How To Rig A Carolina Rig For Success

One of the most popular fishing rigs today is the Carolina rig. It is one of the most popular ways to present a fishing lure to catch huge bass or as a way to present a bluegill head to catch trophy channel catfish. In other words, the Carolina rig is versatile and effective. It is also very simple to put together. The rig consists of a few simple components. The rig consists of a weight, a bead, a swivel, and a hook. Simple but it works.

The rig is popular for freshwater anglers and can even be upsized for efficient use in saltwater too. You can use it to catch catfish, carp, largemouth bass, striper, tuna, and even sharks. The key to fishing it right is rigging it right for the fish you want to catch with it.  How to rig a Carolina rig is a skill that really can up your fishing game by allowing you to put more fish in the boat. Although the concept is not that difficult to understand, we are going to cover the entire process that you should use to rig a Carolina rig properly.

When Should The Carolina Rig Be Used?

The Carolina rig is especially effective when you are wanting to catch catfish but realistically, it can catch most fish in the water. In the sport of bass fishing, it can be used to work cover and structure efficiently. This is because it works with most soft plastic fishing lures that bass fishermen commonly use. It also works well for catfishing when the fish are buried deep in the mud. Try using it earlier in the season of summer when fish are acclimating to the warmer temperatures.

You can target carp with it in June or use live bait to get saltwater game fish during the fall and winter. Its really up to your own creativity. Try and do some fishing with it. See what works best for you.

How To Rig A Carolina Rig – What You’ll Need

  • Sliding sinker
  • Plastic or glass bead
  • Barrel swivel
  • Piece of leader
  • Hook

The setup for the Carolina rig is simple in concept. What you will need to put the rig together will always be essentially the same. The only difference is the size of tackle you will need. The basic components for a Carolina rig are a weight, a bead, a swivel, and a hook. The weight slides up and down the main line. It rests on top of a bead that protects the knot that connects the main line to a barrel swivel. The opposite end of the barrel swivel is a piece of leader and a hook.

The weight you decide to use will have a lot to do with where you are fishing as well as what depth you need to get down to. For instance, saltwater anglers will have to throw more weight on their rod because they need to get it down much deeper. You can use any sliding sinker but an egg sinker is the most common. You can also use a slider that connects weights to it too. Plastic or glass beads will both work well but my preference is plastic because they are cheap and they protect the knot better.

Things To Consider

The barrel swivel should match the size tackle you are using but it never hurts to have one that exceeds the weight rating of your fishing line. I have seen people use saltwater barrel swivels when catfishing and there is nothing wrong with that at all. You can also use a ball bearing swivel and it will do the same thing. Some even prefer the ball bearing variety because it spins easier and twists the line less. The leader can be what you already have on the rod but I believe that fluorocarbon is the way to go because of its abrasion resistant properties.

If abrasion resistance is not what you are after, you can use monofilament instead to create a shock leader that will stretch and provide insurance on a big fish. Take your fishing line and feed the end of it through the opening of a sinker or use a slider connected to a sinker. Make sure that the weight slides back and forth. After this, put a bead on the line before tying it to a barrel swivel with a Palomar knot. After that is done, tie a piece of leader to the opposite end of the barrel swivel using another Palomar, cow hitch, or loop knot. Tie the hook to the end of the leader with your favorite knot.

Pond with sunken trees and vegetation.

How Do You Fish It?

In addition to being very simple to put together, the Carolina rig is also very easy to fish. You drag the rig through the water. That really is it. Start by holding your fishing rod parallel to the water’s surface. Sweep the rod over the structure and cover. The weight will drag on the bottom and your lure or bait should stay right above the bottom. Start by making a very long cast just beyond where you believe that fish are present and slowly drag it along the bottom.

The weight will make contact with the bottom and the bait on your hook will sit just an inch or two above it. Perfect for when you want to get those spawning female bass to come off of beds or when you want that bottom dwelling shark to take notice of an easy target. Also, setting the hook on this rig is the key. Assuming that you are not using a circle hook, its important to know when to strike and how hard. Do not try to take the fish out of the water with your hookset on this rig.

Try a more controlled sweeping motion instead. Setting the hook very hard works against you because of the weight that is above the hook. Setting it hard shifts the weight on the swivel which actually results in less hook penetration. It also gets worse depending on if the fish species that bites has a tough mouth. Also try to resist the urge to pull up on the hookset. Try to set the hook to the side for better more consistent hookups.

Where Should It Be Used?

Believe it or not, there are places where you would want to use this rig first and places where you should put this rig away for later. The rig does better when there is not a whole lot of submerged vegetation. Because you are dragging the rig near the bottom, the weight and the hook will pick up every tree branch, root, and plant in the way. Open water is awesome when you want to use it. A little grass here and there will not kill your chances of catching fish on it.

Just be aware that the more grass and wood that is on the bottom of the water body, the greater the chances of getting snagged. If you want to catch fish in waters with a lot of downed plants or trees, make sure that you put the rig beside them and not in them. Do use it saltwater. Do use it freshwater. Use it in open lakes, rivers, and streams. Don’t use it when there is to much submerged cover.

Conclusion – The Carolina Rig Is An Easy Rig To Make And Fish

To conclude, the Carolina rig is a rig that is easy to put together and easy to use. The options are limitless when it comes to catching fish with it. If anything, the setup is inexpensive, versatile, and can be made ahead of time as well. If you have a swivel, a bead, a sinker, a hook, some patience, and the ability to tie a couple of knots, you have absolutely everything you need to go out and catch some great fish on this great rig. Just remember that once you master it, you can rig it with your eyes closed.

Did you know that the Carolina rig was originally created to allow bass fishermen to fish worms at a deeper depth? Let’s discuss the rig in the comments below!

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