UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

Carolina Rigging with Castledine

Carolina Rigging with Castledine
Todd Castledine

Todd Castledine has long been one of the most fearsome anglers to fish against in Texas. The Nacogdoches pro is good at nearly everything, particularly sight-fishing, but one of his secret weapons is undoubtedly a Carolina rig. From using it for finding offshore structure to catching finicky bass, he’s almost always got one or two tied up on the deck of his Ranger – and you should too.

 

Fish it deep

Historically, the primary application for a Carolina rig is offshore dragging. Castledine is no fool, so he makes use of the rig out deep plenty, but his primary purpose for it is to find fish and learn about deep structure and cover in practice.

“I can cover more water with it than anything else offshore,” says Castledine. “You can move it as fast as you want to and it’s going to stay on bottom. It’s 10-times easier to feel what’s on the bottom with the rig than it is with a jig, especially with the 1-ounce [weight].”

Castledine doesn’t put the rig away on tournament day, in fact, he’s prone to keep throwing it. Especially on lakes that get a lot of offshore pressure.

“Once you find them you can get off the Carolina rig, but I don’t know how many times on Kentucky Lake I’ve found them with the Carolina rig and it’s still better in the tournament,” relays the Texas pro. “It seems like it’s better on the offshore lakes. I think because everyone is used to throwing other stuff, and when you throw something a little different they go for it.”

A C-rig with a little bait is a potent limit-getter, but Castledine keeps slinging it late in the day.

“They always say a jig catches them bigger,” Castledine says. “I don’t always agree with that.”

 

Fish it shallow

Where Castledine really separates himself from the pack is when he fishes a Carolina rig up shallow. Still rocking a ¾-ounce weight like he would offshore, Castledine is able to give fish a semi-finesse look they don’t often see near the bank.

“I grew up on Livingston throwing it in really shallow water,” says Castledine. “That’s where I learned how to rig. It’s just dirt and stupid, but I learned how to do it over there.”

From there, he’s filled his wallet at Rayburn, cashed in a Bassmaster Open during a nasty spring cold front at Ross Barnet and learned to apply the rig shallow a lot.

“At Ross Barnett when I was down there I was throwing it on pad stems in 2 or 3 foot of water,” he says. “Everyone was doing other stuff – God it was phenomenal.

“You would get hung up on the pads and bring it up over, and when you stopped the bait would settle down and it would move less than a Senko. A cold front had come through and it was springtime and you’d just be sitting there and they’d chomp it. The key was that you could let It sit there for a few seconds without it moving – you’re never going to do that just worming. The rig kinda slows it down for you.”

Home in Texas, the Carolina rig has caught him countless bass in all seasons.

“We throw it a lot around grass a lot on Rayburn,” explains Castledine. “You’ll throw it around the inside edge and the outside edges of the grass, which might be 4 foot to 10 foot. It really doesn’t get bogged down. You’re not throwing it in mats, you’re throwing it in grass that’s underwater.

“A lot of times they’ll be in drains, and the grass grows real crazy in drains,” recalls Castledine. “I freakin’ crushed them in one on Rayburn a few years ago. I made the same cast over and over again in a drain and the grass was growing in columns. I’d cast in and get all hung up and jerk it on through and then all of a sudden, they’d bite it.”

The idea of throwing a Carolina rig shallow is antithetical to how a lot of people think about the rig, but Castledine’s results are hard to argue with.

 

The actual rig

Castledine’s C-rig setup isn’t too out of the ordinary. He uses 20- or 25-pound-test Sunline Shooter for the mainline and the leader, a 1-ounce or ¾-ounce Strike King Tour Grade Tungsten Carolina Rig Weight, a Top Brass Carolina Ticker to protect his knot, a swivel and then an Owner Offset Shank Worm Hook (usually in 3/0) to top it off.

