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The Float-N-Fly In Depth

By "Triton" Mike Bucca

 
Float-N-Fly

I fully expect to be taunted by several of my fellow anglers by writing about a bobber and crappie jig technique that just so happens to involve a 10ft fairy wand in any serious bass fishing publication. But I can guarantee you one thing: if your lakes meet all the requirements and conditions for this technique, and you put this tactic to work for you, I can pretty much GUARANTEE you success and not to mention a lot of winter time memories. To be brutally honest, I haven't even written about this technique in my local journals that I write for until now, for the sole reason that I really didn't want it to gain a lot of notoriety. It's pretty powerful and is probably one of the easiest if not the easiest technique to master in all of fishing.
    As a Spotted Bass guide here in Atlanta, GA, I have found it to be imperative to become an extremely versatile angler. Due to the nature of spots and their finicky nature you have to be just as comfortable fishing deep as you are shallow and be strong at a lot of different techniques in order to be successful throughout the year. Those that are one or two technique wonders are usually strong in certain seasons, but lack in others. But the most successful spotted bass anglers that I know can do it all and also know how to fish for suspended fish, which is what this float and fly technique mostly revolves around.
    In my many years of fishing for Spotted Bass the one thing that I have learned is that big Spots spend the majority of their time in a suspended state. I had to think back of all the big spots that I have caught I would have to venture that 90% of them were caught in a suspended state. My favorite big spot lures are swimbaits, spoons, Float N Fly and Topwater. All of those lure choices can be effectively used to catch suspended fish especially over deep water. So thats part of the reason why the Float N Fly is as effective as it is with bigger fish is because it is strictly a suspended fish technique and it causes you to fish for suspended fish 100% of the time. The more I find myself targeting suspended fish the more successful I have become in catching bigger sized fish.
    Back in the mid 90's I visited a tackle shop near Bristol, Tennessee while I was on vacation with my family. I always like to check out the local talent to see if there is anything unique that I could bring home with me. While visiting this one particular shop I met a gentleman talking about this Float and Fly technique for catching trophy smallmouth and spotted bass like candy in the dead of winter on their east Tennessee impoundments. Little did I know, but much later through some research and a few phone calls I found out that he was the "Father" of the Float and Fly, Charlie Nukols. I remember spending about an hour with Charlie listening to him and asking him questions about the technique so that I can try it back home in Memphis, TN where I resided at the time. I bought the rod, the jigs and the floats and the small diameter monofilament line (Fluorocarbon wasn't an option for bass anglers back then) and enough information to be dangerous and when I tried the technique I had instant success. I still have the rod I got from him. It has zero markings on it and it's a fairly heavy rod compared to the more modern rods that we have now. Along with some help and support of other friends that I have in East Tennessee, Tim Maxfield and Matt Lewis just to name a few, I was able to refine what I have already learned from Charlie. I have dabbled on and off with the Float N Fly for several years due to moving to areas (Texas/Mississippi) where there are a lack of smallmouth and reservoirs that held good concentrations of spots. However, during the coldest days of winter I usually hang up my rods and put my boat in storage and spend a lot of time in the deer woods hunting. Now with the Float N Fly in my arsenal I don't deer hunt near as much as I used to.

Winter Suspenders
Float-N-Fly

 The Float N Fly was born in Eastern Tennessee and it started when the crappie anglers in the area were complaining about catching smallmouth while fishing for crappie by fishing crappie jigs under a float. Basically what happens in the dead of winter is that once the water temp gets in the 40's the fish become less active and less prone to chase lures. I know for a fact, that in my 25 years in fishing for spotted bass they spend a good bit of their time in a suspended state after a cold front passes. So it only made sense that this float and fly technique would work. I spent many years targeting these suspended fish because I found that those suspended fish were typically bigger in size than the fish I caught with other tactics in the winter. While learning the Float N Fly, the jigging spoon was my favorite suspended fish bait, followed by the Fish Head spin and then the Lucky Craft Staysee 90. But the problem with these 3 baits is they lacked the ability to stay in the strike zone for ample periods of time and don't offer an extremely subtle presentation for these fairly inactive fish. Let's face it -- fishing for reaction strikes in the dead of winter is a tough sell for any kind of bass. A subtle presentation at the desired depth that the fish are holding at is the absolute KEY to catching these winter time suspended fish and that is where the Float N Fly shines.

