Published Mar 1. 1999 - 24 years ago
Updated or edited Mar 11. 2023

Bubble float

Fishing the fly with a spinning rod and a float. This is an old article.

Notice that this page has been supplemented by a newer and updated one.

Fly but no flyrod

A lot of Danes fish the fly in a special way. They use a spinning rod and a bubble float. This rig has the advantage of making you able to fish with a fly, but do so without having to learn to cast with a flyrod -- or even buy one. Many fly fishers also prefer the method if the wind makes casting a fly hard or even impossible.
The method is generally considered the most efficient method for fishing se trout. A bubble float fisher will generally outfish both fly and spin fishers.

Flyfishing... or?

I have before dived into the discussion wether this is flyfishing or not. I will leave that. It's fishing with a fly, and that's what matters, because the fly can be the only effective way to catch trout in salt water. I use the bubble float from time to time myself, and I tend to agree with its most avid proselytes: it is a very efficient way to fish. Definetely more efficient than fishing with a lure, and actually more efficient than flyfishing with a fly rod. But not as much fun...

Loose bubble

The buble float has to be of the type where the line runs through a tube in the center. This allows to float to slide up the line when the fish takes the fly. The fish won't feel the weight of the float, and the float won't keep the fish from running. The only problem with this rig, is in the landning phase, where the bubble above the leader will mean, that the fish will be landed with all the leader out of the top eye. This is only a really big poblem when your leaders get longer than 3 meters (9-10').
Many Danish fishers use leaders up to 5 meters when fishing bubble floats and a friend of mine uses a complicated construction with monofile line, a piece of intermediate fly line and a thin leader with split shot in front of the bubble. He catches a lot of fish by the way.
An advantage of the bubble method is that you can fish large and heavy flies on long and thin leaders. Flies as the Fair Fly and the Full Metal Jacket can be a pest to cast on a light fly rod. They work very well with a bubble.

The tactics

Casting the bubble with the long leader can be quite tricky. When casting you don't want to hook yourself with a stray fly and when the bubble lands you want the long leader to stretch in front of the bubble.
Both things can be accomplished with the following method: When you retrieve the bubble and lift it of the water in preparation for the next cast, but leave the fly in the water in front of you. Have approx. 0.5-1 meters (2-3') of line out of the top eye Take the rod slowly the the right (if you're a right hand caster) but increase the speed in order to load the rod. Cast the bubble with a firm bu smooth motion.
The fly will follow the bubble and the leader will lay parallel to the casting line. In order to stretch the leader you brake the casting line by gently pressing your finger against the edge of the spool just before the bubble lands.
The tradition says that you have to retrieve the bubble extremely slowly. Don't follow that tradition. Retrieve as with any other kind of fly fishing: varied and according to the circumstances. Some argue that the bubble will scare the fish. My experience is the opposite: the commotion of the bubble will be more likely to attract fish, that will then see the fly.



I fish my local cree...

I fish my local creeks and streams with a conventional fly rod outfit but often use a spin outfit on lakes. I've tried clear plastic bubbles and they work fine but the best float I've used is the Crystal Cast float. I rig it with a 4 to 5 foot leader and usually a Black Wooly Bugger or Wooly Worm. Very slow stop-start retrieve. Last Friday I went fishing at a local small lake and caught and released around twenty stocked rainbow trout in a couple of hours. I can cast this rig all day but get a little weary casting a fly rod for the same amount of time. Maybe I'm getting old?

I recently made one ...

I recently made one with the bubble that comes inside a kinder surprise egg. just put a split shot under the bubble after running your line top to bottom. it works as a good float too

You dont need a slid...

You dont need a sliding tube float, although it may be better. I use a fixed one, with two holes either side of it.
I think there are advantages to using this type however. By fixing the bubble at the end of the line and having 2-3 flies up the line spaced apart(up to you by how much) you can do something quite special in a breeze. You can mimic insect life of water moths and water beetles. The breeze lifts the fly out of the water and then you can temper it back down gently on to the surface by adjusting slack line. the disturbance attracts fish and you can mingle your flies among the real insects.
This float position is better for surface fly fishing, not so much for getting the fly to any decent depth however. So experiment.

I've tried this meth...

I've tried this method a couple times. Using a small split shot weight worked really well to keep the bubble where i wanted. I was able to find everything i needed at walmart.

where to buy clear b...

where to buy clear bobbfly for fly fishing with a spinning rod

Try this page...

Where can we buy the...

Where can we buy the cast-a-bubbles. We are in the Dallas, tx area and cannot locate a source. Thanks

Martin Joergensen's picture

blazad, If you pu...


