Last time, we covered rods, reels, lines and leaders in Elite Series pro Clark Reehm's ideal Carolina rig outfit. In this article, we'll cover the rest of the equipment that helps him take more bass on the C-rig, starting with hooks and sinkers.
Hook and weight
"Most people don't think about this kind of stuff as in-depth as I do," Reehm says. "They may say I 'over-think' the little stuff, but my job is to maximize my fish catch, so I'm going to scrutinize every aspect of almost everything."
For his weights, Reehm uses Tru-Tungsten's offerings. He uses the same 3/4-ounce black-painted weight he uses for flipping and pitching. It'll work deep and shallow and comes through cover well. He prefers Tru-Tungsten weights because they have a polished inner core rather than an insert which can come out, revealing sharp edges.
If he's fishing an area with lots of grass, he may drop down to a 1/4-ounce weight that doesn't mire down as much. His rule of thumb is to use as light a weight as possible, as long as the wind permits good casts. Though you stay in contact with the bottom more with a heavy weight, you'll also get hung up more and not feel as many bites.
Reehm will use other weights occasionally. If he's prefishing and expects to get hung up a lot, he breaks out the lead, which is cheaper.
Depending on the bait he's rigging, Reehm will use one of several hooks. Rigging is one of the few instances he opts for an extra wide gap (EWG) hook. The EWG is ideal for the sweeping hook set used with Carolina rigging, rather than the straight up jacking motion used with a jig. He will open the hook up a smidgen so the point is in line with the eye then bend it slightly to one side. On tournament day, Reehm uses Mihatchii's Carolina Rig hooks designed by Peter Thliveros. They're already bent into the ideal shape.
Beads, swivels and the like fall into the "extras" category. This doesn't mean they're any less significant, however. It's the small things that matter in a rig as complex as a Carolina rig. As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Starting with beads, Reehm prefers either a plastic one or Tru-Tungsten's Peter T Force Beads. He shies away from glass because heavy tungsten weights knocking against it repeatedly run the risk of shattering it and fraying or cutting your line. He will only use glass in conjunction with brass weights for the extremely loud "click" the combo makes.
"If you don't use Force beads or Carolina rig-specific beads, be careful about the interior of the bead you're using. Some craft beads — while cheap — have knicks and burrs where they're hollowed out, which can fray your line," Reehm explains.
Reehm's swivel selection is fairly simple: As long as it's a Sampo ball-bearing swivel, it's good to go.
"If you get the bulk packs of cheap ones, you're risking pulling the thing apart, I've had it happen," he says. "Once again, having good equipment is one of the few factors you can control, so you need to take advantage of that and get good stuff."
A secret Reehm uses in his rigging lies above the swivel and below the weight and bead. It's a knot protector. Whether he's throwing a rig all day long or just making a few casts, Reehm adds this nifty concoction to his rig. The "protector" is simply two spinnerbait skirt collars — one to wrap around the knot and protect it from the force of casting and abrasive objects on the bottom, and the other to cushion the force of the weight and bead pounding the knot.
"Nowadays everyone knows how to make and use a Carolina rig, more or less," Reehm says. "It's when you look at the details that make up the whole thing and select an appropriate combination that you can really be deadly with it."