Typically, Castledine rolls with a leader that’s about 30-inches long. His rod choice depends on how much weight he’s using and how heavy the cover is. For the ¾-ounce weight he likes the purpose-built Falcon Carolina Cara, which is a 7-6, heavy-action rod. For the heavier weight or thicker cover he opts for the 7-6 Falcon Cara McClelland ST, which has the same specs but is a stouter rod than the Carolina Cara.

For baits, he primarily varies between a Strike King OPT Supa Fry, a 6.5-inch Strike King Finesse Worm and a Strike King Game Hawg. Occasionally, he’ll mix in the Strike King Magnum Game Hawg or a Strike King Magnum Caffeine Shad. According to Castledine, the Supa Fry is an under-the-radar killer, and what he throws more often than anything else.

Despite occasionally going up in weight when he’s fishing deeper or the wind is blowing, he doesn’t make many changes. By and large, all he’s doing is changing baits when the fish tell him to, not switching to dramatically lighter rigs or worrying about leader length or line type.

 

Taking it on Tour

Fishing his first full season on Tour in 2018, Castledine’s biggest learning moment of the season came with the C-rig.

“When I was at Lanier I was throwing a Carolina rig in practice,” recalls Castledine. “I was getting 40 bites a day, it was great. But, I did horrible in that tournament. It got tougher in the tournament and they just wouldn’t eat it – they’d hit it or miss it.”

Later in the season at Smith Lake, Castledine again had a lot of success with the Carolina rig in practice. This time around, he adjusted on derby day, fishing through the same areas with a shaky head instead. As a result, he earned $10,000 and finished 32nd in his second round of action with spotted bass.

Carolina rigs won’t fix all your problems, and there are plenty of folks that might never grow to love it. But you can be sure that it’s always going to have a place in Castledine’s boat no matter the season. You should at least think about making it a consistent part of your game as well.

Tags: pro-tips-weekly  jody-white  tips-and-techniques 

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Bites were easy to come by at Lake Martin. It was getting the quality bites that separated the field. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Though the total weights didn’t live up to some expectations, the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee was still a lot of fun. The weather was great, there were plenty of fish caught the first two days, and there was a truly dramatic race for the win on the final day. READ MORE »

Niles Goes Back-To-Back

Niles Goes Back-To-Back

Hailing from Ocean Springs, Miss., Andy Niles has now won on Okeechobee two years in a row. In 2019, he picked up the win in the Southeastern Division event on Okeechobee, and this year he got the win in the second Toyota Series Southern Division event of the year. Weighing a total of 44 pounds, 7 ounces, Niles takes home a new Phoenix bass boat for his efforts. Friday was Niles’ son Cooper’s 8th birthday, and though he’s probably not going to get the boat for a present, he’ll at least get a very happy dad. READ MORE »

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Weighing the biggest limit of the final day worth 19 pounds, 4 ounces, Brandon Medlock locked up his third Toyota Series title in the Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. With 54-4 overall, Medlock won comfortably and was essentially the only pro to put together two very good days of fishing, with a 13-9 catch on day one as his worst day. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Okeechobee is proving to be just as tense as expected. With the entire top 10 less than 4 pounds apart, anything can happen, and it’s entirely possible that someone in ninth or 10th catches a big bag to come from behind. READ MORE »

Medlock Ahead on Okeechobee

Medlock Ahead on Okeechobee

Despite nice weather this week, which has been a rarity for FLW tournaments in Florida this year, the fishing on Okeechobee just hasn’t been what the lake is capable of producing. Still, Okeechobee hammer Brandon Medlock rallied on day two dropping 21 pounds, 7 ounces on the scale to take the lead in the Toyota Series Southern Division event on the Big O with 35 pounds even. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

The weather is still splendid, but day two of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee has been tougher than day one. While keepers were pretty easy to come by early yesterday, that hasn’t quite been the case today. Still, the weather is good and there’s plenty of time left for the lake to turn on. READ MORE »

