Bob, bob, bobberdogging along…
One of the biggest surprises coming out of the boondogging or side-drifting style of steelhead fishing is the reality that steelhead will hold in just about any kind of water.
Sure, these sea-run rainbows have their favorite spots, but the reality is that steelhead will hold, and more importantly bite in knee-deep frog water just as readily as they do in more traditional current seams.
This is even more obvious when you're fishing a river with a lot of boat traffic. Because of the pressure, steelhead move around a lot, and one thing every steelheader knows is that moving fish are more likely to bite than steelhead that have been sitting on their tails in a deep hole.
The challenge for the fisherman, then, is how to present a lure or bait in such a way as to get bit. The key is flexibility, and nothing gives a fisherman more of that than a floa. Or, you can call it a bobber or a cork or whatever you wish as long as you don't forget to take it along.
Finding the right float-bobber-cork is easy; Thill's series of floats give steelheaders enough options to cover just about any fishing situation they might find themselves in. Need a way to get your bait, jig or worm into pocket water and keep it there? Lindy has got a float for every situation.
How about heavy current? Yep, the Thill Turbo Master series is willing and able.
Spooky steelhead in a foot of water? Try a Thill Stealth, or maybe you should just bobberdog it (more about that new term later).
Are you fishing a river where it is all pocket water in one stretch, but just a few yards away is deeper holding water? Try a center slider or slip float that lets you change the depth of your offering by simply sliding a stop up or down your line.
Like to fish at night when steelhead sometimes bite better? Well, you know the drill--Lindy has a float for that, actually two series of lighted floats.
So you get it: Lindy’s line of Thill floats cover just about any steelhead fishing application you can think of.
Despite what real bobber/float/cork afficionados say, there are only three basic styles of floats. Those include fixed, fixed-but-readily-adjustable and slider floats. In those categories, there is a lot of variation, everything from body shape to style to paint schemes to - well you name it!
Fixed floats, those like the Thill Premium Steelhead Float, are on the money for those conditions where you fish a run that is fairly consistent from the standpoint of depth. Because you loop the line around the lower stem of the float and secure it by sliding the latex tubing in place over the line and stem, it's not as easily adjustable as other floats.
However, the fixed float advantage is that it is fixed - perfect if you're fishing a run that has fish moving through it. It also has a lead sleeve to aid in casting as well as to let you use a lighter jig or bait. And unlike those floats that use a spring to lock the line to the bobber shaft, the amount of line below the float can be altered with no damage to the line.
The Turbo Master series is an excellent example of a “fixed-but-readily-adjustable” float. (FBRA for short). This type of float is fixed to the line, usually by silicone sleeves that fit over both the bobber and line at the same time. As a result it's easy to adjust the depth by simply sliding the float up or down the line.
The disadvantage of the FBRA float is that you need a long rod to cast a long leader, (sometimes as much as eight feet).
If you only own a standard 8 1/2-foot steelhead rod, then the slip or center slider float is for you. This style of float has a hole that runs through the central axis. Your line slides through the center of the float.
You adjust the depth of your lure or bait by using a bobber stop, something that Lindy sells, of course. Because the bobber stop is small, it can be reeled through the guides on your rod and onto the reel, allowing you to fish just about any length of line you wish.
“You know, when it comes to bobbers and steelhead, it's all about the jig. We use 1/8-ounce jigs, summer and winter. It's a size that gives you the sink rate you need yet allows enough movement in the water to get a steelie to hit.” says Lindy pro staffer and guide, Terry Mulkey, of Garibaldi, Ore.
Mulkey’s favorite float is a slip or center slider because he spends most of his steelhead time in a drift boat with his clients, and the 8½-foot length is ideal in that situation.
“Using a slip bobber and bobber stop lets me set the depth of the jig to where ever the fish are,” says Mulkey. “For winter where I fish, that depth is almost a consistent four feet, so it’s easy to set all rods at four feet and go.”
While Mulkey uses jigs most of the time, a bobber is an efficient way to drift just about any bait or lure for steelhead. Salmon eggs, crawdad tails, nightcrawlers, any of the usual baits used for summer (or winter) fish suspended in the strike zone work.
If you want to pick a hot bait, then try threading a short, pink plastic worm on a jig head (1/8-ounce again). Fish that at the usual depth you would a standard steelhead jig, and you’re likely to get bit big time.
On a side note, Lindy has a new line of jigheads that have all the right, bright colors, a super-sharp, strong hook and paint-free eyes. (No more picky little tools and cold fingers! Yay!)
“You know,” adds Mulkey, “there’s a tricky little way that just a few of us use when the water is low and clear; it’s called bobberdogging (Told you we’d get there eventually.)”. The kind of water Mulkey is talking about is standard fare in late fall or late spring.
“It’s kind of a cross between side-drifting (or boondogging) and fishing with a bobber. What you do is set up a slip float with a 10-foot leader.
Basically, you run a standard drift-fishing set up with a half-ounce slinky sinker and a small bait of salmon eggs on a #2 hook.
“You cast this out, dump a whole bunch of line in the water and let the bobber pull your gear along. Meanwhile, you drift along in your boat, keeping pace with the bobber. You can guide the bobber into the small seams where the steelhead hide during low water.
“It’s very, very effective because by mending the line (flipping it up or downstream in order to keep the current from pulling it out of the seam), you can keep the bait exactly where you need to have it for a long, long time.”
Mulkey adds that strike detection is fairly easy: “Your bobber just goes tearing off. You reel in until you feel the fish, then you set the hook. You get the fish in the corner of the mouth.”
Bobberdogging is but one technique where using a float or bobber for steelhead is the best way to fish.
Whether you hang a jig, pink worm or a chunk of bait under a bobber, you’ll find that Lindy has the right tool for it. Learning the various ways of fishing bobbers will add diversity to your fishng and increase your angling success.
Check out Lindy's full line of products and rigging tackle.
By: Lindy Team