Float fishing is an incredibly popular type of angling that has enough breadth to keep everyone interested.
Though the float fishing technique is very simple, the sheer number of float designs can be more than a little overwhelming to a newbie.
In this article, we will run through the 13 types of fishing floats you should know about and consider including in your tackle.
These floats cover all sizes, types of fishing and conditions meaning you can select the float that is best for the job every time.
Let’s take a closer look at these popular floats!
Table of Contents
- 1 Just what exactly is float fishing?
- 2 Here 13 types of fishing floats you should know about
- 3 Top tips for using floats
- 4 Rounding up
Just what exactly is float fishing?
Float fishing uses floats of different shapes and sizes for the mid-water suspension of bait. The bait sits on the hook beneath the float that is secured to the line, usually in two places. Using a float prevents the terminal tackle from becoming tangled or stuck on the bottom.
The float visually shows a successful bite to the angler as the float dips beneath the surface.
You can use floats for fishing in still water like ponds and lakes and the moving waters of rivers and seas.
The floats shape, dimensions and buoyancy will vary for different types of fish, bait and conditions. As a rule of thumb, the larger, fatter floats perform best in rougher conditions.
Here 13 types of fishing floats you should know about
Waggler floats are a diverse family of floats that have the unique feature of attaching to the line only at the bottom of the float. You cast them on the line with your rod and weigh them so only the first centimetre of its length shows above the surface of the water.
Wagglers are predominantly used to fish still waters and until recently were extremely popular in the UK.
They may be straight or bodied and are made from materials including cork, cane, reed and plastic.
- Straight wagglers: these wagglers are straight floats that are made from clear plastic.
- Bodied wagglers: these wagglers have a bulbous body that adds stability to the waggler in windy conditions.
This is a classic river fishing float that has earned its name and design from fishing the fast-flowing waters of the River Avon.
Anglers choose this bodied trotter for its strength and stability when fishing running water. The original Avon design was just a cork that has been pushed onto a crow quill, contemporary designs use dense balsa and a stable wire stem. The density of the balsa adds the weight and stability needed for a strong current.
You attach an Avon float to the line at the top and the bottom. You can use the Avon float to present your bait in a variety of ways, but it is most effective when used in water that has a depth of 4 feet or more and in situations where a stick float struggles.
3 Stick float
These stick-shaped floats have a tip, an elongated, tapered body and a stem. It attaches to your line using rubbers at the top and bottom of the float. Anglers use them in rivers, streams and any other moving water.
Fish downstream with them, letting the bait hook drift in front of the float by holding back the float so the bait can drift ahead.
A key technique used for fishing rivers with this type of float is called trotting, where the float is held back by pulling on the rod at regular intervals to drift the weight and bait through the moving water at the same speed as the current.
Use bubble floats for surface fishing and do their job when fish are active at the surface of the water.
These floats are simply small hollow balls that can be filled with water to control the buoyancy of the float.
You can cast bubble floats in areas of water where there is dense vegetation that will not permit you to use a standard float. A bubble float will drift into these areas without becoming tangled.
To add a bubble float to your rig, pass the main line through both ends of the float. You will also need to grease the rod end of the line with floatant so it does not become submerged and spook the fish.
5 Pole float
Pole floats are an extensive family of fishing floats, with a range of characteristics that are matched to specific angling techniques and conditions.
Pole floats comprise a wire, carbon, or fiberglass stem, eyes for threading the line, and a balsa, cork, or foam body. These floats are usually classified by length and the shape of the body. They include:
- Slim-bodied floats have the narrowest bodies. Because they have little water resistance anglers often use them for fishing on the drop where the bait is taken by the fish as it drops through the water.
- Rugby ball floats have a larger body that provides greater buoyancy and stability, especially in windy conditions. Anglers use this float for lake fishing with meat bait.
- Diamond floats are used similarly to the rugby ball float, for the stable presentation of large bait such as corn, meat, and pellets. This classic design is simple and has low resistance, meaning you’ll detect bites easily.
- Round pole floats have a completely round body and are effective when used in currents. Round pole floats with long stems are better in deeper water.
