Carolina On My Mind…and On the Water
article by Kenny Covington
I am a shallow water fisherman by trade. There is nothing I like more than to find a good looking bank and plow down it with a spinnerbait in hand. But many times when fishing with this and other fast moving methods, we tend to miss catchable fish, because they aren’t aggressive enough to chase a fast moving offering and/or we are too stubborn to slow down.
Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to fish with and learn from the best deep water fisherman that has ever fished in our local waters. Glynn Blankenship was a master at finding and catching fish, and one of the most effective tools he used was a Carolina rig.
Let’s start with the set up for a Carolina rig. You want to make sure you have the right rod for this technique. I personally like a 7- 7 ½ foot medium heavy to heavy action rod. The longer rod will make casting the rig much easier and will allow you to move more line for a more effective hook set.
The Carolina rig consists of a heavy sinker, egg shaped or bullet style, either in ¾ or 1 ounce versions, placed on your main line that should be 15 to 20lb test. After the sinker, add one or two colored beads and then tie the main line to a barrel swivel. Many people debate the use of the beads on the rig; I simply use them to protect the knot connected to the swivel.
The next step is to tie your leader line to the bottom of the barrel swivel. There has always been a lot of debate about the size and length of the leader to use on a Carolina rig. I have used them as long as 5 feet and as short as 12 inches. They each have their purpose. My standard length I start with is usually about 2 ½ to 3 feet. I always used 15 lb. line for my leaders.
Now that we have the basic set up in place, we need to choose the right hook for the job. I try to match the size of my hook to the type of lure I will be using. For example, if I know I will primarily be using smaller baits on my C-rig, then I will use a 2/0 or 3/0 fine wire hook. However, if I am C-rigging a big 12 inch worm on Caney Lake, then I will use a 5/0 or even 6/0 hook. I primarily use finesse worms and small creature baits, so I will usually will go with a 3/0 hook. I prefer the offset thin wire hooks, because I believe you get better hook penetration on long casts.
For lure choices, I normally prefer smaller lures such as finesse worms and smaller creature baits. To me in most cases a C-rig is mostly a numbers technique and smaller lures tend to be more effective. I keep my color choices simple, as any shade of watermelon will catch fish on practically any lake in our area. Another good color choice for our waters is Cotton Candy. If the water clarity is stained, I will dip the tail of whatever my soft plastic choice is in chartreuse or orange dipping dye to give a color variation.
Now that we are rigged and ready to go, where do we use it? On the Ouachita River, I like to focus on sandbars and river cuts. On Lake Claiborne, it’s a good choice to use around the numerous boat docks. On Caney Lake and Darbonne, it is used mostly to cover the deeper channel drops and ridges.
The idea of the Carolina rig is to slowly drag the weight, keeping contact with the bottom, allowing the lure to move around freely as the retrieve progresses. But the key is to do this slowwwwwwwwwwly! The biggest mistake I see people make when fishing this technique is they simply move it too fast. The best way to accomplish this is to sweep your rod to the side instead of the traditional rod lift used in Texas rig worm fishing. Strikes can be anything from a mushy feeling to the typical tap-tap felt when worm fishing. When setting the hook make sure you have taken up enough slack to allow for good hook penetration. I have found that a side sweeping hook set tends to work best.
This technique is a great for the beginning fisherperson as well as the tournament angler looking for a quick limit. It is universally effective no matter what body of water you might be fishing. Does it have limitations? Actually no, this method can be effectively modified to fish any situation your lake may have to offer. Lighter sinker for grass applications, shorter/longer leaders depending on cover, the possibilities are endless for this fishing catching technique.
I hope this information will be helpful to you and allow you to put more fish in your livewell. Be careful on the water, and catch one for me! See you next month!