If you’re targeting small fish with small hooks and small baits, say a section of Isome, then the ideal, well-balanced rig is equally small. In the UK, the most common rig for this would probably be the Split Shot Rig, with maybe 1 or 2 grams of weight at most. As most of you will know, this starts to get challenging with any kind of side-wind and the problem is exacerbated with the more line you have out. If the wind is controlling your lure, not you, then bites will certainly diminish. That’s a given.
More often than not, we try to combat this problem by adding more weight. Even if you’ve managed to source those insanely large split shot from the Continent, or you’re just happy loading on the triple-A shot, it just doesn’t fish as well. The balance has gone. I think this is why many of us tend to switch to Dropshot in this scenario. A rig far better suited for heavier weights, with the lure effectively weightless once the weight has reached the bottom. But a DS rig, even a short one, will not necessarily catch the same species as the split shot rig. Sometimes you need the lure crawling along the deck.
The reason the heavyweight split shot rig loses effectiveness is undoubtedly because of the resistance it poses to any fish that takes the lure. We know this from all other aspects of angling. It’s why the running ledger is so popular. A bait tethered to the bottom isn’t natural. And most-natural, wins. So this is where the Carolina Rig comes in.
There are various iterations of the Carolina Rig worldwide, but for this I’m simply talking; running weight (more commonly a cone lead), a bead, a tiny swivel, attached to a length of line and a hook. Simples.
It’s a running ledger of sorts, if that makes the explanation easier to understand. The ‘clever’ bit is simply that when a fish takes the lure there is a lot less resistance because the weight isn’t fixed. The bait behaves more naturally and that translates directly into many more successful hook-ups. It’s really that simple.
We’ve been successfully using this rig in species hunt competitions for a long while. It’s not our favourite method by any means, but when we need to present a tiny piece of Isome to a postage-stamp-flounder at range, or we’re trying to pull a Tompot out of a hole at the bottom of 30ft high breakwater on windy day, the Carolina Rig is often what we tie on.
Go on. Give it a go.