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Jim Porter

'Learning to fish the plastic worm can really be hard. But, the Carolina-Rig almost seems to fish for you and make it a LOT easier!'

Of all the ways to catch bass, the plastic worm is probably the most productive method, day-in and day-out. The worms works late, early, at mid-day, at night, in the winter, in the summer, in muddy water, in clear water, on a rising water level, on a falling water level---. You name the time of years, time of day, and conditions and the plastic worm will take bass. The only problem with the lure is that it is one of the most difficult to master.

One of the most asked questions I get is "What does the strike feel like when you are fishing a worm."

Well, sometimes it is something you feel, like a 'bump', a 'tap', or a sensation of the line gradually tightening. Sometimes it is what you DON'T feel that tells you there is a strike. Things like the line never tightening up when you are reeling in, the line never goes slack and lure never seems to reach the bottom, or the inability to 'find', or make contact with, the lure. There are a number of things that signal a strike to the experienced angler. To an angler who does not have much time behind the plastic worm, this can be a frustrating answer. I can understand that, too. I recall very well my own period of learning to use the plastic worm. Every time the thing touch something on the bottom, I would think it might be a fish.

Here is a truism of bass fishing:

'The only way to learn to fish the plastic worm is to fish the plastic worm.'

Ask any angler who is accomplished with the worm and he/she will agree 100% with that statement. It is the ONLY way. So, don't get discouraged; just keep fishing it. After you hit enough rocks and stumps and get enough real strikes, you will start to see the difference between the two. It may be best summed up by saying the strike will appear to be from something alive.

There is a way to gain the experience a bit more rapidly, while also catching a lot of bass. That way is to start out using a Carolina-rig plastic worm. This configuration is so easy to use that even a first-timer can catch bass on it. Because it utilizes a relatively large sinker, it is easy to cast. The heavier weight also makes it easier to 'feel' the lure as it drags across the bottom. And, the strikes are very easy to detect. You will experience most of the aspects of fishing with a Texas-rig worm, but will be able to feel and control the lure much better. Being able to stay in positive contact with the lure will make you fish it better and with more confidence.

Whereas the Texas-rig worm uses a slip sinker right down against the head of the worm, the Carolina-rig places it well to the front of the lure. This allows the use of a larger sinker without fear of spooking the bass. It also allows that added ability to feel the lure and the bottom.

The basic Carolina-rig is made up as follows (see the accompanying photo): Thread a ˝ oz egg sinker on the end of the main line and add a plastic bead with a large hole just below it. Then, tie a large barrel swivel to the end of the line. The bead with a large hole is important!! It is not intended to make noise; it is intended to keep the sinker from damaging the knot at the barrel swivel.

In the photo, you will also see a 'walking sinker' that can be attached to the swivel with a small rubber band. This is used in areas of rip-rap, or lots of snags. The weight can be broken off without breaking off the leader and hook. Additionally, the small black slivers at the top are actually short pieces of plastic tubing which can be used between the weight and the knot to protect the knot, if beads are not available.

Now, take a 3-foot piece of leader (usually around 14-pound test mono) and tie a 1/0 worm hook to one end. Tie the other end of the leader to the barrel swivel. By the time you have tied the line, you should have a remaining leader of about 26-30 inches long. Add a 4-ich plastic worm and you now have a very deadly bass lure.

The proper way to fish the Carolina-rig is any way you desire - so long as the lure maintains contact with the bottom. You can try fast, slow or intermittent retrieves. All have worked at one time or another. One of the best is also the simplest --- cast it out, let it sink to the bottom, and slowly and steadily retrieve it back to you. Keep it totally in contact with the bottom and reel very slowly. The strike may feel like a slight jerk, or it may be just a gradual tightening of the line. Sometimes the only indication is that the line may appear to start to move off to the right of left. Unless you do something sudden, the bass WILL NOT turn loose of the worm. He wants it and has already claimed it. If you stop reeling and hold a tight line, you will be able to feel the bass move away from the slight resistance of the line and weight. Let the line come tight and set the hook with a sweeping motion of the rod.

The Carolina-rig plastic worm is a simple, but highly effective way to catch bass. It will also help you adjust to using the basic Texas-rig a lot faster, too.

NOTE: There are some other more advanced Carolina-rig articles available in our Article Archive. Take a look.


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