This guide has kindly been put together by a Brookside Angling Club member that no longer is part of the club, to help the younger members or the less experiences members of Brookside Angling Club. All of its contents and pictures were made for the club and should not be used for any other purpose.
Our thanks go to Chavender for the images.
Before you start
Before you can start catching fish you will need a number of things. The most important is your fishing licence which can be bought from any Post Office and secondly you will need a day ticket for the lakes or you can alternatively join the club for a small annual fee. After you have got you licence and day ticket or membership you will need some basic tackle to get you started.
Rod – to start off with go for a light float rod. When you become more experienced you can upgrade to feeder or specialist rods.
Reel – go for a smaller reel that is balanced with the rod. If you see the local tackle show they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Landing net – a good size match net will be sufficient for most fish that you are likely to catch on float tackle.
Disgorger – a plastic tool used to unhook fish.
Line – for float tactics 4lb breaking strain should be a good start.
Some floats - different size waggler floats.
Non toxic shot – used to cock the float.
Hooks – size 14 hooks are ideal for most float fishing situations.
A float adaptor – to make changing floats easier.
Bait – such bates as maggots, casters, pinkies, sweet corn, pellets and many other are all great for float fishing.
A waggler is any float that is attached to the line by only the bottom eye. As such, it is the most commonly used stillwater float and one that is regularly in use on many flowing waters.
Visiting a tackle shop to buy wagglers can be very confusing as not only are they available in a range of sizes and materials, there are a multitude of different patterns available. We are going to start with the simplest type of waggler which is the straight peacock waggler which as its names implies is just a straight piece of peacock quill with an end eye inserted.
These naturally come in a whole range of lengths and diameters creating the problem as to which float is the best buy. Unfortunately there is no simple answer; it depends on the venue being fished, conditions, and the range being fished.
Starting with size or shot carrying capacity, you will need a float which carries enough shot to easily reach the swim. I stress "easily" as when you get tired the last thing you want is to struggle to cast to your swim. I have seen many anglers start off well from a swim and then lose the fish as they have got tired and can't reach the swim. They are falling short of the feed that they had placed further out when they'd started. As regards thickness, the thinner the float tip, the more sensitive it is and the more easily it will be to pull under. However there are times, like when fishing a flowing river, when we do not want a float that is too easily dragged under by either turbulence or the float dragging the bait across the bottom.
The bottom eye of the waggler is threaded on the line and the float locked in position by the bulk shot placed either side of the eye. I have just one shot above the eye on the line with the bulk of the shot the other side of the eye. This is so that I can, if required move some shot lower down closer to the hook to sink the bait much more quickly. This could be for a number of reasons such as getting the bait down away from small surface feeding fish such as rudd. This is a very common technique that often has to be applied on Cornish waters where rudd can be a nuisance when fishing for larger species. Another reasons for lowering shot might be to combat a surface drift. As a rule, it is best to have as much of your shot locking the float in position as possible. This is to aid casting as it makes a neat compact casting weight that flies through the air.
There are literally thousands of ways of arranging the remaining few shots down the line but I am only going to give you one arrangement in this feature. I know this shotting pattern works in the majority of cases. It is simple yet very effective.
The float is punched out in an overhead cast at a high angle towards the swim. Once your forefinger has released the line, keep it close to the spool ready to feather the line down, slowing the float down and allowing the shot to overtake the float so that the hook lands in front of the float. In feathering all you need do is to tap the spools lip with your forefinger to slow the speed of the line leaving the spool.
Sinking the line
Any breeze is sufficient to pull your float away from the feed. In still water we solve this problem by casting past the area we want to fish and then push the rod-top under water and retrieve line so that the float surfaces in the area we want to fish. This will sink the line.
Striking a bite
If you are fishing close in, a powerful lift will be sufficient to set your hook but if you are fishing further out, a good sweep to the side is more effective. This is because you are not wasting energy on lifting the line out of the water.
This is a straight peacock waggler that has had a thinner piece of peacock inserted in the top. This means that the float has a fine tip that is better for bite detection yet has a thickish body to increase shot capacity and add strength. These are a very popular stillwater pattern for many species including shy-biting bream. This float can use the same shotting pattern as described for the straight peacock waggler.
These are basically either straight or insert wagglers with a body fitted near the base. This serves to increase the amount of weight that the float can hold which in turn will increase the casting distance that can be obtained. Another advantage of these floats is that, being thicker based and less streamlined, they do not impact so deeply into the water. This can make a big difference in shallow water where floats penetrating too deeply can reach the fish and frighten them. This float is often used as a slider to fish deep water but that will be covered another time as it is a more specialised technique.
Casting and Playing Fish
Using a Disgorger