Fish Finder Rig Vs Carolina Rig

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Fish Finder Rig vs Carolina Rig

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When some anglers are asked about the differences between the Fish Finder Rig and the Carolina rig, they may try to insist that they are one and the same. While these two rigs do look very similar, they do have their differences.

One of the most noticeable differences is that the Carolina rig uses a weight that is secured in-line, while the Fish Finder will use a larger pyramid-shaped weight on a sliding clip. This helps the Fish Finder stay in place in heavy current or active surf. Additionally, on the Fish Finder rig, you can easily change out your weight as needed without having to retie anything, whereas on the Carolina rig you will need to completely retie how your weight is connected.

Most anglers will say the Fish Finder is best used in the offshore surf and is one of the best rigs to use for striped bass, bluefish, and other larger game fish species. The Carolina on the other hand is excellent for use in calmer water for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and more.

Fish Finder Rig vs Carolina Rig: Advantages of Each 

Fish Finder Rig

The Fish Finder rig is considered as the best rig to use when you want to find pockets of surf fish in a lot of active coastal water.


  • Gives you the freedom to let your bait ride the current for a while
  • Excellent for locating fish hold outs, nesting grounds and other gatherings
  • Perfect for fishing in heavy current or active surf coastlines


  • Due to the size of the pyramid sinker, it can be difficult to get a maximum distance cast
  • Can be very prone to having your leader length entangle with your mainline as it drops
  • Uses multiple knots which can each be a weak point on the line
  • Pyramid sinker can cause line breakage in extremely active water

When to Use

The Fish Finder rig lives up to its name and is often considered the best rig to use when you want to find pockets of surf fish in a lot of active coastal water. One of the best ways to do this is to use the current or waves to your advantage. Simply drop the Fish Finder rig into the water and let it sink to the bottom, then let the line out and your bait will ultimately do the searching for you.

Fish Finder rigs are extremely popular for surf fishing due to their large pyramid-shaped weight. This weight will easily keep your rig in place while you decide how far you want the current to carry your bait around. As long as there are no underwater coral beds or large rocks to get entangled in, the Fish Finder rig will work exceptionally well for beginners and experienced anglers.

Fish Finder Rig Kit - Ideal for Surf Fishing
Fish Finder Rig Kit - Ideal for Surf Fishing
Fish Finder Rig Kit - Ideal for Surf Fishing
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  • Fish Finder Rig – Surf fishing tackle box with tackle included – premium tackle to make surf fishing rigs. Great for travel & fishing gifts. Ideal fishing gift for men dad husband etc.
  • Effective – The fish finder rig is one of the simplest, most effective surf rigs used for beach fishing. Whether for beginner or experienced surf fisherman alike, it help increase catch rate.
  • Fishing Equipment – 135pcs surf rig kit include 4 pyramid sinker, 30 circle hooks, 6 J hooks, 20 sinker slider, 20 barrel swivels, 5 wire leaders, 50 fishing beads.
  • Saltwater Tackle – All the fishing terminal tackles are made of premium material, high hardness, good corrosion resistance, strong and durable, will not easily rust or break.
  • Convenient – All fishing tackles are packed in a reusable plastic box which is easy to carry, and convenient to get the exact fishing tackles you need. Great for travel & fishing gifts.

When fishing in the surf with a Fish Finder rig, ask any surf fisherman and he will tell you that you want to look for small whitecaps on the water as this will give you an idea of where the more shallow water is. This shallow water is where the big fish will be hunting their meals, as well as your bait. If you’re fishing for flatfish, halibut, redfish, or bass, this is a great spot to target with the Fish Finder rig, especially if you are using live bait.

Once you have cast your Fish Finder rig into the right area of water, have patience. An action might not be instant, but rest assured your fishfinder rig is doing its work under the water’s surface. Always check your circle hook regularly to see if you have a fish on the line, and be sure to reel it in now and then to make sure your cut bait is still on the hook.

It’s not uncommon for the current or waves to dislodge your bait, and bottom feeders such as crabs can also steal it without being hooked. There are also an abundance of smaller baitfish which may try to steal your bait, but be too small to be hooked by your particular size of hook. You don’t want to sit around for hours waiting to catch fish only to realize your bait has been missing for who knows how long!

Carolina Rig

Here are the steps on how you can set up a Carolina Rig.


