Pole floats

Seasoned pole angler and member of DELCAC’S match team, Paul Gleest gives you some common-sense guidelines for choosing the right type of float for your pole fishing.

Choosing the right pole float should prove no problem if you follow these simple guidelines. As with most aspects of fishing, it can easily be brought down to basics.

Body shape

The first thing to consider when buying or selecting a pole float is the body. The body’s main function is to give the float buoyancy, enabling it to carry weight. But the size and the shape of the body affect bait presentation and bite indication too.

Body shapes range from those with a rounded top through to floats with a slim top tapering down to a bulb towards the bottom. There are endless variations between.

A body with a rounded top provides a large surface area for any flow to push down on. This enables you to hold the float back against the flow without the body riding out of the water.

If a water is deep and open to the wind, it is best to choose a float with its buoyancy well down. Because most of the body is well below the surface, the float remains stable while the ripple and waves ride over it. A float with a bulky body towards the top of the float is not suitable because it would ride up and down with the waves – rather like a buoy. This in turn would make the bait bounce about in a most unnatural fashion.

Body size

After you have chosen the correct body shape, the next, equally important factor to decide on is the float’s size. The shot carrying capacity for pole floats ranges from 0. lg to around 10g. The very lightest is used for shy-biting canal fish, and the heaviest for catching large bags of fish in deep rivers. But on the majority of canals, pools and rivers of average depth and flow, floats taking between 0.2g and 2g will cover most of the situations you are likely to encounter.

The heavier the float you use, the greater chance there is of the fish rejecting your bait when it feels the weight of the float and shot. Therefore, as a general rule you must choose the lightest float that you can get away with without sacrificing bait presentation.

The actual conditions on the day dictate what becomes the overriding factor in float selection. For example, if there are stronger than normal winds or faster than normal currents you need to use a larger float to achieve good bait presentation.

The way that the fish are feeding may also influence your choice. If they are feeding confidently a larger float helps you to get your bait to them quicker and may speed up your catch rate. On another day you may experience darting bites and be unable to hook the fish. Here a change to a lighter float may result in more hook-able bites.

Float stems

Most of the stability of a pole float comes from its stem. These are generally made of wire, cane or glass-fibre/carbon.

The most stable types have long wire stems. Being heavy, the wire acts as a balancing weight, keeping the float upright and stable when it is in the water. Unfortunately the heavy stem tends to make the float travel through the air in an upright position when casting, and this can cause tangles. For this reason it is best to reserve wire-stemmed floats for use where the length of line between the pole top and float is fairly short — 60cm-1.5m (2-5ft), say.

Being much lighter, cane stems tend to follow the trajectory of the weight more faithfully during the cast. This enables you to use a longer line without tangles – when fishing the whip for example.

Cane stemmed floats are also useful for fishing on the drop. This is because when first cast they lie flat on the water and slowly cock as the shot settles.

The disadvantage you find with cane-stemmed floats is that they can’t be held back as hard as wire-stemmed floats without tilting.

Glass-fibre/carbon stems are basically a compromise between cane and wire. They offer a lighter stem than wire but with more stability than cane.

Float tips

Nylon bristles are used for most types of pole fishing, with cane and wire tips reserved for special cases. Cane tips are more buoyant than nylon and for this reason they are used for spotting bites on the drop — as the last few tiny shot register on the tip. If shot fails to register it means that a fish has intercepted the bait on the drop -holding up the shot.

Wire tips are used mainly for bloodworm fishing. Their extreme sensitivity makes them ideal for spotting shy bites on hard-fished venues. But they can prove a little troublesome to trim, as adding even the very smallest shot to the line is often enough to submerge them. For this reason they are best suited to calm conditions where there is very little or no flow.