THE EQUIPMENT

The float used in the Float and Fly technique is by far the most controversial depending on who you ask. The balance between your fly and your float is of paramount importance for this technique to be 100% effective. Let me explain. You are basically suspending a 1/16 fly (Hair jig) anywhere from 8 to 23ft deep under a float. Obviously when we were kids and we saw the cork go under we would set the hook. But the fact that we are dealing with extensive leader lengths and lethargic fish, what happens when a fish eats the fly but moves upward in the water column and doesn't sink the float but has your hair jig in its mouth (this is called a "lift bite")? With a normal float you will never know if you have a bite unless you see your float sink. Well with this particular balanced setup when you cast out your fly on a long leader the float will lay on its side until the weight of your fly gets to it's desired depth and turns the float over vertically. So when you get a lift bite hit on your fly you will notice that when your float turns over on its side (horizontally) that you have a bite OR your bait is on the bottom. So you do need to pay attention to how long it takes your float to go vertical directly after the cast to insure that a fish hasn't taken in your offering. Also remember what color you see on your float when your float is vertical. Any other color you see means you have a bite or your fly is dragging on the bottom. It takes some getting used to as in bass fishing you usually feel the bite or see them hit your bait but in the float and fly your cork just turns over on it's side. It's weird at first but after the first time you see this happen you will quickly learn to pay attention to the float colors you are seeing. This is why I say it's a fairly simple technique, but very specific due to the importance of this balance between the float and the fly. It has been my experience that about 10-15% of the bites you get will be a lift bite. Still a fairly small margin but enough to make it worth your while to pay attention to the balance of your cork.
    Just in case you get a wild hair and try to improve upon this system with a slip float type rig DON'T! There are two problems with the slip float idea. One is the fact that a 1/16 jig is generally not heavy enough to effectively make the line slip through the cork. The second problem with this is when you go to gently pop your float to make the fly dance your fly will eventually work its way up the water column which defeats the purpose of the keeping your bait at a desired depth. This also messes with your ability to determine if you have a lift bite by a fish on your bait as well. Can you make this system work? Absolutely, but it's not worth the hassle in most applications. However it does have a use in fishing inside boat houses where more accurate casting is needed.

ADVANCED BOBBERS 201

If you read a lot of articles on the Float N Fly you can be easily confused, hence causing you not to experiment with different things within the technique. I'm a tinkerer to the highest degree and I wasn't satisfied fully with the bobber choices that are out there. You have many different bobber systems with the float N Fly and they all work to a degree, but they all have disadvantages. The two main systems that come to light is the Bob's bobber system which involves a custom made internally weighted styrofoam bobber and a small #4 size 3 way swivel. The other school of thought is the Nukols system which includes a simple 7/8" or 1" inch pear shape float. I am going to go over the advantages and disadvantages of both systems and also add the details of what I use that I think is a good compromise of both systems.

