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An Introduction and how to guide for Float Fishing

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

a fishing float in a lake
Float Fishing

Float fishing is a thrilling method of fishing that can be used to catch an array of fish from rock marks, harbours, lakes, piers etc. Suspending a bait/attraction method in a water depth afloat, meaning that anglers are constantly watching the float waiting for it to go beneath the surface when a fish strikes the bait. A brilliant advantage to float fishing is that you can use this method in rocky areas /areas with large amounts of weed. Species such as garfish can be caught in saltwater locations. This is as garfish are mid-tier fish and will move through the water in search of stagnant prey.

When float fishing in saltwater locations it is best to choose areas with very deep water. The reason for this is that you will need to suspend the bait. Failure to do so will mean you cannot see a strike indicator move when a fish targets it.

When freshwater float fishing in lakes for species such as rainbow trout a tiny float (usually a bright colour) is attached to a light mono line with a small cocktail stick inserted through the centre hole. These floats are extremely sensitive to movement. Therefore any small movement within the float should be struck.

Equipment List


● Bead

● Long heavy duty float (To withstand currents, waves etc) the float will also be better if it has a glow in the dark feature for when it becomes night.

● Circular weight

● Swivel

● Hooks - use a type of hook called a circle hook. The reason for this is that a fish will hook itself on this, eliminating the factor of striking into it. (striking can be very hard when float fishing).

● Rubber bands

● 5ft of line beneath float at low tide, 10 ft of line beneath float at high tide

● Bait or attractant


● Light line

● Cocktail stick

● Small fragile float


When float fishing it is best to start off by selecting an adjustable float. The reason for doing so is to allow the float to be readjusted altering the depths of your fishing. This will be a huge advantage when float fishing. The reason for this is due to fish swimming in different water tiers. Being able to cover all of them will massively help increase your chances of catching them.

When setting up your float fishing rig, unlike all other styles of fishing the majority of the gear will be added onto the main fishing line / mainline

When setting up your float fishing rig, unlike all other styles of fishing the majority of the gear will be added onto the main fishing line / mainline

● Use a rubber band or heavy-duty tape to create a stop knot on your mainline. You basically need the stop knot to be tight-ish but for you to still be able to move it up and down the line when you are altering depths. It also helps if the knot can move up through the eyes of your rod.

● After you’ve got the stop knot on you then add a bead.

  • Now add the Float.

● Now add the weight.

● Now you add another bead.

● Finally, tie the swivel to the line.

● Cut a piece of 5ft or 10ft line from the spare line. Tie one end to the swivel and the other end tie on your hook.

What Types of Bait to Use

Depending on what fish you are targeting the following two factors will be affected:

1) The type of bait you are using

2) The depth you are fishing.

There is a huge selection of baits you can use when float fishing. A full ragworm is usually the main choice, as is a strip of silver mackerel belly, as this will have the main attraction of looking like a small fish dead fish. Various other baits can be used such as squid, pollock, shellfish, peeler crabs etc

Before float fishing, a saltwater area of water chumming is highly recommended. Using oily fish such as mackerel or herring can be a useful tactic when making it into a small edible paste. This will make fish come to an area where the float will be at, but anglers should be careful not to use too much ground bait otherwise it will lead to their bait becoming one source of attraction amongst far too many and reduce their chances of catching anything drastically.

Float Fishing Depths for Specific Species

Highest to lowest depths -







Tips & Summary

Float fishing is all about high-speed reaction times and paying attention to minor details. Keep in mind that fish are not always prepared to take lengths of line underwater and many fish will simply let go if they encounter too much resistance. Dip your tip down as low as possible for the best results.

When float fishing continually alters your depths consistently.

Cast into as many areas as possible. Sometimes fish will stay stagnant for long periods of time.

Use heavy-duty floats in rough conditions. This will help prevent the current from pulling your float underneath the water. It may be hard to fish in stormy conditions with a float as it can become nearly impossible to see a fish moving it.

Final Notes

Overall, using a float when fishing can bring extreme fast action hard fish strikes. Patience and consistency are key when float fishing. Being knowledgeable about the species you are targeting will deftly increase your chances of landing it. To improve your chances of float fishing success make sure to chum the fishing area. Select the correct setup and the correct bait/attractant.

by Daniel ONeill

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