When it comes to floats, a large majority of sea anglers are at a loss. Ham-fisted attempts to fish a slider or cast a float rig from pier or beach ends in tangles.
Those that do get it right owe this mainly to their coarse fishing experience where float fishing is the most successful tactic. It is worth a walk around your local freshwater lake to gather ideas on the method.

Basic mistakes include trying to cast a float with a fixed depth, which is too long and makes casting very cumbersome. Fishing with the wrong size float, too little or too much weight under it and with the wrong rod, reel or line diameter.

Balance is the key word to rigging up a sea float rig. This is especially important with regard to the line strength and the length of your rod and size of reel. Beach casters are usually unsatisfactory for casting float gear, simply because they are too stiff and heavy to handle the lighter tackle. You will need a lighter spinning or carp rod, a bass blank is around the minimum suitable in most cases with a carp, or pike rod based around 10lb line ideal.

Why is it that all the angling writers that attempt to show you how to sea float fish don’t mention shotting and the importance of float size and buoyancy? Probably because the range of floats available to sea anglers are designed without much thought except that they should float and be seen between the waves! This being the case, it’s best to opt for the range of pike floats with the Drennan range offering several that are especially suitable for sensitive sea fishing.

Remember that one size of float will not be suitable for all species, venues and conditions. A big float will cast and be seen between the waves, a small float is more sensitive, essential for mullet. What about adding a small feeder to your floats, a deadly way to attract mackerel and garfish.

How your float behaves and how the fish react to it can be important in several respects. Garfish may even be attracted to a large colourful float, while mullet are most likely to shy away from a large float or the affect it has on bait movement. For sea-going mullet and timid garfish the clear plastic floats often work best while a clear bubble float can be a deadly aid to lure fishing on the surface for bass. Simply add water for casting weight.

Stop knots for sliding float rigs can be made from mono line or, far better, Power Gum. This can be adjusted more easily without damaging or burning the line. The soft rubber also passes through rod rings easier. Tie a spare stop on the mainline in case one breaks free.

A swivel below the float not only protects the hook length from twisting, but also acts as a stop for the shot added to the line.

Bright coloured floats are not always the best to spot at distance. Black is a great colour in sunshine and with most floats painted bright on the top and dark underneath, it’s simply a matter of turning the float upside down.

A fun float method is to send a short float rig sliding down your mainline after you have cast out bottom tackle. This gives a chance of bottom fish and surface feeders at the same time. Set the depth at a couple of feet, bait with fish or ragworms and you could catch bass, garfish, mackerel or even pollack and bream.


Read more in the August 2001 back issue of Sea Angler.
You can order a copy by telephoning 0845 1214000