Spin Fishing with Float & Fly

shutterstock_232389523Fishing journalist Jeff Samsel accidentally stumbled onto a method that trout fishermen around the world have been using effectively for years. You, too, can enjoy success combining a spin reel with flies if you use the right equipment and technique.

Flies Work

To take advantage of a trout’s selective feeding tendency, fishermen use a tactic called “matching the hatch.” This involves simulating the appearance of a hatch by selecting the right type of fly and presenting it in a manner which looks to trout like aquatic insects in motion. Martin Joergensen of Global FlyFisher says that coastal fishermen in Europe have found that the best way to catch sea trout is by combining a spinning rod and fly with a bubble float, a method which can also be adapted to fishing in streams and other bodies of water.


m11540_1_Oval Sliding Bubble FloatTo use this method for catching trout or other fish with a spinning reel, you first need the right type of fly. Experienced fishermen study riverbed rocks and bushes beside streams in order to identify which local insects are most prevalent, which stage they’re currently in, and which corresponding types of flies are called for. In general, the chief insects in a trout’s diet are mayflies, caddisflies, midges and stoneflies.

To control light flies such as nymphs and dry flies, you will need a casting bubble or float to add weight to your fly. Bubble floats can be filled with water for additional weight to control distance, direction and depth, while casting floats come in different densities with guiding pins for refined control. Colored floats are better for nymphs, which lie farther below the surface and are harder to see.

A bobber stop and bead will help you control the depth of your fly. Some stops are designed to snap onto your line without the need for a bead, tying or threading. You will also want a small ring or swivel for the end of your line along with some extra-light two- to four-pound test line to use as leader line. This will be easier to tie to your fly than your heavier main line.

Finding the Right Spot

Trout can live in an area only a few feet long if it’s at least two feet deep or if one end has a log or rock they can hide under. Most medium-sized and large-sized trout streams are well-publicized, the trick is finding a small stream. These can be found by investigating branches of larger streams that look too small and brush-filled to attract most fishermen. Following such tributaries and wading upstream can often reveal great fishing spots. Try to find a spot where you can cast at least 30 feet of line. Outdoor writer, Patrick Meitin, offers some great tips on the best places to find trout in his article Dry-fly Nirvana.

After you find a promising spot, Reddington offers some tips for scoping the area out. Although dawn and dusk are the best times to fish, mid-day is the best time for actually spotting fish. Wearing polarized sunglasses will aid your ability to see into the water. Look for places where the current slows down with features that can conceal trout, such as undercut stream banks, boulders, fallen trees, heads of pools at the ends of rapids and shallow-rapid riffles. Take a position where the sun is behind you but your shadow isn’t blocking your view. Approach slowly and quietly, keeping low and being careful not to stomp or splash. Look through the water column for fish shadows on the waterbed, reflections off scales or fins. Realize that you’re more likely to spot these hints of a fish than a full fish.


If you’re using a bubble float that doesn’t snap on, you’ll need to thread it first. Campfire Companion’s video below demonstrates how to thread a bubble. Your stopper or stop-knot goes on your line first, along with a bead. Then after filling your bubble with as much water as you want, insert your line through the smaller end of the bubble first so that the larger end will be on the bottom. To tie a snap swivel on, use a simple overhand knot to create a loop at the end of your line, thread the loop through the eye of your swivel, and bring your swivel through the loop. You can use another overhand loop to attach your snap swivel to your leader.

Angler Jim Bedford provides some experienced tips for catching trout with light tackle. While bait fisherman traditionally wade downstream, for light tackle, Bedford instead recommends wading upstream using a low profile and slow strides and placing your fly upstream.

Accurate placement is essential. Trout usually hide under cover, and the closer you can get your fly to their hiding spot, the better your odds of luring them out. Aim upstream of where you suspect fish are hiding. An underhand pendulum motion will enable you to keep your lure in sight until it reaches your target, while allowing you to make in-flight adjustments and avoid overhanging branches.

As your lure drifts toward you from upstream, reel in the slack. Keep your rod tip relatively high, which will keep some line out of the water and make it easier to detect bites and set the hook. Trout sometimes suck flies into their mouths and spit them out without taking a hard bite, so even if you only notice a tiny movement, set the hook!