Steelhead Fishing, Salmon Fishing, Trout Fishing, & Bass Fishing Techniques For The Pacific Northwest.

Float Fishing For Steelhead

Marlin LeFever Float Fishing

Steelhead are looked at by many as the fish of a 10,000 casts! Well guess what, if you pick up a float fishing rod with the right presentation and right water conditions and you can turn them into the fish of 10 casts. Why so many people look at steelhead as being so hard to catch is beyond me. Most people I think just don’t understand the species. Steelhead by nature are bread to survive, unlike a salmon, steelhead will enter the river spawn and still live to spawn another day. Why do you think that is? Why do salmon die and steelhead live? Steelhead EAT! When they enter the river they don’t have only one goal in mind like a salmon. Granted the main purpose of returning to the river is to spawn, but they also want to survive, and they do that by keeping there bodies healthy. Steelhead are aggressive, hungry, & dominate creatures of the river. Every fishermen should have the opportunity to hook into these amazing specimens. Now lets get into some detail of how that is done!

My main weapon of choice for catching steelhead is going to be the float rod. You will see many different types of float fishing setups on the river, but the main thing to keep in mind is weight and length. You want to have a light sensitive rod that will cast super light gear, but you also want length on the rod with some backbone to mend the line and control the fish once hooked. (and yes after reading this article you will hook fish!) I mainly fish LAMIGLAS! Why do you think? Because they are handcrafted right here in my neck of the woods and the quality, customer service, and dedication to the sport of fishing is unmatched. I myself fish the Lamiglas Si 98 MS. This rod is a 9′ 8″ medium action-ed spinning rod. It has plenty of length for mending line and enough backbone and strength to reel in Hog Johnson. Obviously not everyone is going to be able to buy a $500 fishing rod, so lets look at the certified pro series. These rods are great for the beginner steelhead fishermen. They are lifetime warranty and are made in every size to accommodate all your float fishing needs. The most common size and probably the best to start out with is a 9′ 6″ spinning rod. These rods can be found here! Your reel isn’t as important, I would go with a 2500 series in Shimano or 8035 series in Pflueger to be able to accommodate enough line. I myself fish all Pflueger, these reels are top notch for the price. Look at the Pflueger supreme 8035 for a great one to start out with.  Now onto the gear, this is what separates the beginners from the pros.


I am going to talk about 2 deadly techniques under a float, and these are the main ones I rely on to get into fish on a regular basis. First things first lets put some line on your reel. The best line for float fishing for steelhead hands down is going to be Fireline. I prefer either Fireline Flame Green Hi Vis, or Fireline Crystal. I like to use 14 pound braid, it seems to be the best for line capacity on the reel and it also seems to be the best at not looping up around the rod tip or getting knots in the braid. The reason for using braided line especially the fireline is floatation. Fireline and a lot of other braids float on top of the water so it makes it very easy for line mending, controlling your line, and visibility. You will want to tie some mono leader onto your braid to make your line less visible to the fishes eyes. I use Maxima Ultra Green either 8 pound test in low clear water or 10-12 pound test in high colored water. Another option for line that is very popular is P-Line. They make some very strong mono that will hold up in all conditions. I use a double uni knot to be able to achieve this task. Direction to this knot are seen by clicking here. Now that your all spooled up lets put on a bobber. I like to use the most simple bobber there is. Its a Thill premium steelhead float. It comes with a rubber surgical tube, remove the tube, and cut it in half. Half of the tube holds the line on the top portion of your bobber and the other half holds the line on the bottom portion of your bobber. There are many floats like this that are easily installed and quickly adjustable for water depths. The other bobbers I love to use are Cleardrift Floats. These floats are the newest hottest float on the market, get some asap! Now lets get down to business…. The JIGS!!!

fireline crystal

The first technique I will use through a steelhead run is going to be the jig under a float. There is so many jigs to choose from many different colors, sizes, shapes, patterns, and etc. Its a good thing that Joel’s Jigs carries everything you need to get the job done.  The main thing you need to know is pinks and other bright colors when the water is high and has some color. If the water is low and clear, reds and other darker colors. I will use red and white in low clear water, and all pink in high colored water. The one main thing that separates catching a fish and not…. Bait. I don’t care what you think bait will out fish anything on the water. Tipping all jigs with bait is an option. Sand shrimp, night crawlers, salad shrimp, prawn, & eggs just to name a few. Don’t hesitate to try different jigs and colors through a run, some steelhead can be picky. Check out a full selection to add to your arsenal by clicking here.


If the jig fails me….Worm it is! Plastic worms have been one of the most deadly baits to hit the fishing scene since they trickled down from Canada years ago. Fishing them under a float is pretty easy and doesn’t require much skill for rigging. Get some owner painted jig heads. I prefer white or pearl pink. You can find them by clicking here. Next your going to need to get some worms, I prefer pink worms but all colors have been known to be effective. Berkley worms have recently taken the fishing scene by storm. Check them out by clicking here. Now that you have your jig heads and worms time to rig them together. Start by inserting the hook into the head of the worm put it in about a one inch then poke it out center body so the worm is straight on the jig head. It should look like this.Steelhead Worm Jig

Ok now your completely set up deadly as ever with your Lamiglas in hand, your Pflueger reel, your Fireline braid, your Thill steelhead float, and last but not least your Joel’s Jigs! So what do you do from here… I would tell you but then I wouldn’t have you coming back for more! New article coming soon about how to read water and find out where to present your set up to the chrome creatures of the river and sea. To get a head start on the game purchase this video… Click Here.

float fishing for steelheadBy: Marlin LeFever – ADDICTED FOR LIFE!

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