Float Fishing Articles & More! Centrepin Articles & More! Video Vault Filled With Instructional Footage Great Lake's Steelhead Gear Reviewed Here! Club Events, Upcoming Seminars, & Local Get-Togethers Posted Here! Visit our forums and discover a down to earth place to learn, teach, and share the float fishing obsession!

Centre-pin; Warm Water

Summer Centre-pinning

Warm Water Fishing on the Drift!


Steelhead season has regretfully passed as the last of the drop backs have returned to the lake, but centre-pin style float fishing is far from over in North East Ohio!  Lake-run and resident smallmouth, channel catfish, common carp, rock bass, freshwater drum, perch and even bluegill are now the object of streamside predation.

Reconfiguring the gear with an extremely light action noodle rod and switching to a smaller, lighter, more appropriate centre-pin, the anticipation builds similar to the dreamy hopes produced by autumn reports of skippers entering the cooling Erie tributaries. As I trek down to the edge of the water and meandering banks of a favorite “go-to” in shorts, t-shirt, and sandals, I’m reminded of how enjoyable it is to fish without the heavy layers that protect from winter’s furry. A quick survey of the pool and the subsurface terrain is all that is needed to determine the best, most rewarding approach. The areas that held steelhead are now teaming with fish of a different  sort. Summer catches are somewhat easier; Made this way by the sheer quantity and variety of species present as the waters slow and become warm from the long days of bright sunshine, but this in no way diminishes the satisfaction derived from the eventual fight on the end of a tight line.

            Although I cherish the opportunities to venture into mountainous terrain, a box full of dry flies and a 2wt. in hand, in pursuit of small resident trout, there is certainly something to be said of the local conveniences offered by the Greater Cleveland Lake Erie tributaries. If you are a float fisherman and are after the fight of what I humorously refer to as summer steelhead (I know summer runs exist, just not in NE Ohio!) and haven’t tried targeting the species I’ve mentioned, you don’t know what you’re missing! The fight of a determined catfish or a stubborn carp are as awe inspiring as a run away silver bullet in the blue cold of winter. The frequent bone jarring tugs of an aggressive steel’s headshakes are similar to the grab-n-dash tactics used by larger bass determined to feed and return to their ambush spot. Although not as long lived, it’s fishing and it sure is a blast! There isn’t anything quite like the bottom diving fight that catfish are known for when hooked.

            Making the summer float fishing expedition as rewarding an experience as possible doesn’t require much change. Although I’ve chosen to go with a lighter, smaller centre-pin reel for my summer fishing, the same reel used for steel can effectively be used for any fish you seek. It is, however, advisable to change the rest of the gear. Find yourself a lighter action, flexible, more “noodley” noodle rod.  Long crappie rods work in a pinch and if you happen to be on a tight budget. But if you’re serious about summer float fishing, your best bet is to consult with a professional custom rod builder. Several manufacturers offer extremely lightweight and long length blanks that when built correctly will give a balanced fight.  In the end, a well balanced fight is a cause for much more smiles and fond memories. The alternative (using the steelhead gear) is the equivalent of bringing a bazooka to a gun fight. It isn’t very much fun!

            Besides changing the most important components (the rod and reel), I recommend switching to summer line since the fish you seek tend not to be line shy (with the exception of carp). Any line offered in low-vis green color and 6-10#’s weight is adequate. I tend to scale down my floats and most often utilize 3.5gram drennans either in a loafer or a crystal avon (better visibility due to a bigger antennae). A micro small swivel is not necessary. And since the bulk swivels in size 14/16 and the non-floating mono lines are quite a bit cheaper, your budget will be better served if an irretrievable snag confiscates the terminal tackle. Rigging is identical to a typical steelhead float fishing configuration. Mainline, float, a series of split shot, swivel, tippet material, offering. I find float fishing night crawlers, crayfish, baitfish, maggot, and leech imitations are the most productive.  Big black woolly buggers, streamers, anything black and chartreuse in color, along with gaudy, oversized stonefly nymphs and woven body hellgrammites flies are know producers as well. 

