There's no better way of catching fish than to use a float.
It’s how most of us started our fishing careers and I have particularly vivid memories of that heart pounding moment when tiny bubbles suddenly appear in your swim, edging closer and closer to the float tip until it suddenly glides out of sight.
It’s a real pity how many anglers today head straight for the multiple carp rod set-ups mounted on alarms, they are missing out on the gentle art of flicking out a delicate presentation next to a reed or lily bed – there really is no better way for honing your watercraft skills.
Don’t be tempted by the ridiculously cheap deals. Go for a mid range set-up and you’ll reap the benefits of a well balanced outfit that will make your fishing a whole lot more enjoyable.
I’m of the age of fibreglass float rods which were fine when I began fishing seriously (carbon rods cost about two year’s paper round money!) but today’s delicate wands really are superior and more affordable.
There are models available to suit every float fishing style – from ultra fine match rods designed for smaller river and stillwater silver fish, through to power house rods for taming hard scrapping commercial carp.
You also need the other necessary items of float fishing gear to make your fishing run smoothly. A decent seat box is essential and is better than a chair for this style of fishing, where you need to be focussed on that orange tip instead of slouched back waiting for an alarm. Sensible items of luggage also make the trek to your favoured swim easier.
This fine lot is what you’ll need for a fledgling float fishing career. You can always upgrade bit by bit when the addiction becomes hopelessly incurable. Sound advice from your local tackle shop owner is invaluable – you simply don’t get such important info from ordering your kit on-line. They’ll be able to steer you towards the appropriate tackle to buy as well as recommending the best local venues for some float dipping action. They can also provide you with the classic float fishing bait – good old maggots.
The business end of float fishing is critical. Shrewd fish shy away from crude hook links and oversized hooks and tying such delicately fine tuned hook lengths can take a little practice to truly master. Ready-tied hooks to nylon is the answer. There are plenty of floats to choose from too, from bodied wagglers for thumping out rigs in deeper water, through to delicate insert wagglers for registering ultra shy bites.
Here’s a typical range of hooks to nylon suitable for river tactics, which include finer patterns spot on for presenting tiny baits for keen eyed specimen dace and roach. Float wise, it’s good to go river fishing with a broad choice to cover all situations. Pacey shallow glides call for dumpy patterns, while calmer stretches can be tackled using traditional stick patterns with either cane, lignum or wire stems, or even straight waggler patterns. Don’t forget to buy a packet of assorted float rubbers too – they cost pence but are critical for attaching river floats top and bottom to your line!
Choose a 12 to 13 ft rod for river fishing with a responsive tip action for quickly setting the hook and with a cushioning action for absorbing powerful lunges from the odd monster chub. Most match rods are perfect for most river fishing applications and is equally suitable on stillwaters for targeting silver fish and other species up to 8 lb. Couple that with a fixed spool reel within your budget and you have the perfect starter combo.
If stillwater commercial carp pools float your boat, then you’ll need a float rod with a bit more backbone and power. Standard match rods will cope with lively double-figure carp, but a stepped up waggler rod is designed to tame such hard scrapping fish and is a joy to use.
Don’t scrimp on your main line and hook length material. The real budget stuff can often be fairly grotty and will quickly let you down. As regards main line we are talking 2 to 8 lb breaking strain. For hook link, if you tie them yourself, there are various options available in 50 m spools.
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