Fishing Spinners Under A Float
Fishing spinners is a very popular way of catching steelhead, in this article I will try and explain the method many experienced anglers have found works extremely well and keeps you from losing spinners and keeps you fishing more.
First off I will explain the terminal set up.
This method can be done using any popular rod and reel style, but i prefer longer rods 9-11 ft in length with a fairly light tip, which helps you detect the spin of your blade.
As for reels, any will work, but level winds and centre pins are favoured due to their ability to pay out line in a smooth manner, a very important part of float fishing.
My typical set up, is a 10 ft Lamiglass rod with a centre pin reel, loaded with 15lb maxima ultra green line, and 10lb leader .I like to keep my leaders about 16- 22 inches long. For weight I either use 3-4 split shot, or a 3" piece of pencil lead, pushed thru a piece of rubber tubing, or sliding free on the mainline.
As for floats, I typically just use styrofoam dink floats from 4-6" long, and avoid spending $$ on the expensive fancy floats as they make no difference in my fish catching statistics.
Now the most important piece of the puzzle, the spinner blades. There are many types of blades available to the fisherman, but my experience tells me the Colorado blade is the most productive, followed closely by the Indiana blade, I use them in different types of water however. My choices of Colorados are #2, #4 and sometimes a #4.5, and my colour choices are copper, brass and silver and I use both hammered finish and smooth finish, with a hammered #4 in brass being my most productive year round blade. I also use the same blades as previous in the Indiana style, but typically I fish these in faster water, as they tend to spin a little slower than the Colorados in this situation. These spinners are very simple, I make them myself using bulk components, all you need is #8 barrel swivels, #3 split rings, your blade and some good quality hooks, I use # 2 Gammigatksu's. Simply attach a swivel to a split ring and then add another swivel to that ring followed by another ring, now attach the blade to the top split ring and the hook to the split ring at the bottom, now you have a float fishing blade.
There are countless ways to fish this set up and I will explain a few of them and in time you will develop your own style.
First off we have the dead drift, in this technique you fish the blade as if it were a piece of bait, cast slightly upstream and let your float and blade travel downstream at the same speed as the current, it will spin very slow, and let me tell you, fish love slow travelling blades, try to never touch bottom, fish look up and that is where your blade should be, we call this short floating, and it is deadly .
Next would be the slight swing, with this technique you cast past your intended target water, and slightly hold back on your gear to get the blade really spinning, and now you simply pull it into the chosen water and the blade should be spinning hard, this technique really shines in pocket water.
Sweeping casts, with these I cast to the far side of the river and put the blade under immediate tension, causing the blade to sweep through the water with a strong blade spin. Occasionally let up tension to allow the blade to slow, be prepared, this is often when a fish will smack the spinner and very hard.
Upstream pull back, with this technique you cast upstream past the spot you think the fish are holding in, now start to retrieve rapidly pulling the blade through the predicted lie, for some reason steelhead absolutely love this approach, perhaps they get upset about an intruder entering THEIR spot and leaving quickly, works well behind large boulder spots and log jams.
These are just a few of the techniques that work well for me and often I use them together in the same cast. This is one of the great advantages to the use of a float in conjunction with spinner blades, you can adjust your style mid cast while still productively fishing the whole time. Also the costs of fishing spinners in this method is minimal, at about 40 cents a piece to make and the fact you almost never lose a blade, it is very inexpensive.
Another great advantage to this technique is you can simply pull off your blade and replace with a jig or piece of bait or pink worm and you are back in the game immediately .
I hope you will give this method a try, it has been a great producer for me and can really add to your arsenal when fishing a river.
Rod Toth, Bent Rods Guiding & Fishing Co.