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Float-fishing: 10 tips for catching more steelhead


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#1 rick james

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Posted 09 May 2015 - 11:48 PM

Hey guys,
 
I'm by no means the best trout angler but I've been around the rivers for over 25 years and I guess I've learnt a thing or two along the way. I've noticed there's a few newbies on the forum requesting tips and in the spirit of goodwill I thought I might share some tips that have helped me. 
 
Here are my Top 10 tips for catching steelhead float fishing
 
10.Give to the river
 
It's good Karma. Whether it's donating your time or money to your favourite association or picking up some garbage each time you fish, give and you shall receive. 
 
9.Hire a guide
It's worth the money. What you'll learn from a knowledgeable guide will fast track you on the path to success. 
 
8.Learn the centre pin
It takes a bit of getting used to but you'll hook and catch way more fish.
 
7.Pool positioning
I like to stand on a rock if I can to get a good vantage point of the drift.  In general  I try to position myself in such a way that I get the most natural drift possible in the areas I expect there fish to be holding, i.e. usually the top or bottom end of a pool.
 
6.Presentation
Holding back or trotting at the beginning of your drift can make sure the fish see your bait before the rest of your rig.  Following the bubble lines with your float straight up and down can ensure you have the most natural presentation possible.

 

5. Right rig.

I tie my high vis mainline to my shot line via a micro swivel and then my shot line to the my leader with another micro swivel. I  start with larger weight (size AB or BB) closer to top of my shot line and get smaller as a go down (no. 1 or no. 4 shot).  I'm careful to match the amount of weight to the size float I'm using.  My float  is attached  by tubing above my first weight and I'll slide it up or down above or below the top swivel depending on the depth  I'm drifting.  I'll use bulkier floats for faster/choppier water and longer/thinner floats for slow water. Medium bulk floats are good for most conditions. I'll also adjust my weights, for example, sliding most closer to the bottom swivel in faster water when I want the bait to get down faster.  I usually use 0.20 mm diameter fluorocarbon for the leader but if conditions are clear I'll go 0.18mm or in dirtier water 0.22 mm. I also use fluorocarbon for my shot line, a thicker diameter than my leader but less than my mainline . My shot line is usually about 3-4 ft in length and my leader about 12-24 inches, again depending. I'll sometimes tie a second leader directly onto the hook of my first leader to drift 2 baits simultaneously i.e. bead/fly at the top and bag/worm/pinkie at the bottom to increase my odds at success. I like using sedge hook in sizes 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16, generally fishing smaller hooks and smaller baits in clearer conditions.

 

4.Right bait
I use fresh roe often brown or speckled trout roe which you can buy on-line and I use a variety of scarf colors, more natural in clearer conditions. Cotton candy pink, white and chartreuse seem to be my best producers. I generally use small roe sacks about dime sized but in other waters golf ball sized roe sacks can be most productive. I also carry many types of beads in various colours and sizes. A 6 mm peach bead is my best producer in clear waters. I also have a variety of flies, plastic and lives worms on me at all times. Chumming a pool with excess roe can stir the fish into action.
 
3..Adjustments
If I know I have the right presentation I generally won't try one bait for more than 5-10 drifts. This could mean changing to a different size/color roe sack or bead for instance. I make multiple adjustments to weight distribution and distance between float to bait to make sure I have that perfect drift before moving on to a different bait. Having a 'tackle tamer' with multiple pre-tied leaders helps to change baits quickly and smoothly. 
 
2.Move
I find if a particular pool is going to produce a fish or more it usually does so early on. If you've tried a few different presentations and adjustments and no fish, move to the next spot it might just be where most of the fish are that day. 
 
1. Location
Knowing one or two  rivers very well and how they fish under various conditions may be better than river hoping and not really understanding any particular river very well.  Timing runs, especially in the fall, is key. Know your flow charts (google Ontario River Data) so you can predict when the river becomes fishable after a heavy rain,  just as it clears up is generally the best time to fish.  
 
I hope this helps. It would be cool to hear your tips and please feel free to add any questions, comments, or  criticisms.
 
Cheers.
 
Rick

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#2 Berg

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 12:13 AM

Wow thanks for taking the time to put that together! I am probably one of the newbies you noticed posting questions. A buddy and I spent the day talking to some other float anglers on the river today and this is exactly the type of advice we are looking for. Cheers!


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#3 moonriver

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 08:29 AM

Yes! Thanks for the tips, every little tip and advice is appreciated. I just got out for the fun of it now. It will actually surprise me if I catch one???


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#4 staffman

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 09:43 AM

Excellent advice ! Thanks for sharing.


