Over the last 5 or so years there’s been an increasing presence of brightly colored floats aiding the wobbler fishermen on the Columbia out in the hog lines dotted up and down the river. This technique started with the bank fishermen casting and running lines out over the steeper river drop-offs while trying to ensure their wobbler was suspended off the bottom. Using larger floats has been proven effective off the banks, and here’s some of the reasons why boaters are making the switch...
The basic setup that I prefer when running a float is a 3x3x3. The dropper length is 3 feet, the distance from the mainline swivel to the float is 3 feet, and the leader is 3 feet to the wobbler. The types of floats used can vary between golf balls sized to the larger teardrop floats that can hold up to 4 oz. when normally fished. One thing that is important is when selecting a float, be sure to use the types constructed of hard Styrofoam. The floats with the more porous, softer material will crush under the pressure at the depths that fishermen generally fish wobblers.
One of the main benefits of the 3x3x3 is you’re able to shorten the dropper line vs the standard 5x5 or 6x6 anglers have used for years on the Columbia. Even though most don’t prefer to cast their gear away from the boat, by shortening the dropper, this allows for an easier toss. You can use this to your advantage when the tide is weak and you’re wanting to get your gear away from the boat, or when you are fishing multiple rods and want to spread the lines out to the sides.
If the current is running and you’re back bouncing your gear, floats have a couple distinct advantages too. If you’re just becoming familiar with the “feel” of back bouncing lead, the float will keep your wobbler off the bottom so you don’t pick up some debris or a loose clam shell on your hook. If you slack the line, the float will lift the wobbler vs dropping and dragging it along the bottom, which keeps you fishing more effectively.
Floats aid in tougher conditions:
Like most summer and fall days out fishing in the hog lines, the wind can become a huge factor with your success. Boats that swing side to side tend to drag the deployed gear closer and closer to the boat as the lines a pulled tight, then slacked again. When slacked, instead of dropping to the bottom, the wobbler will still be held up, allowing you to tighten the line and not foul the gear.
When targeting seam lines below wing dams, or on the sides of the rivers using floats will help you fish more effectively too. For the same reasons for fishing in the wind, the current pulling hard and then backing off can pull the boat side to side. At the bottom of the river, if the current is pulling hard the float will pull tight and the lure will be pushed down to the height of the dropper. In these conditions, fish will generally move lower in the water column to avoid most of the current. This places your wobbler in the travel lane of the salmon.
I'll keep my piece on wobblers very short as this is not the main focus of the article. Wobbler selection now days is very easy as companies like Brads Fishing have made hundreds of colors and different sizes. When selecting your Wobblers, buy multiple sizes and colors and make sure you test them all out. If you find a wobbler that fishes well DO NOT change it and make sure you deploy that wobbler on most trips out. The Brads Wobblers are some of our favorites due to the vast array of colors and also the different sizes available.
Once you’ve connected with a large, hard fighting Chinook, the challenge is putting it in the boat. The typical 5x5 or 6x6 setup can be a tough for landing your fish. Since the weight dropper and the leader are the same lengths, the weight will hang right next to the fish you’re trying to net, especially since the rod will be in a higher position but will be heavily bent under the weight of the lead and Chinook. By running a 3x3x3 the fish will be well beneath the lead, allowing a much less stressful net job.
When fishing, especially with multiple rods, I’ve seen floats out-perform standard 5x5’s multiple times. I don’t generally put all my eggs in one basket but over the lengths of multiple seasons, for my boat, I’ve noticed a significant improvement of hook ups and landings. Adding a float will not be a cure-all if you’re having trouble connecting a wobbler and Chinook. The properly tuned lure, the right travel path and the right timing will mean more to putting fish in your boat. But having just a slight advantage in the previous statements can mean the difference of going away empty handed or enjoying a nice salmon bar-b-Que, especially when conditions get tough.
By: Cameron Black -