How To Fish A Carolina Rig

When it comes to fishing, using the right kind of baits, lures, and fishing techniques is very important.  Carolina rig setup is easy enough to learn if you are a beginner. For pros, it is appealing because it offers a lot of action. 

If you have never fished with a Carolina rig before, it is important to know how it works and what makes it a great fishing setup to catch bass.  Even if you are not new to Carolina rig, improving your knowledge and understanding on how it works will undoubtedly help you catch more fish.  That’s where we come.  In this article, we will tell you all you need to know about Carolina rig in order to make your fishing experience a better and memorable one!

What Is A Carolina Rig?

Carolina rig is a plastic bait rig. Instead of sliding the weight down the hook, in the Carolina rig, weight is fixed above it. The Carolina rig is specifically designed to catch bass.

When the bait attached to the Carolina rig is placed in the water, it tends to have a circular motion. Bass fish are attracted to this circular motion, and thus they tend to bite the lure. The Carolina rig is also useful for winter. The weight on the rig lets the bait reach down into the deep waters, where the fish generally stay during the winter.

What Do You Need To Fish A Carolina Rig?

If you don’t know how to set up a Carolina rig, don’t worry. It is very easy to learn how to set it up quickly. The things which you need for a Carolina rig are:

1. Fishing Rod - The fishing rod should be 7 ft. or more in length. Many Carolina rig fishers like using rods that are at least 7' 6" long.

2. Swivel - The swivel you use will depend on the size of the tackle. You can also use a Carolina Keeper, in which there is less tying and untying of the knot. Moreover, the lead length can be easily adjusted in it. 

3. Beads - You can use either plastic beads or either glass beads. Beads stop the weights from sliding up and down. Moreover, they are useful in creating a noisemaker to attract fish.

4. Hooks - The hook you use will depend on the lure or bait you are fishing with -Make sure to stock multiple colors just incase!

5. Reel - You should make use of a baitcasting reel. Baitcasting reel with a gear ratio of 6:1 is preferred since it helps in bringing the line quickly when required.

6. Leader Line - You can use either a Fluorocarbon leader line or a monofilament leader line.  Fluorocarbon will sink faster and give you shock absorption to boot.

7. Weights - Lead weights and sinkers are very common. But, you should use tungsten weights are generally the weight of choice for a few reasons we will discuss below

Tips for getting the most out of your Carolina Rig

If used properly, you can up your fishing game with the help of Carolina rig. There are a few things you should keep in mind in order to get the most out of the setup. Let’s take a look at them.

Carolina Rig weights

When it comes to buying weights for the Carolina rig, nothing comes close to the tungsten weight. Tungsten is dense, small, and hard. They are expensive compared to other weights, such as lead, but they are well worth the money you spend on them.

Choosing the Line

Choosing the fishing line is a difficult thing. There are so many options available, each working better in different conditions. Many seasoned anglers believe that a braided fishing line should be used. Others believe that if you pair a fluorocarbon fishing line with a fluorocarbon leader, you will get an excellent setup.  We suggest going with a fluorocarbon line.

Choosing the correct lures

Although soft worms are great to use as Carolina rig lures, the world doesn’t end there.  You need to experiment with various sorts of lures, and then find the ones you think will be perfect for bass fishing.

Length of the Leader

The length of the leader is also important when it comes to the perfect Carolina rig setup. Normally, a leader length of 15 to 18 inches works well in most cases.

How to set up a Carolina Rig

Now comes the main task that is tying a Carolina rig. Even though the Carolina rig may seem a bit complicated, it is pretty simple and easy to set up. The thing which makes the Carolina rig so fantastic is that you can easily set it up in minutes. If you don’t want to waste a lot of time on knots and other things, the Carolina rig would be perfect for you.

Here’s how you set a Carolina rig:

  1. You begin by threading the fishing live through the weight. You don’t have to tie a knot as yet.
  2. Next, you have to thread the line through the bead (plastic or glass) and slide it up to the weight.
  3. Then you have to tie the swivel to the fishing line.

Weight, swivel, and the bead you just placed are what constitutes a Carolina rig. After setting up this rig, you have to set up the lead, lure, and hook obviously. Leader length can be chosen as per your needs and requirements. Usually, a leader length of 18 inches or more works perfectly.

