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Depth control: make a targeted float rig for offshore fishing with a simple bobber stopper.

Here's a neat technique for controlling the depth of your bait that will allow you to cast it where you want, drop it on top of deep-feeding fish and stop its descent when it reaches the target zone. You decide the depth, then adjust the rig accordingly; no cutting and retying. The technique is useful from boat or shore.

Two items you must have: a tiny rubber bobber stopper (sold several to a package at Bass Pro Shops and other retailers) and a tiny barrel swivel. Simply thread a stopper onto the fishing line using the wire loop tool in the package. Slide the tiny barrel swivel on the main line, in between the bobber stopper and the terminating snap. (Hook, leader and weight attach to the snap swivel.)

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Now, when I want to use a stopper, all I do is pull out as much line as needed from the reel and slide the stopper up to the desired position. Then I either snap a regular bobber into the unused ring of the barrel swivel or use a couple of feet of light mono, one end attached to the barrel swivel, the other to a balloon.

When fighting a fish or retrieving a bait, the stopper comes up first. You can merely crank this little bead through the rod guides and right onto the reel, where it's ready for the next cast. The barrel swivel and float or balloon slide down to the fish or stop at the tip top while you're reeling. Here are some of the ways I use this rig:

* This technique allows you to attach a baffoon or bobber, enables you to cast the bait out, and yet still have complete control over how deep the bait stays under the float. There is no limit to how deep that can be. Merely slide the stopper up your line that many feet.

* Often it's hard to get a blue runner or other strong bait to stay away from the perceived safety of the boat's shadow. With a balloon and the stopper you can cast the bait and have it stay as shallow or deep under the balloon as you want. The balloon creates enough drag to keep the bait from swimming back to the boat.

* Casta live bait ahead of the drift, covering the same area you'd target with a kite, or out where a kite bait might have been missed or ignored by a gamefish you know is still in the area.

* A float rig can also be used to spread out baits while drifting, so aside from having those perpendicular to the boat's drift you can also have baits far off the bow and far off the stern by merely casting them out there. The water tension on the balloon helps keep them spread out where they landed.

* While drifting and spotting fish on the sounder at a specific depth, set the float stopper and short cast this bait. It then plummets down to the depth of the targets seen on the sounder and then stays in that strike zone.

* When under power and searching for gamefish, bottom contours, or other features using a sounder, the same thing can be done. Spot several fish on the sounder at the same depth, then set the float stopper to that depth, and toss the rig into the boat's wake when you spot the next target on the machine. The weighted rig takes the bait right down to the target and the float keeps it there as the boat coasts ahead in neutral and line is fed out.

* Casting baits into rips around jetties and docks and keeping them down near the bottom as they drift along at the speed of the current.

* When working areas that can be dangerous to navigate yet reachable safely via a long cast.

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From the Shore

This technique is not exclusive to open water. Inshore, you might set a bait to drift along at a fixed depth, for example a foot off the bottom. Such a bait can be cast into a slough at the beach and therefore drift along parallel to the shore. It can also be short cast into a current running along a safely navigated jetty or breakwater where you can just walk alongside your bait covering a lot of water where fish might wait in ambush.

Also try short-casting from the tip of a jetty on an outgoing tide and allow the float to be swept to an ambush zone, yet keeping the bait right down near the bottom.

Cast into a cut between sandbars at the beach where the wind and or rip currents can move the bait from one slough to another, perpendicular to the beach.

From a pier, set the bait to sink to whatever depth desired. The float keeps it there and if you cast downwind, you can feed out line as the wind pushes the bait farther and farther from the pier. A small bait, especially, may be cast out beyond the range of your competition.

-- Z.G
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Title Annotation:OFFSHORE
Author:Grossman, Zac
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Dec 1, 2011
Words:851
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