It's a form of finesse fishing that incorporates a slow presentation that gets the sinker away from the bait. This can be a huge advantage when the fish want a slow dropping lure or you want to keep the bait in front of the fish for a little longer.
Let's start at the beginning for setting up the Carolina Rig. Either a baitcasting or spinning reel will work well. The best line to spool on the reel would be Fireline because of its low-stretch quality and the high level of sensitivity you receive. Best sizes are the six or eight-pound diameters.
The rod should have a soft tip but a little backbone. A medium-weight rod with a softer tip will fill the bill. To the end of the line from the reel, slip on a sinker. This could be a cone-shaped, walking style, egg-shaped, or barrel-shaped sinker. It will all depend on the type of bottom you're fishing.
On a weedy bottom the cone-shaped sinker works best. On rock and rubble the walking sinker works great, and on sand or mud the egg or barrel work well. Use just enough weight to get the bait to the bottom quickly. In shallow water a quarter-ounce is going to be big enough. In deeper water you may be using three-quarters of an ounce.
Right after you slip the sinker on slide on a plastic bead. This provides some cushion between the weight and the swivel, and in some cases, will produce a clicking noise when the sinker slips away from the bead before it is moved.
After slipping on the bead tie on a barrel swivel. The size of the swivel is not really important, so consider the mid-sized (#5 or #3) to give you some leeway for tying the knots and keeping the sinker in place. To the swivel, tie on a three-foot section of Vanish fluorocarbon line in the ten- or twelve-pound test range. This line is completely invisible under water, which is a huge factor when presenting a bait slowly where a bass has some time to make a close inspection. To the Vanish tie on a #3/0 or a #4/0 worm hook and then thread a Cabela's AquaGlow™ Scalloped Tail Worm onto the hook. After threading the hook through the worm push the tip back into the worm just like you would rig it Texas style or weedless.
Now you're ready to cast.
You can cast a long way with Fireline, and that is what you want to do. If you are working a weedline cast parallel to it. On a rock pile work the top and then key on the sides, staying at one depth, so you can develop a consistent pattern.
When the sinker touches down on the bottom the worm should be slowly sinking under the weight of the hook. Should a bass decide to swim up and inhale the bait you will feel a slight tap or see the line twitch.
After about eight to ten seconds raise the rod tip a foot or so popping the weight off the bottom, and then let it drop quickly. The weight hits the bottom and the worm falls slowly. It's that simple. When you do get a bite reel the tip down to the water, and then set the hook with some authority. The barb of the hook is buried into the worm, and you want to plant it into the fish's jaw.
One of the things about Carolina rigging is that it is a very simple presentation that is a great way to start out beginning bass anglers. Just cast it out, let it hit bottom, and pop it back to the boat. Yet Carolina rigging is an extremely effective way to catch big bass that tend to be less aggressive. Many of the top touring pros and full-time guides utilize the Carolina Rig in their game plans. What limited experimenting that can be done will be limited to the lure. You can experiment with colors, sizes, and even styles. On waters that have a lot of big bass I might be using a 10- or even 12-inch worm. Where I want to catch a lot of fish I might thread on a four-inch Power Pulse Worm or a six-inch Power Lizard.
This year when you are ready to hit the water for bass, give the Carolina Rig a try. It's easy to set up, simple to fish, and really catches bass.
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