2020 Float Fishing Guide For Beginners

Man Float Fishing On The Water.

Why float fish? Floats come in different shapes, sizes, and materials like balsa wood, foam, Indian sarkanda reed, plastic, cork, or quills from porcupines. A float helps you cast your bait away from your boat or the shore while keeping a reference point in sight where your bait is. This differs from leger or bottom fishing, where you have no reference point for your bait.

The angler will pick out the correct float for the environment after they take into account the wind speed, current strength, the depth of the water, the size of the bait, and the distance the bait is to the cast. Usually, you’ll set a few small weights on the line between the hook and float. These small weights ensure that the float holds a vertical position when it sits in the water. The angler will see a small, brightly colored tip sticking up out of the water when they cast.

The other parts of the float are usually white or neutral color to make it look as inconspicuous as it can possibly be to the fish when they go after the bait. All of the different floats have a design that allows the anglers to use them in different conditions like fast or slow rivers, still water, windy conditions, or small confined areas like ponds or canals.

Float Fishing Versus Fly Fishing

Float fishing isn’t as taxing on your body – it’s much easier to cast and leave the bobber float down the river. You don’t have to spend countless hours making your own flies – which by the way also requires to buy fly tying kits. Have you ever tried float fishing for steelhead/trout? It’s extremely easy to catch especially if you’re using beads

You don’t need a lot of room behind you to cast. Speaking of casting, casting your float set up is much easier than your fly casts.

Float Fishing Versus Traditional Fishing

For starters it’s much cheaper. You don’t have to buy $7 lures every time you snag. The most you’ll have to spend is on the float but if you tie your mono line to your first swivel then you’re only losing a hook and your leader line.

Your catch success rate is a lot higher than traditional fishing. The reason for this is that your presentation will float through majority of the river rather than one particular spot.

When you float fish you can also test different water depths to catch whatever fish.

Float Fishing History

Although it’s not possible to say who used a float for their fishing adventure first, we can say that it wasn’t unusual for people to use bird feathers, twigs, or rolled leaves for bite indicators when they fished hundreds of years ago.

One book describes using a piece of cork for the float. In the book, the angler drilled a hole through a piece of cork before passing a line through the hole and using a quill to trap it into place. In 1653, a book titled, “The Compleat Angler” came out that went into great detail about how one would set up their fishing gear with a float.

Before 1800, anglers started to make floats for themselves, and many anglers continue this tradition today. Angling started to gain popularity, and companies responded by making floats in different sizes and styles to meet the growing demand. By the time the 1920s came around, companies like Wadhams had offered a catalog with at least 250 floats.

However, the fishing float has gone through hundreds of theoretical and practical changes. Professional anglers like Kenneth Middleton, Peter Drennan, and Mick Thill built up international companies dedicated to floats like Drennan International, Thill Floats, and Middy Tackle. Major-league anglers support these companies like Ivan Marks, Billy Lane, and Benny Ashurst.

If you’re not sure whether or not float fishing is for you, we’re going to outline everything you need to know about the sport. This way, you’ll see why it is so popular and try it for yourself.

Setting Up for Float Fishing is Very Versatile

One of the biggest reasons people choose to float fish is that it’s very versatile and easy to pick up. There are dozens of different combinations you can choose for your setup, and it’s fun figuring out which ones will work best for your needs and wants. You can get:

  • Different Floats – There are hundreds of different floats available that make float fishing fun. You can get brightly colored floats, stealth floats, short and round shapes, or elongated and heavy-duty floats. These different floats work on fishing for small panfish or larger muskies and bass.

  • Different Slingshots – The slingshots in float fishing are the weights you put on your line to keep the float vertical once it hits the water. You can choose smaller weights for smaller floats, or there are large and heavy slingshots that keep your bigger floats in the correct position. Round is the most popular shape, but the weights also come in a teardrop shape.

  • Different Sizes – Do you want a smaller float for your panfish? Maybe you need a much larger and heavier float for those monster steelheads, muskie, or salmon. Whatever you need, you can find a float to fit. The goal is to get a float that will give the fish a little resistance while not sinking under the weight of the bait.

  • Different Variations – Smaller thin floats are very popular for fishing in lakes and streams. However, you can get long and large floats for deeper area fishing, and they make floats that work very well in fast-moving water or streams.

  • Different Leader Length – Do you plan to sink your fly to the bottom of the stream or lake and drag it back to you? Maybe you want something slightly shorter. There is a float for every type of leader length.

Rainbow Trout Next To A Okuma Float Rod and Okuma Raw II CenterPin.

