Rods for float fishing should be 12-13ft long, able to handle lines of 35 lb 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: slowaction rods, which bend along much of their length when playing a fish or casting; and fastaction rods, usually rigid to within 25 per cent of their length with the action concentrated in the tip.

General purpose float rods

Generalpurpose float rods are slower in action than match rods and have stronger tips, usually made of glassfibre and 243mm in diameter. The tip of a match rod is nearer 2|mm in diameter to allow their use with lines of 142 lb 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 constantly 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 carbonfibre rods are now popular.

Rods for float fishing 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 swingtip for ledgering. Care should be taken, however, to ensure that the tip of the rod will be able to 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 down stream 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 by absorbing their powerful struggles.

Never buy the cheapest rod unless it is recommended. Tackle quality and cost go handinhand. Buy wisely.