Carolina Rig components

Everything You Need to Know About the Carolina Rig

The Carolina Rig is one of the oldest techniques in bass fishing. It’s been catching bass longer than most people reading this article have been alive, and it still catches bass today. It can be annoying to tie, but it’s a relatively simple application that is a big part of the arsenal of anglers all the way up through the Bassmaster Elite Series. 

Here we break down everything from how to tie it, to when to throw it, to how to fish it, to how to optimize it.

Components of a Carolina Rig

The carolina rig is relatively simple. It has six parts, all of which are listed below and are easily found anywhere fishing stuff is sold. A very basic carolina rig features a one-ounce brass weight, a glass bead, a barrel swivel, a three-foot leader, and a 3/0 worm hook with a lizard or fluke on the end. All of these can obviously be tinkered with situationally, but more on that later.

Large brass bullet weight – (my recommendation)

Glass Bead (my recommendation)

Barrel Swivel (my recommendation)

Leader (my recommendation)

Worm Hook (my recommendation)

Plastic (Picks Below)

How to Tie the Carolina Rig (6 Easy Steps)

Step 1. Start with your components laid out, easily accessible.


Step 2. Slide your line through the center of the brass weight and the glass bead in that order. 


Step 3. Tie your barrel swivel to end of the line underneath the glass bead


Step 4. Tie your leader line to the other end of the barrel swivel. 


Step 5. Then tie a worm hook to the tag end of the leader line.


Step 6. Rig your bait on the worm hook and that’s it. 

How a Carolina Rig Works

The Carolina Rig is a pretty simple bait. It’s designed to be dragged on the bottom, and the big brass weight keeps it there while it makes noise by clacking against the glass bead. The bead also provides some protection of the knot from the giant weight you’ve put above it. The large weight also gives the angler an excellent feel of the bottom. It can be a great bait to canvas an area with and get familiar with what is down there. 

The bait trails behind the weight and the bead, floating slightly off the bottom. The weight being 1-4 feet ahead of the bait allows the bait to keep a more natural movement and glide to it, while still being able to fish it as deep as you need to. 

When to throw a Carolina Rig

The Carolina Rig is an old school summertime dragging bait. It really excels when the fish are  deep and you need to slow down. Every offshore fishing arsenal needs a bait you can slow down with. There’s a lot of preference involved in what that is, and while the Carolina Rig has declined a little in popularity, it’s still a great option. It’s also just incredibly easy to fish. You just drag it. That’s it.

While it’s known for its summertime prowess, it can excel any time fish are in deeper water, and fish can be found in deep water all year long. It’s a pretty simple application, basically just giving your bait the natural presentation of a weightless plastic while still being able to reach deep water, so any time that sounds like a desirable thing is a good time to throw a carolina rig. 

How long should your leader be? 

Your leader line can be anywhere from a foot, which is pretty short, all the way to 7ish feet, which is very long. 3-4 feet is a good baseline if you’re new to the technique and don’t want to overcomplicate things as you get comfortable with the rig. 

There is a general rule you’ll read about that says that more finicky fish require a longer leader, and this is because a longer leader allows for more natural action on the plastic. You always have to account for what kind of cover you’re presenting the bait around, for example, if you’re trying to drag this thing through vegetation, you’ll want a leader long enough to keep the bait above the tops of the stems.

Best Baits to Put on a Carolina Rig

Soft Jerkbait

Soft jerkbaits like a Zoom Super Fluke are great imitators of injured baitfish. 

Zoom Bait Super Fluke JR Soft Plastic Bait-Pack of 10 (White Pearl)
  • Package quantity: 1
  • Model Number: 056-045
  • Country of Orgin: United States


Lizards and other creature-style baits are arguably the most popular c-rig baits. A carolina-rigged lizard is as tried-and-true of a setup as any other setup out there. 

Zoom Bait 6-Inch Lizard Bait-Pack of 9 (Watermelon Seed)
  • Package length: 16.764 cm
  • Package width: 12.192 cm
  • Package height: 1.016 cm

Finesse Worm 

It’s less popular, but a small finesse worm can be a good choice in tougher conditions. A smaller bait with more subtle action, the finesse worm can trigger fish less willing to bite. 

Zoom Bait 004005 Finesse Worm, 4 1/2-Inch, 20-Pack, Junebug, One Size
  • 4-1/2 inch Finesse worm
  • Slim, gradually tapering worm
  • Salt-Impregnated
  • The most fish-catching finesse bait ever poured continues to be a bass catcher coast to coast
  • Junebug

Tips and Tricks for Success with a Carolina Rig

  • If water color permits, you can use a monofilament leader. Mono floats, so it helps the bait elevate a little more off the bottom. 
  • In really difficult conditions, a variation of the carolina rig sometimes called a split shot rig can coax moodier fish into biting. It’s essentially a micro carolina rig without the glass bead and a split shot weight crimped to the line instead of a brass bullet weight. 
  • Carolina rigs can be a pain to tie and tie again after you inevitably break off the first one. If you’re planning on throwing it, tie several leaders before you hit the water so all you have to do is tie one knot whenever you need to retie

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