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Rules of Thumb for Texas & Carolina Rigs (Revised)

Article: June, 2011
 Lake Fork Pro Guide Tom RedingtonDuring the summer on most reservoirs you can count on two things—hot weather and offshore bass. And if the bass are deep, Texas rigs and Carolina rigs (C-rig) are often your best weapons. Both will catch bass, but how do you decide which set up to choose and how should you rig it up based on the conditions you’re confronting? This article will focus on a few basic rules of thumb to help you answer some of the whens, wheres, and whys for TX rigs and C-rigs.

C-rigs, especially when rigged with a heavy sinker (3/4 to 1 oz), work best in several different situations. First, a heavy sinker allows you to make long casts and quickly drag the bait across a wide area while maintaining contact with the bottom the whole time to locate bass fast. In addition, fluorocarbon line, a sensitive rod like a Dobyns Champion 764C, and a heavy sinker clearly transmit changes in bottom composition or pieces of isolated cover. I work the bait quickly until I find rocks, weeds, or wood, and then slowly work my bait through this fish holding cover. The ability to cover a lot of water and find small areas of cover makes the C-rig a premier search bait as well as a good way to catch bass once they’re found.

TX rigs, in contrast, typically work best when fishing heavy cover, specific targets, or steep drops. In heavy cover, a C-rig often hangs up more and will not get into the small holes in grass clumps or brush piles as well as a TX rig. In addition, when bass are located in very specific pieces of cover, a TX rig provides great action while shaking it in place (similar to the way you shake a worm on a shaky head jig). This subtle quivering action while leaving the bait in place often triggers inactive fish that won’t react to a rapidly moving or a dead-sticked C-rig. Finally, when fishing very steep banks, pond dams, or ledges, TX rigs can be slowly crawled down the slope while a C-rig will often pull your bait all the way to the bottom of the break too quickly.

Another factor to consider is the size of the weight you use. Tungsten weights like Lake Fork’s Mega Weights are harder and smaller, telegraphing more feel and getting into tighter pieces of cover. Heavy weights are often good in summer, as the fast fall triggers fish into a reaction strike. Furthermore, they reach the bottom quicker and allow better feel on windy days. While the slow fall of a small weight will sometimes get finicky fish to bite, I often start with a heavy weight and go smaller if I must, instead of the other way around.

In addition to the size of weight, the soft plastic lure you use on your rig also affects the drop speed and performance of your set up. Bulky baits with big tails or appendages will slow the fall of your rig and work best when paired with bigger weights and moved aggressively. Lures like Fork Creatures, Hyper Worms, and big ribbon-tail ring worms like 10” Fork Worms move a lot of water and trigger big bass that are actively feeding. Hop and swim these baits on a TX rig or C-rig to get their full action. Conversely, when the bite is tougher and you need to coax those big girls into biting, more streamlined soft plastics are in order. In this case, I’ll rig up with straight tailed worms like Hyper Finesse Worms, Ring Frys, and Hyper Sticks. And for an especially tantalizing slow fall, try a Magic Shad or Live Magic Shad on the business end of your C-rig—bass out deep love them just as much as they did when they were up shallow in the spring. Finally, keep in mind that big weights cause baits to drop more nose down, while lighter weights make the same bait glide more to the bottom, as do baits with more tails and appendages. Sometimes they want more of glide, while other days a straight drop triggers more bites.

I use a slightly different rod for each presentation. Since I’m fishing a very heavy weight and keeping my rod tip down, a heavy duty rod that is sensitive works well with C-rigs. Because I often throw long 3’ to 5’ leaders, a longer rod makes casting easier. The 7’6” Dobyns Champion 764C is a good fit for these requirements, supplying the feel, power and length needed. With the Texas rig, I’m looking for even more feel and a bit lighter tip to help cast lighter weights. I still prefer a long rod, as the extra length delivers better hook sets and keeps fish on during power runs and jumps. The Dobyns Extreme DX744C is ultrasensitive to help you feel your way through thick snags to feel the faintest bites. It’ll still cast smaller 5 to 7 inch worms up to big 10” worms, yet the strong backbone of this 7’4” rod can handle the biggest of bass.

Of course, there are no absolutes in bass fishing. However, I hope these basic rules of thumb help make your decision on what to rig up a little easier on your next trip.
Good Fishing,

Fishing Tip by  Lake Fork Pro Tom Redington


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