If you need to search for some massive offshore flats or hard bottom points with current, the Carolina Rig is a solid setup you should consider adding to your arsenal. The “ol’ ball and chain” is a simple rig composed of a weight in the front followed by a glass or plastic bead for sound, a swivel and a leader between a foot and a half to three-foot leader with a hook and bait at the end. This setup provides a slow, natural presentation moving along the bottom with sound mimicking a crawfish or other prey that will attract bass to your location if they are not already there. The Carolina Rig shines from mid spring until early fall in most regions. This is not a rig you should use for target fishing but very helpful for covering and eliminating expansive distances of unproductive water and getting a good feel for bottom composition.
There are a couple of ways to fish this rig. One way is by using a bobber stopper, a tungsten barrel weight from 1/2oz to 1 oz depending on the amount of current, a high-quality plastic bead (you can add a second plastic or metal bead for added sound), a ball bearing barrel swivel and a two-foot leader tied to an EWG 3/0 hook. The swivel eliminates line twist and helps keep you from losing the whole rig if the hook becomes snagged on something. The second way is similar but with a flipping weight and replacing the swivel with a Carolina Keeper, a small piece of tube that you feed your main line through and makes it easy to adjust the leader length quickly without having to retie the whole rig.
Line sizes and types are subjective to personal choice but for those who are trying this rig for the first time, I suggest using 40-pound test braid with a 10 to 12-pound test fluorocarbon leader. Casting this rig requires launching it a long distance and a long, sweeping hookset. Using a braid/fluorocarbon combo eliminates line stretch and makes it easier to set the hook from a long distance. Also, using a long enough rod to make those casts and a good backbone such as a 7’4-7’6 Medium Heavy is a good choice. Some baits I recommend are ones that provide a lot of action such as a lizard or creature bait like a Strike King Game Hawg or, for a more subtle presentation, a long straight-tail or ribbon-tail worm.
The Carolina rig is a simple setup that makes fishing offshore structure with a hard bottom easy. That is key to breaking down a large body of water into manageable portions and finding the bass you need to make a great day on the water. Good luck and tight lines!