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Fishing the Split Shot Rig

Article: August, 2001
Lake Fork Pro Jim ReaneauThis month's article will cover the split shot rig and the Carolina rig. I will call it when to split shot and when to Carolina rig. First lets describe what a split shot rig is. This is a very versatile technique. The rig is very popular out in the deep clear water lakes. The rig consist of six to ten pound line a number one hook and a one sixteenth split shot, on this hook you put a Wienie worm or very small grub. The Carolina rig consist of a half ounce or larger weight with a three foot leader and a 2/0 hook, with a French fry, worm, or grub. This rig is normally fished in deep water on humps, roadbeds, points, and along grass edges.

The split shot is normally fished in clear water along rocks or rip rap. When cold fronts or fishing pressures on area lakes cause the fish to not bite this will get you bit. Many years ago I could pull up to bridge apron and throw a split shot and catch five keeper fish and then cull the rest of the day. Some mornings I could catch the five right fish. The light line is so much less visible in the water and the bait works more life like. You can fish this rig out in thirty foot of water. When you get over ten foot you need to switch to a heavier weight. The baits can be changed from a Wienie worm or grub. The main thing is to keep the bait as small as possible and never exceed 1/8 ounce in weight. When cold fronts come in this is a good rig to go to. The very subtle movement is all it will take most of the time. Like the Carolina rig it is best to reel the bait very slowly along the bottom or sweep the rod very slowly up and let the bait sit for a few minutes. This rig can be deadly in the spring when the fish are spawning.

The Carolina rig is normally setup with a half ounce to a one ounce bullet weight several beads and then a swivel is attached. Then put a three foot leader onto the swivel with a 2/0 hook. There are many baits you can fish with this rig. Small crank baits, rogue type baits, worms, grubs, and very large worms. This rig is usually fished out in fifteen foot and deeper water. The weight is to get the bait down to the bottom as quickly as possible. This is another finesse fishing tactic. Either rig can be fished year round.

Now when and when not. The split shot should be fished in more open water but if you fish the braided lines you can fish twenty pound line with six pound diameter. This braided line will not change the action of the bait and will allow you to fish in more dense cover. When cold fronts or weekend traffic hit your favorite lake slow down and down size you tackle and lookout, you may hit your honey hole and catch a bunch of fish. This rig can be fished on spinning gear or bait caster. Be sure to use a lighter action rod than normal if you stick with mono line. The key is the small bait and the light line.

The Carolina rig can also be fished in the shallow water along with the deep water. When the wind is howling this is a good bait to throw on main lake points, road beds, humps and anywhere you want. The heavier weight can get hung up more than a Texas rig so watch you structure and switch to a lighter weight when getting into timber. I have had some 75 to 100 fish days on the Carolina rig. This rig is also a good suspended fish rig. I have reeled up to where I felt the fish were and made a small jerk up so the bait would come up and float back down. This has worked many times on Fork and other lakes. Remember when the weather or fishing pressure is present scale down and try the split shot. You may find a new friend.
Thanks and Good Fishing,

Fishing Tip by EX Lake Fork Guide Jim Reaneau


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