Centerpin Fishing Gear – Everything You Need For More Fish

Centerpin Fishing Gear

I have been Centerpin fishing before most guys even knew what Centerpin fishing was and I have been Centerpin fishing long before most stores even sold Centerpin fishing gear. Now, as one of the top river guides, I’ve had the opportunity to test a lot of Centerpin fishing gear and this is what I recommend to all my clients that are looking to get set up with the right Centerpin fishing gear.

What Centerpin Fishing Gear Do I Need?

Centerpin fishing gear will include a Centerpin rod, a Centerpin reel, a good Centerpin line, a float that is designed for river fishing, the right leader material, swivels, weights, hooks, and baits. All the Centerpin fishing gear must work well together otherwise you might catch fewer fish.

Having a great rod and reel setup only goes so far, if you are using the wrong leader, or the wrong hook, or the wrong float you will struggle to catch fish as consistently as the expert Centerpin guys do.

If you want to be one of those guys that seems to catch a lot of fish every time they hit the water, then getting all your Centerpin fishing gear right is the first step.

The Best Centerpin Reels

Centerpin Reels
Three reels with different handles and a different handle placement.

Let’s face it, The Centerpin reel is what makes Centerpin fishing what it is. Centerpin fishing is simply float fishing but with a Centerpin reel. You could float fish with a spinning reel, but why would you when the Centerpin reel is so much better.

You put too really good float fishing guys side by side, one with a spinning reel and one with a Centerpin reel and I would put my money on the Centerpin guy every time. Why?

Because I guide and teach both methods and I know from years of experience that the Centerpin reel will provide you with a much better presentation and that always ends up meaning more fish!

I have guided probably around to 2000 days doing float fishing and I have yet to see a float fishing spin guy get a better presentation than a Centerpin guy.

Are More Expensive Centerpin Reels Better?

I like to think of Centerpin reels like a car, you can buy a Honda Civic and it will do the job of getting you from point A to Point B, or you can drive a Porsche which will also get you from point A to point B. They both do the job the same, just one is more expensive and more fun to use, and it looks better.

Centerpin reels are the same. I will catch just as many fish on a $199 Okuma Sheffield as I would on an $800.00 Kingpin reel, and trust me, I have used both.

Let me just say when it comes down to catching fish on most Centerpin reels, it’s not the reel that catches fish, it the user!

The exception to that is that I have had some clients come out with cheap knock-off reels from china, and some of the low-low-end reels from some of the cheaper brands, and they are crap, poorly built, clunky, and cause all kinds of problems. These are not the reels you want to learn on or fish with.

Therefore, my suggestion is to buy the best reel you can afford over $150.00.

I’m recommending an economy reel, a mid-priced reel, and a higher-end reel. There are a lot of other good reels but these 3 are ones that I have used the most and feel comfortable recommending.

Sheffield Centerpin Reels
Okuma Sheffield Centerpin Reels

Okuma Sheffeild

I guided with three of these reels for a few years and it was great for a Centerpin reel for under $200.00. You can check the price at Bass Pro Shop or at

Raven Matrix Fully Ported
The Raven Matrix Fully Ported

Raven Matrix Fully Ported

The Raven Matrix Fully Ported is the reel that I currently guide with and is an excellent choice for just under $300.00. You can get this at FishUSA

Kingpin Zeppelin Centerpin Reel
Kingpin Zeppelin Centerpin Reel

Kingpin Zeppelin

This is one of the nicest Centerpin reels on the market and is one that I have used many times. It comes in a few cool colors.

Check the price and models at

For more choices on Centerpin reels check out my page 5 Best Centerpin Reels Of 2021

Best Line For Centerpin Fishing

Best centerpin reel line is the Raven mainline

The line that you put on your Centerpin reel should be a monofilament line and it should be thin, strong, supple, and buoyant.

Not all mono lines are good for Centerpin fishing. I have had many clients show up with lines that cause problems all day and that affects their ability to learn and to get a good presentation.

I use the 8 pound Raven High-Viz mainline and I have been using it for over 10 years. I consider it to be one of the best lines for Centerpin fishing for many reasons. You can get Raven lines at

There are times when you may need a heavier line but remember that I heavier line can cause more problems. See why on my page 5 Best Float Fishing Lines For 2021

Before you put your line on you will need a backing line. Centerpin reels hold a lot of line, way more line than most line spools hold. An average spool of mono holds around 300 yards but a Centerpin can hold about 3 times that much line. It depends on the thickness of the line as well.

The backing simply fills up the spool. A full spool is best and the fuller the spool the faster the line and your float will reel in. A full spool tends to cast better as well.

I usually fill the Centerpin spool about halfway or 2 thirds with the backing. For line backing, I use fly line backing. I use Cortland backing which you can get at

The Best Centerpin Rods

Centerpin Fishing: An Expert Centerpin Guide Talks

The next piece of Centerpin fishing gear you will need is a good Centerpin Rod. Centerpin rods are long for a reason. Most Centerpin rods are between 12 and 14 feet long.

The extra-long rod allows you to keep the line off the water for a better and longer drift and the extra-long rod also protects your light leaders when fighting big fish.

For small creeks, a 9 to 11-foot rod should be a good choice. For medium-sized rivers of 25 to 70 feet wide a 12 to 13-foot rod is a good choice. For very large rivers a 13 to 15-foot rod is a good idea.

