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Float fishing for Steelhead

2656 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Ditchman
I have a question for you experienced float fishermen.
How do you guys weight your rig? Do you use BB shot spaced down your line or do you use a tag with heavier weight? Also, do you use slip floats or weighted floats with rubber tubing?
I think I prefer the weighted floats with tubing, however I can see some advantages to slip floats.
I'm looking for a little help fine tuning my presentation
Any help would be appreciated

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I am fairly new to float fishing for steelies myself, but have been working at for 2yrs. I just use bobber with a peice of rubber (not weighted). If it has a spring, I take that off and replace with a peice of rubber. I either put a couple splitshot's above my swivel, or I will make a little tag and put them their. I was playing around this past fall with the Thill Ice-N-Fly. I was using those on my spinning and worked pretty good. Not as hard to throw, but small than a standard bobber, so keep your eye's on it.

I will watch this thread to see if I also can pick up a few tip's and trick's :)
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I use the tubing on a fixed float. I Put the float on the main line then a swivel and an 18 inch leader. I use bb shot above the swivel and a couple of small shot between the swivel and the hook. Use as much weight as the float can possibly carry. With this setup the bait should lead the float down stream, you may have to hold back slightly. I use 12# main line and 4# leader this time of year. Set your float so your bait is 1-2 foot off bottom.

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I used to fool around with shirt button shot patterning, BB shot and the whole works, but a buddy of mine just bulk shotted on his mainline just above the swivel and an 18" leader. He typically caught as many or more fish than I do. One phenomena I saw happen in tailouts, especially with small spawn sacs and real light weight shot is where the bait would get blown up toward the surface if there were under water obstructions(large boulders, etc). This was mainly from the turbulence.

Now bulk shotting should only be good for faster slots where you want to get down fast, right? Trying to be as empiric as possible, I have not seen that supported *for where I fish*. Plus, bulk shotting tends to cast better, allowing better target accuracy for casting under low lying tree branches and other tight spots. Shirt button style shotting tends to "helicopter" more on casts, thus catching more tree branches, less accurate placement, especially if you need to pitch cast, may not get down to your desired depth as quickly, and also tends to tangle on itself a bit more.

So now, for where I fish, I tend just to bulk shot. I can cast further with better accuracy and distance, and have not experienced a dropoff in hookups whatsoever. If anything, I might even be doing a bit better than in the past by being able to cover more water (distance) with my bait in the strike zone longer (accuracy, and faster drop weight). Moreover, for whatever way you decide to use your splitshot, the most important thing is using the right amount of weight. This is where the majority of the body of the bobber is submerged, with only a bit of the body and the top stem visible.

I am not going to say that this setup is going to be the most effective everywhere that I fish, because I have not used it enough on air clear water like the Platte, where I would want the rig to be as unobtrusive as possible. But for rivers from Wisconsin to the PM, bulk shotting has served me well.

I am sure alot of very experienced pinners would smile or scoff and disagree with this, and they might be right about it for where they fish, but, as they say in Missouri, "show me". Not as a challenge mind you, but to very objectively put methods to comparison. I try to be a student of this steelhead game as much as I can, and if I see something that is working better than what I am using, I am not too proud to delay switching over quickly.

Hope this helps.
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Thanks for the excellent information. I also prefer bulk shotting however I have been using a three way swivel and a tag line. My concern is if the line is bowing downstream between the bobber and the bulk shot. I Dont like the bobber to ahead of my line. I think I was able to keep my line more straight up and down by using BB shot however I think itspooks fish. Also by using a tag I can quickly chame from float fishing to bottom bouncing by just removing the float and adding weight
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Depends on current flow. In the slow water i like the little unweighted floats with bb shot about 18 inches up from the offering (I have found it doesnt matter much if the shot is on the light leader line). Faster water I use bigger weighted bobbers with a bit more shot. I like using jigs so it doesnt really matter where the shot goes.
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I would think you might be tying an extra knot that you don't need to with going with a three way swivel. This makes a big difference when you break off the works and have to re-tie everything. If you want to weight a tag end, use a regular swivel, and just leave a long tag end when tying in your leader. This will cut the number of knots from 4 to 3.

Some friends of mine just use a surgeon's loop to connect their leader to their mainline, but I've have a problem with breakage at the knot with that, but it yet eliminates another knot. Also, I have recently gone back to pre-tying leaders and storing them in clear plastic mini- envelope hook packages. This way, when I bust off the works, I only have to tie one knot instead of three.

While this may be blasphemous to alot of floaters, I haven't objectively seen where the bobber leading the bait has made a negative difference except in shallow clear runs with spooky fish. Even when I have encountered those situations, they ran off well before the bobber got close to them. I know this flies in the face of everything that has been published and talked about regarding the proper vs the improper way to fish floats/bobbers, but again, I try to objectively evaluate things on my own and go from there. I do have to preface this again by saying this is for "Where I Fish" and may not apply to all possible circumstances, especially clear, shallow water and pressured fish. With the fishes' eyesight what it is, in my mind, they no doubt see the bobber whether the bait is in front of it, or trailing behind it.

I would hypothesize that those having success with getting the bait in front (downstream) of the bobber is more due to slowing (or checking) their drift so that the bait can swing forward, thus changing the speed/drift of the presentation and ultimately slowing their drift rate, more than the bobber actually not spooking them. Additionally, alot of guys fishing bobbers who actually think their drift looks like the classic bait before bobber diagram would be dissappointed to learn that just the opposite is happening in a dead drift situation, even with a shirt button shotting pattern. But, they still catch fish, and for some guys, a lot of fish, thus it becomes "what does it matter?"

And for guys that are pounding even more fish because of effective trotting/checking techniques, again, I will submit to you the majority of the time it is because their slowed drift rate is key triggering factor for the fish than being less spooked by terminal tackle, again based upon where I fish. Just my .02 .:)
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Also new to the float game, in the sense that I'm still trying to get used to using a centerpin. But I do know that with respect to presentation it's pretty tough to beat a c'pin.

I got most of my advise from an experienced friend. I usually run a 4 to 6-foot lead of fluorocarbon, tied to a small, black barrel swivel. I use a fixed float like a Drennan on my main line. Round shot works best, it seems, because it doesn't cause your bait to spin. Adjusting lead length takes a bit of practice. Usually I adjust my float up or down until I'm fairly confident my bait/fly is drifting just off of bottom. Not much, but just my 2 cents worth.

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