CAROLINA RIG: HOW TO MASTER OFF SHORE BASS FISHING
Bass fishing with the Carolina Rig is great.
It provides a slow-moving, easy-to-catch meal for less aggressive fish. That’s why it’s part of the lure rotation of tournament anglers and enthusiasts alike. You can fish it year-round, up shallow and deep, and several soft plastics can be used.
But understanding how the appropriate weights, hooks, line, and soft plastics work, as well as how to rig and fish them, are all crucial in landing bass in deeper water. If you haven’t made the switch to offshore just yet and are looking for the easiest rig to learn on, the Carolina Rig is where to start.
What is a Carolina Fishing Rig?
A Carolina rig is like a Texas Rig, but the weight is held several feet above the hook and the lure by way of a swivel and bead. This allows your bait to rise and fall weightless, giving it more action and a natural appearance.
This setup can be thrown on a braided line to fluorocarbon leader, up shallow, offshore, in open water, or around structure, and it provides several different weight options for this. Aside from flipping, pitching, and punching, this setup is pretty versatile.
Carolina Rig Setup Tips
Your weight depends on the depth you’re fishing. For offshore fishing, 10-20 ft, for example, using a 1/2 oz. This includes main lake points, submerged structures like brush piles, and trees. You can increase the weight to 1 oz for a faster fall. Additionally, you can cover water quickly. For weight brands, Tungsten allows you to feel the bottom more accurately.
For hooks, an excellent choice to go with VMC EWG #3 or #4 light wire hooks and rig a creature bait weedless. Nothing fancy. A light wire allows for a slower fall with better action.
Bass Fishing Carolina Rig Bead Selection Tip
Your bead is nothing special. Color-wise, go with red because it seems to be a universal attractant to fish. The bead serves two purposes – it stops your knot from getting jammed into your swivel, and it makes a clicking noise. This also attracts fish.
Leader Length Tip
Using a 3-4 ft leader length is effective. Anything longer becomes challenging to manage. For line, going with monofilament for its ability to float better than fluorocarbon and pairing it with a 10-14 lb line.
Creature baits are popular. But this all depends on the amount of action you need for a bite. For example, The Rage Structure Bug and Googan Squad’s Bandito Bug (pictured below) have moderate kicking action. On the flip side, a Speed Craw will kick wildly.
If you’re fishing deep, the water tends to get darker. For darker water off deeper points, you can fish a black and blue-colored creature bait like the Berkley Pitboss, which also has less kicking action when fish are bottom locked in the mid-day heat. The darker colors allow for a more defined silhouette.
How To Fish A Carolina Rig For Bass?
Cast up current. Drag your weight and feel for the bottom. Once you’ve established what you’re fishing on ie. rock, sand, mud, or grass, continue dragging and maintain contact as your drag. As you drag your rig, the soft plastic trailing it will rise and fall and brush over rocks and look natural to a fish.
Feel for tiny thumps but wait to set your hook. Allow that fish to fully inhale your soft plastic, then sweep your rod up and back.
As far as when to use the Carolina Rig goes – Anytime.
As a pre-spawn and post-spawn setup, you can fish it along migratory routes on a 3/16 oz sinker. During post-spawn and summer, as bass begin moving offshore, you can target deeper water. This versatility is what makes this rig so deadly. But, it’s in colder water where the Carolina Rig excels when largemouth bass & smallmouth bass are oriented to the bottom and less attracted to fast-moving baits. Other times to fish this rig;
- Mid-day Summer Heat
- Cold, Winter Days
- Deep, Off-Shore Migratory Routes
Fishing With The Carolina Rig Final Thoughts
The Carolina Rig is an old-school way of catching fish and it absolutely works. It’s perfect year-round but thrives in deeper, colder water. It provides more natural action to your lure and allows you to maintain bottom contact. If you’re just starting out, this rig is perfect for practicing targeting offshore fish.