Steelhead Float Fishing Technique

Steelhead Float Fishing TechniqueFloat fishing for steelhead has become the preferred technique of anglers in the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes regions. With the ability to cover water and present a bait in a natural manner, float fishing provides anglers an effective hook and land more steelhead.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Rig up and Fish!

Things You’ll Need:
  • Float Rod and Reel
  • Float
  • Split Shot
  • Hook
  • Bait
Step 1
Open the bail of the reel, string the line through the guides of the rod and place the float on the line. Be sure to match the float size for the water conditions: small floats for low, clear water and larger floats up to 1 inch in diameter for larger flows.
Step 2
Tie on a chemically sharpened egg-style hook to the end of the line and add 2 to 4 split shot at least 2 feet above the hook. Add a piece of fresh bait that steelhead readily eat, such as a piece of salmon eggs or shrimp, to the hook and you are ready to fish.
Step 3
When you approach a likely looking spot on the river, begin your approach by standing at the top of the hole where the rapids or choppy water begins to smooth out. As you begin fishing, work your way downstream to keep your bait in front of the fish, where they can see it.
Step 4
Cast the rig in the river and keep the rod tip in an upright position in order to keep as much line off the water as possible. If there is too much line on the water, the float will drag and the bait will not look natural coming down to the fish.
Step 5
As the float begins to drift down river, feed line from the reel in order to keep the float drifting unimpeded. Once the float reaches the end of the hole, reel in the rig and cast again. Make each successive cast longer in order to cover the width of the pool.
Step 6
Watch the float carefully as it is drifting in the current. When it hesitates and disappears below the surface of the river, a steelhead has taken the bait and it is time to pull back on the rod to set the hook.

Tips & Warnings

Adjust your float at every new spot. Keep sliding the float up the line on each cast until the float begins to drag; this means the bait is on bottom. Slide the float down slightly; this will keep the bait near the bottom where big steelhead lie in wait.
Watch for over head obstructions like tree limbs before casting to avoid nasty tangles.

Article Written By Brian M. Kelly

Brian M. Kelly has been freelance writing since 2003. His work has been published in respected outdoor magazines such as Outdoor Life, Great Lakes Angler and Salmon Trout Steelheader. He holds an associate's degree in automated machine design from Macomb College.

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