If fishing with float tackle has evolved into a complicated science and the conscientious angler can take full advantage of modern developments in the manufacture of float rods
Rods for float fishing should be 12-13ft long, able to handle lines of 3-5lb b.s., and have a slow action. Other types of coarse fishing rod may be used: the specimen hunter, for example, may find a light carp rod best when float fishing for tench or carp in weedy conditions and with the expectation of a big fish. The beginner will often use a glassfibre spinning rod because it is cheap, adaptable and sturdy. But the term ‘float rod’ is usually applied to the longer rods used for general and match fishing.
These two uses have resulted in the development of two distinct kinds of float rod: slow-action rods, which bend along much of their length when playing a fish or casting; and fast-action rods, usually rigid to within 25 per cent of their length with the action concentrated in the tip.
General-purpose float rods are slower in action than match rods and have stronger tips, usually made of glassfibre and 21j-3mm in diameter. The tip of a match rod is nearer 21mm in diameter to allow their use with lines of l’2-2lb b.s. In addition, the match rod is usually stiffer in the butt to give quicker striking. Fish control, however, is more difficult with a stiffer rod, but as a rule, matchmen are not pursuing large fish. There are exceptions to this, such as on the Severn where matches are won with good sized chub and barbel. These fish demand a stronger rod than that used by the average match fisherman.
Match rod development
Due to the changing demands of match fishing, the match rod is con-stantly being developed. Different areas of fishing call for different actions so there are variations in the type of rod in use.
Most float rods today are made of tubular glassfibre, though carbon-fibre rods are increasingly popular.
Float rods are usually equipped with cork handles fitted with sliding rings for holding the reel. This keeps the weight to a minimum.
With a threaded tip ring fitted, the float rod may be used with various screw attachments, such as a swing tip for ledgering. Care should be taken, however, to ensure that the tip of the rod will stand up to the casting weight.
A rod of this description is also suited to long trotting, when float tackle is allowed to trot down with the current of a river or stream and the fish are hooked and played some way downstream from the angler.
Specimen hunters tend to use the longer, lighter ledgering rods—those designed by Peter Stone, for example—since they are capable of casting tackle long distances and controlling heavy fish.
The ideal match rod Match rods, too, have a specific job to perform. They must be light and well-balanced enough to be held comfortably for the duration of a contest. They must be capable of casting float tackle with precision and sometimes over a considerable distance, and they must be able to strike close-to and at a distance.
This has resulted in the use of a fast-action rod with a soft top which helps to overcome line breakage by acting as a shock absorber. Commonly made of glassfibre, some match rods are now constructed in part of carbonfibre. While retaining a glassfibre top, the carbonfibre butt and middle of the rod have added stiffness where it is needed—but such power can prove too strong for use with fine lines.
The most popular lengths for match rods are between 12 and 13ft as these appear to provide the best compromise between length and ease of handling. Shorter rods can-not control fish as well, while longer rods are difficult to manage. Further development of carbonfibre rods, may well change this.
Pole fishing has recently become very popular in this country. With this style of sport, a rod in the region of 20-28ft long is used and the line is fixed direct to the end of the rod without the niceties of reel or rod rings. The float tackle—often very small and sensitive—is fished extremely close to the top of the rod. This makes it easier for the angler to strike at very small bite indications, since he is in almost direct contact with the bait. Because of the stiffness of the pole, a shock absorber of fine elastic may be fitted between the rod and line so that, on striking, the line does not snap. This type of fishing is becoming more popular, particularly where bleak are the quarry, as the pole can be used to strike quickly and to place the bait very accurately.