The float is the fundamental component for float fishing. Selecting the right float for the conditions will make the difference between a great day on the water or catching nothing at all.
For any type of river fishing it is vital to select a float that can be rigged either top and bottomwith silicone sleeves (float caps) or rigged through the center (slip float). These types of floats will keep the line above the water, allowing the float to be checked (or held back) without pulling under. Floats that are rigged bottom only are useless for all but the slowest river conditions, as they pull under whenever the float is checked.
Use fixed floats like the Raven FM and Drennan loafer when fishing waters that are shallow to medium depth (no deeper than you rod is long) and slip floats in deeper water. When long range casting is required, slip floats are the better choice as they are much easier to cast.
Next, select a float with the right diameter and carrying capacity for the water conditions. The larger the diameter, the more buoyant and stable the float will be in the current. The greater the carrying capacity (marked in grams), the farther you can cast, the deeper you can fish and the better the float will track as it trots down river.
Larger-diameter float offers more resistance to a striking fish. The amount of resistance that a fish feels is a combination of two factors: The first is the force required to pull the tip of the float under water. The second is the total weight of the rig. Too much resistance and the fish will instantly drop the bait.
For example, let’s compare the Raven® FS 3.8g float (model: RVFFS3) to the Raven® SM 3.7g float (model: RVFSM2). Both floats have nearly the same carrying capacity and total weight, so they should cast and handle about the same. However, the FS float is more stable in current due to its larger-diameter tip, while the more slender SM float offers significantly less resistance to a striking fish.
The trick is to choose a float that is large enough to get the bait where you need it and sensitive enough to show every strike (before the fish drops the bait). If your float pulls under too often in the current or won’t track straight, change to a larger or thicker float. If the fish are hitting lightly and dropping the bait quickly, switch to a smaller or more slender float. Remember, for maximum sensitivity, always shot your float (add split shots to the line) so that only the coloured tip sits above the water line (see shotting).
You also have to consider the size of your bait and the amount of weight required to get it close to the bottom. Small baits like yarn eggs and weighted nymphs will have little effect on float selection. Larger baits like roe bags and skein chunks will require a larger float to ensure that there is enough weight to get them down and fishing effectively.