The longer the rod the heavier the rod. Heavy rods can tire out your wrists and shoulders after a long day. I mostly use 13-foot rods.

You also need to consider what reel handle type is best for you. I prefer the sliding rings reel seat over the fixed rings.

For more on handles and how to secure the reels, as well as a complete Centerpin rod sizing charts go to my page 5 Best Centerpin Rods Of 2021

The 3 Centerpin rods that I recommend are:

  • Raven IM8 Centerpin Rod – This is the rod I guide with and is one of the most popular rods. You can get it at
  • Raven RPX Centerpin Rod – Another popular rod. You can check prices at
  • G-Loomis – The 13-foot Medium light is a great rod for most great lakes fishing. You can get it at

The Best Centerpin Floats

Good river floats are a must have part of Centerpin fishing gear

Floats are an important part of Centerpin fishing gear. The right float can improve your presentation and that means more fish in the net. The wrong float will make it harder to get the right presentation.

I use different floats for clear water, shallow water, nervous fish, and in normal conditions.

The best float for Centerpin fishing is the Raven FM float, these are the ones that I guide with most of the time. You can get them at

For clear water conditions I use the Drennan Loafer Floats

For more information on the best floats and how I rig them check out my page 5 Best Centerpin Floats For 2021

The Best Leaders For Centerpin Fishing

Leaders for trout

There are right leaders and wrong leaders for Centerpin fishing. I use 3 different brands and always use fluorocarbon leaders. Many leaders are not rated properly and since steelhead can be line shy it’s important to us the right leader.

The wrong leaders will either mean no bites or it could mean too many break-offs.

I use 3, 4, and 5 pound Drennan leaders for most of my Centerpin fishing but they are not rated properly so I always recommend buying your leader by the diameter size and not by the pound size. You can Drennan Prices at

For more on leaders go to my page What Pound Test Leader Is Best For Steelhead?

To learn how to set up your leader properly got to my page Steelhead Leaders: Best Float Leader And 2 Proven Setups

The Best Swivels For Centerpin Fishing

For all my Centerpin leader setups I use the Raven micro swivels. Good swivels are the XXL Micro Swivels from Raven or Blackbird.

The Best Weights For Centerpin Fishing

Weights for float fishing

I use a lot of weight when Centerpin fishing. I use something called a shot line which is a slightly thicker piece of line that is meant to help my split shots.

The best split shots for Centerpin fishing are the Sure Shots in size BB and AB, or the Blackbird split shots in size BB-1 and BB-2.

The Best Hooks For Centerpin Fishing

Best Hooks for Float Fishing

Hooks are an important part of your Centerpin fishing gear. Not all bait hooks are good and you should be picky about your hooks because if you think about it, the hook is the only thing that is keeping that fish connected.

The best hooks for Centerpin fishing will be short shank hooks with a large gap and they will not be too big for your bait and also not so small that they will tear out of the fish’s mouth easily. The best hooks for Centerpin fishing are Raven Sedge hooks and the Raven Specialist hooks.

You should have these hooks with you when Centerpin fishing:

For more info on the best hooks and why I use the ones that I do, go to my page 4 Best Float Fishing Hooks

The Best Baits For Centerpin Fishing

The bait is an important part of your Centerpin fishing gear because without the right bait it doesn’t matter how good your gear is.

I use a lot of plastic worms, beads, roe, flies. Know when to use them and what sizes and colors are best in different conditions can be a bit confusing. Check out these great pages of mine:

The Other Centerpin Fishing Gear

Having the right waders and boots and wading jacket and all the other stuff that will make your day on the water more productive and more successful is something to consider.

I cover stuff like the tools I use which include forceps, nippers, and nets. All this help to make your day on the water go smoothly and you can see it all on my page River Fishing Gear: Everything You Need To Succeed In 2021

The Centerpin Fishing Leader Setup

The leader setup is important and this is something that many of my customers want me to show them. If you set this up right you will be able to present your bait better and that will mean more fish in the net for you.

Check out my page 2 Float Fishing Leader Setups From A Pro River Guide

The Final Step – Learn How To Centerpin Properly

Centerpin fishing and Float Fishing

Now that you have all your Centerpin fishing gear, you just need to know how to use it. I’d bet 90% of anglers don’t know how to Centerpin fish well and I say this because I’m on the water for over 200 days a year and I watch guys fish.

When my clients are hooking 5 or 6 steelhead and the other guys in the pool catch none, it’s clear they are missing the 4 fundamentals of Centerpin fishing. There’s a reason why some guys catch 10 fish while other anglers struggle to catch 1 or 2, and it’s not the bait.

A good start to help you learn to Centerpin fish better and for my 4 fundamentals of Centerpin fishing visit my page Float Fishing: Tips From A Pro River Guide For More Trout

Winter Centerpin Fishing

Centerpin fishing gear for winter fishing

Some of the best Centerpin fishing for steelhead happens in the coldest months and and if you are not prepared you can freeze.

My guides and I are often standing in balls deep water for hours and for days and days every year. If you plan to do winter fishing and you want to know how I stay warm and comfortable you should check out these two pages.

That concludes the page on what you need for your Centerpin Fishing gear. If you have any questions about Centerpin fishing gear, leave a comment in the comment section below.

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