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This is one of those methods that every angler must be able to
pull out of his bag. In each of my last 3 tournament wins,
a Carolina rig paid such a large role that I would not have
been close without it. In 2 of those tournaments, I had 1
and 2 bass with an hour left to fish. In both cases I pulled
out a C. rig and finished my limit in no time. One of them I
caught 3 keepers on my first 4 casts. The 3rd win, I was on a
huge school of summertime bass that were relating to schools of
shad that were over shell beds. I found them 3 weeks before the
tournament and absolutely crushed them on 3 different days.
I fished a dozen different baits but, a C. rig was the only
way I could get bit. I then let the fish rest for 3 weeks.
Not one other angler found these fish. Everybody going from
one of the 2 lakes to the other had to run right over this
huge school.

All summer I did not see a single boat on these fish while my
clients and I caught well over 1,000 bass from this single school.
The first tournament day I drew a non-boater that I had fished
with several times before. This worked great because it was no
trouble convincing him we needed to fish this one school, both
get a heavy limit, and then just hang out and protect my spot.
On my 3 prior trips to this spot I had a heavy limit in less
than 15 casts. It was a 20 mile run so I had plenty of time to
tell him all of this and get him all pumped up. As soon as we
pulled onto the spot, 75 yards from the nearest shore, I instantly
said "I've never seen the water this dirty." The wind was whipping
across the area about 20mph. Dirty water is the last thing you want
in Florida. After 5 casts without a strike I knew I had to figure
something out. Offshore summer bass simply don't move!

We both changed to different plastics a dozen times in 15 minutes.
No strikes. My partner in the back was telling me there were no
bass there, along with a few things I won't print. I finally
calmed down and assessed the situation. The wind alone could
not dirty the water this much. I had read in the paper the day
before that there had been heavy rain south of my hot spot.
I then recalled that there was a spillway about 10 miles farther
south. These spillways dump freshwater into the saltwater to
prevent the canals from flooding. When these gates open wide
they create a strong current that pulls along the lake bottom.
This normally turns structure fish on like crazy, but not down here.

My spot had a black muck bottom, except for the spots with shells.
This current stirs up this muck and makes the water at the bottom
very dirty. This makes the bass suspend above this level of dirty
water. I had caught all of those bass before with a 24" leader.
Naturally this was what we were using now. I retied with a 4' leader,
made 3 casts to prime spots without a strike, and retied with a 6'
leader. Instead of dragging the sinker on the bottom, I made a
long high sweep with the rod and allowed it to fall back to
the bottom. On the first fall I felt a thump about 2-3' before
the sinker hit bottom. The bass was over 5 LBS. I filled my
limit on 5 more casts. I had 4 in the livewell before my partner
had retied. On his first cast he set the hook and the rod
broke right at the reel seat. He hand lined an 8 LB bass to
the boat. He rigged another rod and quickly had his limit.
We culled a couple of fish to where we were both over 20 LBS.
This left us a few hours to talk and analyze the situation.

Just like I explained, the fish that were hugging bottom had
suspended around 6'- 8' up. When bass do this they can be tough.
I had tried deep crankbaits, traps, and 1oz. spinnerbaits,
nothing! The second, and final day, I saw my partner from the
day before. He was about to die because he wanted to fish with me.
My partner this day had 2-3 LBS going in. I told him the deal
along the way so he would be rigged when we got there. He had
never fished a Carolina rig in his life. When we arrived the water
looked a bit clearer. I made 2 casts without a strike on my long
leader. That was enough. I cut the leader down to 24". I caught
5 bass on 5 casts. I stayed there all day and culled to over 25 LBS.
It was a cakewalk.

My partner, his first time ever using the rig had over 15 LBS.
This actually was enough to put him in the money despite his
slow first day. This shows the versatility of the Carolina rig.
With all of these bass stacked in this area, this rig is the only
way I could have caught this kind of weight. It also shows the amount
of confidence I have in it. Sorry about going so long but, this
rig deserves the space. I have had hundreds of days on the water
that others only dream of. The largest amount of bass, by weight,
I have ever caught in 1 day, came in a 2 hour period on a
Carolina rig.

After all this rambling, I think perhaps I have already answered
part of your question. There is no right C. rig. That is probably
the #1 reason that it is so effective. The story I related above
is a great example of one of dozens of alterations that can be
made on this rig to fit the conditions.

In 3 days fishing on this school, it made absolutely no difference
what bait I used on the rig. There were so many quality bass that
I caught them each day on at least 12-15 different styles and
colors of baits. It simply did not matter what I used. The rig
I had was perfect for the condition. The first day of the tournament,
I used 20 different baits, along with a partner, and had not
1 strike. Once I adjusted the rig itself and got the right set-up,
we instantly started catching bass on any bait we threw. This is
not an example of some extreme condition. This plays out every
time you use a C. rig. You must adjust the rig to the water and
the bass.

I could write 1,000 words on how to fish this rig. It would be
easier to answer specific questions that you have. Here are some
basics to start with and you can work from there. Feel free to ask
any questions you have at any time. Basic rig: hook, sinker,
swivel, leader. A glass bead is optional. I break off only when
using a bead. My records prove, without a doubt, they do not
increase the # of strikes.

The size weight and length of the leader depend on conditions.
Generally, the shallower the water, the shorter the leader and
lighter the weight. As depth increases, so do they. In water
less than 20', I most always use 1/2oz. or less. Under 6' I
go to 5/16-3/8oz. I always use a bullet sinker here in Florida.
They simply work best in sparse grass. The one exception is
in clear water, post cold front conditions. You will get more
strikes with lighter line and a mojo sinker. The mojo also works
great in rocks. When fish are really biting well, you do great
with a shorter leader.

I usually start with a 20-26" leader unless I know a longer one
is called for before starting. When this rig is hot, the bass
will be right on the bottom. Fishing gets tougher when fish
suspend regardless of your bait. This is when you start going to
longer leaders. Unless you know from prior experience, it makes
sense to start short and work up. There are few things, if any,
that are written in stone when it comes to bass fishing. The
following is the one thing that I have found to be very close.

Every angler has a problem with setting the hook when learning to
fish this rig. This is my "set in stone" Carolina rig hook.
Regardless of the bait, use a Gamakatsu 1/0, straight shank,
round bend, worm hook. This is a very specific hook. Just 1/0
won't work. Just straight shank won't work. You want the exact
hook I described. It has been many years since I have had a
problem setting the hook with any bait. If I was going to miss
a bass it was going to be on a C. rig. Back when the FLW Tour
was first starting, I was practicing with a friend for the
Okeechobee tournament and we were getting strikes every cast
on a C. rig. I was missing more bass than I ever had. My buddy
was hooking every one that bit. Finally I had to look at his bait.
We both had the same worm. The only difference was the small hook
he had. I think mine was a 3/0. I switched to his and hooked
every fish that bit from then on. I go to the same hook in a 2/0
only when using a 10", or larger, worm. This hook catches the
fish in the fleshy portion around the outer part of the mouth.
They are not going anywhere. The difference is amazing. As far
as the newer worms are concerned, I'm yet to be sold. I have
not tried them all, so I am waiting to comment. I don't want
to say anything one way or the other until I've seen all sides.
What I've seen so far, they need a little work to suit my needs.
I hope these basics get you going. There are a million ways to
use this rig. Setting the hook is one major difference compared
to a Texas rig. But that's another story.

              Good luck, Rob.


Originally Posted by Ranger Rob
 
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