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Updated by Rosie Galvez on Jan 24, 2021
Headline for Guide To Set Up A Carolina Rig For Bass Fishing
Rosie Galvez Rosie Galvez
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Guide To Set Up A Carolina Rig For Bass Fishing

Fishers have begun to appreciate a multitude of baits and fishing techniques in a never-ending search to catch more and larger fish. The Carolina rig is one of the most popular ways of displaying and fishing a lure to catch a boatload of big bass. The rig itself is an easy one to bring together.


Where one can use the Carolina Rig?

One can use this rig almost anywhere they feel sure there's bass to catch. Heavy areas of cover are the only places one has to stay away from and sites where a lot of trees or other big, tough vegetation exist that can catch hold of the rig's components and snag one up. Other than that, one’s Carolina Rig playground is their river. One should make sure to drag the points up and down and around it. Strike those humps and grassy underwater areas.

When one senses that the arrangement is altering, they should pay special attention. One should stop moving their rig if they feel this and let it rest in the area for a little while. One might just be above a mine of gold. Bass is going to hold in one place that is separate from everything around it. Work again in this field, and it should prove fruitful.

Fishing a Carolina Rig is often referred to as dragging "Old Ball and Chain;" due to the strong love-hate relationship, many bass anglers have developed this strategy. They hate it because carrying around a heavyweight all day isn't as fun as flipping a jig or working a top-water frog. They love it, though, because it's flat out catching fish when other methods don't or can't.

Carolina rig fishing is difficult to beat in terms of flexibility. It operates north to south in all forms of lakes, clear to stained, and in all the seasons of the year. Yet many new bass anglers, perhaps because of the more involved rigging required, are reluctant to learn the Carolina Rig setup. This guide will take the interested ones through each part of the C-Rig step by step, and the next time they reach the lake, they will be ready to throw it.


Components of Carolina Rig Setup

Components of Carolina Rig Setup

The basic Carolina Rig framework comprises of a few simple components that, when combined, create a subtle appearance that the bottom bass has a hard time resisting. To understand how and why it operates, let's break down the Carolina Rig into 3 easily comprehensible parts.

Rod and Reel

The best rod for Carolina rig fishing is a Medium Strong, Fast Action casting rod, and a decent 6.3:1 or 7.1:1 gear ratio baitcasting reel. The longer rod allows you to make a long sweeping hook set that can easily pick up any slack line, and the fast action lets you penetrate the hook into the mouth of the fish. When making the sweep hook setup, the higher gear ratios allow you to reel line up quickly. Here are a few nice and inexpensive Carolina Rig combos, which can be used for many other applications as well.

7’1” MH St. Croix Mojo Jigs/Baits Rod + Shimano Curado Reel

7’ MH Abu Garcia Veracity Rod + Abu Garcia Revo STX Reel

Main Line

For other baits, the line can be just about anything, or whatever one usually uses. Usually, the best fishing line for a Carolina Rig is 15-20 lb of fluorocarbon or 20-30 lb of braided line for the mainline. Since one is going to make long casts, while setting the hook, the low stretch design of these lines will help. Bear in mind, though, that a larger diameter line tends to get more stuck in the current and can place a bow in the line that makes hook sets difficult.

15-20lb Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon

20-30lb Sufix 832 Advanced Braid

Weights, Bead, & Swivel

Brass: A 1/2 to 3?4 oz brass bullet weight is the most common Carolina Rig weight. More noise than the lead is produced by brass. However, there are several variants you can try, such as a cylindrical Mojo type weight that can maneuver through grass a little easier.

Bullet Weights Brass Carolina Weights

Tungsten- In fishing a Carolina rig, tungsten weights have many advantages. First off, tungsten is much tougher than lead, however when they reach the bead, it makes a louder noise, and you can feel the bottom composition more quickly. Tungsten weights are much smaller than lead and, without snagging as much, can come through the cover.

Eco Pro Tungsten Weights

Bead- A red or black glass bead can do the trick by using a brass weight. The bead protects your knot as well as making a noise of clicking against the weight that can draw your bait to inquisitive fish. A standard glass bead can be broken by a tungsten weight, so choose a bead that won't break, like the Eco Pro or Vike Force Beads.

Eco Pro Tungsten Pro Beads

Swivel- The Swivel is easy. Only pick a barrel swivel size 6 or 8, or a ball bearing swivel size 2. These sizes are broad enough to deal with large bass and not get snagged in grass or cover.

