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Thread: Float n Fly during the winter

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    Default Float n Fly during the winter

    Float & Fly Does The Trick
    Editor’s Note: The Float & Fly tip below comes to us from the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources.

    The Float and Fly Catches When All Else Fails

    Frankfort, Kentucky – It is now mid-January and the excitement of the holidays is gone till next December. Credit cards bills arrive in the mailbox and it’s a long slog before warm weather or any significant time off. The biggest bummer is the water temperature in most Kentucky lakes and rivers. It hovers in the mid-40s, which for most anglers means no fishing for at least the next six weeks.

    Don’t despair. The float and fly method – suspending a light fly underneath a bobber – lifts the wintertime, post-holiday doldrums with chunky, mean smallmouth bass, plus spotted and largemouth bass, bluegill and even the occasional walleye. The float and fly method utilizes a long spinning rod, 4- to 6-pound line and a tiny duck feather or craft hair jig to fool suspended fish in winter. The technique works best in the toughest lakes to fish such as Lake Cumberland, Dale Hollow Lake and Laurel River Lake. The float and fly will also work in the lower sections of Green River Lake, Paintsville Lake and Barren River Lake.

    The float and fly technique works best when the water is coldest in Kentucky. Water temperatures plummeting into the mid- to low-40s stress baitfish such as threadfin shad or alewife. They swim in circles and twitch erratically as they fight off death. Nature programs predator fish, such as smallmouth bass, to take advantage of the situation by eating this easily captured prey.

    The technique harkens back to your early fishing days of bluegill fishing with redworms suspended under a bobber. You’ll need a rod at least 8 feet in length. Many manufacturers offer rods specifically designed for this technique that retail for under $50. Six to 9-weight fly rods and the long, fiberglass crappie rods have guides too small for casting the extremely light fly and bobber much distance, but work in a pinch.

    The fly of the float and fly is a small craft hair jig suspended under a 1/2- to 7/8-inch long, pear-shaped plastic bobber. Tackle shops around Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow sell specially weighted Styrofoam bobbers designed for extra casting distance. They easily tip on their sides if a smallmouth bass takes the fly and moves shallower. These bobbers pinch the wallet, costing nearly $5 for two.

    The color and material of the fly makes a difference. Craft hair flies in combinations of chartreuse, white, pink, blue and grey work well. Duck feather flies with strands of chartreuse, blue or red tied into them excel when water temperatures drop below 47 degrees or when bass won’t hit craft hair flies. A 1/16-ounce fly is the best weight most of the time, but 1/32-ounce triggers strikes on those tough bluebird days after a cold front.

    Suspend the fly about 8 feet under the bobber and adjust shallower or deeper until a smallmouth hits. Many float and fly specialists use petroleum jelly-based scent on their flies known as “dope” and available in tackle shops around Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow. Some anglers trim their craft hair flies to parallel the bend of the hook or trim them to a point just beyond it. They then apply generous amounts of dope.

    This gives the fly a slimmer profile and more subtle action. Others don’t trim at all and apply dope just to the jig head. This allows the craft hair to breathe and undulate in the water. Not trimming and applying dope just to the jig head seems to produce better in water with some color to it, but both ways catch smallmouth bass. You can either dope the jig head or the entire body when fishing duck feather flies.

    Cast the float and fly to main lake and secondary points. If there is some chop to the water, allow the bobber to ride the waves for a few minutes. This puts plenty of action on the fly. Reel in about 5 feet and repeat until a fish strikes. If the water is calm, you’ll have to impart some action on the fly. Move the rod up and down and make the bobber wink at you. Allow the rig to sit still for a few moments and repeat.

    Watch the bobber intently. Big smallmouth bass often barely take the bobber under because they inhale the fly and don’t move. Trophy smallmouth bass coming from deeper water often take the fly and move shallower, causing the bobber to flop over on its side. Set the hook immediately if this happens.

    Some float and fly anglers use 4-pound green or clear monofilament as their main line and attach the bobber directly to it. Others use 6- or 8-pound monofilament or a thin braided main line from the reel to a 3-way swivel. They then tie an 8- to 12-foot leader of 4-pound fluorocarbon to one of the other loops of the swivel and clip the bobber to the other. Both catch fish. Those who use the 3-way swivel believe it makes for easier casting and imparts more action on the fly. Those who go plain feel more comfortable with one knot instead of three. Again, both ways fool big smallmouths.

    This is a good article that I've found.My point is that...
    From what I've seen from down south is the feeling that my jigs are too small.
    Most that are available and used are 32nd's or bigger.Which are too big during this time the article refers too.
    Downsizing with a small or finesse bait is what works when the water temps are this cold.
    Being from northern Mn. We see cold water all of the time and are used to fishing in it.
    3 days after the ice goes out or right before freeze up a 64th or 80th oz hair jig kills those pannies and bass.Pike too for that matter.

    Here's a few pics and videos with the water temp in the low 40's for proof that this method does work.




    You'll notice that the trees have no leaves yet.