- Short/body down/pear-shaped floats have bodies of varying thicknesses. The floats with thicker bodies can carry heavier bait. The thinner pear-shaped pole floats are more sensitive and used with lighter bait like maggots or bread in calmer water.
- Body up is the opposite orientation to the pear-shaped float. This is a very popular flat that can be effective in many situations, particularly shallow water. Its shape gives it high buoyancy, enabling it to work with most baits.
- Dibbers are a classic pole float for fishing shallow waters less than two feet in depth, reed banks and canals. It is the smallest of the pole floats. Though it is small, it is able to support the weight of large bait and its fat tip is highly visible.
The distinctive design of the dink float is like a battery with a cylinder or dark foam topped with a smaller cylinder of cork.
It offers a high level of stability and control; the line is run through the top of the dink, wrapped around its body, and then passes through the bottom.
7 Pellet waggler
The pellet waggler is a shorter, thicker float that can be used for surface fishing. They are often used with pellet bait, but can also be used with corn, meat or maggots.
They are very buoyant and usually made from materials like high-density foam or balsa.
This keeps your bait high up in the water and the float does not dive when it is cast. The bait is usually presented to fish like carp in the first two to three feet of water.
There are many styles of pellet waggler, with some designs carrying arrow-like flights to help the float travel through the air straighter when it is cast. Loaded pellet wagglers are weighted and do not need to be rigged with a split shot weight.
Popper floats are also known as popping corks and are named because of the sound they create as your rod moves them through the water.
The splash/pop or chugging sound they create mimics a baitfish species or other creatures (frogs, newts, and insects) feeding at the surface, to lure fish that you can catch. They are effective at attracting carp.
Poppers are made from soft balsa with a swivel screw-in eye and a disc that creates the popping sound. Other topwater popper designs feature metal wire beads, pellets or concavities.
9 Quill floats
These are traditional handmade fishing floats and some of the earliest known. As their name suggests, these stick-like floats are made from bird feathers, reed or porcupine quills. Types of quill float include:
- Crow quill floats
- Swan quill floats
- Porcupine quill floats
- Goose quill floats
- Norfolk reed floats
- Sarkanda reed floats
These quills can also include balsa or cork and are carefully engineered for use either in rivers or still water. You can have a go at making your own quill floats by purchasing a DIY kit or assembling one with collected feathers.
10 Loafer float
You can use loafer floats in coarse and game fishing. Their size and shape is adequate to stabilize relatively large bait in fast-flowing water and it has a highly buoyant tip to prevent the float from dipping.
They are also known as chunky or “chubber” floats and can be made from clear plastic to be unobtrusive when submerged. Use these floats with bread or pellets to catch perch, roach or chub.
11 Self-cocking floats
Self-cocking floats are weighted so that they can right themselves in the water. Use them in extremely shallow water that does not have enough depth to suspend a weight to sink your bait.
There are many types of self-cocking float including pike floats, loaded wagglers and pellet wagglers.
12 Slider floats
Slider floats carry a ring at the base for the line to pass through so they are not locked in position like other floats.
This means that you can use a slider rig for fishing in very deep locations with a large length of line passed beyond the float to present the bait in deep water.
13 Fishing floats with direction control
Planing floats, planers or floats with direction control can move the bait by changing the direction of the float by pulling the rod.
A simple tug of the rod produces planing of the float or a flip of direction. You can steer these floats around obstacles like vegetation or rocks and trolled close to structures.
Top tips for using floats
- Look for the weight marking on the floats you choose. Use this as a guide to what weight the float can carry. It is rarely precise so you can work with different weights of shot until you get the float properly cocked.
- Avoid overloading floats, fish as light as you can. This means you should aim to use the least amount of shot for the float.
- Poor weather and strong currents require larger floats and more shot, so that the float can remain properly cocked.
- Use a float fishing rod that is matched to the type of fish you want to catch. A 12 ft rod is usually more than adequate, heavier rods are needed for larger game fish.
Once you master the basics, you will certainly enjoy the versatility of float fishing.
Experimentation is key.
You can make your own floats, but you’ll find that most types of floats are cheap and cheerful meaning you can experiment with the different types until you find one that works for your style of angling.