Float fishing a great way to catch fish

Of all the ways to catch fish, using a float has to be one of the most agreeable. The simple rule that if the float dips you have a bite, is a rule anyone can understand. Which is why the float is so enthralling to youngsters and is perhaps why so many of us caught our first fish with a float.

No deeper understanding is needed to catch a few fish, and for some this is enough. For them fishing is an activity enjoyed on odd occasions. For others the quest to catch more fish and the need to better understand how, drives them to delve deeper into the float.

Float fishing a great way to catch fish

Table of contents

Float fishing

Float fishing is at the delicate, sensitive end of angling methods. Small hooks, small baits and shy bites are most closely associated with floats. There are exceptions of course, like the cloddish pellet waggler. But on the whole, float fishing is a subtle skill.

It is easier to list the coarse fish you would not usually try to catch with a float. Pike, Zander, big Barbel and perhaps Carp over 10lb. For these ledgering is probably better, but for the dozen or so other species, float fishing is ideal. Does this mean that float fishing is a small fish method ? In some respects yes, but that is only because most coarse fish are under 10lb. [Top…]

Bait presentation

Whenever you fish with a float, you know exactly where the bait is. Whether fishing against weed beds, features, or trotting down a river, the bait is always under the float. Which makes positioning a bait in the same spot, time after time, very easy.

Fish do not always feed on the bottom. For different reasons at different times of the year, fish can be near the surface or in mid-water. A float can be used to set the bait at a particular depth, not just on the bottom.

With different shotting patterns, the bait can be allowed to sink slowly or race down to the lake bed. On a river, a float can be used to control the speed at which the bait is washed downstream or halted altogether. There are many ways to control and offer a bait when float fishing. [Top…]


There is a float for every swim on just about every water. From specialist floats like the Driftbeater and slider to the common or garden Waggler. There are very few situations where a float cannot be used. The versatility of float fishing makes it an essential method of fishing and well worth getting to know. [Top…]

waggler floats

Waggler floats

Although simple in design, the straight Waggler has caught countless fish. It can be used on lakes, ponds and (depending on conditions) rivers. The straight Waggler really is an important part of any anglers kit.

For shy biting fish, the insert Waggler has greater sensitivity and is able to show both lift and dip bites.

The Driftbeater is a special waggler designed to work in strong winds and strong water drift. It also has a reputation for it’s exaggerated lift bites which have accounted for many Tench. [Top…]

River floats

The reigning king of river floats is the stick. Made famous by many wins on the match fishing scene, the stick has become a firm favourite. Like the Waggler, there are very few anglers who don’t own a stick.

Although the stick is very popular, loafer floats are perhaps easier and more versatile. When you just want to trot a float down a river, a loafer is a simple to fish float that will work in most conditions. [Top…]

Loaded and unloaded floats

A loaded float is simply a float with some of it’s weight carrying capacity already built into the float. Traditionally these were heavy floats used for long distance fishing. Having some of the weight built into the float improves accuracy and distance when casting, but also simplifies the shotting pattern.

Nowadays the range of loaded floats has increased to include small Wagglers. These smaller loaded floats have the advantage of using simple shotting patterns, these Drennan crystal wagglers are a good example.

Some river floats have a wire stem which is a form of loading. The wire stem acts as a ballast making the float very stable in running water. [Top…]

Shotting patterns

Much of float control is determined by the shotting pattern. The choice of shotting can hold the bait hard on the bottom, stop a float drifting or allow the bait to sink slowly down through the water.

Every shot placed on the line has a job to do. Understanding what every shot does and why it is there allows complete control over the rig.

The most important shot on any float rig is the tell tale shot. This is last shot on the line, the one closest to the hook. This shot is the first one a taking fish will disturb. As soon as the tell tale is moved, the float should report the presence of a fish at the surface. The exact position and size of the tell tale has a big effect on bite registration. [Top…]

Float control

River anglers are masters of float control. A good river man can dictate how fast a float and bait flow downstream, but can also cause the bait to rise and fall in the water.

For the still water angler float control is as equally important. On a lake, the last thing you want is for your float to drift on the wind moving your bait out of the swim. Presentation and controlling the way your bait behaves to the fish will make a big difference to how many you catch. [Top…]

Find out more on float fishing

Below I have listed some related articles which explain more about fishing and float fishing in particular.

Waggler float fishing – lake

Plumbing the depth for fishing

Waggler fishing tell tale shot

Insert Waggler float fishing for shy biting fish

Fishing on the drop for Roach and Rudd


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