Using Floats for Bottom Fishing

Floats are bobbers, right? They float, right? Wrong. Read this story about using cork floats for bottom fishing.

You would think – especially after reading all the stuff we have said about fishing with bobbers and floats – that you would not keep a float in your bag of offshore or deep-water tackle. If I am fishing in 90 feet of water and want my bait to sit five feet above the bottom, what good is a float with 85 feet of line hanging underneath it, you ask?

Nothing. The answer to using floats for bottom fishing is not in hanging a bait below the cork – it is about putting the cork above the weight that is holding it – and the hook and bait on the bottom. This illustration best shows you what we are talking about.

Floats for Bottom Fishing
A cigar cork lets you slip a leader through the cork. Where you put it on the leader determines how far above the bottom your bait is positioned. This works best when you want the bait to stay in once place but not touch the bottom itself.

When to use Floats for Bottom Fishing

When I was talking to our SEO expert Donny, I brought up the fact that you can use a float on the bottom in a fish-finder rig. He was quick to remind me that that rig is their favorite – and the most effective – when they’re fishing for halibut in Alaska. The dying off of the season’s salmon up the long rivers brings the bodies – and massive amounts of protein – to the river mouths on the outflow. As the water pours out of the rivers, the halibut stack up and wait. Donny and his friends use these rigs to fish 90-100 feet of water at the first drop-off where the halibut are.

Cigar Float for bottom fishing
Thill Fish'N Foam Cigar Floats - Red/White - 2 1/2in - Slip-Stick

Rigging the Cork

The way these things work is simple – like any slip bobber, cigar floats like the ones we’re using for this method are actually sitting on top of the leader – it runs through it. They come with a piece of thread inside them. There is a loop outside one end and the two ends hanging out of the other. You put your leader through the loop before you tie on the hook, and pull it through. Then you tie on the hook and drop the rig where you think the fish are.

Species for Cigar Floats

Like we said, they’re used for halibut in Alaska, Rock bass on the west coast, and summer flounder – also called “Fluke” on the Jersey shore. We do not use them that often – or anglers in general do not use them that often – fishing the Gulf. But here more than anywhere the rigs are highly effective under the right circumstances.

When grouper fishing for example, anglers are told by the guides to “drop the bait till you feel it hit the bottom, then reel in about two feet.”

That’s all well and good and works very well. Keeping that bait two feet off the bottom will get you far more strikes from hungry grouper. Putting the bait directly on the bottom often results in getting stuck.

Cigar Floats And Bottom Fishing

Enter the cigar float. Put one two feet up the leader from where the lead (weight) is and guess what? The bait will be floating exactly 24 inches above the weight, and you will not have to reel up anything. Just sit and wait. Use circle hooks on the rig and when you feel the weight just start reeling.

Do not set the hook though. That will only result in your losing the fish as you slip the rig from his mouth.


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