Float Fishing is Cost-Effective

Unlike a lot of other types of fishing that require a large upfront cost, float fishing is very cost-effective. You can buy a pole with a float and everything you need for under $50 for a beginner. Floats range between a few dollars each up to around $100, and you usually don’t have to buy a whole new setup to start fishing with it.

Floats can attach to almost any type of fishing pole. So, if you already have a pole you favor, you can buy a float and connect it to it to start fishing. This is why a lot of people start their kids with float fishing. It’s not a big loss if you end up not liking it, and it’s easy to find someone to buy your floats or give them to someone.

Float Fishing Uses a Variety of Bait Sources

You’re not restricted to one type of bait with float fishing like you are with other forms. The floats give you the freedom to mix and match your bait, depending on the type of fishing you want to do that particular day.

You can easily attach beads, magnetic trout worms, and live bait to your float fishing rod without having to worry about switching your entire setup out for a new one. This versatility also allows you to find the type of bait that works best for your preferred fishing type and style.

The bait sources themselves are usually relatively inexpensive and lightweight, and this lets you carry several of each type with you to switch out when you fish. Eventually, you’ll find out which bait sources work best, and you can start using this bait exclusively.

Float Fishing is Not Tiring

Fishing can be exhausting, but float fishing can be effortless once you get the hang of casting. You will have to spend a little time getting used to casting with this fishing method, but it’s very easy to do. You don’t have to worry as much about trying to get your bait in exactly the right place, and this makes fishing in this style very convenient.

Once you make your cast, you let the river or stream guide your bait. If you cast upstream, the river or stream will eventually bring your bait back to you. All you have to do is slowly reel your bait in as the water moves. The float will help you keep an eye on it, and you’ll know exactly when to reel it in.

This style of fishing is very easy on your body, especially your shoulders, back, and arms. You’ll be able to stay out all day fishing without worrying about waking up and being sore the next day. For people who have arthritis or mobility problems, this makes fishing accessible.

Orange and yellow coloured thill float for float fishing.

Image source: amazon.ca

Float Fishing Allows You to Fish at Night

You can get glow in the dark bait when you float fish that lets you keep fishing well after dusk. It’s almost impossible to night fish with other bait or setups, but float fishing’s huge range of floats lets you pick out several different options.

You can get floats that are very bright at night, and other floats have a very dull glow. Either one allows you to see in the dark, and you’ll be able to tell exactly where your bait is each time you cast.

Float Fishing Encourages Travel

There are millions of lakes, canals, and streams all over the United States and the world that encourage float fishing. Since you don’t need to carry dozens of pieces of equipment with you, you’re able to travel very light to your destination. The lightweight design of this equipment allows you to easily get to hidden fishing spots without worrying about being weighed down.

This equipment and fishing style also encourages you to go to new fishing areas and try out different streams or canals. You may even want to try out different fishing styles with these floats. This is part of the reason why people find this fishing style so captivating. They can get out and spend a few days fishing various streams and places around the United States.

Additionally, there are dozens of professional anglers that endorse this fishing style. This makes it easy to find different areas to travel to when you want to try your hand at float fishing. You’ll get to see gorgeous scenery around the United States while doing what you love.

Float Fishing is the Easiest Way to Catch Trout

No matter if you want to catch Brown Trout, Steelhead, or Rainbow trout, you can catch them all with float fishing gear. The longer and thin floats are ideal for river fishing where these fish live and thrive, and they make it easier to fish in faster-moving waters while keeping an eye on your bait.

The float also increases your sensitivity levels. You’ll be able to feel when the fish are around your bait much faster, and this sensitivity will help you hook your fish more securely. In turn, this increases your chances of landing that dream fish.

Float fishing lets you get your bait right in front of the trout you want to catch. For example, you can add more weight to your line if you’re going to sink your bait. The float will keep your bait at the correct height for the fish to strike.

Everyone is Float Fishing – It’s Extremely Popular

Float fishing exploded in popularity a few decades ago, and this trend continues today. There are now dozens of professional anglers who host routine tournaments dedicated to float fishing. This makes it easy to find other people who enjoy the sport and team up.

This type of fishing is also a fun family activity that is easy enough for everyone to get into and spend the day doing. Since it’s so easy on your body, older and younger anglers can enjoy it too. The cost-effectiveness also makes this an attractive option, and you don’t need a lot of money to get good equipment.

Conclusion On Why You Should Start Float Fishing

Why float fish? Now you know several excellent reasons why people choose to excel is this fishing type. If you’re looking for a fun way to spend the afternoon, try float fishing and see if you enjoy it. You never know, you may even find your new favorite pastime.

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