NUCKOL'S SYSTEM

When the float n fly was being perfected by Charlie Nuckols (the father of the float n fly) He experimented with several different types of corks. Charlie's system is composed of a simple 7/8" inch or 1" pear shape float. The beauty of this rig is in its simplicity. There are no knots or 3 way swivels required. You simply slide the line through the clip and with this method you can easily slide your bobber up and down the leader to adjust your leader depth without having to retie any knots or created a new leader. One of my favorite reasons for liking this system is if you get hung up on the bottom or snagged in in some over hanging limbs all you have to do is take your bobber off and reel the tip of your 10ft long rod to the fly and dislodge the fly off with the rod tip then reinstall your bobber and you are back to fishing. Since there is no 3 way swivel involved in this method, no lure retriever is needed on most occasions. Those two reasons alone are huge time savers and prevent a lot of retying knots as if you were using a 3 way swivel method. Another advantage of the pear shape float is they cost like .25 cents a piece. However the biggest disadvantage of the Nuckol's method is in its castability (even harder than the Coan menthod and especially in the wind which I will talk about next). It's a tough deal casting a weightless bobber and it's a little hard on the eyes watching your bobber for a lift bite or even seeing it for that matter especially in a light chop.

Float-N-Fly

BOB'S BOBBER

The Bob's bobber system was designed by Bob Coan, a well known Guide/Float N Fly enthusiast on Dale Hallow Lake in Celina, TN where the Float N Fly technique was born. Basically the Bob's bobber is a modified weighted styrofoam cork.
    The advantages of the Bob's bobber is that with a weighted bobber and a 3 way swivel it makes it easier to cast (although it still no cakewalk in casting it especially in the wind) than the initial way that Charlie came up with and it's also a little easier to see a lift bite from a distance. However there are a few disadvantages of the Coan method. The biggest disadvantage is you have 2 extra knots to tie. You have the braid tied to one loop on the 3 way swivel and your fluorocarbon leader tied to the other swivel and you clip on the bobber to the 3rd loop. I don't know about you guys, but my hands simply don't work well in freezing air temps in the winter time of the year tying knots with line the diameter of sewing thread. Another disadvantage of the Coan method is that it disallows you to change your leader length at an instance without having to break your line and retying it to adjust the leader length which is extremely important to insure that your fly is at the correct depth. Another disadvantage is that these corks cost $5.00 for a pair. I will admit you rarely lose corks using this technique and you can make your own similiarly weighted corks if you prefer to cut costs.
    The bobber method that I personally use is a combination of the Coan and Nuckols method. The float that I use is a 1 - inch pear shape, Plastilite brand float. Be careful when you go to measure a float. A lot of people think you measure the float by the LENGTH of the float, but in actuality you measure the diameter of the float to get the correct 1 - inch measurements needed for this technique. The ones that I have are half orange and half yellow and they are just like Charlie Nukol's 7/8" and 1 inch bobbers but I am using is two sizes bigger than the 7/8 inch cork which is the 1 - inch size and Christie has these in stock at Natures Tackle Box.
    With no wind this method works perfectly and literally casts like a rocket due to the added weight of the cork, even with fairly stiff winds you can still use your float to decipher a lift bite when it falls horizontally to its side. It's a bigger cork so you can see it easier and as stated earlier you can cast it easier as well and when you get hung up you can still take your bobber off and put it in your pocket and reel your rod tip down to your fly and dislodge it from its hangup which saves time and money. I actually take a sharpie at times and mark my fluorocarbon leader so that I know what depth to reinstall my bobber at. Also with the fact that the bobber is heavier it packs your line tighter on the spool of your spinning reel causing less overruns.
    The ONLY disadvantage of this method is during fairly windy days the wind can tilt your cork slightly (due to the bobber being bigger and more exposed above the surface of the water) and the wind can create some drag on your line and cause your cork to sit at a slight angle which happens to a degre with all 3 methods and that can cause you some confusion on whether you have a possible lift bite or not. The way that I fix this is to attach a 3 way swivel to the bottom of the 1 1/4" cork and using it as a counter weighting mechanism and NOT as a line attachment method. Just hook the 3 way swivel onto one of the wire cork hooks and you're done. The unique thing about a 3 way swivel is you can cut off a limb or two on the 3 way swivel with your pliers to get the perfect balancing of the cork while fishing in the wind.
    I have found that when fishing with this bigger cork I can cast longer leaders much more easily and accurately and I have noticed that when I get a bite they really tank this cork under, unlike with Bob's and Charile's method. Alot of times you get very subtle bites with the smaller cork but with the bigger cork it takes more for the fish to sink it and it goes along with the same reason why I use a heavier dropshot weight than most. When the fish feels a little added pressure it seems to grab onto the bait harder.
    In closing on the topics of bobbers. All 3 methods have been proven over time and they work very well. The moral of the story is experiment with each method and find out what works best for you and try to improve upon what your dislikes are of each method. I have no doubt that I will find a better bobber solution than what I have already found. Essentially almost ANY bobber will work with counter weighting as an option, including both weighted and unweighted corks. I have taken out quite a few experienced Float N Fly enthusiasts on guide trips and they all loved the bigger bobber concept and have incorporated it into their float n fly system because it seems to be an improvement over traditional methods.