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#5 rayray519

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 11:24 AM

Yes, great advice thank you. One follow up question about weights. Let's say you were using a 4 or 5 gram float. What weight #'s would you use to equal the proper float in water?
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#6 Swing4Steel

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 11:33 AM

Load it up till.just the Orange is out of the water
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#7 Shawarma

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 03:29 PM

Yes, great advice thank you. One follow up question about weights. Let's say you were using a 4 or 5 gram float. What weight #'s would you use to equal the proper float in water?


You can test it at home before your outing. Put the float on a line in a cup of water and load up the line with shots until the orange is out of the water and you'll get the weight amount to put on.
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#8 Berg

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 11:50 PM

Yes, great advice thank you. One follow up question about weights. Let's say you were using a 4 or 5 gram float. What weight #'s would you use to equal the proper float in water?

 

Sounds to me like you're asking what denominations of weight would be used. For example using a float meant for 5g of shot you could get to 5g of shot by using: 5 x 1g = 5g or (8 x .5g) + (4 x .25) = 5g etc, etc. How you want to add up to the designated shot weight is up to you and the water conditions you're fishing. I think rick james would agree.  

 

Since I'm also just learning to float fish I typically worry less about the shot weight denominations and more about using the right float for the conditions. Seems to me tweaking the shot and rig styles is a bit more advanced and plan to get into that eventually.


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#9 rick james

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 07:42 AM

Great to see some feedback!  A big part of the excitement for me is learning something new every time I get out or talk to a fellow angler and it would be great to hear some of your tips too.

 

With regards to weight amounts I agree with the others. Essentially you want your float to react to the slightest takes so loading it to ensure the top end is just above water is good advice.

 

For example a simple way to do it would be to get a float rated as 6.2 g and get 10 or 11 AB shot (each 0.6 g) and space them evenly from the float to the leader.

 

Another tip: systematically work a pool. I usually start far side and gradually work in drifting various lines/seams as sometimes you just never know where the fish might be.

 

Cheers.

 

Rick

 


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#10 DILLIGAF?!

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 09:29 AM

Great stuff Rick. Appreciate it. I'm all for #2. Legwork. Whenever I hike on rivers. I make sure to mark some potential pools with overhangs and rocks...pays off during openers and runs.


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#11 staffman

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 11:05 AM

A friend posted this on another forum and it may help some in calculating what shot sizes to use to load their floats.

http://www.questoutd...ize-conversion/


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#12 PUMP KNOWS

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 12:48 PM

Thank you for taking the tip to write this out.


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#13 NaturehasIT

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Posted 11 May 2015 - 11:33 PM

Nice info. 


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#14 chasingfish

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 12:18 AM

Well said. We need more people like this to speak up and share the tips experience brings.
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#15 Shmogley

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 09:15 AM

tip #6 where you mention slowing down your drift is probably the most important thing people can do in my experience. just put that very slight 5% pressure on the pin. makes your offering look a lot more vulnerable.

 

and of course MOVE. lol tha amount of times i see a guy sit on one run all day with no fish. always move if it aint happening

 

good post brother


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#16 NADO

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Posted 12 May 2015 - 10:07 AM

Well written, I don't think I could add anything to this. This topic deserves some pinned time at the top of the forum.


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#17 NiagaraSteel

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Posted 27 July 2015 - 09:34 PM

Been meaning to add two little things for a while now. But awesome write up.

1) Put some dry fly gel/floatant on the first 15-20ft of your mainline the night before.

2) Hook sets are free (unless your rig ends up in the tree). Any twitch or slight dip in the float-I'm setting it home.
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#18 stealthseth

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Posted 30 August 2015 - 06:51 PM

cool thanks


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#19 Fishheads

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Posted 14 September 2015 - 03:32 PM

great thread, thanks for posting


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#20 tombo

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 08:52 AM

Great to see some feedback! A big part of the excitement for me is learning something new every time I get out or talk to a fellow angler and it would be great to hear some of your tips too.

With regards to weight amounts I agree with the others. Essentially you want your float to react to the slightest takes so loading it to ensure the top end is just above water is good advice.

For example a simple way to do it would be to get a float rated as 6.2 g and get 10 or 11 AB shot (each 0.6 g) and space them evenly from the float to the leader.

Another tip: systematically work a pool. I usually start far side and gradually work in drifting various lines/seams as sometimes you just never know where the fish might be.

Cheers.

Rick

. I do agree with systematically working a pool, but in my opinion you should work the nearer holding areas first! Especially if you have high vis mainline, to reduce the chances of spooking fish! Just my .02
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