When float fishing on lakes and canals the float is attached to the line at the bottom using shot. This is known as ‘bottom only’.
More sensitive floats are required than for river fishing, as the fish alone is responsible for pulling the float down in the water as there is no current, so floats with thin tips, sometimes inserted into a thicker body are used.
The remaining shot required to sink the float so only the tip is showing are then placed on the line between the float and the hook. If you want the bait to sink slowly so that fish feeding up in the water can intercept it, the shot is spaced out, but if you want to get the bait down to the bottom quickly, perhaps because a lot of small fish near the surface are taking the bait before it can reach larger fish below, the shot will be bunched closer to the hook.
After casting the float to the desired fishing spot, the line needs to be sunk so that the float is not dragged around by surface drift or wind. To do this, immediately after casting drop the tip of the rod in the water, and lift it sharply up. This should cause the line between the rod and the float to be pulled beneath the surface. An alternative, if this proves difficult, is to cast beyond the place where you want to fish, and then dip the rod tip in the water, and wind a couple of sharp turns of the reel.
Once the float is in position and the line submerged, the rod should be placed in two rests such that the handle of the rod is conveniently to hand for striking, and the tip is in or near the water to prevent any loose line from being affected by wind.
Watch the float carefully for bites. It may dip quickly under the water, but more often you will see the float dip slightly, move to one side, or even come up in the water. All are signals to strike, which should be done by sharply lifting the rod tip up to set the hook.
When fishing in still-water, the size of float you decide to fish with is determined by the distance you plan to fish at, whether you are casting into a head wind or cross wind and the depth of water.
You should be able to cast comfortably to the place you wish to fish, so if you are finding this difficult or if the wind increases, switch to a larger float or one with a body at the base so you can put more shot on the line. When fishing deep water a larger float may be needed to allow more shot to be placed on the line to get the bait down to the bottom more quickly.
You should always find out the depth using a plummet, and it is usually best to start by fishing on or near the bottom, but if fish are in the upper levels of water you will often get bites ‘on the drop’ while the baited hook is falling through the water. If the fish are small, you can move the bulk shot nearer the hook to get a faster fall through the water, or even reduce the size of the locking shot to allow more bulk shot to be placed on the line.
If, on the other hand, it is the fish you wish to catch that are feeding up in the water, moving the shot higher up the line and shortening the line between the float and the hook will ensure that your baited hook stays longer in the feeding zone.
Unlike river float fishing it is the fish alone that pulls the float under the surface when you get a bite, so you should use the thinnest tip that conditions allow. The thicker the tip, the more pull a fish needs to exert to pull it under. A thinner tip will be pulled further beneath the surface making bites easier to spot, whereas a thick tip may hardly move, and worse may cause resistance that the fish can feel resulting in it ejecting the bait before you have time to strike.
If you are having trouble hitting bites, it pays to adjust the position of the small ‘dropper’ shot either nearer to the hook or further away until you find the distance that results in the most bites being hit.
While the tackle is in the water, you will keep the bail arm of the reel closed to prevent line being blow off by wind. Whether you also engage the reel’s anti-reverse mechanism is a matter of personal choice. If you do, there is no risk of the strike being cushioned by line being pulled off the reel, but you will need to disengage the anti-reverse to play large fish. If you leave the anti-reverse in the off position you will not have to do this, but you will need to trap the spool of the reel with your finger when striking to prevent line being given when you strike.
For more information and tips on coarse fishing, visit the Coarse fishing Guide at http://www.coarsefishingguide.co.uk where you can read articles on all aspects of coarse fishing and download a free beginners guide to coarse fishing.
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