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Centre-pin; Getting Started

Getting Started; Your First
Great Lakes Centre-pinning Outfit

Wondering what an affordable, entry level, centre-pin/float fishing rig will consist of and what it will cost?

 This article is for you!


        If you've just begun researching centre-pin / float fishing gear, you may have realized that there are many choices available and some with a considerable investments attached to them.  As more and more companies have joined the market to address and compete for the needs of the entry level enthusiast, costs have come down considerably.  No longer does one have to spend many hundreds of dollars to achieve the end result of catching fish on a long rod coupled with a reel that hasn’t a mechanical drag. With a little internet research and the help of a trusted tackle outfitter you’ll have no trouble choosing great gear and getting an education at the same time.

       Centre-pinning / float fishing outfits consist of a large diameter reel (think large arbor fly reel, but bigger) that lacks a mechanical drag and a long, nimble, flexible rod. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll discuss centre-pin reels that have ball bearing races as they tend to be the most popular. Although there are models that are built using brass bushings and function quite well, most modern ‘pins are constructed with ball bearings that sit atop of an axle.  They also come equipped with a clicker that functions as a transport knob.  The clicker's purpose is to lock the reel so that it doesn’t free spool and leave a bird’s nest of monofilament line during transport..  This transport clicker is disengaged when fished and is not meant to be used as a drag when fighting fish.  The advantages of the reel’s bearing design are that it will pay out line via the hydraulic load forced upon the profile of the float while in a river’s current. There are quite a few factors that affect the speed that this will occur.  Generally speaking, the reel will spin efficiently and evenly based upon the overall spool mass and diameter, spool rim edge feathering (resistance), and the speed of the current and other factors having to do with the terminal tackle and inline drag. The goal is to have a drag free drift with minimal line drag on the surface of the water. If the offering can be presented perfectly natural, as with fly fishing, then hookup rates drastically increase. Entry level reels produced by Raven and Okuma can be purchased in the $149 - $199 range. Both the Raven Matrix and Okuma Sheffield are high quality, entry level, Asian made reels that will allow you to be successful on the water.  The Matrix by Raven is an effective reel in the summer months drifting night crawlers for river smallmouth and catfish.  the Matrix XL by Raven (the big brother) is a great reel for steelhead angling.  The Okuma Sheffield is another great choice that can certainly serve double duty as a summer time small mouth / catfish 'pin reel as well.


       Poll float fishermen and you’ll discover the consensus, for the most part, is the longer the float rod the better.  With the exception of small, brush lined creeks, the lengthier the rod the more agile and effective presenting a drag free drift over extended distances will be. 50-80 yard drifts are very possible and in the end limited only by the quality of your vision and the amount of fisherman sharing the water.  A 13’ – 15’ multi-piece rod is the norm for this endeavor. Seek out rods that break down into multiple pieces if you wish to store it more conveniently within the confines of your automobile. Okuma, Raven, and Browning (among others) are now offering rods in these sizes and in multi-pc. configurations for prices that begin near $100. While they are not quite the same quality, fit or feel of a custom handcrafted rod built to your specifications, they do the job well and will get you on the river with a minimal investment.  The first float rod purchase will likely be a tool to discover and develop your individual preferences.  A good word of advice is to consider a sliding ring cork reel seat for the first rod purchase so that you can tune the rod to your liking.


      I hope you found this article helpful and informative.  In the next installment, I will address reel backing, line, and terminal tackle choices.  If you have comments or suggestions, feel free to contact me at Dj@floatfishingconnection.com















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