Outdoor Articles

The Magic of a Fly and Bubble

by Pursue The Outdoors on November 30th, 1999 in Trout Fishing

Here’s a technique for open water that’s been really productive for us, especially for all species of trout here in Colorado.

It’s called the “Fly and Bubble”.

How we use this technique is pretty simple. There are many variations for using a fly and bubble, so the method I’m going to describe is by no means the only way. Hopefully, others here will share their tips, tricks, and techniques, too!

I start with a 7′ medium action rod. I wouldn’t go smaller as this might lose the “whip” action you’ll need to get maximum casting distance.


Next, I spool 8# Fireline on my spinning reel. Other lines have worked for me in the past, but the Fireline has the strength and sensitivity I like the best.

Now comes the bubble. Casting bubbles come in a couple of different styles, shapes, sizes, and colors. I like the clear plastic style made by South Bend. They’re sold in packs of 2 or 12. I buy the 12 pack in 2 different sizes (1 1/2 and 2 1/4 inches) since they’re pretty cheap.

The bubble will have a shaft through the middle. Thread your line through the top and out the bottom of the shaft. I know it sounds simple but it can be easy to thread it upside down. Just make sure the top of the bubble is pointing towards the rod tip. Trust me, when changing a bubble at the water’s edge while the fish are biting, it’s not uncommon for me to put it on upside down in my haste to get a line back in the water!

Once the bubble is on, thread a small bead on your line. This will help keep the bubble from smashing against your knot and will also add a “clicking” sound which seems to help attract fish!

At the end of the line, tie a small #12 clip.

That’s it for the rig. Now comes the leader.

Start with a line weight that’s 2 “steps” down from your main line. Since I use 8# line on the reel, I’ll use a 6# leader line. I’ve used Trilene XL for a long time but lately I’ve switched to P-line. As far as the length of the leader, the longer the better but not TOO long. A good rule of thumb is to stretch your arms apart. The distance between your fingertips is how tall you are! (Try it!) I’ll pull out that amount of line plus a couple of inches for the knots. Next, I’ll tie a small swivl on one end and the fly I’ll be using on the other end.

Now, attach the swivl to the clip on the end of your main line and your almost ready to start fishing. (Yes, you can eliminate the clip altogether but I like it because when I’m done fishing, I simply detach the leader and use the clip to attach the main line to an eyelet. This keeps the bubble from swinging around and getting tangled while hiking back out).

All you have to do now is fill the bubble with water. If I’m using a 2 1/4 inch bubble, I like it filled a little more than half way full. Any more than that and it gets a little heavy to throw.

That’s it! That’s my basic set-up for a fly and bubble. Of course there are many tips and tricks to add, so I’ll mention a few right now…otherwise this post will get really long!

A) I use the smaller bubble when I want to fish deeper than 6 feet. Fill the bubble completely full of water so it sinks. Before casting, toss it out in front of you and count down the sink rate. This will give you an idea of how long to wait before starting your retrieve.

B) Keep your rod tip down when retrieving. This allows more line to drag through the water and helps the line to spool more tightly onto your reel. If the line doesn’t spool tight, there’s a real good chance it will backlash on your next cast.

C) You will probably be casting farther than you ever have before! Therefore, try not to overthrow. Sometimes I think I can throw it across the lake… but end up making a mess!

D) A SLOW retrieve works best! Add a few pauses and twitches… make that bead “click”. There’s nothing like the sensation of calmly retrieving a fly when suddenly… WHAM! (I live for that!)

Finally, experience is the teacher. Any new technique feels a little awkward at first, but time and practice will make you proficient before you know it!

And best of all… you WILL catch fish!!!

BTW… You’ll quickly become a fly geek. You can now plan on packing several flyboxes along with your lures!

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