Float fishing takes me back to fishing as a kid when I’d put a worm on a hook, attach a red and white bobber to the line, then cast it out and wait for the bobber to go under or start moving weird.
Float fishing is a great way to start fishing for salmon or steelhead in the river because bites are normally pretty obvious and snags are relatively few.
Depending on lure this setup can be used to catch kings, pink salmon, coho, chum and steelhead.
Like all river fishing for salmon the key is getting your lure close to bottom. If you are fishing a deep section of the river then that fixed bobber location is going to be difficult to cast and land a fish with.
That is the problem the sliding float setup is designed to solve.
In this example I’m using a pink jig as the lure, as I’m setting it up during pink salmon season.
For this rig you will need:
- A float – preferably one where the stated weight matches the weight of your lure
- Bobber stops and beads
- A snap swivel
- Leader material
- The terminal lure
If you aren’t familiar with bobber stops there are a few different kinds. The most popular kind consists of a little tube with a knot of colored string tied around it. The kits usually include some beads as well. Here is an example:
The first step in rigging this up is to slide that tube with the knot onto your mainline, about a foot up the line is enough.
Next gently slide the knot off the tube. The direction you do this is very important. The knot should go up the line towards the rod and the tube towards the end of the line.
Next take the tag ends of that knot and pull it tight. When that is done you can slide the tube off the line.
Next slide one of those beads onto the line. The hole in the bead should be small enough that it can’t go past that knot. (Sorry for the change in direction in the photo – to be clear the bead is between the knot and end of the line.)
I usually cut the tag ends down a little to about half an inch. The key is to leave enough that you can snug down that knot if you need to.
Next slide on the float, and tie the swivel on behind it. You may want to add a second bead between the float and the swivel, to avoid the swivel from getting wedged into the float.
Next measure out your leader (usually about 3 feet). Tie one end to the lure and the other make into a loop knot and put in the snap.
You will notice the float can freely slide from the swivel to the knot. Hence the “sliding float” part of the name.
Now that it is all rigged up we come to the cool part of this setup.
You can grab that knot and slide it up and down the mainline. When you do this you may want to tighten down the knot to make sure it stays put.
The position of the knot controls the depth you will be fishing. The minimum depth is the length of the leader. Practically speaking the minimum has no limits. You can fish 5 feet deep or 50 feet deep simply by moving that knot.
When you go to cast you can reel until the float is near the rod tip. That knot can go through the guides and even onto the spool of the reel. Which is what makes this rig so much easier to cast and land fish compared to a fixed float setup.
Good luck out there!