The Carolina rig and the Texas rig are two of the most effective bass fishing rigs you can use with a soft plastic bait. They both deserve a reserved spot in your tackle box but when is one better than the other?
Join me as I take you through the Carolina rig vs Texas rig so you can choose the right one for every occasion and get your catch rates up.
In this article...
Knowing the difference
I never used to switch between the two rigs and would just stick with the Texas rig.
I didn’t know what I was missing until I saw many anglers using a Carolina rig and catching loads of fish on a day I chose to use the Texas rig and was catching nothing.
Since then, I did my research and now know when, which rig will perform better.
Both these rigs use bullet weights but they are not exactly alike, before we get into the differences between the Carolina rig vs Texas rig, let’s make sure we all know just what these rigs are.
What is a Carolina rig?
To make a Carolina rig you will first add a bullet weight to your main line, then a plastic or glass bead, and tie a swivel to hold them.
On the other end of the swivel goes about 1-2 ft of fluorocarbon line and then a soft plastic lure such as a plastic worm or even plastic lizards that are attached to a hook.
What is a Texas rig?
When you make a texas rig, you can leave out the swivel and glass bead and simply slide the bullet weight onto the leader line and tie your hook with a soft plastic lure underneath it.
What are the differences between the Carolina rig vs Texas rig?
As you can see, the main difference between a Carolina rig and a Texas rig is that the Carolina has a swivel which holds the weight a few feet away from the plastic lure whereas the weight is against the lure head on the Texas rig but this isn’t the only difference.
The Texas rig is designed for use with larger plastic lures such as bulky jigs or craw worms and while the Carolina rig is also good for small and medium-sized plastic lures, it can only handle lures of up to ¾ of an ounce in weight.
Another key difference between Texas rigs and Carolina rigs is the sinkers that can be used with them. The Texas rig is made for light sinkers up to the ¾ ounce mark while the Carolina can be used with light sinkers and heavy weight sinkers up to 2 ounces in weight.
The Benefits of a Texas Rig & a Carolina Rig
The Carolina Rig
The Carolina rig is the perfect choice when you need to fish deep for bottom-hugging bass as the Carolina rigging allows one to use a heavy weight sinker making bass fishing near to the bottom very easy.
Also, Carolina rigs work very well as a searching rig on an unknown lake when you need to search for bass in open water as you can make long casts and move the lure quickly across vast flats to entice a lazy bass to take.
Anglers prefer to use the Carolina rig next to isolated brush piles too, as the lure sink rate is much faster making deep fishing around a brush pile much more focussed and accurate than with a Texas rig.
The Carolina rig is also great when aggressive bass are actively feeding around steep drops as this is one rig that allows you to reach deep fish quickly and easily.
The Texas Rig
The Texas rig shines when in shallow and calm waters and your fishing spot is drenched in heavy cover.
The reason the Texas rig works so well in these situations is because the basic Texas setup has a light sinker meaning the lure swims shallow. Thus, anglers can slowly work plastic worms and the like through cover comer water and even let the lure hang straight to give larger fish more time to strike.
When To Use a Texas Rig or Carolina Rig
Now that we know the benefits of each of the Texas and Carolina rigs, let’s look at some other factors that might influence when either the Texas or Carolina rigs work best.
The weather affects different fish species in different ways. When it comes to bass fish, if it’s calm and sunny the fish tend to hold in heavy cover and when a cold front hits, they do the same to hide from the weather.
During this kind of weather, Texas rig fishing is your best bet as you’ll be fishing in shallow waters and be able to drag a plastic worm or plastic lizards close to the cover to lure inactive fish out of the vegetation.
When the weather is cloudy and windy, bass tend to leave cover and shallow waters and head for open water. To catch bass in these conditions, Carolina rig fishing is the way to go.
The Carolina rig, more than other rigs, allows you to use heavier tungsten weights that in turn mean you can cast much further to cover more open water and fish deeper too.
The action of your lure when fishing this rig is also preferable to a heavy-weighted Texas rig, as the lure is allowed to swim freely since the weight is held a few feet away from it. Whereas on a Texas rig, the weight holds the lure’s head and stops it from swimming naturally when over-weighted.
In the winter months when the water gets cold bass tend to go deep in search of warmer waters. This means when targeting fish in winter months, you need to be fishing deep to catch fish. The Carolina rig is the way to go as the heavier sinkers allow you to fish deeper than with the Texas rig.
In the spring, both Texas rigs and Carolina rigs are very effective but you need to work out whether the bass are in pre-spawn/post-spawn or actually holding to their nests.
During pre-spawn/post-spawn that bass will be moving around a lot looking for nesting sites in a range of different depths, thus the Carolina rig’s ability to cover large expanses of open waters and different depths makes it the right fishing rig of choice.
When the bass are sitting on their nests in shallow waters or have retired to cover to protect their offspring you should be fishing with Texas rigs as they allow you to get your bait right in front of a protective bass and force a strike.
Both rigs work well in the summer as bass start feeding on everything and everywhere but in fall Texas rigs tend to work best as this is when bass move into the shallows and start gorging on baitfish to fill up for winter.
