Generally there are three schools of thought with regards to the usage of mainlines and leaders when float fishing. One school, and probably the primary school (certainly in Ontario and with most Centerpin fishermen) is to tie the mainline directly to your leader/presentation. That would be, float and float stop on the actual mainline..hi vis or not. From this camp, philosophies branch with regards to the sight factor of a mainline. I.e. can fish see the mainline?
Camp A says 90% of what everyone thinks they are doing with float fishing is completely wrong in trying to keep the float completely vertical and moving at the rate of the current. These guys believe that the rate of float should be slower than the rate of current, to match the slower bottom currents where 90% of the fish hang out. That would mean your actual float is at nearly a 45 degree angle pointing upstream, which would also mean that the mainline is completely outside of the vision cone of steelhead regardless of depth or water clarity. This is called trotting.
Camp B of this branch says you have to stay vertical with the general rate of current, which would mean that steelhead "could" in fact look up when approaching the presentation and see a hi vis mainline. This camp (mostly in Ontario) believe this to be true, and therefore have an almost religious belief in tiny diameter mainlines so as to remain as "stealth" as possible both with the mainline floating on the surface and traveling down through the float and tied direct to the leader.
The second school of thought is that steelhead CAN see the mainline (again on vertical drift..as this is the prevailing presentation method), and that it can be very critical to splice in a short section of "clear" line, typically mono, for the float and float stop. This would push the higher vis mainline further upstream and outside of the vision cone in shallow clear waters.
In speaking recently with Pro Staff Kyle Buck of Great Lakes Guide Service in Michigan, he recounted a recent outing where he was getting his rear end handed to him by a fellow angler on his boat who had "spliced" a section of clear mono and after making the change himself, caught up in the catch score.
The third school of thought is to play the clarity and vis game on a daily basis, and based upon depth and clarity of the hole you are fishing, make the adjustments with your presentation and add a splice piece accordingly to keep the hi vis mainline out of the vision cone of fish. We recently caught up with Pro Staff Kyle McClelland of XXL Chrome Chasing and grabbed a quick breakdown of his setups using this approach.
One topic that almost every angler has a different opinion about, is how they run their Hi-vis float fishing mainline to the leader. Some people believe that the Hi-vis float fishing mainline spooks fish and some don’t. I’ve heard of people connecting a 3-9’ piece of 8-12lb mono or fluorocarbon leader to their Hi-Vis float fishing mainline, in which this is the piece of line (splice) they put their float on. That way, the Hi-vis float fishing mainline isn’t in the water and out of the field of vision of fish. I’ve also heard of people just putting their float on the Hi-vis float fishing mainline and just connecting the mainline strait to the leader. I’ve heard of many other ways anglers set their rig up, but in this article, I’m going to break down how I run my Hi-vis float fishing mainline in different circumstances.
As stated above, it seems like every angler has a slightly different opinion on how they set up their float fishing rig. First off, I’m going to break down how I set-up my rig while fishing the smaller tributaries; such as the Betsie, Boardman, Boyne, Jordan and etc… So, does a Hi-vis float fishing mainline actually spook fish? Yes, I believe it definitely can, typically while fishing small and clear rivers.
The set-up that I use while fishing the small tributaries is very basic. Let’s say that I’m fishing holes that are about 4-7’ deep, which is about the average depth of holes on smaller rivers. First off, I’m going to connect about a 4’ piece of 10lb test mono to my Hi-vis float fishing mainline by using the Albright knot. Then, you’ll want to apply your bobber stopper and/or float to this piece of 10lb mono. You’ll want to make sure to use mono , so your line will stay on top of the water, as it will make it much easier to mend your line and maintain a steady natural drift. If you use fluorocarbon leader for this piece, it will sink faster than mono, and it will make it difficult to mend your line and keep a natural drift.
Next, you’ll want to connect a small black barrel swivel to the 4’ piece of 10lb mono and add a 3’ leader. Make sure that your leader line is lighter than the 10lb test, that way if you snag up you won’t lose your float as well. Then, you can simply apply any bait and shot pattern that you may use for the river your fishing.
Here is the break down on how I set-up for fishing big river systems, such as the Big Manistee, Muskegon, Grand and etc.. While fishing these bigger river systems, your Float fishing mainline is not going to spook many fish. I’ll simply apply my float to my float fishing mainline and then connect a small black barrel swivel to my float fishing mainline. Then, I’ll tie a leader onto the other end of my barrel swivel. The holes I fish on the bigger tributaries are generally 5-12’ deep, so I usually like to use a 4-6’ leader off of my Hi-vis float fishing mainline. Since I didn’t add a 4’ piece of 10lb test mono, like I would while fishing the smaller tributaries, I just like to run a slightly longer leader than I may normally use.
In conclusion, almost every angler has a different opinion on how they run their Hi-vis float fishing mainline. The two set-ups I broke down are by far my most common. If you’re a float fisherman and haven’t tried running a Hi-vis float fishing mainline, then I would recommend giving it a shot! If you’ve never tried it ,then you might be surprised on how well it works from a visibility and ease of mending perspective. If you are not into the Hi-vis, you can try out the new "Natural" color option in the Floating Mono Mainline for a more stealthy approach.