Success with the mighty C-rig

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James Overstreet

My last two tournaments have been pretty good. One of the reasons for that is that I’ve been fishing a lot with a Carolina rig. I don’t usually do that, but the conditions on Cayuga (Elite Series) and Oneida (Northern Open) were perfect for it. I thought I’d share my thoughts about it with the idea that they might help some of you.

The drop shot was popular during both tournaments. There’s no doubt that it was effective in getting bites, but it had a couple of drawbacks that the C-rig didn’t. To begin with, it’s light. That means it takes time to get a fish to the boat.

My best guess is that my drop shot fish took an average of five minutes to tame. That might not sound like a lot but in a professional tournament it’s huge. And, during the time I was fighting the bass my boat was drifting. That meant additional fishing time wasted to get back to my spot after I put it in my livewell.

My Carolina rig was much heavier. I could get a bass to the boat in about a minute. That gave me more time to fish, although I did lose the experience of the fight.

I’m not dismissing the thrill of the fight. If you’re a recreational angler, or just out having fun, the time loss might be a good trade for more casts. But in a professional tournament, time is money. There’s no right or wrong way to think about the fight. Do what helps you accomplish your goals and gives you the most fun.

Another thing that the Carolina rig did for me was that it gave me a super good feel of the bottom. I used a 1/2-ounce VMC sinker with Berkley Trilene 100 percent Fluorocarbon line. The feel was unbelievable. I knew instantly whether I was in grass, sand, gravel or rock.

The dragging part was the key. You can feel the bottom with a drop shot but you can’t do it as quickly and efficiently as you can with a C-rig.

The last thing is that I was able to hook just about anything to the end of my line. Most of the time I used a Havoc Devil Spear — both sizes rigged with a traditional VMC offset worm hook — but you can use anything you want, big or small makes no difference.

When I fished bigger, heavier baits like a full-size Devil Spear I used 17-pound-test main line with a 15-pound leader. For smaller baits I went with a 15-pound-test main line and a 12-pound-test leader.

Let me be clear: Nothing I’ve said should be taken to mean that I don’t like a drop shot setup or that you shouldn’t fish with one. Lord knows I’ve caught a ton of bass on one. There are times, however, when something different will do you a better job.

Next week we’ll talk about what it means to be in the zone, and what it means to be out of it. 

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.