Long Rod Theory & Application
majestic qualities inherent of the steelhead are world renowned. To have
hooked and fought this fish is to have begun an uncontrollable journey that,
for most anglers, will turn a favored hobby into an undying obsession.
Without a means to keep the new addiction in check, “hardcore steelheaders”
find themselves ignoring the effects of sleep deprivation and frostbite for
just one more chance at hooking into a screaming silver bullet. In time and
for some, an appreciation blossoms for strategy and conservation. This in
turn, initiates a quest that along the way evolves obsessed fisherman into
encyclopedias of angling knowledge. Is this the quest you find yourself
on? If so, let’s speak about an exciting and extremely strategic method to
entice steelhead as well as all trout to battle called Centre-pin Float Fishing.
with many endeavors, the use of the correct tools will increase the
probability of a successful outcome. It couldn’t be truer when the time
arrives to assemble the components of a drift fishing rig. Of course,
governing considerations need to be made on tributary size, species and the
appropriate gear chosen to match these variables. Intentionally, to
simplify the reading, these considerations will be averaged and represented
by andromonous oncorhynchus mykiss or the Great Lake’s prized Steelhead
Trout. The water shed will be modeled after the Grand River of NE Ohio.
Regardless of where your fishing roots are planted, three criteria are
required to produce consistent success on the water.
your quarry’s biological intent. (What makes it tick, why is it
exhibiting the behavior you are observing, and what are its instincts?
How can these behaviors be exploited?)
knowledge of the benefits of hydraulics and structure and the ability to
what effect temperature, flow, water clarity and sedimentation have on the
first two criteria.
When the above criteria are met, the transition to a technique that involves
natural paced drifts will reveal itself as the ultimate advantage it truly
is. So in theory, a good – great fisherman will transition to a great –
fantastic fisherman with the use of a long rod and centre-pin arrangement.
For simplicity’s sake, the examples referenced hence forth will involve a
13’ IM6 float rod coupled with a 4.5” centre-pin reel spooled with floating
line, an inline, adjustable depth float, micro swivel, and the appropriate
shot pattern. All of these components for subject matter will be of
“generic” origins. The rod length, reel diameter, line, float, and split
shot were all selected as an “average” of what is typically carried by float
anglers upon steelhead waters.
With our generic setup, it is important to discuss the individual
components and how as parts working together they benefit the system’s
operational efficiency. It should be recognized that natural drift
speed and strike zone depth are the reasons behind the use of these
Rod Length & the
Drift Speed by Way of Manipulation
From an upstream position of the intended target area, a cast is made into
the tributary’s flowing water. In mere seconds, with rod tip pointed high
and a tight line from rod tip to float tip, an immediate manual restraint is
exerted on the system. By applying measured resistance against the spool’s
rim, line expenditure is set to a pace that will most closely present the
offering (at depth) at a speed interpreted by the angler.
A tight line from rod tip to float tip, free from the drag of the water’s
surface, is achieved with the float rod length. Teamed with the intrinsic
qualities of bearings and finely machined tolerances, the centre-pin reel
employed rotates with the precision of a Swiss timepiece. Manual resistance
provided by the drag of the finger against the spool’s edge reduces the
speed exerted by the faster surface flows against the body of the float.
While “checking” the float, several events are taking place underwater.
Below the surface, split shot mass creates a hinge point within the
leader to tippet arc. In doing so, water flow places the offering
ahead (downstream) of the terminal tackle. Fish targeting the path way of
food delivery naturally position themselves in an upstream orientation.
Anatomically, having eyes set in separation of a midline and tilted in such
a way that a view is provided up and toward each side, trout will feed by
shifting their bodies up and to either the right or left and return back to
their hold in a single, quick motion. This action registers in float
movement and is broadcast to the angler as a take.
