Voted the best angling website by the Sunday Times
Sign up

Complete your details below and join 13169 other anglers who simply love finding new places to go fishing.

  • Save your favourite fisheries and holidays
  • Share your saved venues with friends
  • Get notified on new fishing venues in your area via email
  • Post comments and join in discussions
  • Receive our ‘tightlines’ newsletter
Your form contains errors, highlighted below.

Lost your password?

Forgot Your Password?

Enter your email address and we'll send you a link you can use to pick a new password.

How to choose a fishing float

A float is a thing of beauty. No matter how many we have, the temptation to add to the collection is a powerful force in most anglers. Go into any tackle shop and there they are, row upon row of little soldiers proudly standing to attention. Thin ones, short ones, fat ones, they all have their place, but, which one to choose?

To answer that question we need to look at what we want the float to do. The primary function of a float is to suspend the baited hook at the desired depth we wish at whether this is fishing up in the water or on the bottom. It’s other equally important role is to act as a visual indicator that a fish has taken the bait.

Choosing a fishing float

The choice of float is largely dependent on the type of water you wish to fish, although other factors such as wind strength and casting distance also play a part. For example, when fishing a still water such as a lake or canal, a waggler would probably fit the bill.

The waggler is attached to the line using the bottom ring only with a shot pinched on the line either side of the float to hold it in place. This also has the effect of holding the line beneath the surface which reduces the risk of drag, thereby allowing the bait to be presented more naturally. Additional weights can be added as necessary further down the line to set the visible tip of the float as preferred. This is particularly effective when fishing hard on the bottom and in choppy water.

Fishing Float - A selection of loaded Wagglers

The Waggler is one of the most used and multi-purpose floats – it should be part of every anglers tackle box.

Wagglers come in all shapes and sizes

Wagglers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are loaded, which allows the float to cock using less shot on the line and is particularly useful when casting a distance as the float travels ahead of the end tackle decreasing the horror of tangles. Those which are not loaded enable the angler to set the float as desired or indeed have the float laying on its side as in ‘laying on’. This is where the float only cocks when the balancing shot lying on the bottom is lifted by a biting fish, transferring the weight of the shot directly to the float and causing it to cock or sink.

Floats for fishing rivers

Although a favourite on stillwaters, wagglers can also be used to great effect onrivers as long as they are slow flowing. However, when fishing faster water I would suggest a stick float.

Stick floats are attached top and bottom which gives greater control in fast moving water. The bottom half of the float is ususally heavier than the top which increases stability in the flow. As a general rule the lower layers of water in a river flow more slowly than the top layers. This causes the float to drag the hook bait below it giving an unnatural presentation.

To combat this stick floats are designed to be held back without the float being pulled under water, which would happen if attached bottom end only. Holding the stick float back allows the baited hook to travel ahead of the float creating a more natural presentation.

Choose a colour which stands out

The colour of the float is also worthy of consideration as it can be extremely frustrating to cast out and then have to squint because the float is lost against the backdrop of the water.

Float fishing in all its forms is an extremely enjoyable method of catching fish and time spent perfecting the art will certainly add fish to the net and your enjoyment of the sport. Always keep in mind, however, that whichever float you choose it needs to be as unobtrusive as possible and be fit for the job.

Fishing Float

Having a wide selection of floats of different sizes and colours will ensure you can present your bait perfectly and easily see when you get a bite.

Malcolm Parnell
Written by Malcolm Parnell
Malcolm Parnell lives in Warwickshire and has been fishing for as long as he can remember. After first wetting a line in small streams catching sticklebacks and bullheads, he then moved on to the roach and gudgeon found in local canals. He now enjoys all aspects of fishing, no small  part of which is the pleasure of seeing wildlife and the thrill of ‘just being there’.


Post a comment

Leave a Reply

Similar articles

The Angling Trust Wellbeing survey

Angling Trust survey – the benefits of going fishing

In support of the current ‘Stress Awareness Month’, the Angling Trust is asking anglers to take a brief survey to highlight the benefits of going fishing. The survey closes on Sunday at midnight.

Our guide to fishing this spring (2024)

With the worst of the weather over (we hope!) and with spring finally here, it’s time to clean out that tackle box and get on the bank for some spring time fishing.
British rod caught record pike February 2024

Chew Valley pike is new record

  A 47lb 5oz pike taken by Chew Valley Lake angler Lloyd Watson on February 13 has been awarded the new record for a British rod caught pike.
am living testimony that buying secondhand stuff can be a way of life. On most days lately the only item of my clothing that didn’t come from a charity shop is my underpants. The same is also true about my fishing tackle. The set-up in the photo is my usual river gear. The box is secondhand, as are the two 13’ Acolyte rods, the 17’ Acolyte rod, all three closed face reels and the pole spray bar. By going into these transactions with your eyes wide open and with a little bit of understanding we can all buy ‘champagne’ tackle for beer money prices. Go on, give it a go.

Guide to buying second hand fishing tackle

This seasonal cold and wet weather can cause many of us to stay at home rather than go fishing, but the yearning within to do something fishy can often be satisfied by buying more kit.
Flooded fields after the River Severn bursts its banks in January 2024

What happens to fish in severe floods?

The recent extreme floods will have led many anglers to wonder what lasting effects such dramatic events have on fish. Fishery Management Consultant Dr Bruno Broughton explains what goes on.
Many anglers will own a variety of reels throughout their fishing life. Others will stick to their favourite for many years, preferring the familiarity of an old friend. This is a small example of the reels that I own (and these are just a few of the ones that are not actually attached to rods) and their variety can be quite daunting when taken as a whole. Hopefully you will read all of this article and feel a little more informed … Or… in the immortal words of Maggie Thatcher “where there was darkness may there be light” or something similar.

Coarse fishing reels explained

If you’re new to fishing or just thinking about purchasing a new fishing reel, Chris Smith delves into the detail about his coarse fishing reels and explains the benefits and features of the different types.

Search by Region or County

Find new places to go fishing in your local area or county by choosing your destination below