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January 2021

How to Fish a Carolina Rig

By : Mark Hicks

The Carolina rig doesn't get mentioned often, even as it produces fish for tournament anglers. Here's how to fish it, with advice from Shaw Grigsby.

The Carolina rig became popular with bass anglers decades ago and it has been a mainstay ever since. You don’t hear much about it these days on the pro bass circuits, but it continues to produce for anglers at every level, including Florida’s Shaw Grigsby, one of the most respected professional bass anglers in the country.

Grigsby always has the makings for a Carolina rig in his boat, as he may employ “the old ball and chain” in any season.

Rigging the Carolina Rig

Grigsby assembles the basic Carolina rig by threading a 3/4- or 1-ounce sinker onto his main line, usually 17- or 20-pound fluorocarbon. Then he threads on a bead and knots the line to a swivel. The bead protects the knot and adds a clicking sound as it works against the sinker.

To other end of the swivel he attaches a 12- to 14-pound leader, which is fixed to a 5/0 EWG style hook. He goes with a 24-inch to 3-foot leader during the warm months. In cold water and when fishing submerged grass, he ups the leader length to 4 feet.

“I drag a Carolina rig most of the time,” Grigsby said. “That big weight stays in touch with the bottom and stirs up muck and shells on shell bars. The bass are attracted to that and find the bait just floating along.”

In summertime when the bass are most active, Grigsby also triggers bites by popping the Carolina rig off the bottom and letting it fall back.

Carolina Rig Baits

Strike King’s Ocho, Rage Cut R Worm, Rage Lizard and Game Hawg comprise Grigsby’s most productive baits for Carolina rigging.

“The Ocho is tremendous,” Grigsby said. “The Cut R Worm has a lot of tail action. And you can’t ever forget about the Rage Lizard, a great bait that is overlooked. The regular Game Hawg and the Magnum Game Hawg are incredible baits, especially in Florida.”