ROD

The other important aspect of this system is the rod. The best way to describe the rods used in a float and fly is long and limber much like a fly rod. The lengths of most Float N Fly rods are 8 to 11ft. I personally use a 2 piece 10ft Silstar and a 9ft 6 inch Bass Pro Micro lite rod. The purpose of such a long and limber rod is foremost being able to cast a float and fly with long leaders (8 to 23ft in length). The second importance is to be able to fight and land a fish on fairly light line (2 to 8lb test). Some companies make rods just for the purpose of the Float N Fly technique. I know G Loomis, All Pro, B 'n' M Poles, Silstar and St Croix all have their own Float N Fly models. Some guys use long crappie rods in a pinch with great success. I'll be honest here you don't need a high end rod to catch fish on the Float N Fly technique as rod sensitivity is of ZERO importance here since you're just watching a cork to determine if you have a bite or not. You want a long spinning rod with about a 2/3rds flex and you should be good to go. Just remember a 10ft rod is going to be more cumbersome than your normal bass gear but the key here is to find a rod that balances your outfit and is light weigh that is comfortable for you. There are plenty of good choices out there without having to spend more than $60.00 for a Float N Fly rod. It is my opinion over the years that longer float N Fly rods are better. They can give you greater casting distance and you are more apt to be able to throw longer leaders more effectively with a longer rod. Surprisingly I have found that there is a fairly big difference in casting distances between a 10ft rod and a 9ft 6 inch rod. The only modification I make on my float and fly rod is to mark the rod at 2ft intervals upward from the BUTT end of the rod. If I know my rod is 10ft I know that if my leader is flush with the butt end I have 10ft of leader line. So what I am doing now is marking my rod with small pieces of tape in 2ft intervals from the butt so I can quickly determine where to install my cork when I want to fish with leaders that are longer or shorter than 10ft by using the tape markings I have set on the rod as a means of having a more accurate guideline. Some think I go a little overboard with this, but leader length is an extremely important aspect of the technique. I get alot of questions about how to store your rods with such long leaders. I simply just take my cork off and attach my fly to a guide. By using a sharpie marker to mark your leader or by using the tape leader trick mentioned above it makes those tangles alot less apt to happen.

THE FLY

 

