Centerpin fishing is an effective way to catch trout on most rivers, and is a fun way to fish. Since trout are much smaller and you will likely be fishing smaller rivers, downsizing and making some adjustments to your presentation can make it even more effective and more fun.
These are my guide tips to ensure you Centerpin fish for trout more effectively.
All About Centerpin Fishing For Trout?
This is what is involved in catching trout on a Centerpin reel.
- Reel: Centerpin fishing is basically float fishing, except that you use a Centerpin reel to do it. A Centerpin reel is a large round reel, similar to a fly reel, but it has no drag.
- Rod: When fishing for trout, you can put your Centerpin reel on any rod. I prefer longer rods of 8 to 11 feet. Long rods protect lighter leaders and provide a better presentation.
- Line: I only use select lines that are lightweight and buoyant. Using the right line can make a huge difference. The best types of lines are monofilament and braided lines.
- Floats: I only use select float that are designed for river fishing. The best float are narrow and have pointed top. The correct float while help you present you bait better.
- Leader: The leader consists of one or two sizes of leader material, split shots, swivels, and a good hook.
- Hooks: It is important to use the right type of hook. Most guide us to wide-gap octopus-style hooks and avoid bait holder hooks.
- Presentation: The primary benefit of Centerpin fishing is the ability to present your bait better than other methods. You can get longer and more controlled drifts. You can also control your bait depth and bait speed more effectively, which results in a lot more fish hooked.
- Hook Set and Playing Fish: Since there is no drag on a Centerpin reel, both the hookset and the way you fight a fish are unique to other methods.
When you are Centerpin fishing for trout, you can easily suspend your bait just above the trout head and in the strike zone for longer, which is a great way to catch more trout.
Size Issues When Centerpin Fishing
The biggest issue I have with centerpinning for trout is the size of the trout compared to the size of most Centerpin rods and reels.
Most Centerpin rods and reels are designed for steelhead and salmon and they are heavy with lots of power for big fish. They are not meant for smaller trout that just don’t feel like much on a big heavy rod.
Also, many trout rivers are small so the 13 to 14 rods that most guys use are often too long for these small trout rivers that are heavily wooded. Using a 14-foot rod on a river that’s only 15 feet wide just doesn’t make sense.
I will discuss below the best Centerpin rods for trout that I have tried.
The Best Centerpin Reels For Trout
When I Centerpin fish for trout I prefer to use my lighter and smaller Centerpin reels but any Centerpin reel will work.
Some Centerpin reels have a smaller spool size of around 4 or 4.2 inches and are lighter and more suited to smaller trout on smaller rivers.
You will also find that some of the ported reels are much lighter than ones that aren’t. Ported reels are the ones with all the holes in them like the one in the picture above.
You could use any size reels but smaller reels on smaller rods for smaller fish is a little nicer to use.
If I was to go buy a new reel for trout, I would consider these:
- Kingpin Zeppelin Centerpin Reel Model – model Z425 – Reel size 4.25 – Weight 7.4oz
- Milner The River Wraith – Reel size – 3 3/4″ – Weight 6.81oz
- Raven Matrix Fully Ported – Model MXRFPT – Size 4 3/4″ – Weight 7.9oz
Check out my article: Best Centerpin Reels
Best Centerpin Rods For Trout Fishing
The best centerpin rods for trout fishing are ones that are light enough for small to medium-sized trout but are still capable of landing some big trout. You want the ultralight and light models in the 9 to 12-foot range.
It’s actually hard to find a good Centerpin float rod because even the ones that are rated as light to medium-light are still a bit too heavy.
When I’m guiding and teaching Centerpin fishing on the smaller rivers of 10 to 30 feet wide, I actually use my 10-foot nymphing fly rods. I prefer them over spinning rods and float rods because they are a perfect size for smaller trout.
On larger trout rivers that are 20 feet or wider, an 11 to 13-foot ultralight or light rod would be a good choice. But these rods are hard to find since most rods in that length are heavy and are designed for steelhead and salmon.
A good rod for this would be the 9-foot or 11-foot Daiwa Presso Ultralight Spinning Rod or the 11’3-Light Lamiglas Redline HS CenterSpin Float Rod, or the 12’6 Ultralight Fenwick HMX Salmon & Steelhead Spinning Rod.
But if most of the trout streams that I am fishing are 15 feet wide or less I prefer Centerpin rods for trout fishing to be 9 to 10 feet long. A good rod for this is the 9-foot Daiwa Presso Ultralight Spinning Rod.
Longer rods offer more shock absorption and protect lighter leaders from being broken.
These are some Centerpin Float rods to consider for trout fishing:
- Best economy Rod Under $30.00 – Ultralight Okuma Celilo – A great rod for lure and float fishing for under $30.00 – 8’6 – Get it at FishUSA
- Lamiglas Redline HS Spinning Rod – Check it out at FishUSA.
- Daiwa Presso Ultralight Spinning Rod – I really like the 11-foot rod for most rivers that I fish.
