Arguably three of the most well-known bass fishing techniques, the Carolina rig, Texas rig, and drop shot rig remain prominent techniques on today’s circuit. Although considerably different in application, it can sometimes be confusing to differentiate these three rigs. This piece is here to provide detailed descriptions on each and how they are different.
These three methods of catching bass have simply changed the sport and have each won crazy amounts of prize money, as well as putting many smiles on the faces of recreational bass anglers.
The techniques are considerably different in profile and application, but can easily be confused with one another. Let’s quickly summarise each:
Carolina Rig: Considered the ‘ball and chain’ rig, the Carolina rig is almost the opposite to a drop shot rig. The mainline is attached to a swivel which holds a bullet weight and is this followed by a leader and hook.
Texas Rig: The T-rig is one of the most well-known baits for flipping and pitching. The mainline is attached directly to a hook, and a bullet weight sits just above the hook and bait.
Drop Shot: The drop shot rig is pretty much the opposite of the Carolina rig. The mainline attaches straight to the hook and bait, while a leader is attached to the hook with a light weight to follow.
Enough with the chitter-chatter, let’s dive into the key details of these three world-class rigs.
Also called the ‘ball and chain’ rig, the Carolina rig has been winning tournaments for nearly five decades. It’s one of the most well-known soft plastic applications, and it remains incredibly useful for offshore fishing.
The mainline is attached to a swivel with a bullet weight sitting just above the swivel, followed by a leader attached to a hook and soft plastic. The bullet weight plays a key role in keeping the rig ‘stuck’ to the bottom during retrieval - perfect if you’re fishing water with a heavier current.
There are numerous reasons why you should learn the Carolina rig. One of the biggest ones is that it’s a deadly offshore rig. Unfortunately, we can’t fish banks all the time and we need to be more versatile in order to get fish in the boat all year round. Here are three reasons to own the Carolina rig:
1. Highly-Effective Summer Technique
Summer brings about considerably behavioral changes in bass. They’re on the lookout for cooler, more oxygenated water, which will often lead to them going into deeper lake areas.
The C-rig thrives in getting down deep and reaching deeper water columns, but also keeps the bait down there effectively. We’ll often have to go deeper in summer, and the Carolina rig is an epic bait to turn to once doing so.
It also thrives when there’s current - another key summer fishing pattern. The bullet weight plays a key role in keeping our bait on its desired path.
2. Efficient in Covering Offshore Water/Cover
The Carolina rig is commonly ‘dragged’ along cover rather than kept stationary on the bottom. This makes it suitable for covering deep offshore structure.
It can be difficult to find bass when fishing offshore, so having the ability to cover water more efficiently will greatly increase the chances of us finding a bass’s strike zone. The C-rig is also capable of eliciting pretty aggressive reaction bites.
The C-rig is also considered more ‘finesse’ than a crankbait or any other louder reaction-style bait. Ideal for more pressured fisheries.
3. Epic for Fishing Several Water Depths
The C-rig can be fished at several depths and it’s perfect for fishing ledges or drop-offs. Casting directly onto the top of these points is an effective strategy, as you can bring your C-rig down towards you while keeping bottom contact.
Bass will often hug ledges and drop-offs as they’re great ambush points. The C-rig is the perfect option for covering each section of a ledge/drop-off on the way down and toward your boat.
The Texas rig remains one of the best techniques for flipping and pitching. It thrives in shore-based scenarios where there is more isolated and external vegetation/cover. Although it may have died off in bite-getting ability slightly with more pressured waters, this technique still wins millions of dollars each year on the circuit - purely because it can hit so many strike zones in a day.
In terms of application, it’s very simple. A bullet weight sits just above the hook and the bait. The bullet weight plays a key role in ‘punching’ through vegetation and getting our bait down into the juicy areas (strike zones).
Ideal setup: Heavier baitcasting setup with 15-20+lb fluorocarbon. 50+lb braid can also be used when fishing extremely thick vegetation.
3 Reasons to Master the Texas Rig
The Texas rig is the go-to technique for most bass anglers (in my opinion). This is purely because it’s very satisfying fishing banks and isolated cover. Who doesn’t enjoy casting into the thick stuff and getting smashed by a lunker? I certainly do. Here are some more reasons why you should own the Texas rig:
1. Deals with the Thick Stuff
If you’re fishing a smaller system, chances are you’re going to be focusing on shore-based vegetation. As we know, bass love hugging vegetation and the Texas rig is designed to get through this thick stuff and present our bait to bass that are sitting under the vegetation. Mainly because the soft plastic is rigged weedless and the bullet weight drives the bait through any vegetation.
