Unravelling the Float N Fly Part 2 - The Set-up

Nothing picks off inactive and/or suspended fish like a Float N Fly rig, but what is the proper way to set it up?   There's a lot of factors to consider for this rig:  The rod, reel, line, float, float stopper, and the bait itself.  Here's everything you need to know for setting up your own:

The Rod
While many FNF specialists swear by the longer spinning rod, I've had no issues with using the same 6'6" medium-power spinning rods I use for other types of fishing.  While a longer rod will help you launch the bait further, a shorter rod won't sacrifice sensitivity or backbone.  Ideally, a fast-action, medium-power 6 to 7 foot spinning rod will give you all you need.  The Fenwick HMX or HMG series or the Abu Garcia Vendetta series will both get you there at a reasonable price (under $100). 

The Reel
As with other spinning methods, a reel with little play in the handle will help majorly in fighting fish and setting the hook without slipping.  A faster reel will also help you get that fish in quicker without giving the fish much of a chance to shake the tiny FNF hooks.  The Pflueger Trion 4730GX is the perfect spinning reel for this technique as there's virtually no play in the handle, and it also has a solid 5.2:1 gear ratio, making it one of the quicker spinning reels out there.  Coming in at a retail price of under $50, it's a solid investment.  However, in reality, any spinning reel will do the job. 

The Line
While fluorocarbon would seem the ideal line for such a finesse technique, it's not.  Monofilament works better due to the fact it floats while fluorocarbon sinks.  This is a huge advantage in setting the hook, as it allows the angler to set the hook straight into the fish, instead of having to pull the line back to the surface before the hook set.  The ideal line for FNF is Berkley Transoptic, a monofilament that changes colour from orange to clear underwater making it hi-vis above the surface and virtually invisible below.  6 to 8 pound test is best. 

The Float
A slip float is an absolute must for fishing the FNF.  Experienced steelhead fishermen should have no shortage of slip floats, so if you know one, harass him (or her) until they cough a few up.  However, if you'd like to buy your own, wood works best, due to its sensitivity, while clear plastic and styrofoam are acceptable substitutes.

The Stopper
A rubber stopper is needed to make the slip float work.  You'll want an adjustable one that allows you to slide up and down your line without accidentally slipping.  Check the packaging to make sure the line test of the stopper matches the line you will be using on your FNF rod.  

The Bait
When it comes down to using bait for the FNF rig, nobody beats Punisher Lures.  Smallmouth guru Stephen Headrick is the godfather of the Float N Fly and his lure company has a line tailor-made for success with this technique.  A great place to start is with Punisher's duck-feather jigs in 1/16 oz.  There's really little need to go elsewhere with the technique, as these small jigs catch everything including trout, char, perch, whitefish, crappie, and both species of bass.  However, if you'd like to experiment a bit, Berkley Gulp! 1" Minnows also work well on this rig, as well as live bait.

There you have it, you're ready to catch some open-water fish in freezing temperatures.  Try it out this early season and you might just surprise yourself.

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