From the May 2011 issue

Learning To Feel Will Catch More Bass

By Mike Cyze

The Last Cast

    When it comes to methods that will catch fish, the list is almost endless. Over the years, anglers have taken many basic lure presentations and have refined them to suit their needs when faced with a particular situation on the water.
    From something as simple as changing blades on a spinner type lure to adding different colors, each little modification can make a difference. This is especially true when searching out trophy bass. For this job, one of my all-time favorites is the use of plastics. To be more specific, the use of soft plastic worms or some type of a soft plastic lizard type lure.
    These work particularly well when using a method known as Carolina rig fishing. Now, before you get the impression that you cannot miss using this lure, there are particular ways to fish plastics. You should take some time to learn this method and that will help increase your overall catch ratio dramatically. With a little practice, its an easy method to master.
    From my own personal experiences gained over many years, I am a firm believer that Carolina rig fishing is just about the most effective tactic that anglers can use when searching out that trophy bass. The reason I say that is because Carolina rig fishing is not only very easy to do, but it is also an extremely versatile method of angling.
    It is essential that when you are using this method that you have patience. Being a finesse presentation, this is very important.
    Just as important is making sure that you use the right tackle, stay in constant contact with the bottom, and learn how to read the bottom structure you are fishing through feel. That’s right folks, I did say feel. By developing this skill, you will be able to catch many more fish that you otherwise might not. The best part is that learning this feel is really not that difficult, but it will take a commitment on your part to stick with the learning. If you do, the results will become evident in your increased fish catching ability.
    When out on the water, I prefer a Carolina rig over a Texas rig that many bass anglers use. The reason is that with the Carolina rig I can maintain bottom contact at all times, no matter what the wind, current or weather conditions may be on that particular day. Also, by using a longer leader behind my weight, I can feel the bottom without taking away from the action of the plastic worm or lizard.
    Another benefit is that the lure looks more natural to the fish with this setup. Experience has shown that when using this natural looking appearance, the bass is more likely to strike at it.
    Earlier I mentioned patience. Having patience is very critical to the Carolina rig angler. The reason I say this is that patience allows you to fish much slower and also to pay greater attention to what you are feeling at the other end of your line.
    You have to keep in mind that when you are looking for bass when using a Carolina rig you are also, in most cases, searching for a particular type of bottom structure that the fish are using. This is why the slow presentation and feeling your way across the bottom is so very important in helping to identify the structure you are fishing. Without a doubt, feel is the most important aspect of Carolina rig fishing. Once you learn to identify the bottom and cover by feel, you will be able to realize when you are presenting your lure through a high percentage fish holding area. Keep in mind that bass relate heavily to bottom make-up transition zones. An example of this would be an area of bottom where mud transitions to sand, or rock to gravel. Any place that two different bottom make-ups come together is a transition area and can hold fish. When you are searching these types of areas, here is where the slow presentation comes in. For this, slower is always better to identify the structure.
    To help insure being able to read the bottom through the feel in my hands, I like to use a heavy weight on my Carolina rig. I have learned that by using a heavier weight, it does not deaden the feel but actually increases it. When using a heavy weight, the line also stays tight from the sinker on the bottom all the way to the rod tip. The tighter the line stays, the more information that it relays back to my hands.
    Remember that the ability to feel through your line and rod means being able to gain an understanding of what kind of bottom you are fishing. A good sense of feel will also allow you to detect fish that might otherwise go unnoticed if you were using a lighter weight on your line.
    One thing that I want to mention is that while I’ll rarely vary the sinker size, I will make it a point to vary line diameter to match the conditions I’m fishing. When I do this, current flow will be the most deciding factor in making a change. In waters that have current, the larger the diameter of the line, the faster it will travel in the water. Smaller diameter lines on the other hand will cut through the water much better and allow you to fish much more effectively.
    If you do decide to go to a lighter line, keep in mind you will, in most instances, be giving up some line strength, also. In most conditions encountered, you can start out with a good quality line in the 15-pound-test range for most applications when Carolina rig fishing. If you are fishing in waters that have current, drop down to a line in the 10- to 12-pound-test range for best results.
    One last thing that I want to mention is that when you are using a Carolina rig, vary the length of your leader. A good rule of thumb I use is to use a short leader (18 to 24 inches) in cool water conditions and a longer leader (24 to 48 inches) in warm water conditions.
    You can still vary the line size you use for leaders. If you find the bass are finicky, go with a lighter line for a leader. When you do this, remember that you have a bigger chance of a break-off when a fish hits, so to compensate for this, use a sweep hook-set rather than a quick wrist snap hook set. This should help you land that big bass.
    That’s all there is to it folks, use my proven Carolina rig methods, learn to feel that bottom, be patient and enjoy some of the best bass fishing of your life. ’Til next time, take care and I’ll see you on the water!
    You can email your fishing and hunting questions to Mike Cyze at: Also join him at: or on Facebook at lastcastoutdoors.

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