This is how you set a Carolina rig up. Some people may use a Carolina keeper instead of using a swivel. Instead of tying and untying the knots, you only have to squeeze the Carolina Keeper and adjust the lead length. Another variation can be in the type of weight that various fishermen use, but the overall procedure of setting the rig remains the same.

The lure you use is entirely up to you. A soft-bodied worm or a soft-bodied crawfish can be used. The same goes for the hook that you will use. Experimenting with different lures and hooks would work wonders for you.

Using your Carolina Rig

Now that you are done setting the rig up, you have to learn how to use it. You simply have to cast the rig into the water. 

In order to understand what will make you successful in fishing with your Carolina rig, you need to know the behaviors and the habits of the fish you are going for. Bass usually have two modes when it comes to their behavior and fishing habits.

Opportunistic vs Aggressive Feeding

Bass usually feed opportunistically and will eat only when they are either very hungry or an easy meal presents itself.  This is why it is crucial to drag your lure near them, to get them thinking about another feeding opportunity.  Aggressive feeding is more rare for bass, but is obviously preferred for anglers.  You don’t have to be as pinpoint accurate with your lure placement if a bass is aggressively searching out food.

With a properly rigged bait like Carolina rig, you can drop the bait in the right spot. In both opportunistic and aggressive mode, the circular motion of the bait will be attractive to the fish.

You have to move the bait slowly across the water. If you use the rod instead of the reel to move the bait, you will yield better results. 

Keep the rod parallel to the water. Imagine that your rig is sitting in a 12 o’clock position. You have to move the fishing rod from 12 o’clock to 2 o’clock position. Keep repeating this until you get a strike.

When is the best time of year to use a Carolina Rig?

From what we have read online and in talking to different fishermen, any time of year other than summer is best for using a Carolina Rig.  In months that are colder, Bass will stick to lower waters where it is warmer than the surface.  In the summer they will be all over the place depth wise, in the spring and fall they will tend to be a bit deeper, and in winter they will be near the bottom trying to stay warm.  That being said don’t forego your day on the lake when it’s a beautiful summer day out, as some success can still be found in the summer months.

The next part is season independent – but windier, choppier days on the water are better for using your Carolina rig as Bass tend to be most active on windier days.

Carolina Rig vs. Drop Shot Rig - What are the differences?

The main difference between Carolina rigging vs Drop shotting is the weights location compared to the lure.  In Carolina Rigs the weight is on top of the lure, with the lure dragging behind it.  In drop shotting the weight is at the bottom of the line, with the lure a few inches up floating above it.  

Common mistakes people make when using a Carolina Rig

In extreme weather conditions, we have to use a slow and deliberate retrieve. Sometimes people simply don’t use the Carolina rig correctly and then complain about the lack of results. Here a few things you should keep in mind to help boost your success rates!

Bead Choice

Normally people use ceramic or glass beads. If you place a bead between the weight and the swivel, it protects the knot from getting beat by the weight. Moreover, the bead produces a sound when the bead hits the weight, which entices bass to check out your lure.

Plastic beads are an alternative to ceramic or glass, and in our opinion, a better option. With fluorocarbon and tungsten weights being highly popular, you need a bead that is sturdy enough to stand any abuse. The hard and dense tungsten cracks the ceramic and glass beads which will result in a frayed line almost instantly. Breaking your bead and fraying your line before you even get going is a surefire way to be frustrated early in your fishing expedition, which is something you want to avoid at all costs!  After all, fishing is about having fun and getting some R&R!

Cutting the leader too short

When it comes to the leader length, using the proper length is crucial.  Normally, people use 10-18 inch leaders with Carolina rigs, however, you should go for a 20-22 inches from our experience.  The added length provides more freedom for your bait to float, which appears more natural. 

Choosing the wrong location, or changing locations too often

If there is a lack of action, fishermen might follow their impulses and move to a location they think looks better.  Location matters when you are using a Carolina rig and you should always opt for the deepest part of the lake as opposed to spots near the shore.  The center of the lake being the deepest zone is one of the highest percentage areas of a lake. When the bass feed, the move towards the deeper areas.  Ditches are also high-percentage zones. These are safe zones for the bass fish, and bass retreat to these areas. to find any type of cover be it gravel, foliage, or stumps.


So what have we covered today?

We have explained to you what Carolina rig is, what its main components are, how to set it up, and the best conditions to use it in.

Carolina rigs work great for bass.  It works well in deep waters.  They take less than ten minutes to set up which is a huge bonus – you get out there fishing in less time!

Happy fishing, folks!