The Carolina Rig – What You Need to Know
Many anglers use the Carolina rig to make their lures appealing and to increase their chances of catching larger fish, especially bass. While at first glance it may seem very difficult to setup this rig, it actually isn’t. Dare to use it because it can help you catch more and larger bass.
This article will teach you how the Carolina rig works, why it’s so efficient and how you could use it. Bass is often drawn naturally to the lure, but this setup can really help you catch it. Besides, it’s simple to use and to figure out why it’s so efficient.
What Makes the Carolina Rig so Appealing?
While almost identical with the Texas rig, the Carolina rig is still different because it doesn’t use a weight sitting snug against your lure. Instead, it uses a weight that’s followed by the lure sitting on the leader line. Both Carolina and Texas rigs are mostly used with plastic lures.
While the Texas rig is very efficient and can help you catch a lot of fish, the Carolina rig is considered to be better. Obviously, these two rigs each work their miracles depending on the conditions.
If you want to understand why the Carolina rig is so appealing, you need to know the behavior of the fish species you’re targeting. For example, bass operates in 2 ways when it comes to behavior and feeding:
- It’s opportunistic, which means it eats when feeling hungry and doesn’t care where it gets its food from.
- It feeds aggressively, so it goes for anything that looks like food. While this happens rarely, many anglers want to go for aggressive bass.
Bass that’s opportunistic about food is also quite lazy, so it doesn’t come out too much to get fed. If you want to catch something in the opportunistic mode, it’s important that you drop the bait right in front of your prey.
The fish will start surveying it in order to determine if it’s worth the effort. If it swallows it, then your chances of catching something increase. In case the bait is spit out, you need to change your technique.
The Carolina rig is very helpful when you need to drop the bait just where you want it so that the lazy bass comes and gets it. Bass is very attracted to this type of rigging because the bait circles at some distance from the lead line and makes the most interesting moves for both opportunistic and aggressive bass.
Most anglers prefer the Carolina rig because it’s professional and easy to setup.
When to Use the Carolina Rig?
The Carolina rig is the most efficient during spring, but this doesn’t mean anglers don’t use it in the winter, as fish tend to stay on the bottom when it’s cold outside. Bass is looking for the warmth that only the deepest bottoms can offer.
This is why you need to use a rig that’s easily going for the bottom. Using a heavy weight, the Carolina rig allows casting into the depths of waters, not to mention that it sinks and makes it easier for you to catch something.
It would be a good idea to also use it when it’s windy and cloudy outside because bass has the tendency to roam when the weather is like this. Because you need to cover a large area with the lure, the Carolina rig is just perfect.
Maximizing the Use of the Carolina Rig
There are a few different ways in which you could maximize the use of the Carolina rig:
- Decide to use soft lures – while the Carolina rig worms are just perfect because they have a soft body, you still need more lure options. For example, get something that imitates crawfish and make sure you have a few color options.
- Use Tungsten weights – the Tungsten weight is harder, denser and not as large as lead. Don’t think that you need to spend more on a few Tungsten weights because they’re worth your money.
- The leader length matters – the leader length that works for most anglers is between 15 and 18 inches or 38.1 and 45.7 cm.
- The line is important – some anglers use braided line, while others prefer the fluorocarbon one. The fluorocarbon line absorbs the shock, making it easier to detect movement. It would be a good idea to go for monofilament too, but fluorocarbon is known to sink faster.
- Your rod should be long – Many anglers recommend using a longer rod for handling the line more efficiently and for casting better. You can surely catch some bass if you flip your Carolina rig into a weedy bottom and take the fish by surprise.
When your rig’s use is maximized, you increase your chance of catching more, especially if you’re out to fish for bass.
The Differences Between the Carolina and the Texas Rig
If you know what makes the Carolina rig different from the Texas one, you become more knowledgeable about when to use each of these two setups. There are different circumstances in which one of these rigs works better than the other.
Most of the time, the Carolina rig should be used when you want to find bass in a larger water area. Because this setup works in almost any circumstance, it can help you catch both lazy and aggressive fish.
When it comes to the Texas rig, this is more efficient when you’re going for species that like to stay hidden in thick cover or when you’re trying to catch something off steep drops. The Carolina rig doesn’t work in these situations.
Also, the Texas rigging setup can make its way into small holes and through seaweed. The Carolina rig is more rapid, which means the Texas one is better at moving the bait subtly in the water and seeing the reaction of the fish.
The Carolina Rig vs. The Alabama
When it comes to the Alabama rig, it can be said that this one is nothing like neither the Carolina nor the Texas because it has 5 lures on 5 wires that need to be angled out from each other, in an umbrella shape.
