Fishing a Carolina rig doesn’t seem all that difficult: Throw it out and pull it back in.
Potential problems can pop up with the pull, though. Do you pull it up and let it fall? Do you pull it in with the reel? Do you pull it sideways?
According to Toledo Bend guide Zack Gagnard, the Carolina rig is most effective for those bass relating to the bottom, so the best way to fish it is with a slow drag that keeps the weight in constant contact with the floor of the lake.
“The best way to accomplish that is to drag it sideways,” Gagnard said. “And drag it slow enough that you can feel your weight at all times; that’s going to give you maximum feel for the bottom and bites.”
West Monroe’s Kenny Covington agreed.
“I was taught that if I was bouncing a Carolina rig I was fishing it wrong,” Covington said. “You definitely drag it to the side. The only time you should be moving your rod tip up and down is if you’re getting your sinker over something.”
With so much line out and so much terminal tackle at the end of it, setting the hook with a Carolina rig can also be problematic.
Covington has recently started fishing Carolina rigs with a 7½-foot rod to facilitate better hook sets.
“That longer rod makes the hook set so much easier because it pulls up so much more line when you sweep set it,” he explained. “Of course, the trade-off is that you’ve got to be careful about moving your bait too much with that longer rod.”
Plenty Carolina rig aficionados will tell you the best way to hook more bass this way is to let a fish take your lure for a moment before pulling back.
“And you don’t want to pull straight up,” Covington noted. “Pull it straight to the side and real steadily. If you pull straight up, you’ve got to move all that gear down there before you ever stick the fish.
“Sideways will put more fish in the boat for you.”