Summer floater fishing tips for catching carp

(Image credit: Angler's Mail)

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Floater fishing time is well and truly here.

I always look forward to the balmy days of summer… visions of big black shapes taking floaters to a green and lush backdrop is what gets me through the seemingly never ending colder months.

It’s not all T-shirts and suncream though, as any avid floater fishing enthusiast will tell you!

There are many “spoilers” that you would swear are intent on curbing your enjoyment…

Floater fishing bait – in bulk

The biggest of these negative influences that can ruin an otherwise lovely day is of course birdlife.

Any lakes resident geese ,swans and worst of all the dreaded sea gulls are always on the lookout for a free meal.

These guys are only too happy to relieve you of your floaters.

And because of this my first and most important tip to any budding surface angler is:  always ensure you have enough bait with you.

(Image credit: Angler's Mail)

I honestly can’t stress this enough and hear almost daily from carpers that they ran out of bait because of the birds.

So my advice is to invest in a sack of cheap mixer from your local pet food supplier. Or go for my preference which are 11mm expander pellets and keep these in the car.

Often I’ll get through a good five kilos before the birds have had their fill, sometimes more. I can promise you though that once the birds are fed and the disturbance dies down that the carp will begin to feed.

Get ready to oil up

With long warm days the carp start to spend much more time up near the surface, and the surface fishing starts to come into its own.

Good old Mother Nature of course likes to throw a spanner in the works and it is now when the trees start to release their pollen which covers the surface of the lakes in fluff.

This is the absolute worst time for floater fishing during what should be the very best time, which is before the fish have spawned and are starting to group up in numbers. The fluff and pollen sticks to your line and ruins your presentation and makes everything a nightmare.

I find that the carp struggle to pick out the floaters amongst the sea of other floating debris on the surface.

But by using oil to coat your floaters and introducing them in one lump, either by spod or spomb or by PVA bag it is possible to open up “windows” in the fluff.

The carp home in on these straight away, as they can see the floaters clearly and this makes a huge difference.

My preference is for either hemp oil or salmon oil to do this job and both are mega attractive in their own right.

If you’re on a budget however you can get away with good old cheap vegetable oil for this.

Think about  floater fishing bait

Always think carefully about the hook bait you use, as dog biscuits float on the surface film (meniscus) at the same level.

And if you use these on the hook the weight difference makes this easily picked out by the fish.

Therefore I always use a small boilie of a similar size and shape to the freebies I’m putting out.

The extra buoyancy of the pop up will negate the weight of the hook, and make it difficult for the fish to differentiate from the freebies.

Quick check on the kit

Equipment wise, it pays to keep things very simple when floater fishing. I use a fairly soft actioned rod.

This is coupled with a medium sized fixed spool reel for my open water fishing. The reel is generally loaded with a quality mono of 10-12lb breaking strain.

I always carry a small rig pouch with a selection of terminal gear such as controllers of different weights, hook-length materials and of course hooks in different sizes from a 6 down to a 10.

A small tub of mucilin grease to ensure your hook-length floats perfectly will massively aid presentation and is surprisingly unused by lots of surface anglers!

Finally, a reliable catapult is essential, along with a decent quality pair of polaroid glasses which prevent eye strain on a bright day and will help you spot those carp nice and easily!

Angler's Mail

Running from 1964 until 2020, Angler's Mail was the UK's leading weekly magazine devoted to coarse fishing, telling readers everything they needed to know about which fish to catch, where to catch them, and what kit they needed to do it. Now, loads of the magazine's expert advice can be found on, as a helpful resource for angling newcomers and experts alike.