Float-N-Fly

I have experimented a good bit with the different types of flies/hair jigs and I have spent a good deal of time virtually watching the action that the different types of hair jigs emit in an aquarium. Most Flies consist of a 1/16oz hair jig and some use readily available marabou or crappie jigs. I personally prefer the hair jigs but when the fish are really biting sometimes they will hit any kind of bait. The biggest thing to worry about on a tough bite with the hair jig design is the profile of the jig and the weight. Not only is length important but also thickness as well. It has gotten to the point that I buy my flies custom made by master fly tier David Lester of Natures Tackle Box in Hiram, GA (678-567-1211) who has recently started his own custom Float N Fly company called Georgia Tackle Georgia Tackle Custom Flies. There are many advantages to using a custom tied fly. Some of the advantages include a better variety in colors, longer lenghts and with more hair (in some cases) to allow the angler to customize the profile of his fly (shorter, longer, thinner), sharper hooks and 3 D eyes for added realism to the bait. The hook that David uses is a lazer sharp Matzuo Sickle Hook that will easily stick in your fingernail when tested for sharpness and he uses a basic fox hair combined with feathers and other types of craft hair that you can get at most fly shops and it gives you the best of all worlds by having a little bit of everything in the mix. David also uses a proprietory material that he refers to as "Chigger Hair" which is an old fly tying secret that trout anglers have used over the years. When you watch the fly in action in an aquarium the chigger hair moves fluidly and expands some and looks more realistic than any other hair I have seen.
    The good thing about most custom flies is that most tiers use the whip finisher knot which is by far a superior knot to secure the thread/hair to the head of the fly without it unraveling after a few fish. Also a good dose of glue around the wraps is even more added insurance that alot of commercial flies don't offer. These reasons are just a few of the advantages that you incur when either making your own flies or buying custom ones. If you use commercially made flies you can easily tell if they use glue to secure the wraps due to the slight gleam on the wraps that is put off by the epoxy/glue. If you don't see this gleam it might be wise to glue the wrap area on the fly to get better securement or eventually they will come unraveled and start losing hair.
    I like my hair jigs made to about 1 to 2 inches and there are times when I have a bite and I will miss the fish due to them soft mouthing the hair below the hook. This is when I will cut the hair down shorter with a pair of scissors to make the profile of the jig smaller to enhance my hookups. But alot of times I like my flies bigger especially in stained water applications to help the fish locate the fly and give off more vibrations for the fish to key in on.Now as far as hair jig weights I almost strictly use 1/16 oz heads. The reason being is these weights look the most natural when giving them action. The 1/8oz head just doesn't have that natural action that the other two sizes have and is just too heavy in my opinion. When you test the action of a 1/8 oz fly in a demo tank and impart action to the 1/8oz hair jigs they go up instantly and fall down fairly fast giving off a very unattractive action and it doesn't look fluid at all. The smaller size heads mentioned above are much more fluid like and realistic looking.
    

Float-N-Fly

Another thing I like in my flies is a hook with a bigger bite and with the hook point being a round bend versus a inward bend hook which causes makes you more apt to skin hook a fish versus hooking the fish solid. The bigger the bite and the longer the shank the less chances you have of not hooking a fish or skin hooking a fish. I do open the gap of my hook about a 1/8 of an inch for even more bite. Due to this my fly has a slightly wider gap and longer shank which will increase my hook/land ratio greatly.
    The biggest thing you need to realize about this technique is that it is a very ultra finesse type technique. The fish are very lethargic and inactive and will get very close to your bait to inspect it and even smell it. I purposely don't paint the heads of any of my hair jigs and just use them unpainted (plain lead appearance). 90% of the time I use a color called "Spot Candy" and "Spot Sushi" made by custom fly tier David Lester of Georgia Tackle which is composed of craft and fox hair with some purple pearl crystal flash mixed in. This color is great for both very clear and stained colored water. Spotted Bass are notorious for liking off the wall and bright colors. I'm a huge fan of using painted chart and white blades with pink in my spinnerbaits and I do extremely well with these off the wall colors because they have the best visibility in stained and clear water. There are times when I will go to a darker color option as well. But to me the most important thing is to fish with a color that gives you the most confidence. Confidence is the best color in any anglers Tackle Box. My other favorite color is white fox hair with yellow neck feathers.
    There are a few other baits that I use in a pinch in place of the hair on a 1/16oz and 1/32oz jig. I do very well with the Gary Yamamoto 2 inch Yamaminnow and 3 inch Tiny Ika's and Tiny Flukes. Sometimes I will bite a little off the Tiny Ika just to keep in line with the size of the hatch that I am dealing with at the time. Gulp 3 inch minnows is also becoming quite popular among the locals in East Tennessee. Again play with these things in the sink or aquarium to get an idea of their action in the water. You will be surprised what you can learn about fishing by playing with baits and watching the action they emit in the kitchen sink or aquarium. Another thing that I am starting to do is bringing along my 10ft cast net on my fishing trips and when I see bait deep on my graph I will net some bait to get an idea of what size bait I am dealing with an then I will adjust my bait profile appropriately.

