The Carolina Rig

The Carolina rig was one of my best kept secretes for many years back in the days that are now called “Old School”. For a two year period in Arizona, I had cashed a check in 95% of the tournaments I fished and the Carolina rig accounted for more than 80% of my winnings. Obviously I better consider going back to the rig as my cash percentage has dropped dramatically! There are several different approaches to this technique and some I believe can make you very successful if applied.

My specs for a C/rig setup are:
The rod must be a 7 or 71/2 med heavy rod with a moderately fast tip.
The reel must be high speed (6.2 to1 ratio) with capacity to handle 20lb. test line
14 to 20 lb test main line
1oz bullet weight
Plastic bead
Black barrel swivel
10 to 14 lb. Fluorocarbon leader
Gamagatsu 3/0 EWG hook
Zoom lizard, brushhog or French fry
Realizing nothing is ever cast in stone the specs listed above account for 95% of my setup.

I make a long cast, two hand side arm cast letting that 1oz sinker fly out there are far as I can. (Covering as much water in a single cast is one of the advantages of the C/rig) I try to keep constant contact with the bottom and again I am using a 1oz. bullet weight. I am convinced the 1oz. weight is critical in making the bullet weight work and preventing it from being snagged in the rocks or wood structure. Due to the heavy weight you can pop the rod tip and typically free the weight while keeping the advantage of the bullet weight moving smoothly through the structure. I don’t want my weight to rattle or make any unnecessary noise as the business end of my C/rig is the hook at the end of my leader.

The long rod is a must as most of the time I sweep the bait keeping it moving and staying in constant contact with the bottom. The high speed reel helps recover slack line while the rod tip is returned to the back of the boat position. I use a right and left hand reel depending on the side of the boat I am working. As you sweep the rod you must be able to set the hook on the same plane and in the same motion that the bait is moving. If your reel handle is opposite you will miss several of the subtle bites. The leader length is a critical part of the technique and must be adjusted for the conditions. The shortest leader I use would probably be 3’ if I was dragging through rock structure. If the structure is brush/trees, I will go as long as 6’. When the weight is pulled over a branch the hook/bait must be allowed to suspend and move through the structure as slowly as possible. The same holds true for weeds, I will typically set the length for the height of the weeds or vegetation. As the weight goes directly to the bottom (remember this is a 1oz. weight) the hook/bait is suspending on top of the weeds then slowly moving down through the weeds maximizing the strike zone. Setting the hook is very critical and it is actually a process of pulling the bait into the fish along the same plane as the sweep or drag.

Another advantage of the C/rig technique is that the fish can bite the bait, turn sideways swim off with little to no resistance. The 1oz. weight will be stationary and the line pulled through the weight by the fish. This will allow my arm to be straightened out before I pull the hook into the fish.

A few other key points:

The plastic bead, the only reason for a bead at all is to prevent the weight from hitting the knot that is tied to the swivel. A 1oz weight sliding down the line hitting the knot will damage the line and break very quickly. With the plastic bead I open/drill the hole on one end large enough to allow the bead to rest on the swivel keeping the knot inside the enlarged cavity. I use a pointed router bit and turn the bit by hand. (Something to do while sitting in front of the TV watching your favorite fishing show).

The sweep or drag is typically from the back of the boat some 20+ yards behind with one eye on your Lowrance X17. I also keep the rod tip very low making a flat sweep of the bait.

Today the Carolina rig remains a very popular technique, but give these “Old School” spec’s a try and I bet you will catch more fish.

Thanks for logging on, keep those hooks sharp and those eyes even sharper.