Carolina Keepers could be the greatest terminal tackle idea of all time.
by: Mike Stevens 5/25/2012
I honestly believe that Carolina Keepers
are the greatest terminal tackle innovation in recent history. If you know what they are, you probably agree with me on some level. If you aren’t familiar with them, let me do a little to change that.
A Carolina Keeper is a small (about the size and shape of a pencil eraser) semi-rigid plastic cylinder with a slit down the middle of it. Its purpose is to replace a swivel in just about any rig where the swivel is keeping a sliding sinker from coming into contact with the hook, and it is better than a swivel in a variety of ways.
For one, you don’t have to attach it to your rig with a knot. When you pinch a Carolina Keeper with pliers, the slit down the middle becomes a hole and you slide your line through (obviously, like with a swivel, your sliding sinker needs to go on first) and release it wherever you want it and the sinker to rest on your line. This is effectively eliminating two knots (the ones that would otherwise be on both sides of the swivel) which eliminates to weak spots and saves time. It also allows you to quickly lengthen or shorten your leader length in seconds just by pinching the Keeper again and moving it where you want it.
Also, for situations where your leader is the same as your main line, you won’t need to carry extra leader material on you. With a Carolina Keeper, your “leader” is still the main line that is on your reel. The best way to show this is with a list of examples, so here goes:
- Dough bait rig for trout — The standard rig is a 2- to 4- pound main line through a sliding egg sinker and then tied to a swivel. Then a 1- to 3-foot leader is tied to the other end of the swivel and then tied to a treble hook. So you have 3 knots and a leader that can only be shortened, and to do that you would have to cut the hook off, cut off some line, and re-tie.
With a Carolina Keeper, you would eliminate the swivel and just have your main line running through the whole rig and only tied to the hook at the end, and changing the “leader” length is simple. Also, since many surf-fishing rigs basically a heavier version of this rig, it works the same way in the surf.
- Fly-and-Bubble rig — This is a very effective way to catch Sierra trout that I admit, I quit using it because I didn’t like tying all the knots. With a CK, it’s basically the same rig as the bait rig above, only you use a clear-plastic bubble in the place of the egg sinker. Again, you are going from three knots to one.
- Carolina Rig for bass — This is really what it was designed for, and like the rigs described above, it works the same way, only in this case, you are eliminating the swivel, and if you prefer to put a bead between the swivel and, in this case, the bullet weight, you can still do that if you are using a CK.
Obviously, this list can go on forever. I also use CK’s to keep a bigger sliding egg sinker away from the hook in a live bait rig for shallow water bottom fishing for saltwater bass and halibut. I will say though, there are a couple disadvantages to using a CK instead of a swivel. The one the stands out is, the CK doesn’t eliminate line twist like a swivel would, so if that is the reason you are using a swivel, you should continue to do so. Also, if you are using a different leader than the main line, such as a lighter/heavier pound test, or a fluorocarbon leader, it would still work with a Carolina Keeper, but you would then be making a line-to-line splice which can be trickier than making that connection with a swivel.
They are definitely cheap enough to bring a few along with you on certain trips, but personally speaking, they go wherever I go if I am on the water.