Float-N-Fly

MISCELLANEOUS

The rest of the ingredients as it pertains to equipment for the float N Fly technique is the line and the reel. For the main line I use anywhere from 2 to 8lb fluorocarbon line but mostly I use 6 to 8lb. I personally use Triple Fish fluorocarbon (www.triplefishlines.com) as it is a great quality fluorocarbon that comes at a very affordable price. Without going into a fluorocarbon infomercial the biggest things I want from this line are less visibility and ease of handling (less memory). Quite obviously the key here is you are going to have to play the fish out fully before landing it since your using a fairly soft action rod and light line.
    One other twist as it pertains to line is by using braid as your main line. This to me is the only way to fly with the float N Fly outfit as it performs very well on spinning equipment and has zero stretch for setting the hook on a soft actoin rod like a Float and Fly rod. I prefer using a brightly colored braid as it aides a lot with determining how much slack you have in your line by being able to clearly see it. I like Power Pro in Yellow and also Fire Line Crystal in white both in 8 or 10lb test. Another advantage of the colored braids is that they are easier to untie tangles if they happen to arise. Both of the above mentioned are great braids and handle very well on spinning equipment especially if you fill them up flush with the edge of the spool. Braid obviously handles better on spinning reels than most lines and I adjoin the braid to a 15ft fluorocarbon leader which is ajoined to the braid by using a uni to uni knot. The reason why I make my leader significantly longer is because I like to make sure my float is attached to the fluorocarbon part of the leader due to the fact that braid will float. By having 15ft of fluorocarbon as a leader this gives me multiple times to retie as well as having plenty of room to adjust the float/depth of my fly and if I happen to break off on some under water structure my line will usually break close to the knot and it will leave me enough leader material so that I won't have to tie on another leader. This still give me plenty of room to have my float still attached to the flouorocarbon leader.
    The reel part of the equation is to make sure you have a 2000 size spinning reel with an incredibly smooth drag or if you prefer you can back reel. I personally use the Ardent S-400M. The Ardent 400M handles fluorocarbon incredibly well and has the ability to micro adjust the drag setting as needed when using finesse size lines. To be honest the reel is the least important component in Float and Fly fishing.

THE CASTING TECHNIQUE

There is a technique to follow when trying to cast your float n Fly rig which contains a bobber and a 1/16th oz hair jig on a 12ft leader with a 10ft rod. Obviously the longer rod allows you to effectively throw such a lengthy rig, but the technique lies in how you cast the rig. With the rod in front of you and the float about a foot to a foot and a half below the rod tip extend your arm back over your shoulder and lay the jig out by letting it hit the water. Then go forward with the rod tip and release the line and the rig will propel forward. It is KEY that you let the jig hit the water on your backhand. By allowing your jig to hit the water behind you the jig is loading up your rod tip. When you thrust forward to cast you force the jig out of the water which loads up the rod tips and propels the rig forward. By having at least a foot between the cork and your rod tip this lessens the helicoptering effect thus giving you more accuracy and more distance in your cast. Also don't force the bait by trying to cast it harder thinking it will cast farther. To cast it correctly make sure your casting arm stays mostly extended during the entire cast. This gives you a nice lob cast which in effect will give you the best distance and casting accuracy.