This is not only extremely fun and exhilarating, but it also improves our overall skills as a bass angler in dealing with treacherous cover.
2. It Covers Loads of Water
The process of fishing a Texas rig requires a lot of focus and work. We simply cast it into our desired zone, let it fall to the bottom, a few twitches, and back to the boat. Each cast is quick and we’re making plenty.
For this reason, the T-rig is one of the most efficient rigs for covering water. We can make plenty of casts in a short period of time and hit every attractive spot in an area. Our bite-per-cast ratio might be lower - but we have the potential to find more strike zones overall, and eventually we’ll get that lunker to eat.
3. It Catches Big Bass
History shows that pitching a Texas rig catches some of the biggest bass and it has won some serious prize money on the circuit. Lunkers will often hug the thickest of cover, and the T-rig is one of the best ways to access these areas.
Drop Shot Rig
The drop shot rig has to be one of the best finesse rigs when it comes to getting bites in any season. It’s a technique that many turn to when nothing else is working and it’s a technique that’ll work in the toughest of conditions. There’s a reason the drop shot has won more prize money than any other technique in recent times.
The drop shot rig is almost the opposite of the Carolina rig. The mainline is tied to a hook and bait, and a leader with a weight at the end of it. The weight is at the end of the rig, with the soft plastic and hook in-between. The drop shot is generally a stationary presentation, and each cast will be a lot longer (duration) than a Carolina rig or a Texas rig.
Ideal setup: Spinning setup with 6-10lb fluorocarbon.
3 Reasons to Master the Drop Shot Rig
The drop shot rig may not be the exciting technique when it comes to bass fishing as it’s slow and it’s not the most efficient when it comes to covering water. It does however have the greatest ability to get bites when nothing else seems to be working. Let’s look at some other key reasons to master the drop shot.
1. It Thrives in Pressured Systems
Like other finesse techniques, the drop shot is probably your best bet when fishing a system that sees plenty of boats and bass anglers. Your favorite lake is probably seeing hundreds of lures on a daily basis - and bass are smart creatures. They’ll quickly figure out a pattern and they won’t be as easy to trick, especially in high-season.
A soft plastic rigged on a drop shot is simply irresistible for a nearby bass. The weight acts as the anchor, sitting on the bottom while the soft plastic sits just above the bottom, moving freely. Slight rod twitches give the bait an action that has won millions and millions of dollars in the toughest of conditions.
The key with this is the use of lighter line and incredibly buoyant soft plastics. Lighter line has a thinner diameter and therefore is less visible while giving your bait a more free-flowing motion.
2. It Slays Smallmouth Bass
Drop shot fishing is very much known for being an offshore technique. It thrives in clear water and rocky cover, and we know what we often find here - smallies. There are simply no better techniques than a drop shot for targeting smallmouth bass when fishing offshore.
3. It Catches Non-Feeding Bass
One of the absolute key advantages of a drop shot rig, is that it can get non-feeding bass to eat. The stationary action of a drop shot may not get reaction bites, but it can draw bass from reasonably far into coming in and eating because of its incredibly attractive action.
The stationary action also helps if you’ve landed right in front a bass that may not be feeding. Twitching the soft plastic in a delicate way will not scare off the bass and eventually he/she may bite out of curiosity.
Summarizing Each Technique: Carolina Rig, Texas Rig, Drop Shot
Let’s summarize the key points for each of these extremely successful rigs.
The ball and chain rig
Epic technique for fishing deep, offshore cover
Thrives in summer conditions: Works in deeper water and where there’s current
Perfect technique for fishing offshore ledges and drop-offs
Catches a lot of bass!
One of the best applications for flipping and pitching
Shines in fishing thick vegetation thanks to being weedless
Requires heavy gear if you’re going to fish heavy cover
One of the most satisfying forms of bass fishing
Drop Shot Rig
One of the best finesse techniques in bass fishing
Incredibly effective in pressured fisheries
Slower technique, but can get non-feeding bass to bite
Won the most prize money in recent years on the circuit
Smallmouth cannot resist a drop shot!
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