How to Float Fish for Salmon

Written by logan macomber
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How to Float Fish for Salmon
Float fishing is an effective technique that is frequently used by salmon anglers. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

There are many different ways to fish for salmon, but float fishing is the most effective way to present your bait or lure in a natural manner. Float fishing for salmon is most commonly practised on rivers and can be done from shore or from a drifting boat. Float fishing can require patience, but the excitement that comes from watching your float disappear below the surface will be well worth the wait.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Fishing rod
  • Spinning or bait-casting reel
  • 5.44kg. to 9.07kg. test line
  • Float or bobber
  • Swivel
  • Leader
  • Split shot
  • Bait or lure

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  1. 1

    Rig the float. You can use either a fixed float, which attaches to your line, or a slip float, which slides up and down a section of your line. If using a slip float, you will need to position a float stop above your line to restrict the float's movement. The distance from the float to the end of the line depends on the depth of the water. Your bait or lure should be presented as close to the river bottom as possible, but should still be able to travel freely with the current.

  2. 2

    Attach the size 7 barrel swivel below the float. Tie one end of the swivel to the line and the other end to the leader. If using a slip float, make sure the swivel is larger than the hole in the float. The leader should be lighter than the main line.

  3. 3

    Attach the split shot to the leader below the swivel. The amount of weight needed depends on the type of lure or bait you are using and the speed of the current.

  4. 4

    Attach your bait to the end of the leader 18 to 24 inches below the swivel. Effective artificial baits include jigs and rubber worms. Fish eggs, or roe, and sand-shrimp are common natural baits. The size of the hook depends on the species of salmon you are fishing and can range from size 4 to size 4/0.

  5. 5

    Cast your line and watch your float. One strategy is to cast along the edge of the current, which allows your bait to drift more slowly. If the float travels too far down stream for you to see it clearly, reel in your line and start again.

  6. 6

    Wait for your float to disappear completely below the surface before setting the hook and reeling in. One of the most difficult parts of float fishing is knowing when to set the hook. The float may sway or bounce up and down as the bait hits the bottom or is nibbled by fish, but only when it has disappeared under the water should you jerk your rod tip back to set the hook.

Tips and warnings

  • Add a piece of shrimp to the hook on a jig for a lethal combination, or combine fish eggs and shrimp on the same hook for a "shrimp cocktail."
  • Natural baits are not legal in all waters, so consult the rules and regulations of the area in which you are fishing.

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