Honnerlaw in Front at Big O

Honnerlaw in Front at Big O

Day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Okeechobee was great from a fish-catching standpoint, but somewhat lacking from a big fish perspective. In the lead, Bryan Honnerlaw of Moore Haven, Fla., put 19 pounds, 14 ounces on the scale. Behind him, three other pros also managed 19 pounds or better, and there is an absolute stack of anglers in the mid-teen range. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee has been a beauty so far. Takeoff went off without a hitch in the morning, and there’s basically been just a light breeze and sunny skies all day. Though it hasn’t been oppressively hot, it has been quite warm, and after setting down on their first spot, many anglers probably never put their hoodies back on. READ MORE »

Game Day on Okeechobee

Game Day on Okeechobee

The second stop of the Toyota Series Southern Division is hitting Lake Okeechobee later in the year than usual for FLW. Typically, big, multi-day FLW events on the Big O go down in January and February, but this one runs March 12-14 and should offer a different look at the familiar and ever-changing body of water. READ MORE »

ETBU Gets School of the Year Rings

ETBU Gets School of the Year Rings

Tallying up 1,752 points for the season, ETBU beat out Tarleton State-Stephenville by 16 points to earn the Southern Conference School of the Year title. READ MORE »

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

Pre-tournament optimism can be hard to find, but this year, if the weather holds, the fishing might be really good for the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

Volunteer Division Starts on Douglas

The kickoff event of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Volunteer Division takes place on Douglas Lake on March 7. One of the most scenic lakes in the country, Douglas promises some good prespawn fishing. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Harris Chain 

AOY Update: Harris Chain 

Through two events, the leader of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Angler of the Year race isn’t unexpected, but the standings behind Ron Nelson are in absolute turmoil. With Lake Martin and Cherokee Lake on tap, things could begin to clarify a bit as spotted bass, smallmouths and lakes that actually have rock become factors. So, while we’re about to run through the top contenders, it’s highly likely that the next few events really reshape the standings.  READ MORE »

Sharp Blasts 40 Pounds to Win on Rayburn

Sharp Blasts 40 Pounds to Win on Rayburn

Winning a tournament is always pretty cool, but winning the way Anthony Sharp did in the second Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event in the Cowboy Division presented by A.R.E. is next-level. Weighing 40 pounds, 6 ounces of Sam Rayburn bass, the Village Mills, Texas, angler beat second place by more than 21 pounds. For the win, which was his first with FLW, Sharp took home a total of $7,000.  READ MORE »

Dortch’s Flipping Setup

Dortch’s Flipping Setup

After growing up on the Tensaw River in Alabama and spending much of his early fishing career in Florida, Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Bradley Dortch naturally has a very good handle on flipping. Especially around matted cover, Dortch is quick to put a big stick into action, and his preferences fit him perfectly. If you’re looking for a new flipping plan, or maybe just thinking about tweaking around the edges, his advice could be applicable to you. READ MORE »

Choo Choo Season Continues at Lewis Smith

Choo Choo Season Continues at Lewis Smith

Stop No. 2 of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Choo Choo Division is Lewis Smith Lake. Smith is one of the best spotted bass fisheries in the east, and late winter should provide some really good fishing. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Even when the bite is tough, Sam Rayburn is a power-fishing lake through and through. Sure, a spinning rod showed up here and there throughout the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit opener, but it was Carolina rigs, lipless crankbaits and vibrating jigs that dominated in the hands of the top 10 pros. READ MORE »

Wrapping up Practice with Osborne

Wrapping up Practice with Osborne

Last season, Jordan Osborne made the top 10 in the season opener on Sam Rayburn, and he’s got the chance to kick things off in a similar style this week. READ MORE »

Day 2 of Practice with Miller

Day 2 of Practice with Miller

At just 20 years old, Colby Miller is pretty young to be a rookie on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. However, the Elmer, La., native isn’t lacking in accolades, as he’s now finished 24th or better in points in the Southwestern Division of the FLW Series two years in a row. Additionally, he’s starting the season close to home – Miller guides for bass and crappie on nearby Toledo Bend, and he’s got a lot of tournament time in on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »