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Giant plastics on a Carolina rig

Allowing the long leader from the carolina rig to splash down on the back-cast, gives Webster more spring for longer casts.

The Carolina rig is regaining the respect among Bassmaster pros that it once had when the technique first rose to popularity in the 1980s. The reason? A more open-minded approach that incorporates bigger baits.

Carolina rigging has long been considered the Rodney Dangerfield of bass fishing techniques, lacking respect from many anglers who find it boring and a mindless way to fish. But that’s changing now that anglers are discovering big plastics on C-rigs produce bigger bass. Baits like 10- to 14-inch worms, 8-inch lizards and giant creature baits have revived an appreciation for what a C-rig can do for anglers.

For those who don’t know, the Carolina rig consists of a heavy sinker and a bead slid onto the line ahead of a swivel. A lengthy leader is attached to the other end of the swivel, extending to a hook on which a plastic bait is attached.

When pulled along the bottom, the sinker drags while the lure dances behind it. When the sinker is lifted, the bait rises, then falls slowly to the bottom. C-rigs have always been a great way to catch good numbers of bass. In the early days, baits like 4- and 5-inch lizards, french-fry lures and finesse worms would almost guarantee you keepers and most likely a limit in a tournament. But that won’t cut it today.

With five-fish bag limits and a stellar Bassmaster Elite Series field of anglers, keepers aren’t good enough. You need bigger fish. “Our game has changed,” said Alabama pro Tim Horton. “Tournament guys are good top to bottom, so you’d better be getting two or three big bites a day. How do you up those odds other than [by finding] a secret location? Fish bigger lures.”

While most anglers know big baits catch bigger fish, traditionalists believed it was the smaller, finesse baits that got bites on Carolina rigs. Leave it to the pros to change that thought process. They’ve also found that bigger baits not only attract bigger fish on C-rigs, but they also discourage smaller fish from biting.