Presenting a bait in mid-water with a float fishing rig can be a great way of catching a range of species including pollock, wrasse, coalfish, garfish and several others such as school bass and mackerel. Due to this range of species float fishing is usually associated with fishing in the summer months when these species are present around the British coastline. Fishing with a float is an exciting form of fishing as the angler is always looking at the float and waiting for it to dip under the water and register a bite.

Wrasse with Float
A ballan wrasse caught on a float fished ragworm bait.

While floats used in freshwater fishing are often light and delicate those used in sea fishing are generally larger and more robust, with the cigar style float being the most commonly used design in UK sea angling.

Related article: Float Fishing Methods

Types of Float

Most floats for sea fishing are made out of plastic or polystyrene, but older fashioned floats may be made from wood. Sea fishing floats usually have a bright tip, often yellow or red, so that it stands out in the sea and anglers can easily see if a fish has taken the bait and dragged the float under the water.

A bubble float, left, and cigar float.

Generally, it is cigar floats which are the most popular with UK anglers. These are so-called because their shape resembles a cigar and they offer good visibility, even when fishing in rough water. The vast majority of cigar floats used by UK anglers will be between four and eight inches in length. Floats need to be used with a weight to cock the float (make it sit correctly in the water). Most floats used in sea fishing will be used with a weight somewhere between ½oz and 2oz. The other type of float used by anglers is a bubble float. These can be filled with water to adjust the height at which the float sits in the water and add weight for casting. Bubble floats appear to have waned in popularity in recent years with most anglers using cigar floats now.

Anglers who are using larger rods (such as bass rods rated to cast 2 – 4oz) may elect to use larger floats of six or eight inches in length, while anglers float fishing for smaller species using spinning rods may use correspondingly smaller floats. It is worth noting that in rougher or choppy water it is easier to see a larger float.

Float Fishing Rigs and Set Up

To set up a float rig line is passed all of the way through a float and then held in place with a rubber band, power gum or neoprene rubber stops and beads. The weight and hook are then suspended underneath the float. This may sound complicated but a float rig is very simple as the diagram below shows.

Individual floats, as well float fishing kits which include everything needed for float fishing can be viewed and purchased at Sea Angling Shop by clicking here.

Float fishing kit
A float fishing kit from Sea Angling Shop contains a float, hook, swivel, beads, rubber stop and weight – everything needed for a float fishing rig.

For much more information on float fishing methods and the best marks to float fish from see our page on float fishing methods and techniques.