The Carolina Rig for Bass: Full Set-Up Guide and Tips

Learn how to build a Carolina Rig for fishing soft plastic baits for bass. Full step-by-step instructions and tips on how to fish this great bass rig

Carolina rigs are an excellent finesse-style rig. They work great with a range of stick baits and imitative soft plastics, including lizard baits and Carolina rigging is a popular technique for bass fishing.

The C-Rig, as it is known, is a great searching rig for bass fishing and can be used to cover water to find bass as well as fishing to bass you’ve spotted on your fish finder.

It can be used in combination with several different techniques, styles, and plastic baits. It is not limited to shallow or deep water. It will catch fish in clear or murky water, particularly if you are using a good scent or attractant on your bait.

To create a Carolina rig, your going to need a few things, and it’s a little more complicated when compared to the Texas Rig or Wacky Rig.

What You’ll Need for the Carolina Rig

To rig a Carolina rig, you will need the following:

How to Make a Carolina Rig

  1. Start by placing the bullet sinker on your main line, followed by a bead. After placing the bead and sinker, tie on your swivel.
  2. After the swivel has been tied on, it’s time to add your leader. Leader length can vary and is typically anywhere from 18 inches to 3 feet in length. Leader length is a personal preference for some, and if your fishing floating plastics determines how high in the water column it will rise.
  3. Mono or fluoro line is the best choice for the leader material.
  4. The next step is to tie the leader to the swivel after picking your length and then to tie on your hook, with the last step being your bait.

What Bait to Use?

The beauty of the Carolina Rig is you can fish it with just about any soft plastic bait. Small light baits and creature baits are great to fish with the C-Rig. Here’s a good list of suitable baits to help you with bait choice:

How to Fish a Carolina Rig

The Carolina Rig is great for covering water, feeling the bottom, and catching bass. When working a Carolina rig you’re going to want to simply drag it across the bottom – it can be fishing in shallow water right through the deeper water.

You can achieve this with a sweeping motion of the rod from 10 o’clock through to 2 o’clock.

Since we are dragging the weight and the bait, we want to use this in cleaner areas to avoid getting caught in the weeds. Look for sandy areas around cover like a patch of weeds, riverbanks, and around docks.

Don’t jerk the rig; just a nice smooth sweep will work.  Use a nice 7″ spinning rod or baitcasting rod, and each sweep will move the bait a foot or so.

Be sure to ‘feel’ the bottom via your rod – you’ll get used to the different feedback it gives as the bait travels across grass, sand, and gravel. 

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Where Should You Throw It?

Open water is the starting point for using this lure – it’s not a rig to be throwing into tight structure and heavy cover such a trees and snags that require accurate casts and can grab the lure and components creating a bust off and the need to retie the rig.

Points are a popular area to target, but drop offs and ridges are good too. You can even throw a Carolina Rigged soft plastic over grass or light weed in shallower water if you lighten it up by using a smaller egg weight or bullet weight.

If you are fishing with sonar, then throw it into schools you can see on your fish finder. If you are land based or fishing without electronics, then you can keep moving (either drifiting in your boat or walking the shore) and casting.

 You can cover a lot of ground quickly and find the fish with this search bait. Once you locate the fish in the body of water you can slow down and fish that area thoroughly.

That’s one of the big advantages of Carolina rigging.

Carolina Rig vs Texas Rig

These two rigs excel in very different situations (read more on comparing the two here).

With the Texas Rig the weight is hard up against the soft plastic lure, so you can fire it into heavy cover and through weed and sticks if it is rigged weedless.

The Carolina Rig is an open-water rig. Because you have that leader between the weight and the plastic, it is quite cumbersome and easily tangled, so it is not the best choice for fishing structure.

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Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species. Shawn's fished extensively for pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth and panfish species. He's developing a passion for chasing trout on the fly rod.
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