The term "Pinland" fishing comes from a reference to Centerpin float fishing for Inland species. In reality, Pinland fishing is float fishing for ANY species using lighter than typical centerpin float fishing setups that one would typically use for targeting "traditional" species such as large anadromous Steelhead and Salmon.
The concept of Pinland fishing is very similar to that of typical tributary fishing for larger salmon and trout species, except it is not necessary to have consistent or even any tidal or current flows....though most pinland targeted fish are located in areas with meaningful water movement.
Let's take a step back and quickly cover typical centerpin fishing in rivers and tributaries with a float fishing setup, using a centerpin reel or otherwise. The concept is simple, yet deadly effective, for targeting fish throughout the water column...and particularly near bottom. A long float rod, usually 10 feet or longer is used along with a centerpin reel (or spinning reel or baitcaster) to provide a "drag free" presentation of bait to fish holding in waters with tidal or current flows.
A "float" is used along with a floating monofilament, with a shotted segment of mainline below the float to put your bait down into the strike zone. The actual business end of this setup is a 18-36" segment of fluorocarbon leader below a micro swivel, finished off with your choice of bait....a jig of any kind, hook with eggs or beads, even spinners.
The setup is cast slightly angled upstream from a fish-holding area, the shotted presentation settles into the water column, the bait is presented in a drag free natural current speed flowing situation, and the fish takes the bait. The entire area can be worked from your stationary location and outward as well as far down stream as needed... quickly and effectively...with minimal casts. Once your downstream drift is ended, simply retrieve the presentation and send it back out again to re-work the same area or in other locations within your casting range.
The fight on these light presentation setups is epic...particularly with a centerpin setup. With a centerpin reel, there is no drag, there is no gear ratio....you are literally in one to one hand to hand combat with your quarry, equal chances for both combatants.
Pinland fishing takes the concept to even a more extreme, using ultralight setups including any centerpin reel 4.5" or smaller, or 1000 series spinning reel, ultra-light Pinland float rods and a combination of light mainline, shot, leader and hook presentations to target extra wary species in sometimes very clear or shallow waters.
A typical setup for stocked trout such as browns, rainbows, goldens, dolly's, cutthroats and others is fairly simple. First, start with a 10lb Floating mono mainline in your choice of color. Mainline color can usually be dictated by water clarity, but even in super clear waters, a high visibility mainline can be used such as orange, yellow or pink. In many situations, below the float, savvy Pinland anglers will double uni a segment of 6lb fluorocarbon leader for several feet and use this to attach any desired shot pattern. At the end of this segment, a micro swivel in size 12 is attached, then a shorter segment of 3/4lb test tippet is tied with a trout hook, small jig or euro nymph fly rig.
Float styles and sizes are dependent on your preference and situation...just remember that the weight in grams stamped on your float must equal the total weight in grams of your shot pattern to allow for proper drift and mending.
Floats typically used for Pinland situations are the Acorn, Swallow, Swan, Avon, small Loafers and even small Slip floats depending on depth of the area you are covering.
In many situations, particularly for trout, you are looking at 5 grams and under, using smaller sized split shot of #1, #4 and #6 spaced so as to provide enough weight for a decent cast, and enough weight to balance the float and get your offering to hiding prey....but not too much so as to appear unnatural to wary trout.
The ultralight setup and stealthy drag free drift are key to consistent action in clear or shallow waters.
Pinland fishing for other species such as smallmouth bass, catfish, spotted sea trout, smaller redfish/drum/snappers require less stealhtyness in most situations where the water may be stained or dirty. With these species being targeted, 10lb floating mono mainline, without a segment of shotted tippet is perfectly fine...again attached with a micro swivel and 6lb tippet below the floating mono mainline.
Floats for these larger warm water species can step up into the 6-11 gram range, again balancing with your total shot weight, and larger shot in the BB, AB and even AAA size can be used. Be sure to account for the weight of any weighted jigs you may be using in lieu of bait. If straight bait fishing with small worms, shrimp or cut bait, use enough shot to get those lightweight presentations down into the strike zone which in most situations is within 12 or even 6 inches off bottom.
Pinland fishing with a float is by far one of the most effective (and enjoyable) methods of targeting inland species. Rather than dropping a bait right to bottom and waiting for a fish to move in...or casting in a fan like pattern missing many fish closer or further downstream from you....pinland float fishing allows for systematic and quick grid like fishing of holding spots that cannot otherwise be covered as effectively.
As compared to fly fishing which generally is targeting only top water feeders..or even using a weighted tippet to target sub surface biters...float fishing puts your presentation IMMEDIATELY and CONSISTENTLY in the strike zone at all times.
Indicators (floats) enable both strike detection AND when trotting or checking your float upstream, allows covering not only the bottom but also midwater layers of the water column simply and effectively....with far less casting.