By Martin Jørgensen, local angler and specialist in bombarda fishing.
Fishing with a bombarda float and fly, is an alternative, but hightly efficient way of fishing for seatrout.
When you fish the bombarda, you have the same options as the flyfisher, but you can cover as much water as the guy fishing a lure. The method has been known for generations, but in a different form, which is the so-called bubble-float. The “old-fashioned” bubble could be filled with water to add weight, and they were difficult to cast. You were never in any doubt as to the the whereabouts of the bubble float, because it made an annoying wake on the surface, which did not exactly attract seatrout, and in many cases, quite the opposite – fish were spooked by the disturbance on the surface!
I am not qute sure when the bombarda-float made its way to Denmark. I became aquainted with these slim float with the superior casting abilities during the late 1990s. German and norwegian anglers had used floats of a similar design for a few years by then. They called them Spirolinos (german) and “ørretbomber” – (“Trout bombers” in norwegian)
The Bombarda-float is available in four different models. Floating, intermediate, sinking and a “refill” version.
Floating: An efficient float in the summer, and during night-fishing, when the seatrout is swimming in the upper part of the water.
Intermediate: is a slow sinking float. Efficient the year round.
Sinking: A fine joker to pull when you fish water with a hard current, or during fishing in the winter, when the seatrout often swims close to the bottom.
The Refill: You can fill the float with water to add weight, and thereby you decide how deep you want to fish.
I always fish a slow sinking (intermediate) bombarda. This kind of float enables me to fish the fly relatively high in the water, which I consider a distinct advantage. Apart from this, I am able to make relatively long pauses in the retrieve, without the risk of snagging on bottom structure. If, for some reason, it is essential to make the fly go deeper, I can attatch a sinking polytip leader. When I do this, I tie on a short lenght of regular monofilament nylon line. But is is up to to to find your own preferred method.
I always use a standard braided line (0,13 – 0,15). The bombarda float is threaded onto the braided line. Use a model weighing from 12 to 16 grammes. Models heavier than that, make too much disturbance under water, which is a distinct disadvantage in my opinion. You should be able to cast far enough with floats of the recommended weigh. Speaking of disturbance under water, keep well clear of some of the bulkier and more clumsy models of bombarda floats. They make far too much “noise” when you retrieve them. Such a model is the “Dartcaster” amongst others.
When the bombarda is threaded onto the line, pull on a small bead. The bead is not supposed to be tied on, but should be able to slide up and down the line. Its only purpose is to protect the line and knot from bruises and wear, because it acts as a buffer during casting and on impact. When the bead is treaded on, tie on a small swivel. Use a swivel with three parts, if you have them, because this type will prevent the line from twisting. This means that you can present the fly you have chosen in the best possible manner.
After this, you need to find your tippet line, which is an “old fashioned” regular monofilament line of around 0,25-0,28 mm. I usually fish a lenght of tippet of around twice the lenght of my arms. Which means the distance between you left and right fingertips when you spread your arms. Thereby you are fishing a leader with a lenght around 3,5 to 4 metres. This might take a bit of practise, especially during the landing, unless you land you fish by beaching them. The lenght of the leader is not all that important, but it shouldn’t be any shorter than 3 metres. This is particularly important in clear water and bright weather, because the seatrout scares easier during such conditions.
Tie the leader line onto the swivel and choose your fly, and you are ready to practise casting a long leader…
If your fly is still in the water when you make your cast, the cast itself will be somewhat shorter than it would be, if the fly had been lifted clear of the water before the cast. A neat trick is to swing the leader line around you, like a pendulum, before you make the actual cast. But try it for yourself, and see what works for you, and how long the leader can be, before you lose control!
There are plenty of different opinions on how a bombarda float should be fished. In my opinion it all narrows down to two different approaches: You have to decide whether you want to fish your fly in such a way that it either imitates or provokes. If the fly of your choise is a shrimp-fly, you need to make your fly mimic the characteristics of a shrimp, which translates into a stop-and-go retrieve. If your fly is an imitation of a sandeel or minnow, your retieve should be relatively fast with long pauses in between, to make the fly hover attractively in the water.
Provocation could be achieved with flies in bright colours, and by retrieving the fly extremely fast (the fly is practically skating the surface), which is sometimes surprisingly efficient. I reserve bright colours such as pink and yellow for the colder months of the year (from december to april), where provocation rather tham imitation often does the trick. Throughout spring and summer, I find it much more important to imitate the natural diet the seatrout can find, in the coastal waters you fish. At this time of year the seatrout is a true opportunistic eating machine, which will eat anything it can cram between its jaws. The all-important aspect is to find the fish, rather than choosing the right fly!
You can read in several places, that the fly should be fished in at a boringly slow speed. But that is absolute nonsense! It may occasionally be an advantage to retrieve the fly at a very slow pace, but that is certainly not always the case. Instead, Fish the fly in the manner described above, and you will see instant results for your efforts.
Cover the water in the same way as you would a lure. Start by covering the water in a series of casts spread out in a fan-shape. Most of your casts should be parallel to the shore, however. Many anglers make the basic mistake of thinking, that seatrout forage far from the coast, and thus cast as far as they can from shore. But in fact 9 out of 10 fish are caught on casts made within 25 metres of the shore.
When you have covered the water in a fan-shape, move on about 25 metres along the coast, and repeat the procedure of casting from there.
Your biggest chance comes when you cast to a fish you see. First and foremost you will see fish jumping clear of the water, but it might as well be eddies from fish chasing prey, such as seandeels, and perhaps you’ll see preyfish darting off in fright. These are sure signs that seatrout are close by.
For some reason, there are plenty of anglers around, who never see such signs of foraging seatrout at all!
The description of how to fish the bombarda and fly given above is, of course, not the only valid way of fishing this method. But I can guarantee, that fish can be caught on the methods described.