Spin Fishing Using The Fly And Bubble Method

What’s it All About ?

Fly fishing with spinning gear is often referred to as using the “fly and bubble technique.”  Knowing how to effectively use the fly and bubble technique will allow you to catch more fish. You’ll be able to catch trout and other species where lures and bait are just not working.  The FLY and Bubble (FB) technique  is effective for panfish, trout and bass.  It allows the angler to use tied flies.    It can be used in places that don’t allow bait or lures fishing.   This method can be used from a boat or on the shore.   The key to this method is the bubble ( bobber ) filled with water.  The bubble is designed to slide up and down the fishing line.  The bubble becomes the casting weight taking the fly along for the ride.   FB is one of my favorite methods of fishing for trout because I can use the same spinning equipment that I already have.  And because the FB rig is so simple I can switch to another method of fishing and switch back again with ease.

What Tackle to Use

You probably have most of the equipment and tackle.   Let me start with a list and then discuss each item.

  • Spinning Rod
  • Spinning Reel
  • Line
  • Leader
  • Swivel
  • Bead
  • Bubble
  • Fly Assortment

The spinning rod should be a 6 to 7  foot ultralight, light or medium action.  But the key spec to look for is line weight.  Choose a line weight of 4, 6 or 8 lbs.  Most rods have all this info. printed on the rod just above the handle.  Most of the time I use a 7 foot light action rod.

The key for the reel is also the line size.  Spinning reels have the line size and capacity printed on the side of the spool.  Mose reels are designed to use three sizes of line like  2# 4# 6# or 4# 6# 8# or 6# 8# 10# and so on.  If I want to use 6lb line, I would look for reels marked with 4 – 6 – 8, that way I can change to lighter or heaver line.

For the line, use 6 lb monofilament.  There are hundreds of lines and brands to choose from.  Look for these qualities like low memory and limp.  A good line to start with is Berkley Trilene XL.

Leader size should be less than the main line.  If  the main line is 6lb then use 4 or 2 lb leader.  Buy a fluorocarbon type leader, one of the advantages is, fluorocarbon is invisible in the water.

A swivel is used between the casting line and the leader.  Buy #12 or #14 black swivels. Some people recommend using ball baring swivels but that type are expensive so I use normal swivels.

There are three types of bubbles that I know of.  The tear drop shape , oval with pointy ends and round.  The difference between bobbers and bubbles is bubbles are designed to be filled with water.  Both the round and the tear drop shapes use a piece of surgical tubing attached to plugs at each end of the bubble.  Pull the plug out to fill with water.  The line from the reel goes through the tubing.  The oval bubble uses a hollow tapered peg.  Push the peg out to fill with water and the fishing line is feed through the center of the  peg.  All the floats can be bought from Cabala’s stores or on line.  To buy larger quantity and choose from more sizes and colors on line go to Rainbow Plastics. They have some other neat products you should look at.  Buy some of  the middle size bubbles to learn this fishing method.  The oval bubble is the one that I use the most and it is the cheapest.

One bead is needed.  It is used to protect the knot on the swivel from chafing by the bubble.  I prefer a glass bead but plastic is alright.  Size isn’t important, the only requirement is that the hole in the bead slips over the knot.  I use 8mm ( 1/4 inch ).

What Fly Should Be Use?

Fishing flies is a huge subject and over my head.  I would suggest buying an assortment of flies to start and add to it as you go.  One web site to check out is Orvis.  Select the Fly Fishing department in the left sidebar.  They have an assortment of 20 flies for $9.95 and the shipping is free.

Knots to Learn

Knots are one of my interests.  I could make a web site all about knots but there are already many sites devoted to knots.  When using fluorocarbon leader you should use the Trilene Knot to tie to the fly and swivel.  Go to this link to see an  animated Trilene Knot being tied,   www.animatedknots.com.

How to Rig

Rigging is easy.  Pull some line from the rod tip.  Feed the end of the line through the bubble.  If using the oval bubble feed the line into the small end of the peg and out he large end.  With the tear drop bubble the line should enter the tapered end and out the fat end.   Thread a bead onto the line.  Next tie a on the swivel using a Trilene Knot.  Measure 5 to 6 feet of leader from the spool.  Now tie the leader to the swivel.  Straighten the leader by pulling it through a leader straightener.

How to Use This Rig

Choose a fly and tie it on.  To start use a wet fly or you might try a foam fly.  Fill the bubble about half full with water.  I would recommend using a side arm cast for this rig.  Practice making short casts and try using light finger pressure on the rim of the real spool.  A good cast is when the bubble slows and drops onto the water quietly and the fly leader straightens out past the bubble.  That is where the practice comes in. For now reel in the slack between the fly and bubble.  Keep the rod tip down and wait.  If using a wet fly it will slowly sink and swing in an ark until the fly is under the bubble.  Slowly reel in about 4 feet of line and wait.  When the bubble moves across the surface the fly will move up and forward and  if the bubble stops moving the fly will continue to slowly move forward and down.  This is one way to give some life to the fly.   Another way to fish this rig is to completely fill the bubble with water.  Drop the bubble in the water and not how long it takes to sink one foot.  Now cast the rig and when the bubble hits the water count off the depth you want the fly to be at.  When you retrieve the bubble and fly will stay at the same depth almost all the way back.

