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Carolina Rigging For Bass

by Steve Quinn   |  February 4th, 2014 0

For several years, the drop-shot rig was the rage. Last fall, along came the A-Rig. Headlines were followed by countless versions of the castable umbrella rig. Even top pros have found that in some situations, they’re fishing for something other than first place if they’re not “hurling the cage.” Remember back 30 years or so, when another rig took the fishing scene by storm, the Carolina or C-Rig. Living in south Georgia at the time, I’d been fishing it regularly for several years when Jack Chancellor of Phenix City, Alabama, won the Bassmaster Classic on what he called, “The Do-Nothing Rig.” I was introduced to this setup soon after moving there, where it was known as the “Dumb Worm,” for similar reasons—merely cast it out and you’d catch bass. No technique, no tricks, just action.

Lure Selection
One merit of Carolina rigging is quickly bringing any lure into the field of action. Kinked prerigged worms like the Savage Worm and Little Action Mac were among the earliest baits used on rigs. Small straight worms, sometime referred to as French fries, came into vogue; Zoom’s Centipede and Fish Doctor, and Berkley’s Power Noodle were popular options, fitting the Do-Nothing motif extremely well.

The slow glide and settling action of a little bait freed of a sinker seems hard for bass to pass on. It’s a top choice for cold fronts and other difficult fishing conditions. The slow glide of a softbait tethered to a C-rig predated the weightless glide of the Slug-Go and Senko, and performs this deadly action in water of any depth. No wonder this rig may be under the radar at the moment, but it’s certainly not passe’.

For years, lizards ruled the Carolina rigging roost, as the flat belly, curly tail, and 4 curly legs created superb action when towed about and allowed to settle in select spots. They remain popular for largemouth and smallmouth bass, from 4-inch mini lizards to 8- and 9-inchers.

Top Carolina riggers also rely heavily on creature baits. Clark Wendlandt of Texas, Peter “T” Thliveros of Florida, and Mike McClelland of Arkansas all pointed to Zoom’s Brush Hog as a top option. “I use the 6-inch Brush Hog in many situations, particularly in summer when bass generally want a bigger bait,” Wendlandt says. “The 4-inch Baby Brush Hog is a great option for a finesse rig and smallmouth and spotted bass eat it up. The flappers, swimming tails, and arms create lifelike action and underwater vibrations.”

Terry Scroggins, Florida ace, fishes the Yum Wooly Hawgtail in those situations. The new Yum Yumphibian has a similar profile, but with a thicker body and two long swimming tails. Available in three sizes, 4.5, 5.25, and 6 inches, it promises good things on this setup.

Carolina rigs have a reputation, not unfounded, for catching lots of small bass. To boost bass size, boost bait size. For summer fishing for big fish, magnum worms come into play in deep and shallow conditions.

A swimming tail ripples as the lure’s pulled along, then slowly settles. When it goes thump, set the hook. Manufacturers have added new options here, notably Zoom’s Mag Ol’ Monster (12 inches), Yum’s F2 MightEE Worm (10.5 inches), Gene Larew’s El Salto Grande (12 inches), and PowerTeam Lures’ 10-inch Ribbon Hinge Worm. In response to angler demand, Berkley reintroduced their 12-inch Power Worm after years in mothballs. And Mann’s Bait Company added a 12-inch Jelly Worm, available in all those fruity flavors.

Carolina rigs also excel for bringing small finesse baits to deep water and precise structure locations, as well as shallow vegetation. For tough times, Wendlandt relies on a 5- to 7-inch straight-tail worm, rigging it on a light-wire hook. On the light C-rigs he uses in shallow grass, Thliveros goes with an original 4-inch Fluke, occasionally upsizing to a 5-inch Super Fluke. I’ve found a 4-inch Berkley Gulp! Sinking Minnow, Lake Fork Ring Fry, Yum Dinger, or Yamamoto Senko superb for extracting bites from what seems to be a dead sea, both on offshore structure and shallow vegetation and wood.

Continued after gallery…


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