In this tutorial, I take you through a step by step beginner’s guide on how to start float fishing. For a beginner, I would recommend going to a well-stocked day ticket fishery. When you arrive, take a walk around the lake to find out the best spot, look for a swim with plenty of room to cast with features such as reeds, lily pads and overhanging trees. See below how to start float fishing:

Essential Items For Float Fishing

Below are the items you will need to start float fishing:

  • 10ft waggler rod
  • Reel with 4lb line
  • Net
  • Mat for larger fish
  • Groundbait and bucket
  • Hookbait such as maggots or corn
  • Discourager
  • Ready tied size 20 hooks
  • Plummet
  • Split shot
  • Waggler
  • Rod rest
Pouring ground bait

Step 1.

The first step of almost any day of course fishing is to mix up some ground bait. Pour some ground bait into an empty bucket.

Best consistency for ground bait

Step 2.

Add water to the mix very slowly, a little bit at a time. The ideal consistency is that it is just enough that it can go into a ball but once it goes into the water, this creates a carpet of food for the fish which will break down and attract loads of fish into the swim. Add little but often to your chosen spot.

Waggler rod and reel

Step 3.

I like to use a 10ft waggler rod (waggler being a type of float). This is a comfortable rod to start your float fishing with. I pair this with a fixed spool reel loaded up with 4lb mainline. If you haven’t spooled up a reel before we have a dedicated page to teach you here:

Line up eyes of a rod

Step 4.

Attach the two pieces of your rod together making sure the eyes of your rod are lined up correctly, if they are wonky you won’t be able to cast as easily.


Locking reel in place

Step 5.

Twist open the reel holder and put your reel inside. Then twist the cap to lock your reel in place.

Thread line through rod eyes

Step 6.

Open the bail arm, take the end of the line and thread that through your rod eyes, making sure not to miss any of them out.


Threading line through a waggler float

Step 7.

Now you need to attach a float, the float I have chosen is a reasonably short waggler float as the lake is shallow and quite small. Thread the line through the small hole at the bottom of the float.


Split shot

Step 8.

Take some split shots and pinch them on either side of your float, this helps the float lock into place. It also tells you on the float what sized split shot you will need to have the correct setup.


Smaller loop for overhand knot

Step 9.

Tie an overhand loop underneath the float, if you’re not sure how to tie this knot we have a tutorial on it here:


Smaller loop for overhand knot

Step 10.

Tie an overhand loop underneath the float, if you’re not sure how to tie this knot we have a tutorial on it here:


Ready tied rigs

Step 11.

Take a ready-tied hook link and loop that on the loop you created in your mainline. This hook link tends to be lighter than your mainline as if you get snagged you will only lose that part of your rig rather than losing the whole thing.


Hooking on a Plummet

Step 12.

To work out the depth you will need a plummet. This is a little weight which you can hook your hook onto the bottom of it. The reason why you have this is that you need to test the depth of the water you’re fishing, when you cast the plummet the float will drag under the water if your float is set too shallow, whereas if you cast in and the float is sideways on the top of the water it means you are fishing too deep.


Sliding split shot

Step 13.

Adjust your split shot/float by sliding them up or down the line until you get to the perfect depth, after doing so you can add on the rest of the split shot to fish your float effectively.


Ready tied rigs

Tip 1.

Sometimes it takes a while to get set up correctly but it’s all worth doing and definitely improves your chances of catching.


Maggots on a hook

Step 14.

Knick a couple of maggots very gently as they will wriggle a lot longer, grab a pinch of maggots and chuck/catapult them in just before you cast to the spot.


Waggler bobbing

Step 15.

You will know if you have a fish on as the float will bob under most of the time, sometimes the float will raise up higher and the reason for this is the fish has taken the rig and is swimming up lifting the weight of the rig, therefore, making the float go up. In both situations gently strike and you will be into a fish.


Shotting patterns

Step 16.

One thing to consider is how you want to fish your float depending on what species of fish you are trying to target, this is known as a shooting pattern. If you are wanting to get past the smaller fish and fish right at the bottom of the water you will want to add more shot near your hook to get your rig down to the bottom quickly.


Discouraging a fish

Step 17.

If you have deep hooked a fish this is when you are doing to need a discourager. Simply clip the line onto the discourager, pull the line tight and push the hook very gently, the hook should then pop right out of the fish’s mouth.


Carl holding a tench

Go And Catch A Fish!

You should now all be set up to go and catch a fish on the float. Good luck!


Check out my simple fishing guide book below!

A 100-page guidebook, full of colour illustrations and helpful fishing information.