This means the Alabama rig looks like a small bank of fish swimming around. This rigging setup is normally used for large fish like the walleye. It can get the attention of the bass too, but it’s not accepted at some tournaments and competitions, even if it offers a great chance of catching larger fish.
Comparing the Carolina Rig with Drop Shot Fishing
Many anglers decide to go with the drop shotting technique when it comes to catching bass. However, this method has been invented by people who were fishing in saltwater, so it works well on saltwater lakes and other similar places.
Looking at the drop shot rig and the Carolina one separately, it can be said that each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the Carolina is ideal for catching bass in deep waters and the spring season. However, if you’re on saltwater, you need to use to the drop shot rig.
Setting Up the Drop Shot Rig
In case you are wondering how to setup the drop shot rig, find out that it’s as easy as setting up the Carolina.
You need to put the line’s tag end through the drop shot hook and to push it so that it goes through the line tie’s opposite end. On a side of the drop shot hook, you should now see a loop that you have to knot with the 2 line strands. Don’t pull this knot too tightly if you haven’t wet it first.
Take the tag end again and put it through the line tie top, just to use it after for putting the weight on your line. Attach some lure to a nose hook because drop hooks can be very small and, there you go: you have your drop shot rig setup!
How to Setup a Carolina Rig?
Don’t be scared if you don’t know how to setup the Carolina rig because the steps for doing it are pretty easy. But first, here’s what you need:
- A medium heavy long fishing rod
- Glass or plastic beads
- A Carolina Keeper or a swivel
- Leader line
- A baitcasting reel
- Weights or sinkers
Begin with threading the line through the weight or the sinker, without tying a knot. After, thread the line through the bread and slide it to reach the sinker. In the end, tie the swivel to the line.
This is what your line needs. Now obviously, you have to continue with the lead, hooks and lures. The length of the leader doesn’t really matter, so you can choose what you’re most comfortable with.
The lure is also not very important, but the hook needs to be chosen according to the type of lure you’re using. It would be a good idea to have more hooks with you, and to change them depending on the lure that you want to use.
Some anglers decide on a Carolina Keeper and not a swivel because they no longer have to tie and untie knots. Tungsten weights are also preferred to lead sinkers. There are many variations you can use when it comes to the leader length too, but watch this video for more information.
What makes the Carolina rig so amazing is that it can be done in less than 2 minutes. This means it’s perfect for those anglers who don’t want to waste their time tying knots.
How to use the Carolina Rig?
It’s not enough to cast the Carolina rig and to wait for a big catch. Aggressive bass can snatch the lure up quite fast. If you don’t notice any movement, try and make your bait look more appealing.
Opportunistic bass may take a while to react to the bait, so you need to move slowly. Use the rod instead of the reel, in order to keep your bait on the move. Make sure it’s on a parallel position from the water and the casting direction.
Move your stick from 12 o’clock position to the 2 o’clock one and then back, but slowly. If you also move it back and forth, you cause a slow jig on the bottom, which can attract the bass to test your Carolina rig.
Pay attention to what you feel from your line because bass tests the food by pushing, swimming or heading towards it. You may feel some hits on the line, but these aren’t what you need in order to catch. Only if the hit is different from what you felt before, only then you can set the hook. Recast if you don’t catch anything.
While getting the hits, pay attention to how your line moves as you may see when the bass picks up the lure. This type of fish sometimes moves the lure after picking it up. It does it so that it can test the food while hidden from other fish.
Don’t forget that bass spits out food that isn’t appealing, so your hook should be set before the fish has had the chance to spit the food out. Also, it reacts to the Carolina rig lure faster, so be ready for action. Fishing with a Carolina rig requires you to be all the time focused.
Is the Carolina Rig Only for Bass Fishing?
Of course, the Carolina rig is not only for bass fishing, but it surely is the most appealing to bass. It can be used for any species that feeds on the water bottom, which means it’s effective for saltwater flounder too. After all, this setup is meant to keep the bait on the bottom and to attract whatever it may be there.
This is why many anglers use it for catfish. For this type of fish, the lure used could be worms, liver or other specific food. Catfish usually scavenges for food on the bottom of lakes, rivers and pits, so the Carolina fishing setup is perfect if you want to catch it.
When to NOT Use the Carolina Rig
You shouldn’t use the Carolina rig in areas with thick vegetation because this setup has the tendency to tangle and snag.
Also, of the fishing spot of your choice has a dense brush coverage, you should decide on something else to avoid snagging.
This rig is also not suitable for rocky bottoms because it can get caught up in the rocks.
In other fishing conditions, the Carolina rig is adaptable and easy to use. Decide on it especially if you go for bass or other fish that feed on the bottom.