            Carp and catfish have gained a reputation for being bottom feeders that’ll consume anything.  I’m sure that this reputation has been popularized by the way they forage for food.  Carp feed by selectively consuming suspended insects, crustaceans, fish eggs (during spawning), seeds, annelids, and plant vegetation by sucking them up (vacuum style) ejecting them, and then choosing what is edible from the suspension. Catfish (a favored target of mine because of the ensuing heavy weight brawls once hooked) have a tendency to favor baitfish and worms.  Shiners, perch, and small bluegill are all part of their diet. Adolescent catfish tend to gravitate toward plants, aquatic insects, and smaller bait fish.  Adult catfish enjoy snakes, frogs, aquatic insects and plants, snails, and if large enough will even eat birds!  Before transitioning to float flies full-time and year round, I experienced some of the most outstanding catfish fights while floating the common night crawler or minnow. Using worms is as old as cane rods and bobbers.  It is easy, it is effective, and as an added bonus…it’ll catch you every other specie of fish around as well!

            Carp are a sometime difficult fish to catch. Many times you’ll hear people mention “chumming” in connection with this fish.  Chumming is a common preemptive practice to lure pods of these fish to a particular location and encourage a feed frenzy. The fact that this needs to be done should clue you into their sometimes finicky feeding nature. If you’re targeting these fish, you’ll need a slow on the bottom presentation. Try sight fishing to find an actively feeding pod.  The telltale indicator of carp on the feed is mud streaks streaming off tailfins flailing out of the water and an abundance of splashing.

Catfish can be found more often in water that is on the slower side.  Because they tend to be more active feeders at dusk and into the evening, during the day you’ll find them in the deepest slack water holes with cover.  A catfish oasis is a slow pool with a fallen tree.  Try trotting your float as close to the down tree as you’re comfortable and suspend your offering 6-10” off the bottom structure. I guarantee that on a good day you’ll be into fish as long as you can muster the strength to continue fishing.

River smallmouth tend to like fast water and most certainly will be found under, beside, and near rocks and cover. They are a fish that ambush their prey. So think like them. Be sure not to overlook the smallest of rocks and shale crevices. They can sometimes produce the best fish!

Trotting is a style of fishing that I use quite often when floating through runs that I know should be holding fish. The term describes the gentle braking off the spool body to hold the float back and “flush” the offering through to the fish. I’ll also use this technique to pound large boulders and rocks that should be havens for smallmouth. By checking back on the float and drifting the presentation into the zone -offering first, you limit the amount of snags than if it is drug across the bottom at the start of the drift. Be sure to know the proper average depths of the water you’re fishing to help with this effect. I space my shot, moving it frequently, according to the hydraulic loads and depth. I will sometimes move most of the split shot up and directly under the float thus extending the tippet length so that my offering can suspend out, down, through and around rocks just outside the seams created between faster and slower waters.  When a group of us fish, we'll commonly use the phrase, "I pounded that rock outcropping".  What we mean by this is simple.  If rock and smallmouth bass ambush their prey by tucking up and under rocks, you'll want to literally harassed the edges of the underwater structures with your offerings.  It it gets close enough in the zone, bass can't resist the temptation! On deeper runs, just like steelheading, I may bulk shot a bit lower to force the offering down quickly and hold through a certain zone that I think may offer a bite. Varying the leader and tippet length, changing shot patterns and position, and checking the float (trotting) can make the difference. Experimentation sometimes is all it takes to maximize success on the river. Don’t be afraid to create your own rules. If they work for you, whether they are “conventional” or not, then that is all that matters!


I hope 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 dj@floatfishingconnection.com















copyright © 2008-09 Float Fishing Connection™


Advertise with us,

click here

SR Trout Supply, LLC