Carolina Rig Basics
By Jeff Southern

First, I am no expert with any type of fishing. This is a quick starting point on how to use the C Rig. If you follow these instructions, you will catch fish. Opinions will vary of course.

The proper rig. I typically use a Bullet or Egg shaped weight depending on the cover I am fishing. I use the bullet on wood and brush. I use the egg on rocks. 1/2 oz for 2'-12'. 3/4 oz for 15'-25' and 1 oz for hitting jet skiers. Then add Two Plastic beads ( Buy them in the Arts & Crafts section of Walmart for 1/10 the price in the fishing section). I think the two beads act like a rattle hitting together while you are working the bait. #10 swivel and finally a light weight 1/0 hook. I believe that a light hook gives the bait more action because it floats up more off the bottom. I use the 1/0 Gamakatus hook with the offset shank the best. The Leader should be 2'-4' long depending on the water temp. When Bass are really active ( water temp 65-75 ) the shorter leader gives the bait a faster action and will generally produce more fish. On days outside that temp range, the fish slow down and go deeeper. You want to lengthen the leader to slow the action on the bait. I typically use this fishing knot with the C Rig ( Figure 1)

Figure 1

Put the Line through the eye. Hold the line and the free end between your fingers and twist the hook Five times. Run the Free end through the loop near the hook's eye and then back through the big loop. Then Pull the line, the free end and the hook to tighten the knot. I usually put the free line end between my teeth to pull it tight. I Know, but it works...

There are many good plastic baits, but it is hard to go wrong with the Zoom products. My favorites are the Fish Doctor, Centipede, Finesse and 5" Lizard. The Fish Doctor is my sleeper bait. It looks like a short stick, but it catches big bass. The ends are also identical so that when the hook end get too torn up to use, you can turn it around. It has been my experiance that once you catch a fish on a plastic, you have a better chance of catching more fish on it rather than a new worm. It could be sent, but I think it is because the worm gets scuffed up more and holds more tiny air bubbles and floats up better.

Color Selection can be tricky, but it is not all that hard. You can really just put one into the water. If it looks like a crawfish, shad, or lizard to you, it will probably look like one to a fish. The clarity of the water will make the bait change colors. I personally use the Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin, Chartreuse Pepper, and Water Melon Seed most often. I also have started to use the cherry 5" Lizard with good sucess in clear water. I use the pumpkin in clear water, Green Pumpkin in dingy water and Water Melon in muddy water. I throw the Chartreuse Pepper when hunting spotted bass in deep water. It also seems to work well in muddy or clear water. One of these color will produce fish on any given day. Blue flash is good in the spring when the fish are chasing shad.

Bass are usually found on some type of structure. It can be rocks, wood, or just a red mud ridge. I tend to get my best fish around rocky points that have a shallow shelf that drops off into deep water. I cast parallel to the bank and pull it back to me at varying depths until i start getting bites. I think paralleling the banks works better that casting straight in. Although I sometimes cast in to quickly find the depth that the fish are most active at. Once I know that depth I then cast parallel at that depth to keep my bait in the strike zone. Typically, small more aggressive fish will be shallower and larger fish will be deeper. This changes from season to season, but is usually true. Right now the fish in your area are probably 10'-20' deep. They will be moving up into shallower water as the day goes by. Keep mental notes at the estimated depth where you are getting the most bites. This is very important.

If you want a really good rod, Walmart has a Pinnacle Millenia IM6 Rod Part Number MER66CAMH for around $40.00. It is a med. action 6-1/2' with a 10" two handed double handle. It has a fast tip and good backbone. I have three. I use one, my dad uses one and we have a spare in case one gets broken. If you can't tell, I really like this rod. Any quality bait casting reel should work. I have a Ambu Garcia Black Max on mine. Also at Wally world for around $50.00. A C Rig rod should be light weight, have a fast tip and good backbone. Graphite's are usually the best. Do NOT get a heavy or med. heavy rod for the C Rig. It will give you tendentious in the elbow and shoulder trying to cast with it. They are good for flipping and Texas rigs, but I believe that a quick tip med. action is best for the c rig. I also do not like a pistol grip on a C Rig Rod.

To work the bait, you want to maintain a tight line. If you have a lot of slack in the line you can miss a hit on the C Rig. I usually cast, tighten up and wait a few seconds before I do any thing else. Many fish will hit just after it sinks to the bottom. I then start a slow lift of the tip of the rod and hold at around 45 degrees. Then drop the tip down while reeling in the extra line to keep it tight. You do not want to move the bait on the down stroke, just keep the line tight. Repeat this pumping action back to the boat. Many hits will be right under the boat. Always make sure you stop the bait about half way back with the tip up and hold for a few seconds without doing anything. A lot of times the bass will follow the bait and hit it when it stops moving.

When you feel the bite, reel down slowly keeping a tight line until the tip is pointing down at the water. Then lift up slowly until you feel pressure and jerk to set the hook. Don't try to rip the fish's jaw off. A Quick smooth jerk will do just fine. If you have a lot of line out, increase the intensity of the jerk a little. Then reel like crazy to keep the line tight. Always keep the rod tip up after setting the hook. The bass will try to wrap the line around anything it can find. Tightening up on a fish is a bit of a "feeling" kind of thing. If you give in too much it may spit the worm out. If you tighten up too much and the fish feels you, it will spit the worm out. Some times the darn fish will spit the worm out no matter what you do.

The bite will usually have one of three feels.

  1. A quick series of light pecks. This is usually a smaller bass. Do not give in too much on this kind of hit. It is better to be a little more aggressive when tightening up.

  2. One hard thump and you line takes off sideways. This is usually a good fish. Be calm and lightly tighten up before you jerk.

  3. The rig just gets heavy or you loose feeling with the bottom. In this case the fish picked up the bait from behind and is heading toward you. Just lift the rod tip and reel as fast as you can. Once you feel pressure give a few short jerks to make sure you have a good hook set. As you gain experiance, you may want to reel in and try to tightening up on a hit like this, but not to start with.

The hardest thing to learn is what is a bite and what is a stick, rock, stump, etc.. The only way to know for sure it to reel down an jerk. You will get hung a lot when learning. If possible, move the boat to the oppsite of what you got hung on. Most of the time if will come off if you did not jerk too hard.

I hope this helps some. If you have any questions, please start a post on the fishing tactics board. It is the best way to learn.

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