How to Fish a Carolina Rig

April 24, 2020

How to Fish a Carolina Rig

The Carolina Rig is a bass fishing staple. Not only does it perform well in professional tournaments, but it also is often the first rig a fledgling bass fisherman learns how to fish. A close relative of the Texas Rig, the Carolina Rig provides the flexibility of working well in many conditions that other lures fail in. the use of a buried hook along with a bullet weight prevents the Carolina Rig from catching on weeds. The 12 to 18 inches of leader help fool even the most tentative bass. This also makes it great for catching snakehead. But do you know how to fish a Carolina Rig? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll cover what exactly a Carolina Rig is, how to make it, and the most common and successful ways of fishing it. Some techniques rely on simple action, while others will take a more experienced hand. Read on to learn it all!

What is a Carolina Rig?

The Carolina Rig consists of five components: a rubber lure, offset hook, micro swivel, buffer bead, and bullet weight. Each of these parts can be modified to fit the style of fishing and the size of fish you’re going after. A larger bullet weight will help sink the lure faster and can be useful for heavy weed situations. The length of the leader you use in between the swivel and hook can also change the action of your lure. A longer leader has a more relaxed action, while a shorter leader will be more energetic.

As far as the rubber lure goes, as long as it has room to bury the hook you can pretty much use anything. Worms, lizards, mice, and more all fair game. Look into what common small creatures live near the water you’re fishing to make your decision.

How to Make a Carolina Rig

There’s a specific order you need to follow in order to make a proper Carolina Rig. Once you’ve tied them a couple of times, you’ll be an expert.

  1. Before tying your Carolina Rig, it’s important to choose the right type of fishing line for the job. If the water you’re fishing is clear, we recommend using monofilament or fluorocarbon. If the water is murky, you can use braided. Braided line will give you more feedback than monofilament and can be useful in situations where bass aren’t being aggressive. If you’re planning on fishing in heavy cover, however, we recommend sticking with fluorocarbon for bass fishing.
  2. First, thread a slip sinker onto your line. Bullet-shaped weights are ideal as they have the least chance of snagging on weeds. Insert your line through the pointed end so this will lead when dragging your bait through cover (where the bass like to hang out). The bullet weight should weigh just enough to sink the lure and give you decent action when you jig it. On windier days you may need a heavier weight to enable accurate casting. If the underwater cover is heavy, you should also use a heavier weight to get your lure to break through the weeds. You can use either lead or tungsten weights. Tungsten (although more expensive) is usually the better option as it has a smaller profile.
  3. After your weight, thread the glass bead onto your line. The bead will prevent the bullet weight from getting stuck and help it stay put near the swivel.
  4. Next, tie the end of the line onto one side of a micro swivel. The micro swivel is crucial in preventing your line from twisting and tangling. Do not leave out the swivel!
  5. After the swivel, tie on a 12 to 18 inch leader. Be sure to use secure knots and tighten them with a set of pliers (or your teeth).
  6. Next, you’ll need to add your offset hook to the line. As we mentioned earlier, the 3/0 size works great for most plastic lures. The offset style hook works well because it holds the lure and allows the end of the hook to not catch on weeds.
  7. Now it’s time to add your plastic lure. No matter the type of creature you choose, the rigging motion is the same. To Carolina Rig your lure, stick the hook into the center of the tip of the lure and push the point of the hook out of the side of the lure about a quarter-inch down. Continuing pushing the hook through the lure until it’s almost entirely through. Then flip the hook so the point is facing the lure again, and drive it back through so the shaft of the hook forms a loop on one of the sides of the lure. Make sure the tip is still buried inside the lure, but almost reaching the surface of the other side. Then straighten the body out so the lure looks natural.
  8. You’re done! Admire your expertly created Carolina Rig.

Tackle Needed for Carolina Rig Fishing

The type of rod and reel needed for Carolina Rig fishing depends on the type of fish you’re going for. If you’re going for bass you’ll need a different setup than if you’re going for perch or other fish. For bass, we’ve put together a comprehensive buying guide for reels that takes into consideration durability, price, and much more. As far as rods go, just make sure it can withstand 8 to 10 lb line and up to 17 lbs of drag. Most anglers enjoy using a medium to heavier action rod for the extra strength they provide when muscling a bass out of the water. The last thing you want to do is let the bass tangle your line around grass or underwater logs. Check out our crankbait rod buying guide for the best options for 2020!

The rods tip speed should also be considered – if the tip is too fast you won’t be able to cast as far, but if it’s too slow you won’t be as accurate. We recommend leaning towards the faster side for the extra leverage and strength needed to corral a hooked bass.

How to Fish a Carolina Rig

Now that you’ve got your Carolina Rig built out, it’s time to learn how to effectively present the Carolina Rig to a fish. There are several different ways to fish the Carolina Rig.

The Crawl and Drag

The Crawl and Drag method works well for all water conditions – including heavy underwater cover. It’s the most common way to fish a Carolina Rig.

  1. Cast your lure toward where you think the fish are hiding (weeds, rocks, underwater log, etc.).
  2. Let the Carolina Rig settle to the bottom.
  3. Keep your rod tip pointed toward the Carolina Rig, and reel in any slack in the line.
  4. Slowly lift your rod to make the Carolina Rig ‘crawl’ along the bottom.
  5. Once you’ve lifted the rod 6 inches to one foot, lower it back down and reel in the slack in the line.
  6. Allow the Carolina Rig to settle back on the bottom for a second and repeat
  7. You can try doing the motion at different speeds to see what the fish like.
  8. If you feel a tap on your line, set the hook!

The Bang and Shake

The Bang and Shake method works best for areas with logs and rocks, as the action relies on bumping your weight into the underwater structure to entice a bass. 

  1. Cast your lure toward where you think the fish are hiding next to a log/rocks.
  2. Let the Carolina Rig settle to the bottom.
  3. Keep your rod tip pointed toward the Carolina Rig, and reel in any slack in the line.
  4. Once you feel the Carolina Rig on the end of your line, jerk your rod toward the underwater structure to get the weight to hit it. Do this several times, then shake your rod slightly to make the lure wriggle.
  5. Allow the Carolina Rig to settle back on the bottom for a second and repeat
  6. Bass will often strike during the wriggling period of this technique.
  7. If you feel a tap on your line, give it a quick jerk. It could be a bite!

The Rock Pop Method

The Rock Pop method is best used in the springtime when the bass are actively hunting for food.

  1. Cast your lure past where you think the fish are hiding.
  2. Right when you feel the lure touch the bottom, give it a quick jerk to ‘pop’ it up in the water.
  3. Reel in any slack line and repeat the popping pattern as you retrieve it back to your boat.
  4. If you feel a tap on your line, give it a quick jerk. If it’s a bass you’ll know!

Final Thoughts

There you have it – you now know how to fish a Carolina Rig. From the bang and shake to the tried and true drag method, you’re now equipped to fish for bass using a Carolina Rig. If you want to learn more about catching bass in the winter, you should check out our article on the best pond bass lures.

Got a crazy Carolina Rig fishing story to share with us? We’d love to hear more about it in the comments below.

Happy Hunting!

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