A lot of people look at me like I’m crazy when I say that the fishing Carolina rig is my favorite technique to catch bass.
Carolina rigs are a very effective way to fish for bass and offer the benefit of catching other species as well. They can be fished in many different ways, but typically they involve using a weight, such as a bullet weight or another weighted object that sinks it below the surface. This allows anglers to put their bait at whatever depth is most productive for the time of year and water conditions. Carolina rig fishing also allows anglers to fish deeper waters where big bass live without having to use a heavy fishing line. Many people have mastered this technique on how to rig up these types of baits easily so that anyone can do it themselves!
How set Carolina Rig
Here are the Carolina rig fishing setup I follow to get it right every time.
1) Tie on a 1/16-ounce slip sinker directly to your mainline using an Improved Clinch Knot.
2) Take the end of your line and tie it to one eye of a 1/16-ounce barrel swivel using another Improved Clinch Knot.
3) Tie on an 18- to 24-inch leader with another Improved Clinch Knot, making the length around six inches longer than the depth in feet you are fishing. I like to use a 24-inch leader with 1/8-ounce jig heads and the six-inch length gets down quickly. Make sure your leader material is limp and thin, so it will also get down fast. I use 15-pound Trilene XT monofilament for my leaders.
4) Tie on a 4/0 offset worm hook to the end of your leader using an Improved Clinch Knot.
5) The Carolina Rig is fished by dragging it along the bottom, so tie on a 1-ounce egg sinker to the mainline directly above your swivel using another Improved Clinch Knot.
6) Shorter 2-inch plastic baits are easier to cast, so I use a 1/8-ounce jig head on the Carolina Rig. However, if you happen to be fishing around brush or laydowns with stumps close to the surface, where sensitivity is crucial, then go lighter with say a 1/32- or 1/64-ounce head.
7) To get started, cast out toward your target and slowly work it back to you, keeping the line as tight as possible.
8) When you are within five or six feet of where you want your bait to be, stop reeling. This is the “drop-shot” position.
9) Let the weight settle down on the bottom, and then slowly start to hop your bait along the bottom, reeling in line as you go.
10) You can also do a couple of pop-and-grabs before stopping again. Then let it sit until you feel it hit the bottom once more. At this point, if you are fishing around stumps or brush, make sure to bump it along the bottom to mimic a crawfish scurrying around.
11) Once you feel it bump the bottom, give your rod a few quick pumps and reel up slack as you go. This will create the illusion of a swimming bass moving away from the structure.
12) If you feel no bites or it looks like your bait is hung up, slowly reel up your slack and move it away from the structure about two feet, drop it down again, and repeat the process of bumping it along the bottom.
13) If you feel any “tick” or bite at all, set the hook immediately. This is a finesse technique, after all, so use light pressure on your bites.
14) You can also let it sit for a minute or two (depending on the situation) and then hop it again. This is to give the bass time to turn your bait around with its nose.
15) Once they are hooked up, you can either reel them in as fast as you can or just use the rod to direct the fish away from the structure.
I have caught both smallmouth and largemouth on the Carolina Rig, which is always a thrill for me because it’s one of those techniques that work at any time of year or any water condition. A lot of times, big bass will just mash your plastic without you ever feeling it!
Once they are hooked up, you can either reel them in as fast as you can or just use the rod to direct the fish away from the structure.
One very important thing to remember is that the Carolina Rig should only be used when you are fishing around heavy cover.
Another great thing about this system is that you can take it anywhere. I have fished flows all over the country with perfect results, including the White River in Utah, Folsom Lake in California, and even on my home waters of Tenmile Creek out of Leadville, Colorado. It’s a very versatile rig!
I highly suggest you add the Carolina Rig to your toolbox. It’s a great way to catch fish when they are suspended or in heavy cover and can really turn a slow day into a good one.