The slip sinker rig, also known as “the Carolina rig”, is one of the most common and useful of all fishing rigs. It is very versatile and can be scaled up and down depending on the situation.
A slip sinker rig can be used in two different ways. The Carolina rig is usually used for bass fishing with soft plastic lures like worms and lizards. The plastics are slowly retrieved with the sinker making contact with the bottom. The amount of buoyancy the lure has determines whether it will float above the weight, slowly sink, or go right to the bottom. Lures that resemble crayfish do well on the bottom. Lures that look like lizards tend to do better when they float.
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The slip sinker rig can also be used for stationary, or “bottom,” fishing. This is probably the most method. The rig is cast out and allowed to settle. The sinker makes contact with the bottom and stays there. Free swimming baits like minnows and floating baits like Powerbait trout pasts hover above the bottom with the sinker concealed below. Bottom baits like doughball and worms rest on the bottom, beyond the weight.
The setup holds the bait in place without pinning it down there. When things are set up right, a fish can take the bait and run with it without feeling any resistance. This makes them a lot less wary. It works well in most situations, and especially when you want things to look natural.
Tying a slip sinker rig is quite easy. First, you pass your fishing line through a sliding sinker. Then you slide it through a small bead. Next you you tie your line to a swivel. On the other end of the swivel you tie a leader of whatever length you’d like. You tie your hook to the other end of the leader. That’s it.
Different sinkers can be used. Egg sinkers are probably the most popular. They work well, but they are not the only option. As long as the line slides through the sinker without hanging up it will work fine.
The bead is optional. It can help to protect the knot from the impact and cutting edge of the sinker. It can also add a slight clicking noise when used as a Carolina rig. Soft rubber beads are better than plastic beads but they cost more money.
An even simpler rig is possible. You can pass your line through a sliding sinker then tie it directly to your hook. You can then pinch a split shot on the line between the hook and slip sinker. The sinker will not be able to slide past the split shot.
This is quicker to set up but the split shot can snag up or weaken the line by pinching it. You have to decide if saving time is worth the risk of breaking your line, if that is indeed a risk at all.
If you fish the slip sinker rig on the bottom and catch a big fish you have to make sure your pole isn’t yanked into the water. Even an averaged sized carp or catfish can pull your rod into the water with ease. You can do a few things to avoid this.
The easiest is to hold your pole in your hand or stay close to it at all times. Another method is to loosen your drag so that line can be pulled off of the reel easily. Of course if you do that you have to quickly pick up the rod and tighten the drag in order to set the hook and fight the fish. That can be a pain. The best method is to use a baitrunner reel like the Shimano Baitrunner 12000D. These have switches on the back. When you flip the switch the reel turns to free spool mode. So fish can pull line off of the reel without any resistance. Once the fish start running you simply flip the switch and engage the drag. That sets the hook and allows you to fight the fish.