How to Fish a Centerpin Setup | Effective Stream Fishing Technique for Trout, Salmon, & Steelhead

When it comes to fishing in rivers and streams, it's hard to top the perfect drifts that centerpin gear offers anglers. Captain Joe Diorio breaks down the basic terminal riggings of a centerpin setup, how to cast, and why it's so effective on trout, salmon, steelhead, and any other fish that thrives in current. A centerpin looks like a large-diameter fly reel, but it has no drag, which allows it to spin freely on its axis (its “center pin”) forward and backward. Centerpin reels do have a clicker, but it is used for transporting the reel, not for fishing. A centerpin rod is long, often between 11 and 13 feet in length. This allows the angler to keep as much line on the water as possible, to reduce drag on the rig, and maintain a perfect drift. The rods are also very limber in order to protect the light leaders. The advantage of centerpin fishing is that it creates the most natural presentation possible in moving water by allowing your bait a drag-free drift at the same speed as the river current. Centerpin reels are used with floats and a series of split shots (the “shot line”) leading to the bait. The arrangement of split shots under the float ensures that the bait is the first thing the fish sees, which is extremely helpful with pressured fish, like those in the Great Lakes tributaries. When centerpinning, your shot line and bobber length are the most important. Depending on whether you are fishing fast or slower water, there are many ways to set up your “shot line” (the length of line where the split shots are attached). The most common shot pattern is an ascending one where the shots are equally spaced down the leader. There are many different types of baits and lures you can use when centerpinning. Many fishermen believe you can use only bait such as egg sacs, wax worms, nightcrawlers, or minnows, but artificials also work very well underneath a float. Some of the artificial lures used include marabou jigs, pink soft-plastic worms, and Berkley Gulp twitch minnows. Nymphs such as stoneflies, Wooly Buggers, Beadhead Caddis Pupas, Beadhead Prince Nymphs, and Beadhead Pheasant Tails are very productive as well.