- G. Loomis IMX Steelhead Side-Drift Spinning Rod – 9’6 ultra-light G. Loomis GL3 Classic Steelhead Drift Spinning Rod
Note: Not all Centerpin reels have the same foot base, so some Centerpin reels may not fit on smaller rods.
Can You Put A Centerpin Reel On A Spinning Rod?
The reel seat on a spinning rod should fit most or all Centerpin reels, so yes, you can put a Centerpin reel on a spinning rod if you want to.
I have tried a bunch of my Centerpin reels on spinning rods of all sizes and even on fly rods, and they all fit.
What Is The Best Line For Centerpin Fishing
The best line for Centerpin fishing is usually monofilament lines, but you can also use braided lines.
Monofilament fishing lines are good because they are light and they float, which gives you a better presentation, prevents sag, and is better for line mending and hooksets.
Fluorocarbon lines are not recommended because they sink, making it more challenging for line mending and setting the hook.
A braided line is another good line to use when Centerpin fishing because it is very thin and many braided lines will float which is a good thing because that prevents sag between your float and your rod tip and the floating lines help when you need to mend and when you need to hook set.
Another advantage of the braided line is that it has no stretch, which gives you a better hookset when the float is very far away from you.
What Pound Test Line Is Best For Trout?
The best mainline line for trout is 6 pounds but some anglers will prefer to go ultra-light on everything and use a 4-pound test line. I would use 4 pounds when float fishing but I prefer 6 or I may upsize to 8 pounds for bigger rivers and bigger trout. I will also use an 8-pound line if I am using lures.
The Leader Setup
You can also use my steelhead leader setup and everything that goes with it. All you need to do is just downsize it all. Half the leader pound test, a smaller float, smaller weights, a smaller hook, and smaller baits, and you should be good to go.
Shallow Water Float Leader For Trout
I use this float setup in shallower spots that are less than three feet deep.
It consists of a mainline and two leader lines.
The very bottom section of the leader is a short 12 to 14-inch section of 2 to 5-pound test and is light and thin so the trout won’t see it.
Some guys will ask why I don’t just run the mainline all the way down to the bottom part of the leader, and the reason for this is that the trout might see it. Using two different but light fluorocarbon leaders helps hide the leaders from the fish, which means more bites.
Medium Water Float Fishing Leader For Trout
In water from three feet to eight feet, I prefer to use a shot line and spread out my split shots in a way that gives me a better downward angle as seen in the picture.
I discuss this on my page, How To Centerpin Fish.
I use much smaller floats when fishing smaller clear trout rivers so that I don’t spook the trout. On larger rivers, I will use the same float that I use for steelhead.
The best floats to use are the Drennan Crystal Loafer Float in size 2 or 3. I use the smaller float in super clear small creeks but for most Centerpin fishing, I like to use the size 3 Drennan Crystal Loafer Float.
The Drennan Loafer float is a low-profile clear float that won’t spook fish as easily. It’s also a popular float with both trout and steelhead anglers but it can be difficult for some anglers to see.
You can get the Drennan Crystal Loafer Float at FishUSA.
Best Hooks For Fishing For Trout
I use the same hooks I use for steelhead simply because they work and then I downsize them to the size of the trout bait that I am using.
You need to match the hook size to the size of the bait so the hook doesn’t get seen by the trout.
You can see more about the best hooks and how to know what sizes to use for different baits on my page Best Hook Size For Trout.
The number 1 best bait for trout is often a fly because that’s what trout eat the most. I also use plastic worms, live worms, maggots, grubs, beads, spawn bags, and small plastic baits like plastic eggs, plastic leeches, and plastic grubs.
Beads: There are certain times of the year when fish are spawning and this is when trout beads can be a great bait. Learn the tactics and setups I use for bead fishing.
Worms: Worms can often be the most effective bait provided you use the right size and type of worm suitable for trout. I will use live worms in still water and in currents but often I prefer plastic trout worms in currents.
Fish Eggs: Fish eggs like salmon eggs, rainbow trout eggs, or brown trout eggs are also very effective, especially during the spring and fall when there are fish spawning. Even sucker spawn has been good trout bait for me. I tie my eggs into small sacs.
Live Bait: Live baits such as maggots, grubs, or aquatic insects are very good for trout most of the year. Minnows, leeches, and crayfish are also trout baits that I have done well with, however since these baits are harder to manage, I don’t use them as much as other baits.
Flies: I love fishing with flies. A large part of a trout’s diet in steams can be aquatic insects which can be initiated with artificial flies. Therefore, I use flies a lot and I have a ton of great fly patterns.
I always have an assortment of baits to use when the trout are not feeding on one bait. I will rotate through my baits to determine what they want to eat. See my most effective baits on my page Best Trout Bait.
River Fishing Gear
Aside from your centerpin reel, rod, line, floats, and hooks, you must also ensure you have the proper river fishing gear to keep you dry, comfortable, and safe.
Some of this gear also includes essential tools like nets, forceps, and polarized glasses.
Waders, boots, and a vest or a pack also make centerpin fishing much better.
Check out all the gear that I recommend for river fishing.