The rig is the thing

I've heard all the jokes about the Carolina rig. Some of my best friends in the Bassmaster Elite Series call it the "ball and chain" or even the "loser's rig." But I'm here to tell you that the Carolina rig is one of the best techniques around for catching bass. I've won hundreds of thousands of dollars with the Carolina rig.

Of course the first thing you have to do to make your Carolina rigging successful is find some bass. In the summer, that can be a pretty serious task, but you can narrow down your search by targeting offshore humps, weedbeds, channels and deep points — all favorite spots for summertime bass.

If these areas aren't too deep, you might be able to fish them with a crankbait or swimbait, but if they're 20 feet deep or deeper, I'm usually going to try a Carolina rig. My basic Carolina rig consists of an Abu Garcia baitcast reel spooled with 17-pound-test Berkley Vanish. I mount that on a 7-foot Peter T. Carolina rig rod from American Rodsmiths. My leader is usually 12- or 14-pound-test Stren fluorocarbon.

One thing I do that's different from most Carolina riggers involves the use of a Tru-Tungsten Peter T Force Bead. They're called "force" beads because they have a strong magnetic field around them — the beads even stick together in your tackle box. This force attracts bass. Every living thing in the water has a magnetic field around it, and I think the bass know this and use it to identify food.

The Force Beads are also louder than regular plastic beads, especially when you combine them with a Tru-Tungsten sinker. They really make a lot of noise.

As far as baits go, that's where experimentation comes in. My go-to Carolina rig lure is a 6-inch Zoom lizard in green pumpkin. There's probably not a lake or river in the country where it won't catch bass, but if that's not working I'll try different worms, lizards, stickworms or creature baits until I find a size, shape and color that works.

You'll know you have the right combination when the fish are taking the bait deep in their mouths.

Once you've caught a few bass on one bait or color and the action slows down, be sure to try a different bait or color before you leave the spot. There might be more bass down there that you can catch just by giving them a different look.

Most of all, remember: The Carolina rig is not for losers!