We already touched on this but to be sure, let’s go over it again in a little more detail.
Texas rigs are for fishing in shallow waters as they can be rigged with weights as light as 1/8-ounce. While a Carolina rig is for deep fishing as it can be rigged with a weight as heavy as 2 ounces without compromising the lure’s swimming action.
While both the Texas rig and Carolina rig are great around cover, there are different types of cover where one is better than the other.
Here’s what a weedless rig looks like.
When you rig a Texas rig, the hook isn’t exposed making it a weedless rig and it works with light sinkers. This makes Texas rigs ideal when throwing into heavy cover around a river flow or when the banks have flooded the bushes.
When you’re fishing on a lake and you see a brush pile or a fallen tree in the middle of the lake at 20 feet down, the Texas rig isn’t going to get down there and catch you a fish, so this is the kind of cover when fishing a Carolina rig is best.
How To Fish The Texas Rig
Now that you know how to setup the Texas rig and when to use it, let’s discuss the technique of fishing it.
- When fishing with a Texas rig, whether you’re fishing from the boat or from the bank, make sure you’re in a quiet isolated area with shallow water.
- Before you cast your fishing line, find the spot where you think bass fish is lurking. The joy of the Texas setup is that you can make very accurate casts, so really hone in on a spot and cast your fishing line towards it but around 15 feet past it so you can work the rig back through it.
- When the Texas rig lands, wait until you feel it touch the bottom. Sometimes a fish will eat the lure on the drop, so be ready. If this doesn’t happen, then when you feel the bottom raise your rod up to 11 o’clock and then drop it to 3 o’clock, winding in the slack as you do.
- This 11-3 o’clock motion gives the lure a great action of rising and sinking which fish love. Continue retrieving your lure using the 11-3 o’clock motion until a fish strikes or until the lure is close to the boat.
- When the lure is close to the boat, let the lure hang there for a few seconds as a following bass might decide to strike at this point. If it doesn’t re-cast and start the process all over again.
- The key to fishing this rig successfully is by bringing your lure in slowly to entice both aggressive and lazy fish to take the bait.
How To Fish The Carolina Rig
Fishing the Carolina rig is very similar but also very different from fishing the Texas. When you’re fishing the Carolina rig, you’re really fishing the sinker not the lure, since there is a few feet of leader line between the two.
- Just pause for a moment and think about this – What is the lure going to do as you fish the sinker?
As you raise the sinker the lure is going to rise at the same time, but as it drops, the lure is going to hang and then sink. This means the lure has a kind of wavy action as you bring it in.
- This means you can fish the Carolina just like you would the Texas but letting it hit the bottom and then using the 11-3 o’clock rod motion to slowly bounce it along the bottom and tempt a fish to take it.
- You can also be a bit more aggressive with the 11-3 o’clock motion as this will give the lure a large depth change on each rod lift, enticing bass from further afield and different depths to take a bite.
- One way you can fish the Carolina is also by casting long and retrieving in fast. Since the weight sits 1-2 ft away from the lure, the lure still swims with an enticing action that will tempt a fish to take it.
Summarising When, Where, and Why To Use Either Rig
Here is a summary of when to use the Carolina over the Texas rig.
- When the water is deep
- During winter or cold fronts
- When searching for fishing in open water
- When fishing in water with current
- When fishing for bass in pre/post-spawning seasons
- When targeting isolated structures
- When the weather is cloudy and windy
Here is a summary of when to use the Texas over the Carolina rig.
- When the water is shallow
- During fall and summer when fish are in the shallows
- When fishing in isolated pockets of water
- When fishing for bass during their nesting period
- When the weather is calm
- When targeting areas with heavy cover
The Key Differences
- The Carolina uses heavier weights than the Texas
- The sinker on the Texas sits on the lure head
- The sinker on the Carolina sits 1-2 ft away from the sure separated by a swivel
- The Carolina works better with heavier lures
- The Carolina can be fished in different ways compared to the Texas
- When you fish the Texas you are fishing the lure
- When you fish the Carolina you are fishing the sinker
Which Rig Is Better? Carolina Rig Vs Texas Rig
The Carolina rig has a lot more uses than the Texas rig and if you follow all my advice above, you will end up fishing with the Carolina more often than the Texas simply because it’s a lot more versatile.
The Carolina rig works in so many situations from being a searching tool to targeting fish that are sitting deep or in heavy current. The Texas is a rig made for shallow water, accurate casts, and heavy cover, making it a bit of a one trick pony.
Carolina or Texas?
When you ask which rig is better? The answer is neither as they both have their times to shine.
Fishing is all about having a diverse set of tricks in your box and knowing when you use them. These are two of the best rigs out there but you’re still going to want a few more to be consistently successful on the water such as throwing a popper or a crankbait.
Thanks for reading my article, I hope you found it useful and now know exactly when to fish either of the two rigs.
Remember, never get stuck on one fishing tactic, if it’s not working in the first 30 minutes, then change it up, fish are weird creatures and it’s only through trying different rigs that you’ll end up catching more and more.
If you enjoyed the article, please share it with your fishing buddies as we all need as much help as we can get on the water.