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Tuesday, 10 January 2012 09:20

Float n' Fly for Largemouth Bass

Written by Aaron Dryden
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When most people hear “Float n' Fly,” they think smallmouth - and it makes sense. The Float n' Fly was developed by Charlie and Eddie Nuckols in eastern Tennessee. This technique was aimed at targeting suspended smallmouth and spotted bass when the water temps started creeping into the low 40's. It works because bait fish struggle to stay alive at these temperatures. What a lot of folks don't know is this technique also works well for big largemouth.

The traditional setup consists of a 1/16 oz. fly (jig), weighted bobber, fish dope (scent) and a three-way swivel. Rigging is fairly simple. Tie your line to the three-way swivel and connect the weighted bobber to the swivel . Next, determine the depth you want the fly, tie the leader to the third swivel ring, and apply the fish dope (optional - no need to get into the scent versus no scent argument). Starting off with what you think will be the deepest depth will make your life easier, and you will waste less line while out on the water. If you don't know, I would wait to finish rigging. It's very important to use a weighted bobber with this setup, as this is what gives the fly its action.

bobbers for float n' fly

The flies are designed to suspend horizontally below the bobber. They can be made of duck feathers, deer hair, Mylar tubing, or synthetic hair. Cumberland Pro Lures, Punisher Lures, and Spro are a few manufactures I like to use. I've had a lot of luck with flies made out of duck feathers. If you enjoy creating your own lures, these type of jigs are fairly simple to tie.

float n' fly flies
Using soft plastics on a small jig head is an unconventional approach that works. If you go this route, you do not need a weighted bobber; the soft plastic is heavy enough to provide its own action. Pictured above is a Confidence Baits “Reaper” (far right) and two custom soft plastics poured by Jeff Little.

soft plastic float n' fly

I recommend using an 8’- 12’ medium-light rod with a fast action. Most of the major manufacturers make a rod designed specifically for this presentation. Light line is also important. I use 10 lb. PowerPro with an 8 lb. fluorocarbon leader. The braid floats, which helps with working the bobber, and the fluorocarbon leader helps the fly sink. You need to let the rod do most of the work and be patient when trying to land a fish. You are dealing with very small light-wire hooks that can bend easily. Can you find the fly in the first image of this article?

I suggest targeting main lake ledges, as largemouth bass tend to suspend in these areas during the winter months. Once you've located these areas, determine the depth and prepare your leader. The trick to making a successful cast is wait until you hear the fly hit the water on your back cast, and then load up and make your forward cast. Casting out of a kayak is especially difficult. I recommend facing either side of the kayak in the direction you want to fish and cast side-to-side. This will help prevent your fly from catching the stern of your kayak.

float n' fly rig

Once you've made your cast, slowly twitch the bobber back to the boat. Remember, you are trying to imitate a dying bait fish. If there is a little chop on the water let it move the bobber for you. If the bobber goes down, it usually means a fish is on. If it lays on its side, the fly is either hitting the bottom or a fish has come up from below the fly. Setting the hook is as simple as just pulling the rod up straight over your head. Be gentle - you do not want to rip the fly out of the fish’s mouth.

float n' fly large mouth bass

I hope this article has been helpful. Get out there and give it a try. You may end up catching a lunker like the 7 lb. largemouth pictured above.
Please practice CPR! See you on the river!

About the Author:  Aaron Dryden calls beautiful Virginia his home. He spends most of his free time chasing trophy smallmouth bass in rivers throughout Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. When he is not on the river he has been known to chase largemouth bass in local reservoirs. Aaron also volunteers for the Central Virginia Chapter of Heroes on the Water. He has a passion for kayak fishing and enjoys sharing his experiences. If you ever run into him make sure you have plenty of time to talk!
Read 16684 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 January 2012 05:39


# RSmith 2012-01-11 21:21
Great article, I've never heard about fishing for bass like this.
# Hammerhead 2012-01-11 21:51
Nice Article! Thanks for the tips.
# BigFlyReel 2012-01-12 14:06
Used to do something similar but with smaller gear when guiding for steelhead in NY's Salmon and Oswego rivers. We'd use a small jig and curleytail, or a weighted fly. Great article!
# Scioto_yakker 2012-01-14 08:28
Man, I liked this article. I bet this technique would have worked for me last weekend. Definitely gonna try it out.
# paddletrucker 2012-01-15 13:36
That's awesome. Really good article. I like the rig.

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