Some folks was curious about the rig I was using (april 2005) so I drew a little diagram of it with photoshop and this rig is for muddy, silted in, bottoms for boat fishing but can be adapted to other styles of fishing from shore as well. I used to use balloons for this but since they've started making those split floats I like using those because you can put them on and take them back off the line without cutting the line. The way I came up with this idea was back in the mid 80's I was down at Corpus Christi, TX and a guy was fishing and he had a balloon tied on his rig. I asked him what the balloon was for and he said the cross current covers up your bait when fishing on bottom. Since then I've used balloons quite a bit in different ways.
This rig that I've been using recently has been very successful in producing fish. The reason I use this rig is because of the boat swaying back and forth. If you anchor the boat down so that it won't sway and you get a big fish on, you're in trouble because most of the time if you can't get everything up in a hurry the big fish will wrap around it. With this rig all you have to do is pull the anchor up and land the fish. This rig is designed to keep the bait from being pulled into the mud when the boat moves. When the boat moves it moves quite a bit and if the reel is locked down it drags the sinker into the mud and also pulling the baited hook under the mud. This results in very few bites. So, what you want is a rig that'll suspend off bottom and won't move and if it does move then it can right itself when the slack comes back in the line. the float picks the line up off bottom and the sinker holds it so that it doesn't move. On this rig the float isn't for bite detection at all cause you don't see it ... the 6oz sinker will be holding it under the water but the float keeps the line upright and off the bottom keeping the hook suspended.
I use a 2ft drop from the threeway swivel to the sinker. 8" drop to the hook and the float is attached to the mainline above the three way swivel. You keep slack in your line so that the float can hold the baited hook up. The photo shows about how it looks.
Revision: May 30, 2006
After using this rig with my clients all spring I've come to the conclusion that the threeway swivels aren't a good idea ... the dropper loop works much better as the swivel sometimes cuts the line and that's no fun when you get a biggun on. So in the picture, substitute the threeway swivel with a dropper loop.