Beginner's Guide to Float Fishing

Beginner's Guide to Float Fishing

6 February 2019

Float fishing is one of the most popular forms of angling, but it can be very confusing to beginners. With such a huge variety of floats and tackle out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. However, it really isn’t too complicated, and this simple guide will teach you everything you need to know to get started.

What Is Float Fishing?

Float fishing is used when your target fish prefer bait in the current or mid water and the best way to achieve this is with a float. There are four main types of float used: wagglers, sticks, poles and sliding floats.

Float TypeDescriptionIdeal Use
WagglerTube shaped. Attached at the bottom end
Still waters such as lakes and canals
StickElongated body. Attached via three rubber floats
Running water such as rivers
PoleVery sensitive and held in place by tiny rubber sleeves. Come in many different shapes
Pear shaped ones for any water, dibbers (small ones) for shallow waters and ‘body up’ shapes for running water
SliderChunkier floats
Large bait and windy or sea fishing conditions

As a general rule, the deeper the water and harsher the conditions, the bigger the float you will need.

Choosing the Right Tackle for Float Fishing

There are many different types of float fishing rods on the market these days, but your choice will very much depend on the types of fish you want to catch. If you are just looking to do some general float fishing on rivers and canals, then a 12 or 13ft match rod should suit you fine. You will need a small reel loaded with around 3 to 6 lbs of line.

If you are going tench or carp fishing, then a 12ft power float rod with a reel of 6 to 8lbs will be required. The length of the rods helps in a number of ways. First, it gives you better control, both when reaching out across the current and when picking up the slack when striking fish at a distance.

For sea or pike float fishing, you will need a heavier lure rod or carp rod. You will also need a more substantial reel with around 20 to 30 lbs of braid.

Float Fishing Tips

Float fishing is all about paying attention to the finer details. Remember that fish are not always prepared to pull lengths of float underwater and many will simply let go if they encounter too much resistance. Dip your tip down as low as possible for the best results.

You should also use a tell-tale shot, which is a tiny weight positioned about six inches from the hook. This means that when you get a bite the weight will move to let you know that you have a fish. But remember to keep it small and close to the hook.

Try to avoid losing weights. Shot can easily ping off when you are fishing, so try using cylindrical weights called styles that come off the line less easily.

Float fishing will take a little getting used to, but once you have caught the bug (or should that be fish?), it can be a very rewarding way to spend time.