Carolina Rig: How To Master Off Shore Bass Fishing

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A Carolina Rig with a weedless black and blue creature bait laying on a wooden deck.

Off-shore fishing with a Carolina Rig couldn’t be easier!  It provides a slow-moving, easy-to-catch meal for less aggressive fish. That’s why it’s part of the lure rotation of tournament anglers and enthusiasts alike. You can fish it year-round, up shallow and deep, and a number of soft plastics can be used.

But understanding how the appropriate weights, hooks, line, and soft plastics work, as well as how to rig and fish them, are all crucial in landing bass in deeper water. If you haven’t made the switch to offshore just yet and are looking for the easiest rig to learn on, the Carolina Rig is where to start.

What Is A Carolina Rig?

A Carolina rig is like a texas rig but the weight is held several feet above the hook and the lure by way of a swivel and bead. This allows your bait to rise and fall weightless, giving it more action and also keeping a natural appearance.

This setup can be thrown on a braided line to fluorocarbon leader, up shallow, offshore, in open water, or around structure, and it provides a number of different weight options for this. Aside from flipping, pitching, and punching, this setup is pretty versatile.

 Carolina Rig Setup

Your weight depends on the depth you’re fishing. For offshore fishing, 10-20 ft, for example, I like to use a 1/2 oz. This includes main lake points, submerged structures like brush piles, and trees. You can increase the weight to 1 oz for a faster fall. Additionally, you can cover water quickly. For weight brands, Tungsten allows you to feel the bottom more accurately.

For hooks, I go with VMC EWG #3 or #4 light wire hooks and rig a creature bait weedless. Nothing fancy. A light wire allows for a slower fall with better action.

Bead Selection

Your bead is nothing special. Color-wise, I go with red because it seems to be a universal attractant to fish. The bead serves two purposes – it stops your knot from getting jammed into your swivel, and it makes a clicking noise. This also attracts fish.

Leader Length

For me, a 3-4 ft leader length is effective. Anything longer becomes difficult to manage. For line, I go with monofilament for its ability to float better than fluorocarbon and I’ll typically go with a 10-14 lb line.

Creature Baits

Creature baits are popular. But this all depends on the amount of action you need for a bite. For example, The Rage Structure Bug and Googan Squad’s Bandito Bug (pictured below) have a moderate kicking action. On the flip side, a Speed Craw will kick wildly.

 

The Bandito Bug, Structure Bug, and Trench Hog

Popular Brands;

  • Strike King Structure Bug
  • Zoom Brush Hogs
  • Googan Squad Bandito Bug
  • Trench Hog
  • Speed Craw

These baits are easily rigged weedless and look great when fished weightless. Another option is a Carolina rigged worm like a Zoom Trick Worm or ribbon tail worm.

A bag of Zoom Trick Worms laying on a wooden deck demonstrating a perfect Carolina Rig lure.
Zoom Trick Worms

If you’re fishing deep, the water tends to get darker. For darker water off deeper points, you can fish a black and blue-colored creature bait like the Berkley Pitboss which also has less kicking action when fish are bottom locked in the mid-day heat. The darker colors allow for a more defined silhouette.

A Carolina Rig with a black and blue Berkeley Pitboss creature bait rigged weedless.
Berkely Pitt Boss

 

When To Fish It

Anytime! As a pre-spawn and post-spawn setup, you can fish it along migratory routes on a 3/16 oz sinker. During post-spawn and summer, as bass begin moving offshore, you can target deeper water. This versatility is what makes this rig so deadly. But, it’s in colder water ( in my opinion) where the Carolina Rig excels when fish are oriented to the bottom and less attracted to fast-moving baits. Other times to fish this rig;

  • Mid-day Summer Heat
  • Cold, Winter Days
  • Deep, Off Shore Migratory Routes

Carolina Rig: Off-Shore Fishing

So, where can you find offshore fish? If you don’t have electronics to rely on, find lake points. Google earth is a fantastic way to identify points. From here, you can position your boat ( or yourself on shore) so that you cast into the wind, or up current.

A screen shot of a long lake point demonstrating where a Carolina Rig is best used.
Google Earth Satellite Imagery Of A Main Lake Point

Other good places to start would be long-reaching piers where you can cast out far. If you have no access to points or piers, cast to where the color of the water becomes darker. This is a distinct line that can be seen in almost all bodies of water. It’s the point when the water becomes deeper and also where the temperature cools. Off-shore bass will ambush prey here.

How To Fish A Carolina Rig

Cast up current. Drag your weight and feel for the bottom. Once you’ve established what you’re fishing on ie. rock, sand, mud, or grass, continue dragging and maintain contact as your drag. As you drag your rig, the soft plastic trailing it will rise and fall and brush over rocks and look natural to a fish.

Feel for small thumps but wait to set your hook. Allow that fish to fully inhale your soft plastic, then sweep your rod up and back.

Final Thoughts

The Carolina Rig is an old-school way of catching fish and it absolutely works. It’s perfect year-round but thrives in deeper, colder water. It provides more natural action to your lure and allows you to maintain bottom contact. If you’re just starting out, this rig is perfect for practicing targeting offshore fish.

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