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Centerpin Basic Rigging

Taken from Quest Outdoors Centerpin 101 Video


A Centerpin Steelhead comes to hand Basic rigging can be as easy or as complicated as you would like to make it. You can utilize some, if not most, of the terminal tackle you already own or, with a mouse click you can acquire terminal tackle that has been specially make for float fishing. With today’s global marketplace you have immediate and very easy access to a wide range of products from all over the world. Keep in mind that this style of fishing hasn’t yet become very popular in the US, thus specialized gear will most likely be found in either the UK or Canada. That being said, let’s take a look at what you’ll need and how to put it all together.

Common Float Fishing Line Choices The first choice you’ll be faced with is main line selection. Most pinners are currently using a traditional monofilament such as Trilene or Ande. There are alternatives that are just becoming available such as Sun Line’s Siglon which offers two distinct advantages, it floats and it doesn’t absorb water. Floating line will allow you to “check” your float very easily especially if it doesn’t absorb water and sink below the surface. You can somewhat overcome this with traditional monofilament by coating the first 90’ or so with a silicon fly line dressing. Just remember to do it the night before you go out as it will extend the effectiveness if allowed to dry on the line overnight.

Example of a common Float Fishing Set-Up If you ask 100 pinners what characteristics they prefer in a main line you’re more than likely going to get 90 different answers, there’s not much of a consensus. A few ideas to keep in mind would be; A harder line like Trilene XL would be easier to cast than it’s softer siblings. Also, try and select a line with little or no memory; it’s less apt to uncoil off your reel. Additionally, line diameter should be based on your fishing conditions. If you find yourself consistently fishing small, very clear water, obviously a smaller diameter line will work better. Conversely, large rivers with color would allow the use of larger diameter lines as well as colored ones such as SiglonF.

One additional item to keep in mind when choosing your main line would be availability and price, especially if you’re a beginning caster. One of the most common problems when learning to cast is line twist. While we’re not going to cover that in this article, we will say it adversely affects your line and will cause you to strip off multiple yards after each days fishing or casting. If you’re using a line that takes 3 weeks to get, you just might find yourself waiting on FedEx instead of fishing! Our suggestion is to start off using the cheapest readily available line you can find then graduate into a more appropriate or specialty line as you get better. Even the best casters still peel off twisted line occasionally.

Breaking strength is always important to keep in mind. Your main line should break at least 2 pounds greater than your leader. When you snag up, the leader will break before the main line and with any luck before the float, and at 2-3 bucks per float it can get to be an expensive day.

Drennon's, and Thill's and Hanson's...Oh My! Next down the “line” would be floats. Now don’t call em’ bobbers, the old standard rule applies: Anything that floats can be named according to price and use. The old red/white ones are true bobbers, anything fly fishers’ use that’s over priced and over a buck each is an “Indicator”, anything that’s over a buck for pinners is a “float”!

Seriously, pinners have taken floats to an extreme. They’re the States equivalent to the European carp fishermen. There are literally hundreds of float available today, add to that number the custom made ones and there’s no limit to what you may see on the river. For a simple rule try this: Slow = slim; Fast = Fat. Slow water means less riffle action to bounce your float and typically less shot used therefore a slim profile float should be used. The main idea is to use the lightest weight and smallest float possible so fish won’t feel any resistance when they take you bait or fly. Heavier water with strong current and choppy riffles will require a larger float to keep it visible.

To swivel or not to swivel....That is the question Below the float will be either a swivel or the start of your shot. We’ll assume your swivel is next in line. Swivels play an important role when used with centerpin gear according to some. As the main line selection hinted at you’re going to experience quite a bit of line twist when casting. The main purpose of the swivel is to undo, as much as it can, the line twist from the cast. A secondary use would be a place to join your tippet with your main line. I guess one more use would be it’s a good breaking point when you snag up! While some of the best and most experienced Canadian pinners prefer to tie surgeons or blood knots over using a swivel others swear by swivel use. Popular sizes for swivels would be in the #14 - #20 size.

To the swivel above you’re going to tie your leader. We’re not going to cover this in depth since there’s no special formula, brand or type that lends itself better or worse for this application. One thing we will say is try and make your leader at least 2’ long and increase length the deeper you fish, especially if you’re using one of the fluorescent lines.

Egg fly's and float fishing, whatta match! Obviously, to the end of your leader will be you “offering” as it’s referred to in the video. Bait or fly it’s up to you. Each has distinct advantages as well as disadvantages under certain conditions. The same standard rules apply in "offering selection" as used for this style of fishing: Larger brighter patterns/baits for off color waters, smaller more natural colors for clearer water conditions.


Mike shows us how to properly shot The last subject would be shotting. It’s not appeared in rigging order due to the fact people start and stop their shotting patterns in all sorts of positions. Two of the best pinners in the video have totally different opinions of shotting, both catch more fish than any person should and both have their reasons for “the way they do what they do.” Here’s a good general rule to keep in mind when shotting: Slow Water= Spread; Fast Water= Close

Your float should sit here For most applications start placing your shot at least 12-18” from your hook and work your way up spacing additional shot out about 2” from each other. As the flow rate increases your shot should get closer together and closer to your offering. The number of shot will be based on your float size, add enough shot so your float is just visible above the water. Most floats will have a color change to aid you in shotting; always wondered what that was for huh? Shot size is up to you, the smaller the better. Small spread out shot will give you a more natural drift. It may be a pain to crimp on 8 or 10 shot vs. 2 big ones but the difference is noticeable both in hookups as well as reading your float.

Remember, this is nothing more than a guide, the main key in this and most other styles of fishing/rigging is to stay flexible. Varying water conditions, light levels, flow rates, water temps and a ton of other variables can and will cause fish at act, and react, differently. Keeping you options open and constantly trying new setups if nothing is working will result in more fish brought to hand.

Centerpin Float Fishing video, DVD
Float Fishing DVD!



Modified Drennan Loafer


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