  • Great for fan casting to get the most water coverage possible
  • Can be fished successfully with live bait, dead bait, soft plastics, and more
  • Amazing rig to use during the winter when fish are deep and sluggish
  • Most commonly used with an egg sinker, but many other sinkers are useful too


  • Knots on the line can cause weak spots prone to breakage or fraying
  • Can be prone to snagging on underwater vegetation due to bottom dragging
THKFISH Texas and Carolina Rig Kit (360 pieces)
THKFISH Texas and Carolina Rig Kit (360 pieces)
THKFISH Texas and Carolina Rig Kit (360 pieces)
Our Score
  • All the gear needed to create effective Texas and Carolina Rigs for bass
  • Includes bullet weights, beads, swivels, hooks and more
  • High quality and great value

When to Use

When it comes to versatility, a Carolina rig can offer quite a bit of it to any bass fisherman. It’s arguably the best rig to use when you want to cover a lot of water and find little pockets of fish, so in that regard it may be a better fish finder than the actual Fish Finder rig.

It’s perfectly able to be fished successfully with a wide range of baits including creature baits, craws, soft plastics, rubber worms, live bait, and cut bait. Each style and shape of bait you use can give you different results and success with more fish as well, though this will depend on the season and type of fish you are targeting.

The Carolina is also very beginner friendly and easy to fish with. It’s equally easy to tie and set up, which means it’s a great entry-level rig for anyone brand new to the hobby. While the Carolina rig is an easy to use rig, it’s also perfectly viable for use by professionals and can deliver results in tournaments as well.

One of the biggest benefits to using artificial baits on a Carolina rig is that they will stay in place much better than live bait will, especially if you’re using the rig to find fish and are moving it around often. Bass fish love a good easy meal and will come out of hiding to take it from your rig if you drag it past their strike zone. This is a great rig to catch bass on any time of the year!

Since most game fish species will remain at the lower level of the water column when feeding or resting in various fishing spots, the Carolina rig will deliver your bait right down where it’s needed. Your presentation doesn’t have to be perfect, the rig is forgiving enough even for anglers that make mistakes, but before long you will feel the telltale tug of a fish on your line.

One of the downsides with the Carolina is that it does best in open water where there is little to no vegetation or underwater debris. If you are constantly dragging it across the bottom with the egg sinker, you run the risk of your hooks being snagged on thick vegetation, large rocks, and more.

You’ll also want to avoid tight areas such as narrow pylons or dock bracing, or where tree roots or sunken branches can be an issue. Unless you are confident in your casting direction and casting distance skills, it may be best to avoid these areas completely when using a Carolina.

The Carolina is not only a highly effective rig for targeting big lazy fish holed up down in the deep water, it’s also fast enough to be cast far and wide to find schools of your targeted fish. This is especially useful if you aren’t running any sonar and simply want to locate pockets of fish naturally. You can definitely have great success using this fishing rig regardless of how you set it up.

Final Thoughts on Fish Finder Rigs vs Carolina Rigs

While these two fishing rigs are extremely similar, they each have their differences and can help you get success in different areas.

For fishermen that are trying to catch those bottom fish, or who are doing the bulk of their fishing when water temperatures are low, using a Carolina with an average hook size and long leader line is a great choice. This rig will get your bait close to where the fish are hanging out and entice them to strike at that easy meal.

Carolina rigs are extremely versatile too. They can be used to catch a variety of fish species including catfish, trout, bass, flounder, redfish and more. And you can even use a wide range of live or artificial baits as well including rubber worms, plastic leeches, live shrimp, and much more.

The Fish Finder rig on the other hand is excellent for coastal surf fishing, or fishing in rivers with heavy current. It’s the go-to rig when surf fishing and targeting striped bass or other large coastal game fish. While it is not as versatile or easy to cast as the Carolina, it can work exceptionally well when attempting to locate pockets of fish during your next East coast surf fishing trip.

Since the sliding sinker has freedom of movement and is not directly connected to your main line, you can easily let out the line a bit to allow your bait to be carried by the current. Oftentimes, this may carry your bait right into a group of hungry fish looking for an easy meal.

On the other hand, you can keep your line tight for a more controlled rig. This is great if you are using a very long leader line already and don’t want to get that longer leader caught in corals or other areas.

Regardless of the rig you use, both the Fish Finder and Carolina can be simple enough for beginners to get their hands on. They aren’t overly confusing or intimidating, and both can be rather forgiving if you make a mistake.

Additionally, they can both be highly successful when you want to land big trophy sized fish. Whether you are targeting those massive largemouth bass that are staying deep in the lakes or you want to haul in a monster sized stripers or sharks from the coastal waters off shore. Both rigs have benefits and features that can make your next fishing trip more enjoyable and successful.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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