If it's summer on Lake Fork, you can count on hot weather and deep bass. And if the bass are deep, a Texas rig or a Carolina Rig (C-rig) are often your best weapons. Both will catch bass, but how do you decide which setup to choose and how you should rig is based on the conditions you're confronting? This article will focus on a few basic rules of thumb to help you answer the whens, wheres, and whys of the Carolina rig vs. Texas rig.
Carolina rigs, especially when rigged with a heavy sinker (3/4 to 1 ounce), work best in several 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 find bass fast. In addition, I'll use 20-pound P-Line Fluorocarbon, and the heavy sinker and fluorocarbon line 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 Carolina rig a great search bait and a great bait to catch bass once they're found.
Texas rigs, in contrast, typically work best when fishing heavy cover, specific targets, or steep drops. In heavy cover, a Carolina rig will often hang up more and will not get into the small holes in grass clumps or brush piles and a Texas rig. In addition, when bass are located in particular pieces of cover or structure, a Texas rig will still provide great action while shaking it in place (similar to the way you shake a worm on a shaky head jig). While leaving the bait in place, this subtle quivering action often triggers inactive fish that won't react to a rapidly moving or dead-sticked Carolina rig. Finally, when fishing very steep banks, pond dams, or ledges, Texas rigs can slowly be crawled down the slope, while a Carolina rig will often too quickly pull your bait to the bottom of the break. In these cases, the Texas rig wins the battle of the Carolina rig vs. Texas rig.
Another factor to consider is the size of the weight you use. Tungsten weights are harder and smaller, transmitting more feel and getting into tighter cover pieces. Heavyweights are often good in summer, as the fast fall triggers fish into a reaction strike and reaches the bottom quicker, allowing a better feel, even on windy days. While the slow fall of a small weight will sometimes get finicky fish to bite, I often start with a heavyweight 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 will also affect your setup's drop speed and performance. 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, Baby Fork Creatures, Top Dog lizards, and giant ribbon-tail ring worms like 10" Lake Fork Worms move a lot of water and trigger big bass actively feeding. Hop and swim these baits on a Carolina or Texas rig to get their entire action. Conversely, more streamlined soft plastics are in order when the bite is more challenging, and you need to coax those big girls into biting. In this case, I'll rig up with straight-tailed worms like Twitch Worms, Ring Frys, and Baby Ring Frys, or craw worms like the Fork Craw. And for an especially tantalizing slow fall, try a Magic Shad or Live Magic Shad on the business end of your Carolina rig-bass out deep love them just as they did when they were up shallow in the spring.
Of course, there are no absolutes in bass fishing. However, choosing the Carolina rig vs. Texas rig, I hope these basic rules of thumb help make your decision on what to rig up a little easier on your next trip. Here's hoping you catch the lunker of your dreams.