To start off I thought I'd cover an area a lot of anglers get confused with. Float patterns and sizes. With a myriad of different floats on offer at your local tackle shop, one option is to buy rigs ready made. Sure, ready made rigs are fine of course and have their benefits, but making your own enables you to fine tune and further customise your approach. At this time of year the water temperature drops as venues take on a lot of rain and the nights get colder, so all my summer rigs for fishing paste and shallow swims such as margins are put away and won't see the light of day until next year.
There are three pole float patterns that cover all of my fishing throughout the year and have different purposes given the weather conditions, what bait is fished and how I present it. These are rugby ball, pear and diamond shape floats.
Here’s a quick explanation of the two main float sizes I fish with and some simple shotting:
• 4x14 is perfect for a swim that's 3 to 5 feet deep
• 8 no.9 shot and some no.10's to dot the bristle down
• 4x16 for a swim that's 5 to 7 feet deep
• 8 no.8 shot and a couple of no.10 shot to dot the bristle down
I might "shirt button" (see explanation of ‘shirt button’ here) the shot down the rig to catch any crafty carp sitting off the deck or bulk my shot just above the hooklength. These are the only two shotting patterns I use for all my pole fishing...excluding paste.
Let's cover the 5m line to keep things simple. This close-in area of your peg will produce all times of the year. Maybe for not as long during the colder months but some massive lumps will be caught on this line as it is a natural patrol route for feeding fish. The 5m line is generally called this as it means fishing close on the side slope directly out in front of you. This can be a top2, a top 2 plus 1, or a top 2 plus a short 4. Either way, one venue will differ to another. A little careful plumbing (see video below for how to plumb) will tell you where the slope finishes and the silty bottom starts. Fishing just up a little away from the silt has lots of plus points.
As the water becomes really cold and loses most of its colour than I change my float. White floats and glass stems are favourites of mine. Confidence really sets in with a float that I believe is harder for the fish to see, plus I use the white Reactacore Phantom top kits to create an even more stealthy approach. When the water gets cold and clearer, fish are more wary of noise, movement and of course shadows. One float that aides with this problem is the White Knuckle X-Strong range. Originally designed for Summer bagging, they’re also perfect during the colder months. Again on the 5m line as an example I will normally go for the Series 4 model in a 4x16. This float sits in between a rugby ball and pear shape body. With a nice long glass stem for added stability, this lovely float is perfect on windy days. Mostly fished with hard pellet I will shot this the same as explained above, with 8 no.8 shot and a couple of no.10.
On days where I fish corn short through the water then the Series 3 in a 4x14 can't be beaten. As with all the White Knuckle gear this is probably the toughest float I've ever used. Hand made in the UK with the highest 'A' grade balsa you can be assured it won't get broken, which would be bad enough in Summer, but even worse in the Autumn when you could be waiting long periods for a bite and every fish counts. The diamond shape Series 3 in 4x14 will cover 50% of my autumn fishing. Whether fished long or short, shirt button shotting or bulked up, this float is so versatile. The 2.2mm bristle is easy to see which is a major plus on the choppy days.