Go Deep For Giant Largemouth with a Carolina Rig

Does your fishing fizzle when bass leave the shallows? It doesn't have to. A Carolina rig gets down fast to reach bass stacked up on deep points, creek channels, and submerged grass-beds. Its heavy sinker lets you feel structure distinctly; the bottom-bumping commotion draws bass toward your bait. For the best action, use the three proven tactics illustrated on the next page.

SINKER Use a 1-ounce egg or bullet weight. Inexpensive lead sinkers work fine, but a harder brass or tungsten version is noisier and lets you feel the bottom a little better.

BEADS The plastic bead shown below protects the knot from the sinker and clicks against the weight, attracting bass. Small brass or steel discs called clackers--put between the sinker and the bead--create even more noise.

SWIVEL A No. 12 barrel swivel stops the sinker and bead from sliding down to the hook. It also prevents line twist.

SOFT-PLASTIC BAIT To target big bass, go with a 6-inch soft-plastic lizard. If you're after numbers of fish, tie on a 4-inch fry worm. For colors, try watermelon, green pumpkin, and red bud.

HOOK Run the point of a 3/0 offset worm hook through the head of the bait, then push it back into the body, Texas-style.

LEADER Make it lighter than the main line so that only the bait breaks off when you get snagged. Use an 18- to 24-inch leader when you're fishing rock and gravel bottoms. Extend it to 24 to 36 inches for stumps and brushpiles, and 36 to 60 inches for submerged grass.

DRAG IT DOWNHILL
• Start by positioning your boat over deep water off a point or ledge. Cast the Carolina rig far up toward the shallow side of the structure. Once the sinker touches bottom, drag the rig downhill by alternately pulling it slowly with the rod and taking up slack line with the reel. When the sinker touches cover, such as a stump or rock, shake the rod tip to make the lure dance in place for several seconds. Then continue the retrieve, feeling for the next piece of cover, and repeat.

CLIMB IT UPHILL
• When bass hold near the edge of a dropoff, such as that of a wide creek channel, you can often get more fish to bite by positioning the boat on the shallow side of the structure and casting your rig into deeper water. This allows for more consistent bottom contact. Here, you want to drag the Carolina rig up and over the edge. When the sinker meets a stump, brushpile, or other cover on the lip of the dropoff, the lure dangles irresistibly in the open. Stop the retrieve and give bass a second or two to grab the lure before you pull it over the cover.

COMB THE GRASS
• A Carolina rig excels in deep grass that's less than 4 feet tall and not dense. Although this vegetation is submerged, it tends to be fairly easy to locate because it is often an extension of shallower, visible grassbeds. Cast your Carolina rig out, let the weight sink down to the bottom, then pop it through the stalks of grass. The sinker makes a disturbance on the bottom that attracts fish, and the long leader keeps the bait near the tops of the vegetation, where bass are most likely to attack.