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Float Fishing Essentials

River anglers eagerly anticipate their floats down favorite runs and tangling with acrobatic steelhead. Before embarinkg on the the maiden fishing trip of the year, anglers should go through their vest and make sure they ready for the next day on the river. Even though the opener is months away, it's good idea to start getting for the now. After all, nothing ruins a fishing trip faster than unprepared.

Here is a quick overview of the essential tackle and baits needed to ensure a successful angling experience.


A good selection of balsa and clear plastic gloats in various sizes and shapes is essential to meet changing conditions on the water. Drennan, Blackbird, Raven and Dragon make excellent floats and they should be part of your arsenal. Make sure you have both orange and chartreuse topped floats to ensure maximum visibility under changing light conditions. Pick up some porcupine quills as well they are ultra-sensitive and excel in slow, deep water.


Daiichi, Kamasan, Raven and SASAME in the "sedge" style have become the standard salmon and steelhead hooks in Ontario. These hooks are super sharp right out of the box and require no sharpening. Make sure you have these hooks in sizes 8 through 16 in your vest. Size 12 and 14 are most popular with Ontario anglers.


This lighter line contributes to a stealthy and realistic presentation, and thereby more hook-ups at the end of the day. Tipped is attached to your main line by way of a tine black swivel or surgeon's knot. Most fisherman run 8lb. mainline with a two foot section of 2 to 5lb tipped. By running a section of tippet, anglers will not lose their entire rigging should they snag up and break-off. It's better to lose a hook and some tippet instead of a three dollar float. Maxima, Orvis, Dai-Riki and SASAME, all make excellent tippet material. Fluorocarbon tippet is also a must when fishing pressured or wary fish, since it is virtually invisible in the water. There are many choices of fluorocarbon depending on your preferences. Try Drennan, Frog Hair, SASAME, P-Line.

Swivels, tubing and shot

Swivels in micro sizes 24 and 22 are used to attach tippet to main line. Silicone tubing in various sizes is essential in attaching your float to the main line. Tubing also allows you to adjust your float up and down the main line. Lead shot is needed to bring your offering down to the fish. Dinsmore, Raven and Blackbird all manufacture shot for float fishermen. It's a good idea to carry two boxes of floats, hooks and shot in ones vest. If you don't have a back-up and one of theses boxes slips out of your hands, it's game over and time to go home. Flies - Flies are deadly on Great Lakes trout and salmon. Wooly Buggers, Stone Flies, Nymphs, yarn flies and wooly worms will catch fish year-round. Fish will sometimes only hit flies after being bombarded with countless roe bags. A variety of sizes and patterns is a must in any serious fisherman's vest.

Plastic worms and eggs

The plastic worm has developed a great deal of popularity in the past few years. Most steelheaders favour 3-inch worms but Niagara River fish worms up to 6 inches in length. Berkley's - Pink Power Worm has developed an almost cult like following in Ontario. The wiggling and undulating action of these little worms certainly appeal to Ontario steelhead. Plastic eggs - provide an excellent alternative to roe. Buy a jar orange and chartreuse Jenseneggs and mix them all together in one jar. The orange color bleeds into chartreuse eggs. Your chartreuse eggs will take on a very realistic, clear and natural salmon egg coloration. This process takes a couple of weeks to achive. These plastic singles are very effective for bows in the fall, especially fished downstream of spawning salmon.

Tube Jigs

Crappie tube jigs are deadly on steelhead. They are available in endless color combinations to suit all conditions. Owner, VMC and Gamakatsu tube heads are by best sharpest out there. For something a little different, tie few wisps of marabout to jig and then insert into the tube.

Besides these "essentials", your checklist schould include the following items:

- spinners
- Kwikfish and Hotshots
- hemostats
- stingers
- roe bags
- red worms
- Gummy Bears (Tip: rip their heads off and use as single eggs/ you eat the body)
- camera
- Zip Lock bags
- panty hose (Tip: for rinsing and water-hardenning roe. What did you think they were for?)
- knife
- mini flashlight
- split shot
- eggs sinkers
- spawn netting and spider thread

Mark S.
Last modified onSaturday, 12 October 2013 06:38