Texas Rig VS Carolina Rig

Texas Rig vs. Carolina Rig

By: Shaye Baker

 I’m excited to break down the difference between two staples of every seasoned bass angler’s tackle box, the Texas rig, and the Carolina rig. Starting with the similarities, both presentations are used to target fish along the bottom. Both accomplish this task by joining a soft plastic lure with some sort of lead or tungsten weight to create one of the two well-known rigs. From this starting point though, the two techniques really begin to differentiate from one another. Let’s dive into each presentation separately, and then we’ll talk about the differences and particular scenarios where one or the other maybe a little better suited. 

Texas Rig

Texas Rig

 One of the oldest ways in the book to trick a bass, the Texas rig is a presentation that the most novice angler can use to catch fish while at the same time the most skilled anglers in the world still implement it. The basic Texas rig consists of three parts: a bullet weight, hook, and soft plastic. The term bullet weight comes from the shape of the weight. Whether the weight is made of lead or tungsten, the typical shape of the weight anglers use for a Texas rig looks very similar to a bullet. The reason being, this cone-shaped weight comes through the cover exceptionally well, compared to a round or egg-shaped weight. 

Most anglers use an offset worm hook with a Texas rig, though straight shank and extra-wide gap (EWG) hooks are great options as well. You’re basically looking for a hook that will come through soft plastic well when you go to set the hook. So, if you’re fishing with a thinner, soft plastic bait, you can go with a regular offset shank hook. If the bait you’re using has a little more meat to it (meaning the plastic is thicker), an EWG hook or straight shank may be better suited for the task.

Carolina Rig

Carolina Rig

 A Carolina rig also uses a hook, soft plastic, and weight, but with this rig, we introduce a leader line, swivel, and typically a bead or two. For instructional purposes, we’ll refer to the line spooled on the reel as the mainline. To create a Carolina rig, slide a weight and two beads onto the mainline in that order, then tie a swivel onto the end of the mainline. Form the leader with a short piece of fluorocarbon, typically around 2- to 4-feet of 12- to 20- pound test depending on the size fish you’re targeting and the cover present. 

Tie one end of the leader line to the swivel you tied onto your main line. Then tie a hook onto the other end. As you did with the Texas rig, you’ll want to select a hook and soft plastic that are complimentary of one another. EWG and traditional offset shank hooks are great options and soft plastic stick baits, Flukes, lizards and ribbon tail worms are great pairings when picking out a lure for a Carolina rig. Backing up a little, the beads between the swivel and the weight act as an attractant, creating a little noise as the rig is worked along the bottom and they prevent your weight from hammering against the knot tied to the swivel. 

Key Differences

Texas Rig Fishing

 Starting with cover, Carolina rigs are more effective in offshore, vast, and barren areas where Texas rigs are more applicable to target-oriented patterns and patterns with a heavier cover like fishing stumps up shallow, fishing through vegetation, or brush piles offshore. You can cover more water with a Carolina rig than you can a Texas rig, typically. 

With a Texas rig, the presentation is very bottom-oriented, with the whole package of weight and soft plastic staying within an inch or two of the bottom. Whereas a Carolina rig uses the swivel to separate the weight and beads from the bait, allowing the soft plastic to float up off the bottom a few feet depending on the saltiness of the bait and its buoyancy. Using monofilament for the leader instead of fluorocarbon will help the bait float up off the bottom a bit too if that is the desired outcome for your Carolina rig. The monofilament floats where the fluorocarbon sinks, and this can matter when fish are staging a few feet off the bottom. 

The weight selection is also typically rather different from a Texas rig to a Carolina rig. Though bullet weights can be used for both, an egg weight is best for a Carolina rig. The reason being, it has more surface area and thus you can tell more about the bottom. This is important because you’ll want to not only be able to tell that you are maintaining bottom contact with a Carolina rig but what kind of bottom you’re on. Oftentimes, you’ll be targeting a specific stretch of bottom that has gravel for instance, and the bottom all around that area is mucky and soft. With a weight with a larger surface area, you can learn more about that bottom composition. Using more sensitive tungsten weights versus lead weights will help. Typically, the weights used with Carolina rigs will be a little heavier than those used with Texas rigs. 

Carolina Rig Fishing

 It’s important to maintain bottom contact to detect bites as well with a Carolina rig. Because a Texas rig is compact, when a fish hits the soft plastic, you can typically tell you’re getting a bite. But with a Carolina rig, that 3-feet of a gap between your point of contact and the bait makes it challenging to feel the bite. The way you can usually tell that you’re getting a bite is when you lose contact with the bottom. 

When that happens, the fish will be swimming with the lure and will pick the weight up off the bottom. So instead of feeling the bottom or a bite, you’ll just feel nothing. That’s when a long sweeping motion is needed with the rod to take up any slack between you and the fish to ensure a good hookset. You’ll need to reel down and make a wide sweep with your rod. With a Texas rig, however, you can usually just set into the fish. 

The way you work the two baits also differs at times. Though you can drag a Texas rig, working that lure with little hops instead often draws more strikes. On the flip side, you should always slowly drag a Carolina rig to maintain that crucial bottom contact by not lifting the weight. 

While there are certain similarities between a Carolina rig and a Texas rig, it doesn’t take long to identify several differences in the lures and applications of the techniques. Use these subtle differences to determine when to use which and you’ll get more bites the next time you’re out on the water. 

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