Nineties anglers are discovering a “new” and deadly technique for tricking Steelhead. This “new” technique, as is so often the case, is simply a variation on angling methods used centuries ago by the pioneers of our sport. The float, or bobber, as some persist in calling it, has been in use for hundreds of years. (I think of bobbers as and red and white plastic gadgets used by small children and tobacco chewing Mississippi rednecks who go to a family reunion only to pickup women.) Today savvy steelheaders have developed a sophisticated system for fishing with floats to take steelhead under even the most difficult conditions.
Imagine, if you will, a perfect run. One you are certain holds steelhead. Unfortunately, the lie is upstream from you, and you have no way to get above it. In addition, the lie hugs an undercut bank on the far side of the stream and the bottom is a jumble of rocks as grabby as a covey of bedsprings. With conventional steelhead tackle this lie is almost unfishable. It is nearly impossible to make a successful upstream cast without snagging the rocky bottom. It is also difficult to keep your lure or bait in a lie that is parallel to the far bank, and it is impossible to control the depth of your lure to properly present it to suspended fish. If you did find a fish before a snag, your chances of feeling the bite with slack line are slim. A modern float system would solve all those problems with ease.