Float ledgering

Float ledgering in its various forms is almost unlimited in its effectiveness; but the delicate balance of forces between the tackle and the current or wind demands careful adjustment.

As its name suggests, float ledgering combines many of the advantages of ledgering with those of normal float fishing. The simplest and best known method of float ledgering is widely known as ‘laying-on’. Anglers often resort to laying-on when fish are responding to float tackle either in midwater or near the bottom. By changing style, they are able to fish the bottom itself to seek the more wily and larger specimens.

When laying-on, the float is raised to a position on the line about a foot or so greater than the water depth (measured with a plummet). When the tackle is cast into position the float fails to cock because the weights or shotting, lying in a heap on the bottom, exert no pull on the line. The line is then tightened with a turn or so of the reel, drawing the float towards the bank and at the same time taking up the slack between the float and the shotting. The shotting straightened out, the shots exert a downward pull on the float, which cocks somewhat obliquely.

This is a far finer presentation of the original tackle than simply float fishing with the bait on the bottom, because the float is now set well away from the bait. The line runs obliquely and is less likely to cause shy fish to become suspicious of the bait when it is well presented.

Modifying the tackle

Although a simple change to laying-on from normal float tackle can be very effective, you can improve your tackle with several modifications. The shotting can be rearranged to provide a more immediate reaction to bites or the float can be changed to suit the slightly different balances of forces now operating between float, shots, and current or wind. The combination of float and shotting should be varied to suit the widely varying water conditions met by the angler. Laying-on is just as effective with a light porcupine quill and a single shot in stillwaters as with a heavy cork or balsa-bodied antenna float with several shots in a light stream.

In the proper hands, laying-on tackle can be extremely sensitive and very effective. Bites are normally signified by a light trembling of the float, which eventually slides under, giving the angler ample time to tighten on a good fish. Good bream, roach and other species often succumb to laying-on techniques, and the method is particularly suited to fishing in slow and sluggish waters or in the stillwaters of lakes and ponds.

Laying-on also enables the angler to carry out a number of useful manoeuvres. In Stillwater he can raise the rod sufficiently to draw the float a foot or so closer. This moves the bait nearer to him and he then fishes the water where it has settled. Repeating this tactic at intervals enables him to fish thoroughly the water between himself and the bait’s original position. Often the bait is taken shortly after such a move, especially if a marauding perch is attracted by the sporadic movements of a worm or maggot.

Laying-on in slow waters

The same strategy can be used in slow or sluggish waters. Lifting the rod tip allows the current to lift the shot and bait before dropping them downstream a little, when the float again sits obliquely. As before, this tactic can be repeated, the bottom tackle being drawn downstream and towards the bank to search a swim thoroughly. Again, a bite often follows shortly after a movement.

Laying-on tackle can be made more sensitive by replacing the bottom shotting with a single drilled bullet or a pear lead and swivel. To retain the sensitivity of the float, it is now necessary to counterbalance it with shotting set directly underneath it or by twisting lead wire about its base. Alternatively, subsitute a self-cocking float. Either way, a fish taking the bait pulls line through the eye of the swivel without experiencing any resistance from the weights or even from the float’s buoyancy.

In fast waters such a rig may be ineffective. Often, the pull of the current simply causes the float to sink out of sight, making it difficult to keep it in position for more than a few minutes. Some anglers take advantage of this situation, however. Allowing the shots to work downstream, they can fish into holes and over weedbeds. By holding the float back momentarily, the shots are pulled off the bottom by the current and waver over the weed or in midwater until the rod tip is lowered again. Then the bottom tackle sinks down and for a few moments the float rides ready to signal an instant bite. This method is generally known as ‘stret-pegging’ and can be as easily done with a light pear lead and swivel as with a more orthodox float and heavy shotting. Both methods are very sensitive, but if sliding weights are used the float must be counterweighted or a self-cocking float used. It is necessary to hold the rod throughout.

Laying-on tackles are probably best used in still waters where the depth does not exceed the length of the rod. A 13ft rod, for example, with a float set at 12ft and the fishing depth at, say, 10ft, allows the angler to cast well out into swims where ordinary float tackle will often not hold bottom because surface drift or wind on the line create forces which combine to sink the float. If surface winds are strong, it is useful to place a single dust shot on the line just above the float so it will ride correctly.

Submerge your rod tip

If the rod tip is submerged slightly, all the line between float and rod tip will also sink. This means that no surface wind or wave action can interfere with the line, allowing the tackle to be particularly effective. In a heavy popple, when waves are formed by the wind, it may be necessary to use an antenna float for good visibility. Once again, this tackle can be retrieved a few inches at intervals to search the bottom, covering all the ground between each cast and ensuring that the angler thoroughly covers those sections of the water where his ground-bait has been deposited.

All laying-on tackles can be used with swimfeeders instead of weights in slow and sluggish waters, or with bait droppers in Stillwater. They all ensure that the angler, casting accurately, is actually fishing where his groundbait is placed.

In very deep stillwaters, where the depth is greater than the length of the rod in use, float ledgering with a slider float can be used to good advantage. A slider float must be free to run on the line and can often be attached by two wire loops, one at the base of the float and one two-thirds up. The float is then stopped at the required depth by means of a simple bloodknot tied with a separate few inches of nylon on the line. The loose ends of the knot should be slightly greater than the diameter of the lower float loop. When the tackle is cast, the line is then left loose long enough for the float to rise to the knot, where it is held and sits in view.

Minor depth adjustments can be made by sliding the knot itself along the line and then re-tightening it. The angler can also make minor adjustments by sinking the rod tip and line and drawing in or letting out a little line to make the float ride properly. Slider floats used in this way also need to be counterbalanced so that they become self-cocking. This can be done by twisting lead wire around the base, or, with some designs by taking the cap off the float and placing a few shots inside.