It’s rarely the first choice for modern anglers boasting tackle bags full of the latest-and-greatest, but it’s always a good idea to keep a Carolina rig handy. Now, the slow drag may seem askew compared to more active presentations common to the fall season. But for those times between the craziness — for the dreaded bluebird days following a fall cold front or for those times when you just can’t seem to get ‘em going ­— the old ball and chain can be a straight-up day saver.

Maximizing “the rig” takes patience and persistence, but minding a few key details will bolster your performance. For starters, Bassmaster Elite pro Todd Faircloth suggests simplifying the C-rig by replacing the traditional line-swivel-leader setup and, instead, sets his weight position on his main line with a Carolina Keeper (adjustable tension-controlled stopper).

This modification reduces potential break-offs by eliminating two knots; one on either side of a swivel. If his sinker wedges on cover, Faircloth said he can usually pull it free without breaking. With a swivel style rig, snagging usually means breaking.

Other points to consider:

Baits: Don’t get locked into a one-dimensional mindset where the only thing that belongs on the back of a Carolina rig is some type of worm or a lizard. In the fall, one of your most effective offerings is a fluke-style bait.

Weights: Match your weight size to the depth you’re fishing but know that heavy weights can nudge Carolina Keepers into slipping. Faircloth’s rule of thumb: One keeper for weights under ½ ounce; two for ½ and larger.

Leaders: If you’re encountering a lot of wood cover, or if baitfish are holding close to the bottom, use a shorter leader. If they’re suspended, use a longer leader and go with monofilament to allow more rise. 

Insider tip: Injecting air into your bait with a hypodermic needle will make it float.