I have just covered the basics of FB.  In future posts I will cover, fly selection, presentation and more detail on equipment selection.  I welcome all of your questions and comments.


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45 Responses to Spin Fishing Using The Fly And Bubble Method

  1. Mel says:

    Hello Mike! I just came across your blog site this weekend while looking around on the net. I want to applaud your idea about blogging about the basics of fishing and keeping it as simple and inexpensive as possible. I think we all tend to forget we are just trying to catch a fish and have some fun and relaxation in doing so.

    I have added your link to my blogroll and hope that you would do the same for me. Let’s share some readers. Looking forward to more of your posts. You are off to a great start.

  2. You have a good website. Looks like you have put in a lot of work on it. Here is one of my favorite fishing sites.Fishing East Texas

  3. Gary says:

    Greetings Mike,
    I’m glad I ran into your blog. I been researching the ‘Bubble Casting’ technique for a couple of days now. I live on a lake in central Florida (Daytona Beach). While fishing for bass (that’s really all there is in this small 40 acre lake….and some monsters to boot), using the classic plastic baits and lures, I was noticing how these fish love to feed on insects at the surface at dawn, dusk and even late at night. I’m stuck onshore but have a nice peninsula to walk around and fish from all sides.

    I’m by no means a fly fisherman but thought I would try to find out about the possibilities of using my spinning gear for fly fishing. Well low and behold…will wonders ever cease??!!! Fly and Bubble!!!!

    During my research here on-line I’ve run across a couple of people that say the leader used for this method should be the fly fishing type tapered leader. This is slightly confusing but from what I can understand tapered leader ‘turns the fly over’ for proper presentation. Of all the research I’ve done since becoming interested in this technique, I find fly fishing very confusing. That’s probably just me though.

    Do you know anything about this? Also, I’ve never heard of a leader straightener….what is this? I just use regular mono for any leaders I use, to make lures ‘act right’.

    Nice blog,


    • Mike says:

      Hi Gary,
      Thanks for your comment. A leader straightener is a section of rubber folded over. The leader is placed in the rubber fold and the straightener is pinched between the thumb and fore finger. Pull the leader through the straightener as many times as it takes until the line is straight. It works by friction heating the line and thus changing the memory of the leader from coiled to straight. I have never used a tapered leader. They are expensive but are individually packaged. I buy leader on small 25 yard spools.

      Dry flies have a tendency to land right side up because most of the weight is in the turn of the hook and the hackle around the eye of the hook acts like a parachute so the fly will float in the air like a dandelion seed and set on the water butt first and most of the time right side up. I use small poppers and foam flies for top water fishing for bass. But my favorite bass fly is the woolly bugger.


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  14. Ed Hahn says:

    Just read your article and found it very informative. Only question I have is why you place the line through the large end of the float first versus the thinner diameter portion. I actually caught two trout recently doing the narrow portion first. Would appreciate your thoughts. Ed Hahn.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Ed, The line goes through the float so that when you get a bite the fish can fight and be free of the weight of the float and the fish can’t use the float as leverage to though the hook.

  15. Ed Hahn says:

    Apparently I am confused on which way to rig the float. Could you explain the advantage and disadvantage of entering the narrow or large portion of the float first. thanks, Ed

    • Mike says:

      Hi ED, If you are using the tear drop float, it will make less of a disturbance when reeling in your line if the pointed end is facing you as you reel in. With the peg type float, if the line goes through the large end of the peg first then the small end will beat against the bead and be knocked out of the float as line is reeled in.

    • jay says:

      It really doesn’t matter which end of the bubble you insert your line through. I have always inserted the line through the small end first just so the swivel doesn’t push the stopper out of the bubble after dozens of casts. But, I like the idea of a bead between the swivel and bubble. I have been fishing with a fly and bubble for the last 40 years, all on still water. Recently fished Strawberry Reservoir in Utah with my daughter. We fished from shore with fly and bubble, and landed some very nice rainbows and cutthtoats in the 18″ to 24″ range.

  16. Ed Hahn says:

    Thanks for the info. No where could I find an explanation on why the float was rigged as you indicate. None of the float sellers even demonstrated the rigging on their torpedo floats.

  17. Luke Deralph says:

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  29. Patrick says:

    this info is a godsend as I’m going to southwest Montana (Dillon, MT) in June for a month and I wanted to do some fishing but it seems as if that is the fly fishing mecca of the US and I never learned to fly fish, have no desire to, and I really don’t want to spend all that money on a whole new fishing technique that I don’t care for.

    Thank You!!

  30. mark dickson says:

    hi, i was just wondering if this fishing is legal in all parts, as i have heard some fisheries will not let you use this method of fishing? personally i cantsee the difference from traditional fly fishing but has anyone heard this?

  31. mark dickson says:

    i suppose i should also point out i live in northern ireland.

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  35. Craig Conger says:

    I started fishing this method early in the 70s scaring my fishin buddies with the results i got. Only fishing yards from them. Just being creative I thought. only to realize it wasnt new. 20 years later I found a book in a used bookstore. Asigned copy of Fish Don’t Think by Bob Kayne. Look for it, very informitive.

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