Colder weather means slowing down your tactics on the water. As the water temperature drops, so does the energy and feeding habits of the fish. There are several ways anglers can alter their style, tackle, and techniques to adjust for the seasonal changes, however. One such tactic is a known as the float n’ fly rig, and will produce results where faster-moving lures won’t.
The float n’ fly rig originated as a rig designed to catch crappie during the winter, but many anglers were finding themselves with broken line with several bass striking their small crappie jigs. Since then, the rig has become widely popular for its effectiveness at enticing lethargic bass to strike during colder months.
The float n’ fly can be rigged with different styles of components, but the basic design is quite simple. It is basically a small, marabou jig rigged under a bobber and twitched slowly in deeper water. You don't have to strain yourself to find an exact and intricate style, however. All you’ll need to obtain the basic design is a quality bobber with a hook clasp, a three-way swivel, a lightweight jig, and a length of leader that will vary depending upon the water depth and the strike zone. Simply tie your main line to one eye of the swivel, clasp your bobber’s hook to another eye, and attach your leader to the remaining eye.
The key to success when using the float n’ fly is depth and speed. Since the jib will remain at your depth of choosing, putting it where the fish are and working it at a speed that will imitate baitfish and get your target species interested is the trick. In winter, bass will suspend anywhere from 10 to 14 feet, near rocks and structure as moving requires more energy during the colder months. For this reason, they’ll be less inclined to chase after prey. By putting the jig in front of the fish and retrieving it at the same speed as larger fish, you’re actually imitating the behavior of bait fish when they relate to structure and other fish. Since a fish’s metabolism slows as the temperature drops, requiring them to eat less, this presentation affords them the opportunity to feed without exerting a lot of energy. This is the cornerstone of cold weather fishing.
You’ll also need a longer rod to make this rig easier to use and more effective. All Pro makes rods designed for float n’ fly rigs available in 8 to 11 foot lengths. Of course, you can use any brand you like, as long as you make sure to grab a longer, lighter action rod.
Now, the casting style with a float n’ fly rig can be tricky and, at first, will sound complicated, but it’s the best way to cast with the rig’s long leader. First, you’ll need to work the rig out in front of you, and then make a slow back cast behind you. When you hear the bobber hit the water behind you, make your forward cast. With your rig in the water behind you, it allows you to cast in a straight line and also reduces wind knots since you’re pulling it steadily out of the water. Once your bait is in the water, point your rod tip right at the bobber and shake it slightly to create a twitching action. Once you get a strike, sweep the rod up—not to the side—to get the hook into the roof of the fish’s mouth, and you’ll look like a pro in no time.
This technique has helped me catch many fish throughout the years when other lures have failed and I know it will do the same for you. Employ a little patience at first and give yourself some