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Which float to use?

I regularly get asked by anglers (and their partners) which of my floats are best suited to their needs; "Which float should I use for perch or tench or rudd?"  I have tried to help with some of the basics in the main navigation bar by splitting the floats into still water and river floats, although there is much cross over as many of you will know - so here I will go species by species to offer more detailed assistance with links back to the floats I think would work best for each species in turn.  Many of the patterns ore not listed here specifically because they are great all rounders.

Most of the information is taken from the excellent book "The A B C of fishing" - edited by Colin Willock (ISBN 978-0-233-00314-6). I highly recommend this book.

Floats are a very useful tool for barbel, especially for long trotting, and they must be realistically large.  Good shotting is essential to get the bait down in the fast water quickly and the float must be capable of carrying this kind of weight.  An Avon float carrying about a dozen medium shot or six large ones is very suitable.  The shots are often best arranged in groups evenly along the line to get the bait down and to prevent line belly between the float and the hook.

Suggested floats are:
Billy Lane Avons (the largest three) 
Balsa bobs - (larger two)
Cork Bobs (either size)

The float should be large enough to carry several shot while still sitting high enough in the water to remain visible at distance and heavy enough to withstand the pull of current or wind movement which may cause a bight of line between it and the rod tip.  At the same time shotting must be sufficient to make the float reasonably sensitive.  This combination of terminal tackle must also allow the angler to mend his line at intervals without interfering with the conduct of the float.

Float fishing is a much used method of taking good bream and the angler will require a variety of floats for varying conditions on different kinds of water.  For still waters, apart from the sliding float attached bottom end only other floats to consider are the drift-beater type and any waggler style, capable of being heavy enough to cast and long enough to withstand the surface drift.  Light floats can be used in very shallow water at close range.

Suggested floats are:
Balsa wagglers - (all sizes suitable)
Windbeaters (all sizes suitable)
The missile (for long range casting)
Stepped reed wagglers (for something a little special)
Reed wagglers (smaller sizes for close in margin fishing)

Float fishing for carp is often ignored but is has resulted in some great fish over the years and can make the difference on pressured waters.  As darkness fall, carp move into the margins and the float is a devastating method.  Likewise, on a hot day using a small reed float or porky fixed top and bottom (using silicon bands) cast with no weight other than itself and a dog biscuit is another very exciting way to catch surface carp.  The reverse of a zig rig where bait is suspended mid water to catch cruising carp, fished off islands or other structure such as reed beds or Lilly pads can only be accomplished using a float.  Any float that will cast the the required distance is suitable.

Suggested floats are:
Mini Darts (for margin fishing)
Duckers (various sizes to reach various distances and fish different depths)
Victorian replica (the old classic that still scores - see the gallery for proof!)

Famous for their shy bites, crucians are a species that require finesse and a delicate approach.  One of the floats in my range is called the crucian mini dart.  This float was developed by myself in conjunction with a fanatical crucian angler who was not happy with any float he had ever used and between us we came up with this float which has proved to be massively popular and more importantly successful over the years.

Suggested floats are:
Crucian mini darts - ideal for any margin fishing. Perfect to register lift bites.
Crow quill
Billy Lane Darts

Any float capable of carrying several shot can be used for chub.  Set to show just 1/4 in of tip should be visible at a good distance.  Fairly heavy shotting is employed to get the bait well down in the fairly fast water into which chub sally from their points of vantage.  The bait can be cast down and across so that during its passage through the swim it passes close to the various chub lies.  During the trot down the bait precedes the float by a series of light checks to the line at the reel.  At the end of the run, retrieve the bait as quickly as possible, and in mid steam if possible so as not to disturb the bank being fished.  Long trotting and stret-pegging are also good methods using floats.
Suggested floats are:
Trent trotters - ideal for shallower swims
Balsa bobs
Balsa Avon's


The best way of fishing with a maggot for Dace is by trotting the stream with a float. However, before tackling up, consider the conditions - the level of the river, strength of flow, colour of water and so on. Then choose line and float sizes to suit. If it is a deep swim use a float that capable of supporting sufficient shot to take the bait down to the fish.  Don't put all the shot in one bunch but spread them out with the larges near the float and the smallest dust shot near the hook.  Use a plummet to determine the depth so that your bait is bumping the bottom - just.  Stret-pegging is a good method where there is a medium flow and depth near to the bank.

Suggested floats are:
Crow quills - various sizes to suit conditions
Goose quills - various sizes to suit conditions

Any float will do for Gideon provided it is light enough.  Where there is a steady flow to the water adjust the float so that the bait just trips along the bottom. If it is set too high off the bottom you will not catch many gudgeon, nor will you lure the fish if the bait is dragging along the bottom. Use the plummet because it is essential to know the depth and set the float accordingly.

Suggested floats are: (in smaller sizes)
Reed floats
Porqupine quills
Crow Quills
Billy Lane Avons

Perch will take a variety of baits including worms, maggots, grubs, insects and minnows.  Due to this several floats are recommended for the perch fisherman's armoury.  Always choose the smallest and lightest float possible to suit the bait and water conditions on the day (as with all float fishing).Avon floats are particularly suitable, but do not shot the floats too low as perch often fiddle with the bait before making a definite run.  The most favoured type of float will carry up to two swam shot (SSG) but anything larger is ridiculous.

Suggested floats are:

Blasa perch bobs
Cork perch bobs
Harcork replicas
Gall Perch bobs
Cork Trent trotters

In deep water float fishing tackle should be used to search the swim at all depths at intervals, but in shallow water bait is best presented within a foot or so of the bottom.  If the water is fast the bait should be shotted to get it down quickly, and in any case the float should be balanced so that it does not disappear at the slightest touch, especially if it is used to support a live bait.  On paternoster tackle used with a float, provided the weight is on the line, the float can be left laying on its side on the surface.  

Live or dead baiting using various floats are successful methods for both species.

Suggested floats are:
Cork Pike floats
Banded Pike floats
Slider floats

The majority of these species fall every season to the float fisherman who has innumerable variations of the style at their disposal. The float can be a small stick float or a light waggler with only a dust shot or two to cock it. The shot are always used near to the float to have little or no effect on the fall of the bait.  Trotting is an effective method on rivers where the float is moved to cover various depths until the feeding fish are found.  In slightly heavier waters a larger float is called for with shotting arranged so only 1/8th " of tip is showing.  

Suggested floats are:
Billy Lane wagglers
Reed wagglers

For tench a sensitive float fishing method should be used where ever possible so that the slightest interference with the bait is registered.  Sometimes tench will take the bait boldly and make off in no uncertain terms with it but very often they are cautious and with suck/blow the bait in / out several times before taking it.  A sensitive float is required to register bites such as these.  Laying on is another effective method to trick weary tench.  Shot ledger or lift method fishing is another highly effective method and relies on the bait being a couple of inches below the bottom cocking shot that is placed plum deep.  Once the bait is lifted the float rises up out the water and allows the angler to strike.

Suggested floats are:

Quill tench lifters
The missile

Crow quill onion