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Home Feature - Soft Plastics Draggin' Through the Trees

Draggin' Through the Trees

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By Jim Smith

January 18, 2013


When I think about draggin’, (A.K.A. C-Rig or Carolina Rig fishing),  normally I think about using it in particular situations that involve pulling a chosen bait at the end of a designated length and strength of leader material, and ahead of a chosen weight and style of a sliding sinker. This setup readily creates a disturbance that is always noticeable and sometimes gets followed by curious prey, which then gets the attention of a hungry predator. It is very effective.

I typically choose this rig when probing the depths and structure that are fairly free of tangles such as brush or rocks, and it is an excellent rig to use to quickly search for fish due to the speed with which it can be fished, and the size of the area that the bait can be presented to.

I also tend to think of the rig as a deeper water presentation, since the proper weight can be chosen for getting the bait down quickly to the bottom, and then presented at whatever speed I choose. 

Only a few baits can be presented this way, and the C-Rig is arguably the very best tool for accomplishing this set of goals. 

This is the method I choose for a Senko when I’m fishing deep, say in thirty feet of water. In my opinion there is literally no other method that will allow a Senko to operate properly in deep water like that, unless the time it takes to reach the bottom is not a concern to you. 

At the end of a long leader, the Senko is free to work its hypnotic magic unrestricted. This is usually something that has not been a common sight in the deeper water world, making it a ‘killer’ presentation.

When the structure has a minimum of cover, the rig can also be used to present floating crank baits much deeper than they would go on their own, although a greater degree of finesse is required to feel the crank bait and allow it to float up and over objects that would otherwise hang the bait up and cause a loss.

Non-Typical Draggin’

There is an unconventional application for draggin’ that is not really popular, doesn’t get mentioned a lot, and may even be somewhat of a secret.  I’ve used the rig successfully and consistently many times to drag my bait presentation through the tops of submerged trees, giving the bait a free floating action that usually can’t be delivered otherwise. 

smith-draggin01Although I wouldn’t recommend doing this with a crank bait, I can say from experience that it works very well with a soft plastic of choice, and it exhibits the same following prey situation here as it does in open structure, and possibly even better because of the element of surprise produced by a bait suddenly appearing from behind a limb.

Using the rig in this fashion requires a little modification to the usual presentation, but this can be easily mastered with a little patience and effort.   Modifications might include choosing a shorter leader and a slimmer finesse weight that is designed to work through heavier cover without hanging up.  Personally, I use the same ½ ounce barrel weight that I use in open structure, but I have to be very careful not to hang up.   I also use braided mainline and either a mono or fluorocarbon leader, because I can feel everything much better  and the braid holds up to the constant abrasion from dragging over the limbs. With the very first success this can quickly become a practical and useful method of catching suspended fish in cover, and to add to your full time arsenal.

I first locate submerged trees with my electronics. I focus on the ones that are really full, such as cedars, and specifically the ones that have suspended fish in or around them.  I don’t discriminate against any type of tree, but I’m particularly fond of the cedars since they afford a predator a perfect hiding place to set up an ambush stage for unsuspecting prey. 

Of course it doesn’t matter if it is even a straight tree trunk with no limbs at all as long as there are fish around it, but the full limbs of the cedar are a better choice for smaller prey because of the number of hiding opportunities they can find in and among those limbs.

Once located and lined up on the tree, I make a cast well beyond and over the top of the submerged tree, let my sinker fall on a free spool all the way to the bottom, and then slowly drag my rig right back through the middle of it, feeling and visualizing both my sinker and bait as they drag up to and over the limbs. 

I drag the rig with a sideways sweeping motion that allows me to easily change the angle of my rod and lift the sinker up and over limbs that might otherwise become snags.  By finessing the rig through the tree in this manner, I can effectively present my bait to the fish whether they are suspended near the bottom, middle or top of the tree.

Try this method of utilizing the Carolina Rig on your favorite water that has submerged trees, or even brush piles the next time you go fishing, and you just might find another great way to enjoy catching some of the fish that you can’t get otherwise.


A little thanks is in order here

I again want to say thanks to Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits for making the great products that I choose to include in the tools that I use in my pursuit of the prize.


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Last Updated on Friday, 18 January 2013 08:55