If you put the float at the end of the line, where would you then put the fly?


Why can't you just p...

Why can't you just put the bubblefloat at the end of the line?? Surely that would make casting and landing much easier??

amazon sells casting...

amazon sells casting bubble rigs

why are u giving up ...

why are u giving up bob's secret's it took me 31 year's to learn what u give a way to people. with no good reason to know some tom dick and hairy fish'er men ha! i don't like it one bit im telling bob

Over 60 years of exp...

Over 60 years of experimenting with a spinning rod with a bobber and a fly, I recently wrote a spin-cast bobber-fly 64 page instructional. I show with diagrams, how to fish from lake shores and riverbanks, plus fish from a boat.

Martin Joergensen's picture

Bubba, Here in De...


Here in Denmark they can be bought in any tackle shop - like here. I'm not sure how common or popular they are elsewhere.




I used this method l...

I used this method last weekend to help out some kids who were having no luck with spinners in the middle of a furious Hendrickson hatch. I found the bubble floats to be a pain. In the end, I just tied 6 feet of 6X tippet to the hook on a bobber, and then tied their mono to the same spot. A generic Elk Hair Caddis had them out fishing me in minutes. The current in the spring creek was strong, and the bobber was giving them a much more consistent drift than my fly line dragging the fly downstream as I constantly mended line. If you don't have to cast more than 20 or 30 feet at a time, I think the simple bobber approach is more than enough, and much easier.

My all time favorite...

My all time favorite way to catch trout. But the best way is by using 3 lb. Test and instead of using a swivel use Caroline Keepers (clear plastic crimp stops) and use the same main line attached to the fly. Only one knot. Get the smallest clear sliding bubble and fill just half with water. Pinch down the barb and you will do great.

I have fished with A...

I have fished with A fly &bubble for years.It is an exelent way to get closer to nature,because you learn to read the lake you are fishing on. When & where fish are rising,&what hatch they are feeding on,or where are the fish likly to be,like the delta of A feeder stream close to sundown,or shallow spots with submerged rocks,were the fish are jumping in the AM.When you fish with A fly & bubble you are always looking for rises(jumping fish),you are always tring to choose the best fly to match the hatch,to varry your retrive to seduce the fish.What A lovely obsession. Greg



Gary - had similar l...

Gary - had similar luck until I met a veteran fisherman who helped me out. Here's my $.02: You don't need absolutely need the tube pearl - I've never used one - just thread through so that your swivel is at the larger end of the bubble tube, that way, it doesn't dislodge the tube and fill the bubble with more water than you started. Gauge the size swivel you'll need against this larger end to make sure it doesn't get sucked inside. Since the swivel is 6-9' away from the fly, you don't need a 'stealth-swivel', just large enough to not get sucked into the tube. Keep the fly on the water if you like, or hold it in your hand (my method), before casting - putting slight pressure on the line as it goes out will accomplish the same thing: that your fly lands out in front of the bubble. When fishing upstream, cast a slight diagonal rather than directly into the current. Most importantly, make sure your trigger-finger on the line, and the release of line from spool, won't get fouled by a sudden-backlash that happens when the bail comes down, or line gets wrapped around something else. Good luck, good fishing, and good day.

Thanks a million Rob...

Thanks a million Rob..!!

Check out the Fly & ...

Check out the Fly & Bubble Casting Rig at Best Fishing Secrets. They also sell bubbles, flies and leaders separately. You can find them online; search for BestFishingSecrets.

I've been looking fo...

I've been looking forward to trying this method and finally did try it recently. It was a complete own fault no doubt. I used a bubble float from Cabelas. The tube in the center tapers from wide to narrow. I was not sure which end should be nearest the swivel. A customer review from a buyer at Cabelas (on line) said the wide end should be nearest the swivel. I guess the swivel I used was too small because it ended up being jammed 1/2 way down the center tube, then the line was cut on the sharp edge of the plastic tube. I guess the 'tube pearl' was needed....Dohh! What is a 'Tube Pearl"? I assume it is something that stops the swivel and protects the line from severing and having a failure as I had. I could not find the term 'Tube Pearl' anywhere. Do you know which end should be used and why? I have some colored beads that I occasionally use on a Texas type rig. Should I used one of these? Even these don't seem completely safe. The small holes on the beads are relatively sharp and may cut the knot as well, it seems. A more complete explanation would be greatly appreciated. I understand the idea. I just don't understand the mechanics. Thank you very much.

Cabelas, Pro Bass. D...

Cabelas, Pro Bass. Duhnams , or any store that sells fishing supplies

where can i buy a bu...

where can i buy a bubble float


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