The Advantage of
Without question, the best angling position for a centre-pin float
fisherman is at the very head of a run about 1/3 of the way out into the
faster, shallow water. This position offers the opportunity to fish the
head, belly, and tail-out of an average sized run without having to move. I
would caution you though. This position is best practiced when fishing with
a group of friends. It is not advisable, nor polite to fish an area from
head to tail in the company of other anglers. For a centre-pin float
fisherman, following the rules of stream etiquette and politeness are
& Water Flow
“Fish the bubble line; there are always fish holding in the zone of the
bubble line!” Have you ever wondered why? Water flowing against subsurface
obstructions causes hydraulic vacuums that fish will instinctively use to
their advantage. These seams, adjacent to the pipeline of food-rich flow,
supply fish the perfect opportunity to feed and, because of the relative
stillness of the water within their attack station, expend minimal amount of
energy maintaining position. Fish will naturally exploit a position that
feeds their voracious appetite without requiring them to expend energy at
the same rate of enrichment. These areas can be found directly in front and
behind boulders, behind and under down trees and islands of vegetation,
dramatic underwater elevation changes (IE crevices, shale drop offs, ledges,
and bellies of pools), the inside of river bends, and near the areas and to
the sides of large boulders oriented at unique angles on river bends. Any
area that can cover a majority of the fish’s body will grant fish relief
from expending excessive energy. In many ways fish want their cake and want
to eat it too--they look for the laziest position to hang out that continues
to deliver the greatest opportunity for energy replenishment.
With that said, drifting methods and shot patterns should be manipulated to
tendencies. The guiding premise is to perpetually deliver the offering
(bait, fly, jig, etc.) before the attached tackle that facilitated delivery
(float, shot, line, or other terminal tackle).
The methods for stealth placement of an offering are slightly different in
each situation. Using a hypothetical river example, after a quick survey is
drawn of the water’s surface, a noticeable hump and dip in the water
identifies a submerged boulder or rock grouping. Behind this obstruction, a
dual pinstripe of bubbles is evident to the left and right forming a
noticeable “V” downstream. A depth determination is made and rigging set
accordingly. Your first inclination may be to target these seams and bubble
lines, which is correct, but the way in which they are initially fished will
determine whether one fish or many may be drawn to strike. The first order
of business would is to target well in front and upriver of the subsurface
obstruction. Make a mental note that the areas directly in front of large
boulders have the ability to hold fish. Placement is critical at this
point. The necessary steps need to be made to orient the terminal tackle
offering first. In a perfect world, feathering the resistance and trotting
down river and into the area, the fish will take notice of only the
offering. Attempt to match the subsurface speeds and by doing so, give the
trout an extra second or two to inspect your solicitation. Hit this area a
few times to be sure you’ve covered it well. You may wish to try stalling
the offering almost completely before allowing it to dip into this area.
Bring it up off the bottom or dropping it from the top of the water column
down may be all the aggravation the trout can stand and thus result in a
The next phase will involve the bubble lines forming the “V” off the rear of
the structure. Remember that there are likely two general areas that may
have fish concentrations in this example. Two seams with bubbles streaming
behind the submerged object permit two lanes of feeding. Target the outside
of the closest seam to your position. Insert your
terminal tackle within
the flows well above the intended area and feather
the spool to bring the float just outside (inside to your position) of the
bubble line. Attempt to “wash” or “slide” the offering into the bubble
line. Seek to expose the trout hidden within the slower eddies behind the
boulder to only the offering. The float may orient itself tip facing
upstream and toward your position. This is OK, just be aware that the
strike may turn the float sideways into the rear of the rock. After
targeting the inside bubble line, focus your attention to the very outside
of the far seam. If the casting position is close enough, this will pose
little problem. You may wish to elevate the float rod tip as high as
possible to gain a better advantage during these drifts. If you find
yourself too far away to get a drag free drift, a technique that uses line
drag on the surface as an advantage may be used. Cast the offering well
above and slightly more distant that the zone you wish for it to trot down
into. Immediately make an upstream mend with additional line. Attempt to
get an upstream belly of line forming a gentle curve down to the float tip.
Allow the float to drift to just short of the intended are and begin to
feather the spool rim with resistance. This method will cause the terminal
tackle to drag toward you. If done correctly, the result is almost
boomerang path of the terminal tackle to the fish’s position.
I've described only three effective feeding zones that trout may be
targeting. After reviewing the picture illustrations above, notice
that the faster water and the extreme tail out of this "hypothetical" also
held fish. It is up to you to determine if a similar area on your home
river or stream might be worth the extra time spent picking it apart.
As mentioned previously, an upstream
casting position is the best place to execute full “trotting” control on
your float and terminal tackle. Many times, the areas at the most
extreme heads of pools are vacant. This gives a perfect opportunity to trot
unhindered by another angler’s presence.
I hope this article increases your enjoyment and appreciation of the
wonderful natural resource we all share: Earth!
that you’re finding these articles informative. If you feel there is
something I’ve overlooked or you have a suggestion that will enrich the
information provided, please feel free to email me at
2008-09 Float Fishing Connection™
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