Another advantage of floats is the ease of placing your lure smack-dab in the middle of a steelhead’s lie. Suppose you want to fish a long seam where slow and fast currents meet. No problem. Simply cast your float past the lie and retrieve line until your float is just at the edge of the seam. Now free spool line while the float bounces along in perfect position to pass over the fish.
The float really shows its stuff when working pocket water behind boulders. You can flip the float past your target, then reel in until the float and its payload are swirling merrily in the back eddy. You can let your lure swirl in the back eddy as long as you like. Try that with conventional gear and odds are your tackle will look as though its been in a blender.
Next, you can fish the seams that form on either side of the boulder. First cast to the near-side seam and let your float work down the seam precisely on the line where the fast water and the slower water converge, then do the same with the far-side seam. If there’s a fish in that pocket it will see your offering and it will have ample opportunity to strike.
A major drawback of conventional steelheading techniques is the short time that the lure spends in a fish’s “strike zone”. In a typical situation, the angler casts down and across stream; the current immediately sweeps their offering across the stream, eventually depositing it directly below the angler. Strikes usually come as the lure passes across stream or immediately after the drift stops. Unfortunately, this presentation may move the lure so rapidly steelhead have little time to see the offering. In addition, the jerky presentation of bottom bouncing is completely unnatural. In low clear water bottom bouncing will often spook fish that could have been taken with a small float and light line.