Carolina Rig

The Carolina Rig is an effective rig for smallmouth bass.  The rig is used mostly to fish deeper water around points, near weed edges, on offshore structure, along rocky shorelines and on reefs near deep water.  You can use lighter weights for shallow water fishing, although, the Carolina rig isn’t as popular for shallow water.  You can fish many different types of live bait and artificial lures with the Carolina rig.

Best Baits on a Carolina Rig for Smallmouth Bass

Crayfish Baits

Crayfish baits look great when fished along the bottom on a Carolina rig.

Creature Baits

Creature baits work well.  The baits with swimming legs on them look great by just crawling them along the bottom slowly on a Carolina rig.

Curly Tail Worms

Curly tail worms have good action on a Carolina rig.  Just make sure you use a heavy enough weight to give the curly tail worm some kick to it as you move the bait through the water.

Finesse Worms

Finesse worms look good with more of a jerkbait type retrieve when fished on a Carolina rig.  A slight jerk and a pause will get you plenty of bites.


Lizards look great on a Carolina rig.  Crawl them along the bottom or hop them along.  Mix in some pauses to get more bites.

Paddle Tail Worms

Paddle tail worms also great with more of a jerkbait type retrieve when fished on a Carolina rig.

Soft Plastic Minnows

A jerkbait retrieve works great with soft plastic minnows on a Carolina rig.  Pick your favorite jerkbait type minnow and hang on.


Tubes can be hopped along the bottom with a jerkbait retrieve too.  You will get more bites with a slight jerk and pause retrieve.

Carolina Rig & Live Baits

Whether you fish a lively nightcrawler, leech or minnow, you will do very well with a Carolina rig.  This is one of the most popular ways to fish live baits for smallmouth bass when they are in deeper water.