  I use the K.I.S.S. method on Carolina Rigging.  Keep It Simple Stupid.  You will see the 5 basic baits I use to catch fish.

carolina-rig2-1200From left to right, I like the Netbait Baby Paca Craw. It is small and had big flappers that move a lot of water with very little rod action.

Next is the good ol Zoom Fluke.  It’s slender profile comes through grass amazing and has a tantalizing swim and shimmy that fish love.  I always use I Spike it chartreuse dipping die on the tail of my flukes.

In the middle we have the reliable Zoom 6” lizard.  As Forrest Gump would say “We go together like peas and carrots”.  The lizard is synonymous with the C- Rig and for good reason.  It will flat crush the fish, especially in the spring time.

Next is the Zoom trick worm.  It has a sleek profile that can catch bass on highly pressured waters like Fork, Toledo Bend, and Falcon.  It has a fat tail that makes a flick type action when worked.

Last is the Kicker Fish Floating Ring Fry.  Yes, it floats and it is deadly on slightly suspended fish.  The Chartreuse & Pepper ring fry has come on the scene and is like bass candy on a C- Rig.  It has a do nothing approach that will catch fish when all else fails.

These are the basic nuts and bolts of Carolina Rigging.  We will go into the depths of them more next post spawn.  I know there are many other baits and presentations that will work on a C-rig, but these are my tried and true favorites for Texas waters.


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