Hi Mr. Hale,
A Carolina rig is basically used with a plastic worm that will float up off the bottom. The basic version of the rig has a swivel, a sliding bullet sinker, a red glass bead, and a 24-to-30 inch leader attached to the hook. The plastic worm of your choice is then 'Texas-rigged' to the hook. Some people leave the hook exposed if they are fishing open-structure free water.
The Texas rig originally was used and excelled in deepwater with sparse cover. Carolina rigs are a little harder to cast, but when it's drifted or slowly trolled, it will keep the plastic worm down in the strike zone. There are many variations of the Carolina rig.
The basic Carolina rig consists of a piece of monofilament leader with a hook at one end and a swivel at the other. The Eagle Claw Series 042 Wide Bend Hook is a favorite of many fishermen. The slightly wider bend of this hook holds live baits and chunks of natural or bio-baits well. With the offset at the point, it has a good hookup ration on most inshore fish, including flounder. Any small, high-quality swivel will work; A ball-bearing swivel is not necessary.
The sinker is an egg or bullet sinker that is threaded on the line to the reel, then tied to the other eye of the swivel. It is not pegged and may slide along the line. The lightest sinker that will take the bait to the bottom is preferred. In many situations, a half-ounce is all that is needed. A bead between the sinker and the swivel is optional. The original purpose for the bead was to avoid chafing on the knot, but many fishermen believe the sinker striking the bead produces an audible click that can attract fish.
One of the first variations of the Carolina rig used a second bead or one of several variations of clackers to produce noise. Brass beads are the loudest, followed by glass, with plastic last. A variety of clackers are available; many have internal noise making properties.
Clackers or beads are rigged between the weight and the swivel, producing noise when the weight slides back as it is being jigged off the bottom. The noise causes fish to look, and then they see the puff of sand and the fluttering bait.
How to Use the Carolina Rig
Using a Carolina rig also effectively slows down your presentation which is useful in cold-water. Two very important things that will make your Carolina rig more effective are:
A.) Skin-hooking your Texas-rigged worm.
B.) Have an absolutely super-sharp hook.
I modify my Carolina rigs quite a bit. An example would be using a shorter leader with the lighter one used to 'finesse float' the bait, or even changing the type of weight I use on the rig. Sometimes I use an egg sinker instead of the bullet weight. There are times I even use a split-shot for the weight.
You can also use a casting plug or live bait instead of the plastic worm. You can add a rattle to your plastic worm or lure, and even add scent. Changing the leader length will determine how high the plastic worm floats off the bottom.
I attached what a Carolina rig looks like in a diagram.
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