Float and Fly Technique
For Suspended or Schooling Fish
By Dan Grulke

A seldom used technique that works on many freshwater species of fish when they are suspended or schooling, especially in the fall, is the Float and Fly technique.  This technique is deadly on bass, crappie, yellow perch, and trout and can be used effectively on both lake and river fish. The rig consists of a bobber stop, bead, slip bobber, split shot, and a fly, swimming grub, or other lure depending on what species you target.

First, you thread a bobber stop onto your line. I prefer the string bobber stops that are tied around a plastic tube because they give you the flexibility to fish a greater range of depths. The small plastic bobber stops often hang up in your reel when the max depth exceeds your rod length. Simply slide the line through the bobber stop tube, and then slide the string off the tube towards your rod tip. Once the string is off the tube pull the opposite tag ends of the string in opposite directions until the string forms a knot. Adjust this knot up and down by wetting the line and sliding it to your preferred depth. Once this is accomplished, slide the string tube off your line and trim the string knot tabs as close as possible. Now thread a small bead (most slip knot packages include the bead) onto your line. Next, thread your slip bobber onto your line with the most visible side above the water. For most slip bobbers it will be chartreuse side above water and white below water. Then you will add split shot, either one or two BB size, so that they are about 6-8 inches above your lure. The last step is to tie on your lure. To summarize, starting from the rod tip down, you should have a slip knot of string, a bead, a slip bobber, some split shot and then your lure. The advantage of the slipknot  is that you can slide it up and down the length of your line, it is small enough that it will not catch on your reel or guides, and that you can quickly change the depth of your presentation by sliding it up or down your line.

Lure selection depends on the type of fish you are targeting. When targeting bass I choose a small swim bait usually 2-4 inches long like the Storm Curl Tail Minnow on a 1/16th or 1/8th ounce jig head. For trout I use the Case Plastics Trout Worm. For crappie and perch I use Case Plastics Grubs and Mizmo Feather Dusters, Tracers, and Spec tubes. I have also used traditional flies in trout streams with success. Remember to use the least amount of weight as possible so that you lure falls at a slow pace.

When fishing the Float and Fly rig you will want the lure at the depth of the fish or within one or two feet above the depth of the fish.  Instead of retrieving the rig I simply drag the rig too me as slow as possible so that the bobber remains upright and does not create a wake. After a two foot drag I will reel in the slack line and gently shake the rod so that the bobber dances in place for three to five seconds and then I pause the shaking. During the pause is when the fish generally strike. The bobber is a great strike indicator. Depending on the fishes strike, the bobber will go down, go off to the side, or move when you are not causing it to move. When your bobber shows any evidence of movement, that you did not cause, reel in your line until you feel the fish and then gently set the hook when your line is tight and you can feel the weight of the fish.

For the Float and Flt technique I use a 7-foot or 7-foot, 6-inch rod with a fast or extra fast action and a medium light to medium power graphite rod in the 6-12 pound test line and 1/16 to ounce lure rating. The longer rod allows me to cast further and allows me to have a greater amount of line between the bobber, weight, and lure when cast. I use a medium-light to medium power rod because it allows me to use lighter lures. I use Sufix line in 4 to 8 pound test, in types Pro Mix, Elite, and Fluorocarbon depending on the species and water clarity. Match the reel size to the line test rating you are using to allow for 100 yards of line.

To book trips please contact Ken Penrod or any of the other Life Outdoors Unlimited guides. Please check out our web-site www.penrodsguides.com for other articles in LOU Magazine and our weekly fishing report. For questions on this article please contact Dan Grulke at musky13@yahoo.com, the web-site above, or via phone 703-389-3508.