Carolina rig basics

Carolina rigs tipped with live shrimp are almost a guarantee for nice trout during the summer.

It’s hard to beat a Carolina rig for catching big summer trout, coastal guide Jake Scardino said.

“I prefer to fish a Carolina rig, but a lot of my customers are novices, so it’s easier for them to fish with corks,” Scardino said.

But if he has some seasoned anglers onboard, the corks usually get exchanged for bottom-dragging rigs.

Scardino’s rigs are built on a foundation of 14-pound mono, which he said is better than braid for a couple of reasons.

“If a client is fishing with braid, and they get hung up, it’s much harder to break off,” Scardino said. “It’s also easier to tie to mono, so if they break off I can quickly tie a new leader on with mono.”

A 3/8-ounce sliding weight goes on the main line first to keep the rig on the bottom as he drags it back to the boat.

Carolina rigs tipped with live shrimp are almost a guarantee for nice trout during the summer.

Scardino then attaches a No. 10 swivel to the main line and uses 16 to 20 inches of 30-pound fluorocarbon for the leader.

A No. 1 or 2 kahle hook goes on the business end of the leader, and he finishes it off with a frisky, live shrimp.

So how does he hook the crustacean? He’ll start by horn-hooking the bait, but he’s not married to that approach.

“It depends on the bite,” Scardino said. “If the fish are really slamming the shrimp, I’ll keep hooking them in the horn. But if it looks like they slow down, I’ll turn it around and hook them through the tails.

“It allows the shrimp to do something different. And sometimes you’d be surprised: Later in the season, trout get sore mouthed, so they get shy of the horn. Hooking them in the tail allows them to bite without getting stuck.”

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About Andy Crawford 279 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.