Carolina rig fishing is one of the many tried and true bass fishing techniques around. It is successful when the bite is slow and also when fish are aggressive. A true benefit of fishing with a “c-rig” is that the weight maintains bottom contact while the bait flutters along behind. You can fish the c-rig on either a spinning or bait cast combo and present it in both shallow and deep water. Let’s show you how to set up and fish a Carolina rig.
How to Make a Carolina Rig
To make a Carolina rig you need a weight, a swivel, a bead, a hook, and some leader line. A bullet weight or egg sinker ranging in size from 1/8 Oz up to 1 Oz will work. A 3/0 EWG hook is the most common hook for a Carolina rig as it offers a weedless presentation. I recommend a #7 barrel swivel and a 6mm orange bead. Carolina rig fishing tackle in these sizes are found in our Bass Fishing Kit. For the leader, match the pound test of the main line, but opt for a fluorocarbon leader line.
1.) Thread the tag end of the line through the 1/4 Oz weight so the head is facing up towards the reel.
2.) Add a 6 mm bead to the same tag end.
3.) Tie on a #7 swivel to your main line.
4.) Tie the tag end of the leader to the swivel and cut to 1-3 ft in length.
5.) Tie on a 3/0 EWG Worm Hook
Match the size of the parts to the equipment you are using and the depth of water you plan to fish. The recommended tackle sizes and lengths above cover the average bass fishing scenario. Always maintain a “feel” between your weight and the bottom. To fish deeper water, stronger currents, or higher waves, increase your sinker weight (~ 1 Oz). To fish shallow or calm water, decrease your sinker weight for a less disturbing presentation (~ 1/8 Oz). If you are Carolina rig fishing for bigger bass with bigger baits, increase the size of your hook to 4/0.
Carolina Rig Setup Tackle
The tackle needed for a Carolina rig setup is minimal. Use a spinning rod combo for lighter weights up to 3/8 Oz. Use a bait cast combo for heavier weights above 1/4 Oz. Match the size line you spool up to the size of the weight and bait you are planning to throw. For a more finesse technique on a spinning combo, use 6 to 10-pound test line. Likewise, for a bait casting combo, use heavier 10 to 15-pound test as the size of the Carolina fishing rig increases. We recommend straight fluorocarbon or braid as a main line with a fluorocarbon leader. Braid and fluorocarbon line have little to no stretch and provide instant feedback on your connection to the bottom composition. Therefore, it is easier to identify a hard bottom, soft bottom, rocky bottom or sandy bottom through the direct connection.
Best Baits for Rigging
Some of the best Carolina rig fishing baits are the common soft plastics used on other popular techniques. Baits such as craws and swimbaits are classic producers on a c-rig. Old school baits like lizards and fry-style minnows are profiles that developed this technique. Anything from a stick worm to a grub will get bites. Crawfish imitators are most popular on hard bottom and rocky areas which are naturally inhabited by crawfish. Soft plastic swimbaits and fluke style baits work best in deep water where bait schools form. Grubs and stick baits are ideal for muddy bottoms and near-shore cover where insects and invertebrates congregate. Pick a color that works best for the body of water you fish. Green and brown are always a safe bet near shore. White and chartreuse work well in deeper waters.
Fishing Techniques for Bass
Carolina rig fishing techniques relate to fast or slow presentations. It is primarily used to cover a lot of water, but can also be dragged slowly. Fish the c-rig fast when the bite is aggressive and drag it slow when the bite is lethargic. The c-rig can be used for smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. Smallmouth bass are more oriented to offshore structure while largemouth bass often relate to grass and shallow cover. Fish for smallmouth bass in the summer months by dragging the bait along depth changes in the bottom where rocks are present. The edges of humps and reefs are both high percentage areas. For largemouth bass, cast and retrieve along grass edges and weed-lines near shore. You can target largemouth bass alongside their smallmouth cousins during the summer months in the same deep haunts.