Dragging for Bass
Breaking down the Carolina Rig
By Glenn Walker
For bass fisherman, the Carolina Rig is a great technique to employ when targeting bass relating to off shore structure. Notice how I didn’t include the word “deep” water in that statement. The Carolina Rig when modified can be used to target shallow water structure off the bank as well.
Besides covering a vast amount of water in a short amount of time and target bass holding off shore, the C-Rig, as it is commonly referred to, is also a great way to determine the bottom content and what structure is available on the bottom of the lake.
Some forms of offshore structure a C-Rig shines around are underwater humps, laydowns or stumps on river ledges, underwater points and contour breaks. Over the past several seasons I have played around with this technique and employed it day in and day out on the water, and it has now become a key part of my arsenal.
By adapting the components that make up a Carolina Rig, an angler can employ this technique in numerous situations on their local body of water, whether it’s a deep lake or a shallow river.
What makes a Carolina Rig?
By examining each item that makes up a Carolina Rig and how you can adapt, you’ll be a versatile angler on the water. Here are the common components of a Carolina Rig:
Line:For my main line, I prefer to use 15-pound Seaguar TATSU fluorocarbon and for my leader I’ll use 12- or 15-pound test. If I’m fishing around laydowns or stumps where my hook may get hung up frequently, I’ll go down to a 12-pound test leader as I can break just that part off and not my whole rig.
The length of my leader will primarily depend on the clarity of water. For stained water I can use a leader that is 12 to 18 inches, compared to gin-clear water, which will need a 24- to 36-inch leader.
Terminal Tackle: A premium ball bearing swivel is the key connection between the main line and the leader. This will help prevent line twist and ensure that a hook set ensures a bass on the end of your line. I’ll also put two beads in between the sinker and the swivel to make more noise and protect the knot from damage.
Weight:I’ll use a brass sinker because of the noise it makes in the water when bounced off of the beads. Depending on the depth and current I’m fishing, my weight will range from a quarter ounce all the way up to one ounce. I will go to a tungsten Carolina Rig or barrel-type weight if I’m dragging my rig in sand or mud, as I think this weight design kicks up more silt, thus attracting the bass more.
Hook:If I’m fishing shallow water and making long casts, I’ll use a Lazer TroKar EWG hook, but if I’m fishing deeper and around bigger bass, I’ll use the heavy wire EWG hook as it won’t bend as much. The size of the hook will depend on the plastic I’m rigging up, but typically a 3/0 to 5/0 hook is used.
Plastic Baits:There are countless plastic bait options an angler can choose on their Carolina Rig. Depending on what the bass are feeding on will dictate what I rig up, but my usual bait is a creature bait, as these baits mimic a crawfish or sunfish and can cater to whatever the bass are eating. Some examples of creature baits include a Zoom Brush Hog, Baby Brush Hog or Lizard.
Now if I’m throwing a Carolina Rig to an inactive school of bass feeding on bait, then shad-imitating baits, like the Super Fluke, are a good option. The last category of plastic baits to look at rigging up for this technique is soft plastic stickbaits for when the bite is tough or the bass have been heavily pressured.
How to serve it up
To fish a Carolina Rig, you just need to cast it out and drag it across the bottom, but there are several lessons I’ve learned to alter your retrieve and improve your catch.
I start off moving my rig along the bottom by sweeping the rod in a sideways motion. This keeps the sinker in constant contact with the bottom and allows it to disturb the sand or mud. This could resemble a crawfish or sunfish fleeing from a predator and attract the bass to your lure. When fishing around rocks though, I’ve noticed the sinker will get hung up less if you move your rod in a vertical motion.
This may sound like a broken record, but pay close attention to when you get your strikes. Many times a strike will occur when your sinker bangs off a large rock or when your bait is ripped through the vegetation. Have visuals on shore or a marker buoy in the water to help you keep your boat in position so you can repeat that cast and hit the cover in the same way.
Having the proper gear for Carolina Rigging will enhance your ability to fish it properly, detect bites and get those bass in the boat. Using a long rod will help you make long casts and will pick up more slack in your line after a bass hits. An extra soft tip will ensure you feel everything your weight is dragged over on the bottom of the lake
My go-to Carolina Rigging rod is a Witch Doctor Tackle Voodoo II 7’6” MH rod, which has the length so I can make long casts with my C-Rig, keeping me in the strike zone for as long as possible.
Using a high-speed reel will aid your ability to pick up slack in your line, as you may get on the initial fall or drag of the rig when you have a lot of line out. The Wright & McGill Victory II Reel has a 7.0:1 gear ratio so you can quickly pick up the slack of the line.
As you prepare for your next fishing trip, be sure to have a Carolina rig ready to dredge the depths for big bass.
Glenn Walker has fished tournaments for over 10 years, spreading his passion and knowledge of the sport via articles and videos. He keeps busy fishing events across Minnesota and on the Mississippi River. For more information check out glennwalkerfishing.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/glennwalkerfishing.