Centerpin Fishing for Steelhead

Centerpin fishing for Steelhead in Michigan’s rivers has become increasingly popular in recent years. 

Centerpin reels look similar to traditional fly fishing reels but that’s where the similarity stops.  While traditional fly reels always have some sort of drag resistance to the line going out, on centerpin reels the whole point is having no drag for totally natural presentations through the whole drift.  While centerpin reels can be expensive, with a good one running $150 on up to $1000, you don’t have to break the bank.  A totally serviceable reel can be found on Amazon for around $40.  More costly reels include ceramic bearings and fancy engraved patterns.

Centerpin rods are typically longer than most.  Many who fish the big rivers prefer a 13-14′ foot rod to help with the reach while mending line.

Centerpin fishing has several advantages over the traditional “chuck and duck” method of drifting a presentation through a hole.  Not only does a centerpin allow for a total drag free presentation through a run, it also makes certain that the lure is the first thing the fish will see.  By “trotting” the reel, or by varying the friction applied to the reel with a finger, you can work various depths in the run.

There are however some disadvantages.  Having no drag adds difficulty to casting and can results in some serious bird’s nests.  New methods of casting need to be learned to avoid this, but a simple side cast is a good starters cast and is not hard to learn.

The diagram above shows a typical rig for fishing a plastic bead.  A bobber will typically be put on the mainline, followed by a “shot line” that contains most/all of the split shot.  This is followed by a 20-24″ leader.  The poundage on each line tapers to so that hopefully when you break off you will only loose the leader.

The plastic bead egg imitation is placed about 2-3 fingers width above the hook for better hook up ratios.

It would take another article to fully explain all the in’s and out’s of shot line rigging and bead selection and bead pegging.

Don’t let all of this scare you off from trying centerpin fishing.  Once you give it a try, the totally drag free presentations will make it very much worth your while.

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