Owner Micro Hyper Barrel Swivel
Owner Hyper Ball Bearing Swivel

*Leader *

For most of your Carolina Rigs, stick to Monofilament. You may be tempted to use fluorocarbon because it's almost invisible, but note that it sinks and defeats the C-Rig 's entire purpose: floating and gliding off the bottom of your bait.

10-15lb Trilene XT Monofilament
10-14lb Sufix Elite Monofilament


The best hook for Carolina Rig fishing is a big gap hook with an offset shank. Pick the right size for the bait that you are fishing for. Some people like their plastics to have an EWG hook, and that will work fine as well, just use what you trust.

Owner Extra Offset Worm Hook
Owner EWG


Best Baits for Carolina Rig

One must have previously heard the expression "match the hatch." It applies as much as anything else to Carolina Rig fishing. The lizard, creature, beaver, and finesse worms are excellent to start with all-around baits, but a tube or super fluke would be a better option if one sees a lot of shad in the region. Then turn to a green pumpkin brush hog or beaver type bait if one assumes the fish are on a crayfish diet. Things can be easy by sticking to some colors: Green Pumpkin and Black / Blue for stained or dirty water, and a Shad color for clear water or when bass are chasing bait.


Trick Worm/Finesse Worm
Big Worm


When and where to apply the Carolina Rig

The Carolina Rig is literally a year-round demonstration. Use it to find starving pre-spawn bass as well as recovering post-spawners. It's deadly all the way through the heat of summer, and it can clean up on the bass when they go to school in the fall. Even in the dead of winter, the Carolina Rig will coax bites of the most lethargic fish.

NOT Rocks or Rip Rap – The weight of the bullet design is going to get snagged in the rock crevasses, so stop using it on rough shorelines. But parallel casting with the edge of the rock can be amazing.

*Grass Beds *– The sort of grass beds needed is only a few feet tall, not matted with vegetation. It can be very fun to use in short grass beds. Always set the leader's length long enough for the bait to dance at the grasstops and work the weight with a slow lifting motion instead of a regular drag.

Works Well in the Wind – If the wind is blowing and one finds themselves looking for Plan B, look at the Carolina Rig as a choice that might save your day. Heavyweight makes it possible to throw into the wind, as well as to feel the bottom.

Points & Humps - Bass love points and humps, so it's a simple way to shift the Carolina Rig over the top of them to see if any fish are there. When you catch some, it's easy to slow down and try some other bait and put some hurt on it.

Ledges – Fishing a C-Rig down the ledge is a popular bass-fishing staple. Place to the top of the ledge and bring it down gradually. You can grab engaged fish at the top, and pick idle fish at the sides and bottom of the ledge.

*Ditches & Drains *– These depressions between the broad flats on the lakes are bass magnets during the pre and post-spawning phases. Throw the C-Rig up, down, and through the ditch to see if it contains some healthy fish.

*Transition Banks *– When you see a stretch of bank that looks like a "no nothing bank," but then has some evolving features like grass, wood, or rock, there might just be a shift in the bottom composition. The Carolina Rig lets you feel when the bottom transitions from muck to clay, or from clay to gravel. This is what the bottom transition is called, and the bass loves these areas.


Tips for Carolina Rig

If you're trying to learn what's on the bottom then use a tungsten weight. It's rock, sand, or gravel. Using a heavy, hard weight, and nothing does this better than a tungsten weight, is the way you learn these things.

Leader Length- For a leader, use a minimum of 12 inches all the way up to 3 feet tall. Let the cover and position tell you how long it should be for your chief. Use the long leader in submerged grass to glide at the grasstops where you want the bait. Colder water temperatures will force you to use a leader on the shorter side. Use a shorter leader in a powerful current so that your bait doesn't get swept away, and you'll never feel the bite.

Choose the right rod - One should get a medium-heavy, fast action rod because it has some tip flex to allow long casting with the rig, plus some backbone to set the hook. Since one will lose casting distance and the hook set will become more complicated, a heavy action rod is just not a good idea. To get the best performance, stick with a 7 'to 7'8" rod.

Don't overburden the Bait - Just throw your C-Rig out and let it settle down on the ground. Then all one needs to do with their rod is a very long, side-sweeping drag. Don't use the reel to drive the rig, because it's going to move hard. To get the bead and weight clicking, use an occasional abrupt pause or twitch, but there's no need to overdo it.

Try a Walking Sinker - A walking sinker is a key base for walleye fishing, but it can be very easily adapted to a Carolina rig. When one is fishing in rugged and rocky areas, it will snag less often.

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