The Float, Fly, and Trout

The Float, Fly, and Trout

Whether you’re walking the bank, wading a stream, kicking in a float tube, or motoring in a boat the float and fly set-up will consistently catch freshwater trout anywhere on the planet. 

This easy to use technique allows fishermen to use proven trout catching flies with conventional spinning equipment. Most bass fisherman will already have most of the equipment needed. I use the same rod, reel, and main line as my bass float and fly rig. The remaining components change slightly, let’s take a look.

Equipment

The rod type I prefer for freshwater bass float and fly set ups has a trout-like action, it is very limber in the tip. This rod’s action is unlike any of my other bass gear. That is why it converts superbly for the same technique, but now trout are in the ‘cross-hairs’.  

7'-6" Lamiglas Rogue River Special, this two piece spinning 'stick' makes an easy travel rod.

7'-6" Lamiglas Rogue River Special, this two piece spinning 'stick' makes an easy travel rod.

All components of a fishing system need to balance with each other. So there is no reason to change the reel that I already have on this fishing rod. The reel is spooled with 8-pound braid as the main line. The rod, reel, and braided main-line are all direct cross-overs from freshwater bass fishing. The remaining components of this trout system adjust slightly from a traditional bass float-n-fly system.

Shimano Stradic 2500 spooled with 8 lb. Fireline Crystal Braid 

Shimano Stradic 2500 spooled with 8 lb. Fireline Crystal Braid 

Braid is my main-line of choice. Its lack of stretch provides excellent feedback when a fish softly takes the fly. It casts remarkably well. Whether mending or setting the hook, at the beginning of a cast when there is a lot of line between you and the lure the lack of stretch also assists with quicker line pick up. 

On the braided main line place a clear plastic casting bubble float. During the cast you’re casting the float, not the fly. These floats have a removable center stem which allow you to add water inside the float. Adding water can assist with casting. It also changes how the float sits in the water which will affect the retrieve; I’ll cover more on this further on. 

Casting Bubble Float with Brass BBs

Casting Bubble Float with Brass BBs

After the float, a swivel is tied on the main line below the float. The braid goes through the float stem and the swivel must be large enough so it doesn’t pass through the float. A SPRO Ball Bearing Swivel, size based on float size, is an excellent choice. From the swivel, a rod length of 3 or 4 pound fluorocarbon line attaches a fly. The fly can be any type a fisherman prefers: it so happens that I’m partial to Wooly Buggers (big bait, LOL), purple, black, brown, and olive green. If I really feel adventurous, I might even tie one on that has a micro spinner prop on the nose.

There is an infinite range of flies that an angler can successfully use with this system. So don’t be afraid to experiment. If you see a hatch occurring and you want to ‘Match the Hatch,' it’s not a bad move. If you’re not getting bit and you’re fishing good water, then mix it up until the trout respond to your presentation.

The Retrieve

Typically when fishing for trout with this set-up, I’m moving the fly, and yes you can troll this system. How fast I’m retrieving is generally dependent on the conditions and the mood of the trout. A cast is made and after a quick moment, I’ll begin bringing the fly back to me. Take notes on how the amount of water inside the float changes the way the system moves through the water. 

Some fisherman will add brass BBs inside the float; the rattle can enhance the attraction. By experimenting with BBs, the amount of water, fluorocarbon versus monofilament leaders, fly type, and speed control an angler can cover a wide range of the water column.  Play with speed and cadence until you start to notice patterns. All of these small details will make a difference.  Fishing in this manner allows you to cover water and seek active fish, which I find appealing. 

Let’s Dance

One of the many BBZ lessons is to have an open mind, and all things have their place and time. Enter the Line Dancer. You may have seen the television commercials and might have placed the Line Dancer in the ‘Gimmick’ category. 

  •          Adjustable for different levels of action
  •          Slip onto spinning rod and slide towards reel until snug
  •          Cast lure into water
  •          Place line in Line Dancer and begin retrieve
  •          Remove line from Line Dancer, cast and repeat
  •          Note: When a fish is on, it is important to remove line from Line Dancer before retrieving
The Line Dancer

The Line Dancer

When it comes to the Line Dancer, this is that place and time. It is a very simple device that changes the distance and the angle that your fishing line is feeding back onto the spinning reel’s spool. In doing so, it creates an osculating thump and vibration that is transmitted down the line to the fly, imparting a unique action. There will be times when the Line Dancer will generate more trout strikes.

Gull Lake June Lake Loop California, flat calm, no wind, clear blue skies.

Gull Lake June Lake Loop California, flat calm, no wind, clear blue skies.

Tip

How many times have you gone fishing and it’s flat calm, no wind, and clear blue skies and you’re not getting a bite? Those are some of the most challenging set of fishing conditions. If you use a little finesse and shake the float, you can create your own surface ripples. The key is to generate these ripples over your fly. Work your fly in the right areas and during these tough ‘Blue Bird’ circumstances those subtle ripples might cheat an inquisitive trout from getting too good of a look at your artificial fly. This applies to any top water fishing.

Let’s Go Fishing

From the mountains to our urban lakes and every river and stream between, trout find it hard to pass up a fly delivered on this system. It doesn’t take a big investment to get started. If trout fishing is part of your game, give this technique a try!

Two beautiful Mammoth Lake’s Rainbow Trout, fooled with the Float and Fly

Two beautiful Mammoth Lake’s Rainbow Trout, fooled with the Float and Fly

Keep in mind that the descriptions provided are based on typical Mammoth Region trout fishing, and Southern California ‘Stocker’ trout plants. As with any technique you can take the principles of the system and adjust the components to your location and fish species, freshwater or saltwater.

Good luck and good fishing! 

Title photo by ryanmcrorie.com

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