Carolina Rig Basics

Carolina Rig Basics


While its origins remain obscure, the Carolina rig hit the peak of bass fishing fame when Jack Chancellor used this technique to win the Bassmaster Classic in 1985. Affectionately known as the 'ol' ball and chain,' the Carolina rig is a versatile bass-catching technique. However, many new bass anglers are intimidated by the Carolina rig and shy away from using it. Check out Bass Fishing HQ's Tyler Berger as he breaks down Carolina rigging to get you pulling in big bass in no time!

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Video transcript:

Tyler Berger:
Welcome back to the MONSTERBASS channel. My name is Tyler Berger and today we're talking about the Carolina rig. And this rig doesn't work just in the Carolinas, it works all across the country in deep water and in shallow water. A few of my favorite times to fish it are during that pre spawn and the post spawn and into that summertime. So we're going to go over the rigging process and then we're actually going to show you how to fish it. So let's dive right into it. First thing first, when it comes to a rod, you know, a lot of times with a Carolina rig, I'm going to use a half ounce, even a one ounce weight at times. So I tend to like a little bit bigger rod. This is actually a seven foot six inch rod. The other thing about the Carolina rig is sometimes you're casting that thing a long way.

Tyler Berger:
So that longer rod really allows you to catch up with that fish when it bites it and drive that hook into that fish's mouth at a distance. So that's why I go with the seven foot six inch. This is a medium heavy action rod, the reel is simply a 7.1:1 gear ratio reel. And for my main line, I typically use 20 pound line. You're going to be fishing it around shell bottoms and rock bottoms, and that 20 pound is just going to be a lot more abrasion resistant down there so that you're not constantly breaking off.

Tyler Berger:
So in order to rig up a Carolina rig, what you're going to need is a tungsten weight of some sort. We have a barrel tungsten weight right here. You're also going to want a bead. And you're also going to want a swivel of some sort. Now, if you want a little extra noise out there in the water, maybe you're fishing on a day where it's a little bit windy or cloudy conditions, and you just want some noise to really get those bass to hone in on your bait, you can actually add some more beads and a clacker to really make a lot of noise down there to attract the bass.

Tyler Berger:
So to get started rigging the Carolina rig, you're just going to take your tungsten sinker and you're going to slip it on your main line. So today I'm using a half ounce tungsten sinker. Sometimes if I'm fishing in deeper water, 15, 20, 25 foot, I may use upwards of a one ounce tungsten sinker. So just go ahead and slip your half ounce tungsten on there. And then I'm going to take my bead and I'm also going to slip the bead on there. Now the bead is actually going to help a little bit with protecting the knot from that heavier tungsten weight. So after you got your tungsten and your bead on there, now you're going to tie on your swivel.

Tyler Berger:
As you can see here, your tungsten and your bead are going to be able to float up and down your line. And this is really good. If a bass picks that bait up, your tungsten is going to be laying on the bottom. And as that bass starts to move off, they can just freely move without dragging that heavy tungsten across the bottom. So once you feel them, that's when you just set the hook. Now that we have our swivel tied on, we're actually going to tie our leader on next.

Tyler Berger:
Now, a couple of big things with the leader line itself. You're actually going to want to go with a smaller diameter line than your main line. For instance, this is 15 pound test. My main line is 20 pound test. And the reason you want to go smaller or lighter is for a couple of reasons. One, if you happen to make a bomb cast out there and you get that bait hung in a stump or something like that you weren't expecting, the good thing is you can actually break that leader off while still getting your expensive tungsten and bead back. And the other thing is that having a smaller diameter line down there really allows your bait to just look a lot more natural in the water. So you're going to get more bites because of that smaller diameter line.

Tyler Berger:
You can see here, we put a 30 EWG hook on the end of this rig, and that really gives you options to be able to put pretty much any type of plastic that you want on there. And that's one of the best things about a Carolina rig is that you can really Carolina rig anything you want. I've seen people Carolina rig swim baits and flukes and creature baits and worms, a little bit of everything. Now, two of my favorites are some of the ones that we have out right here. The first one is going to be a small creature bait of some sort. You know, I like to fish this a lot. Anytime I'm fishing around small mouth bass, some sort of creature bait, smaller creature bait like this little crawl is a perfect bait around those small mouth. Sometimes if I'm fishing around large mouth, I really like to use a worm like this, or in some other finesse applications.

Tyler Berger:
Obviously the worm isn't going to have as much action as a creature bait does, so if the bass are just acting a little bit finicky, maybe they've been caught by a lot of people. Maybe there's just a lot of people fishing your lake, a worm is another really, really great option. But like I said, putting that 30 EWG, you have the option of doing a lot of different soft plastics. So now we're out here and we're actually going to do a little bit of fishing with the Carolina rig. And one kind of misconception that a lot of guys think when it comes to fishing the Carolina rig is that it's a very slow presentation. And yes, you will fish it slow often. You know, a lot of times when you get into an area where there's a lot of bass, one of my favorite ways to fish it is very slow on the bottom. But something that a Carolina rig does well is actually covers a lot of water.

Tyler Berger:
So if you're trying to locate a school of bass on a big point, or maybe, like over here, we got a little bit of a shell bed area, and I'm trying to find that sweet spot in the shell. You can actually drag that Carolina rig pretty quickly across the bottom and actually cover a lot of water. There's times where bass don't want something that has a ton of vibration that's moving fast, like a crank bait or a deeper spinner bait. And that's the times where you can actually use a Carolina rig and actually cover a lot of water. So really to fish this bait, it's simple. I'm going to make kind of a long cast, just like so.

Tyler Berger:
And to me, I'm dragging a Carolina rig a lot. Now, like I said, when I first am in an area trying to locate the bass, I might drag it pretty quick across the bottom, really trying to locate either a sweet spot or just get a bite. Now, once I actually start catching fish, or once I get a bite, that is when I'm going to slow this thing down. And I am going to fish it pretty slow. I like to just count on the bottom. Basically count the rocks that are down there, or the shells that are down there really drag it pretty slow. But like I said, you don't have to fish it slow. You can fish it fast until you find that sweet spot or until you find that bass. But really, all it is is just dragging it across the bottom. There's nothing too special about the Carolina rig.

Tyler Berger:
It's just a slow drag. But when they hit that bait, you're going to want to make sure you're prepared. Because they'll hit that bait and you'll feel them taking it and you're going to want to have a sweeping hook set to the side. So usually when I feel that bite, it's going to be a tick tick, and my line will start moving off. I'm going to tighten up on that fish and I'm going to sweep it to the side pretty hard, just like that. And that's really going to help penetrate that hook into that fish's mouth where then you won't lose that fish. But that's it guys. That's pretty much how you go about fishing a Carolina rig.

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