FLOAT AND FLY CONDITIONS & TIPS

The float N Fly shines in very specific situations. The ideal conditions are fairly clear to very clear water (3ft clarity and clearer) and water temps below 50 degrees. To me the clearer the water the better the technique works. Technically water temps in the mid 40's is ideal and post frontal conditions with some wind makes it even more effective since frontal conditions make a lot of the bass suspend and inactive. This is about the only time of the year where I pray for post frontal conditions as it's the actual pressure that makes the fish suspend not the cooler air temps. A client asked me what is the best day to go fishing the fly. My responsoe is the nastiest cold day you can find. If you take a peak out of your window and it's nasty and cold with some wind I will have vivid pictures of MAGNUM spots dancing around in my head. Snow makes it even better as you are assured an overcast day.
    There are many types of structures that I would try the float and fly around. I do very well on the bluff walls, end of long points, over deep brush and also around docks, boat houses and piers. There are a few of us hard core guys that are sinking brush at strategic depths strictly to fish with the Float N Fly technique. The biggest thing that I would recommend is if you are fishing as partners and you are both fishing the Float N Fly is to make sure both of you are fishing different length leaders. The depth is a very key aspect of the Float N Fly and by varying your leader lenght with a slideable float it instantly allows you to change the depth of your presentation. Typically what I like to do is to try to make sure my fly is suspending at the level of the fish or slightly above the depth that the fish are holding at. If you look at your graph make a note of the depth level of the shad which are plentiful in the winter at shallower depths but suspending over deep water. Strategically Bass hold below the levels of the bait. So what I try to do is put my fly below the bait but above the bass to seperate itself from the big schools of bait but also be above the bass. Reason being is that most fish feed upward vs downward and I assume that that goes along the same theory that the fish's eyes are on top of its head and naturally feeds upward. I like a little bit of wind when fishing this technique.  

Float-N-Fly

    The cool thing about the wind is it imparts action into your fly versus the angler imparting the action. It also seems to give the fly a more natural action. When there is no wind I usually twitch my rod tip just enough to tip the cork to impart the action to the fly. When I twitch it I just gently twitch it to get the desired action. Just like in jerkbait fishing you need to vary your cadence some to determine what the fish are looking for. I have been doing this long enough to know that there is a lot involved in the cadence on those days where the fish are finicky. One person in the back of the boat could easily wax the guy in the front with everything the same, but the cadence. Some days it's a stop and pause deal, some days it's a long gruesome pause and other days they like that fly bouncing up and down fairly erratically; and some times they like you to pull it a foot or even a slow retrieve often works. I find that the colder the water temp the more subtle my twitches are. Again watch your bait in the kitchen sink or aquarium to see what I am talking about when I say subtle. You also have to keep in mind here that when the water temps get consistently in the low 40's the threadfin shad start to die off by the thousands. When they are dying they aren't exactly moving up and down but more or less quivering and that is the action that you are trying to imitate with your fly. This is the very reason why the float N fly is very effective as it takes advantage of the subtle movement of a dying shad and also the fact that spots like to suspend a lot in post frontal conditions.
    One thing that I have noticed is that on post frontal days the fish are usually shallower than in prefrontal. By shallower I mean 6 to 8ft in length. I know that doesn't make much sense but it is something that I have observed. But I believe it has to do with those post frontal days are usually clear and sunny and the fish are moving up in the water column to catch the warmer sun's rays throughout the day. In pre frontal situations, I can be anywhere from 10 to 14ft deep with my fly and post frontal I'm usually around 8 to 10ft deep on my fly. In the summer time I often get my leaders as long as 24ft in length to reach the thermocline when it develops, but that's another story for another day.
    In closing don't ever underestimate the float N fly technique. It will catch them on the nastiest days of the year and that little fly can account for some truly MAGNUM Spotted Bass when nothing else will. The above is the mere basics of the float N Fly technique as I was taught by Mr. Nukols back in the early 90's and what I have learned through my own trials and errors along the way. There are many variations of the technique but the basics still remain the same. A special thanks to the late Charlie Nukols for taking time out to talk with me about the Float N Fly.

Mike Bucca is the owner of Spot Country Guide Service where he is one of the very few guides in the United States that specializes in catching Spotted Bass. Learn more about Mike at TritonMike.com.

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