The Carolina Rig is one of the most adaptable rigs available to fishermen. It is like the Texas rig, but with the weight secured above the swivel, instead of sliding down to behind the hook. It is incredibly user friendly and it has the ability to catch fish by even the most inexperienced angler. It can be cast and retrieved successfully after only a short practice period. It allows you to fish deep water fast, using a heavy weight with no impact on the fish. It’s the ideal deep water method but has evolved into a shallow water method as well. This rig will let you keep in contact with the bottom and feel the softest of bites. When a fish takes the bait it can run with the bait with no obstruction from the weight due to the sinker freely slipping along the line.
Usually the main fishing line is a heavier weight than the leader. It ranges anywhere from 12 to 30 pound test Monofilament, depending on the current conditions. In light weed cover you could use 12 pound test, but if you were fishing in rough cover then you should be using a heavier line like 20-30 pound test. From the swivel we tie on a leader which is of a lighter line weight. The line weight for the leader is anywhere from 6 to 15 pound test Fluorocarbon. Try to use the lightest line as possible. By using Fluorocarbon on the leader it gives the bait a much more natural look as the fish don’t see the line like some other types of lines.
The length of the leader on a Carolina Rig is very important and comes down to what type of cover you are fishing in, what the water conditions are and what kind of a mood the fish are in. A longer leader will help give the lure more movement making it look alive. You should keep this in mind when fishing in clear water. In shallower water of 5-10 feet deep, a shorter leader of 1-2 feet is suitable. Also shorten the leader and include brass clinkers when fishing muddy water. Short leaders of 1 1/2 to 3 feet are good for fall and winter, because fish are usually holding closer to cover and structure that time of year. Some anglers will use very long leaders of 5-7 feet long in summer around ledges and deeper water giving the fish a chance to see the lure rolling by.
Rigging the Carolina Rig
After deciding what type of structure and the depth you will be fishing, choose how much weight you are going to need. Try to use the lightest weight possible, usually a ¼ to ½ oz weight is best unless you are fishing in deeper water, then try using a ¾ to 1 oz weight. A bullet weight is the most common weight used, but there are also egg sinkers and weights with rattles inside them. They come in different composites, lead, brass and non-lead. As a lot of states are moving away from using lead, use brass or non-leaded weights instead.
Next after the weight is the bead. Beads come in either glass or plastic and in many different colors and sizes. The glass bead can be faceted, which means that it has a lot of flat sides on it which refract the light. The first reason the bead was put on the line was to keep the weight from scraping against the knot, but lots of fishermen think that the weight hitting the bead makes a noticeable clack that draws fish. A bead in between the sinker and the swivel isn’t required for the carolin rig, but it is recommended. And sometimes two beads in line are put on the line after the sinker which makes more of a clacking noise when the weight and the beads hit each other.
Next a swivel is tied onto the line. Typically used with this rig is a crane or a barrel swivel in the black finish. The object of the swivel is to keep the twist out of your line as well as to keep the sinker and beads separate from the leader, keeping the leader length fixed. Acceptable swivel sizes are generally the smaller sizes, 7 to14 with a 20 to 30 pound rated range.
After the swivel, you can put just about any lure on the rig and it will probably work. The bait that goes onto the hook can be any variation of baits that are out on the market. The notable favorite is the plastic lizard and salamander, especially in spring when the fish are very active. After spring, smaller baits such as: 4 to 6 inch worms, small Senkos, tubes, crawdads and 4 inch Shads are certainly better and offer the subtle action that is vital.
Modified Carolina Rig
One of the first modifications of the Carolina rig was to use more beads or one of several variations of clackers to make noise. Brass beads make the most noise, followed by glass than with plastic making the least noise. Brass is less dense than lead, but clacks more distinctly against the beads and rocks as it is being jigged off the bottom. Brass weights have gained in popularity and a lot of varieties are available, many of which have internal rattlers. Some anglers add a brass clacker between the sinker and the bead to maximize the clacking sounds causing the fish to look and see the bait going by.
Another modified Carolina Rig