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    What I take from this article is people use the crappiest floats imaginable and STILL catch fish. Just think what they could do if they used a decent float.
    Future moderator of the "Has Anybody Seen My Pants? I Could Have Sworn I Was Wearing Pants Ten Minutes Ago.” forum

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    So you missed the whole point of downsizng eh?
    A bobber is a strike indicator and it can aide in casting.
    The ones I have work well.
    Pick on it all you want ,but to degrade me shows me what you are about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crappiekeith
    So you missed the whole point of downsizng eh?
    A bobber is a strike indicator and it can aide in casting.
    The ones I have work well.
    Pick on it all you want ,but to degrade me shows me what you are about.
    Keith, I am not "degrading" you. There is nothing in my post to suggest that. Yes, a bobber is a strike indicator, but most are TERRIBLE strike indicators. And I haven't missed anything about downsizing. It's not exactly a new and revolutionary idea. I first heard about it in the mid '70's.
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathb4disco
    What I take from this article is people use the crappiest floats imaginable and STILL catch fish. Just think what they could do if they used a decent float.
    That's not how I understand what you wrote.
    There was nothing in the article showing float so I can only begin to think that my video showing the float is where your coming from.
    I catch 1000's of pannies every spring and that float does just fine.

    Just think what folks could catch if they used the right sized hair jig.

    Oh if you 1st heard about downsizing in the 70's does that mean everyone else has or are we just to assume since you know so does everyone else.
    My posts are not for the PRO they are for the guys and gals trying to learn.
    Last edited by crappiekeith; 02-08-2008 at 10:45 AM.

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    I just wish Oklahoma had a place/day where/when the wind didn't make it impossible to read a bobber/float/strike indicator. That vid is extra special to me...just because the water is like glass. I've heard of such moments, but never actually experienced one.
    Jeremiah 16:16a "But now I will send for many fishermen," declares the Lord, "and they will catch them."

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    Quote Originally Posted by crappiekeith
    That's not how I understand what you wrote.
    I wrote as clearly as I could. I can't be responsible for what you understand.


    Quote Originally Posted by crappiekeith
    There was nothing in the article showing float so I can only begin to think that my video showing the float is where your coming from.
    There were several mentions of floats (bobbers) in the article. I don't know what video you're talking about. I've never watched any of your videos. Postscript: OK, I just went back and reread your post. I did see where you had included a video. I thought they were just pics. So, no, I was not talking about your float. I was talking about the ones mentioned in the article.

    Quote Originally Posted by crappiekeith
    I catch 1000's of pannies every spring and that float does just fine.
    You would catch more with better floats.

    Quote Originally Posted by crappiekeith
    Just think what folks could catch if they used the right sized hair jig.
    Can't argue with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by crappiekeith
    Oh if you 1st heard about downsizing in the 70's does that mean everyone else has or are we just to assume since you know so does everyone else.
    No, I was just pointing out that it's not new, and it's still a frequent topic in books, mags and internet boards.

    Quote Originally Posted by crappiekeith
    My posts are not for the PRO they are for the guys and gals trying to learn.
    As are mine.
    Last edited by deathb4disco; 02-08-2008 at 11:21 AM.
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    Wink Calm down fellers ...

    there's a subtle difference in Float-n-Fly fishing for Bass .... and a float and jig setup for Crappie. Biggest difference is the float. Bass will often come up and inhale the bait, and just suspend there for a moment ... in which case a specially rigged float is key to indicating such. Crappie, on the other hand, will generally grab the bait and swim off/down ... in which case any float would indicate such action. Second biggest difference is jig size. Up North, maybe a < 1/32oz jig works better ... but, below the Ohio River (where the cold water season is much shorter) it doesn't necessarily work that way.

    I know where both of you are coming from, and what your respective intentions are ... just keep it on a "agree to disagree" basis, and the thread will stand as is.

    ... cp

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    Default Nice Interception!

    Crappiepappy, they both have good points, but it was going a little south. No need for that. It's all about the fishing. As far as the bobbers go for that type of fishing, I just learned a little trick to those cheap bobbers that were mentioned, but they need a little field adjusting before you use them. They are a weighted styrofoam bobber, which can be bought at Wally Mart for $1.25 for three of them. You disassemble them and then cut them in half with a utility knife. In the center of the bobber you clean out an area large enough to insert the hunk of lead off of the disassembled bobber. Now super glue that lead into the center of the bobber, put the bobber back together with super glue, reassemble, and you're ready to fish the FNF method with this really neat little bobber you just made. I've also been told that you can simply buy these bobbers around the lakes that this type of fishing is popular. Ex. Dale Hollow. It just so happens that this is where I fish quite often. :D

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    Quote Originally Posted by DC Crappie Kid
    I just wish Oklahoma had a place/day where/when the wind didn't make it impossible to read a bobber/float/strike indicator.
    Try a waggler. They're more stable in the wind, and you can adjust them so more/less of the float it sticking out of the water, depending on how rough the water is.
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