FLOAT N FLY: Capt Chuck Ragan
Hey, this is Chuck Ragan with Hatch Outdoors and I'm here to talk about rigging techniques for the float and fly method. I'm coming to you from Northern California where I do a lot of it in the winter months. It can be an extremely successful method when targeting passive and lethargic game fish. The way we target these game fish is by imitating a suspended or lethargic baitfish under an indicator with a long leader and floating lines. This time of year a lot of the fish tend to feed up, so having your fly suspended above the heads of bait-chasing bass is probably not a bad idea if you want to put more fish in the boat.
Elements To A Successful Float And Fly Rig
- Weighted Fly
- Balsa Wood Indicator
- 20lb Hatch Monofilament
- 16lb Hatch Fluorocarbon
- 8lb Hatch Fluorocarbon
- Hatch 7 Plus
- 7 Weight Rod
First, I will explain a couple of elements of this rig and then show you how I like to rig it. A lot of the flies that we throw are pretty small, around 1/32 to 1/8 ounce jig-headed flies. The reason we throw these small flies is that we are trying to imitate a suspended or dying baitfish. The next important element of this rig is the indicator. I worked with Jay Cochrum out of Truckee California to create this Indicator. He hand turns these on a lathe out of Balsa wood, making this Bobber extremely light and reactive for any sort of lure movement a fish makes on your fly. We embedded a strong ring into the bobber to create a point to tie your leader to. The ring allows two independent loop knots to create a 90-degree angle from your fly line down to your fly.
How To Rig A Float and Fly
Once you have gathered your materials, grab your 7wt rigged up with a floating line. I start with a section of twenty-pound Hatch Medium/Hard Monofilament, usually about 12-18 inches. Use a perfection loop to tie from the fly line to the 20lb, then a non-stop loop to connect to the ring on the bobber. Next, take 16 pound Hatch Fluorocarbon and cut a section anywhere from 24-36 inches. Tie one end of this section to the ring of the bobber using another loop knot, this allows this section to create the 90-degree drop. At the end of this 16lb section tie a perfection loop, followed by a length of 8lb Hatch Fluorocarbon with another perfection loop to create a loop to loop connection. The 8lb section will serve as the tippet running to your fly.
Knowing The Depth Of Your Fish
The length of the 8lb material is going to be determined by whatever depth you think the fish are holding at. You have to determine a depth at which the fish are willing to rise to take your fly. This can be anywhere from 8 feet down to 13-14ft. This can be adjusted based off of the water that you are in, and the fish that you are targeting.
Photo Taken From California Bass Union (Diagram of Float and Fly Rig)
Balanced Minnow Patterns
Photo of Solitude Fly Companys Dead Drop Minnow
Once you get set on a depth, then you're going to pick a balanced minnow/shad pattern weighted fly. No matter what pattern you go with, use a loop knot to attach to the fly so that it stays balanced when gliding through the water column. Check out this pattern from Solitude Fly Company, the Drop Dead Minnow.
That's pretty much it in a nutshell. There is a ton more to this method, but don't be mistaken - it's not just staring at a bobber. It's extremely reactive and very sight-oriented. You need to be tuned in and focused, and it's highly successful in the cold water months.