Floater Fishing: 2022 Ultimate Guide

Floater fishing is a great method to catching all kinds of fish, and even beginners will find setting up tackle easy.

floater fishing with bread

Spending time introducing bait to get fish feeding quickly and confidently is a crucial part of floater fishing.

We talk about various floater fishing setups, the bait to use, and some fishing tips and tricks to improve your methods.

What is Floater Fishing?

There are two ways to successful floater fishing.

One method is to cast out a surface float, with a floating line that trails off with your bait attached.

The float acts as something visual to focus on, and helps add weight as you cast, which is useful if you are using light baits such as bread, or floating pellets.

floater fishing with pellets

The second way is to freeline your bait out, which can often be tricky, especially if the bait you are using is too light.

I prefer to freeline my floater fishing setup if there is a current, because this makes your bait behave naturally as it moves with the flow

Both methods work well, and can be tricky to master, especially as there isn’t much weight to ‘set the hook’ in the mouth of the fish.

The first thing you will need is a float rod.

floater fishing

You certainly do not need a 3lb casting monster for surface fishing!

We would recommend plumping for a rod with a test curve between 1.5lb and 2.5lb, which will give you better control and more accuracy when casting your floater setup out into the lake, or river.

A progressive action is also must, because carp really can make a bolt or lunge when you have hooked into one on the surface,

This will help reduce hook pulls.

Tip: Try and find a float rod with a dedicated hook keeper. This allows you to move swims more freely, because you can simply hook your floater fishing rig onto the keeper, and move off quickly.

Here are our floater fishing rod recommendations:

1. Korum Opportunist Rods

If you’re the kind of angler who likes to make the most of every opportunity, you’ll love the Korum Opportunist Floater Fishing Rod!

korum opportunist floater rod

This super slim, lightweight and compact rod is perfect for stalking, roving and hunting your target fish – and it’s designed to go anywhere!

Featuring PacBay Minima guides, which are robust and ceramic-free, these offer a much crisper action and greater longevity when tackling overgrown fishing spots.

So don’t miss out on this great opportunity (I could not resist!) and get yourself a Korum Opportunist Surface Rod in your rod bag!

Available Models & Features

Opportunist 8ft two-piece 2lb: Ideal for fishing tight spots and snaggy areas
Opportunist 10ft two-piece 2.25lb: The go-to float fishing rod that is perfect in every way!
Opportunist 1.8m Tele Handle: Pair your floater rod up with a compact 55cm long net handle.

2. Fox Horizon X Floater Rod

If you’re searching for an affordable floater rod, then look no further than the Horizon X3 Floater Rod!

Fox Horizon X3 Floater Rod

This purpose-designed rod is perfect if you don’t want to spend lost of money.

The rod itself is made from a high modulus, lightweight carbon blank construction that ensures a smooth, accurate cast every time.

The anti-tangle guides and slim cork handle make it easy to use, while the understated graphics and black fittings give it a sharp look.

A great floater rod that will bring you a lot of fun!


Length: 12ft
Test Curve: 2.25lb
18mm DPS-style reel seat
Black fittings and whippings
Anti-tangle guides
40mm butt ring
Slim cork handle

3. Wychwood FLTR Floater Rod

The Wychwood FLTR Floater Rod is perfect for surface fishing!

Wychwood FLTR FloaterSurface Fishing Rod

First of all, it’s lightweight, making it ideal for floater fishing, with the medium-fast action carbon blank with soft tip is capable of casting larger surface controllers but also suitable for fishing free lined offerings.

There are two models to choose from, with the shorter rod ideal for stalking between bushes and hard to navigate swims.

  • Length: 10ft – 2.25lb test curve
  • Length: 12ft 2.25lb test curve

Features include a balanced, lightweight blank, through action, custom-spaced braid friendly guides, full cork handle and hook keeper ring.

The Wychwood FLTR is a really good tool for float fishing!

Floater Fishing Setup

As we mentioned earlier, you can either use a controller float, or use mainline straight through, with just your hook and bait attached.

Let’s demonstrate some commonly used floater fishing setups.

If you want to fish for carp ‘off the top’, then using a carp controller is a good choice!

However, this can be a frustrating method, because it can be tricky to set the hook when a carp sucks in your bait.

Once you’ve cast in your controller, you will need to watch it like a hawk, paying attention to the surroundings as carp can often knock past it, or spit out the bait in a split second.

I prefer to use a semi-fixed bubble float ‘bolt rig’ when fishing in those upper layers.

Fox bubble float floater fishing rig

Because it is clear, it blends in perfectly, and the weight sets the hook MOST of the time!

I use mainline of between 8 and 12lb, which is strong, but delicate enough to blend into the water.

Some in-line controller floats can be filled with water – these are a great option to increase your chances of snaring a cruising, but hungry carp.

Moving onto the hooklength (the line between your float and hook) and I opt for something strong enough to handle the carp I’m targeting, so again, around 8 to 12lb is sufficient.

There are dedicated ‘floater lines’ available, which are designed to blend into the water, making it less obvious to coasting carp in the vicinity.

The hook needs no explaining really, just make sure it matches the size, and hides behind your hookbait as best you can.

Finally, I like to choose either a brightly coloured buoyant hookbait, which you can tie to your hook using a bait band or floss.

If that isn’t working, I will switch up to match my free bait offerings!

floater fishing free bait offerings

An alternative method to catch carp of the surface is by freelining your bait.

This is a very simple method, and involves tieing your hook directly to your mainline, baiting up, and casting into the water.

Shorter rods and smaller reels are the order of the day for freelining!

Again, 10lb mainline straight through is enough.

My favourite baits to use for this method are whittled down boilies plugged with cork, dog biscuits and bread.

Now bread can be a hassle, but luckily you can use a bread bomb which secures the bread in place, rather than squeezing bread directly onto your hook.

Floater Fishing Rigs

Now, we’ve already talked about your surface fishing setup, but I wanted to talk a bit more about floater fishing rigs, which are dead simple!

Here are some tips on how to setup up an effective surface rig;

Sharp Hooks

Your hooks should always be sharp, but this is even more important when you are surface fishing.

size 10 mixer hook for floater fishing

It make a huge difference between the amount of fish you lose and the amount you catch! You should aim to mirror the size of the bait you are using too. I use sizes 6, 8 and 10 in most of my floater fishing.

Weighted Surface Floats

Using a bubble float filled with water, or heavier inline floats will increase your catch rate.

korum surface bomb

This is because both will help set the hook, which can potentially lose you fish if using a setup that is to light.

Mix Up Your Bait

Not enough anglers mix up surface baits.

If you have persisted using dog biscuits, with little success, try switching to bread to see if that helps.

The same goes for free offerings. I try to mix up my shapes and sizes so carp don’t get too switched on!


spray surface baits

There are so many flavours around that coating some free offerings, or your hookbait can really attract carp to your swim!

I prefer to use a selection of bait sprays as these are easier to apply to my hookbait.

Floater Fishing Hooks

Let’s talk about the importance of hooks in floater fishing.

They need to be as sharp as possible, as the hook needs to penetrate the mouth of the fish as quickly as possible – otherwise your chance may of gone.

gardner hook sharpener

If your hook is sharp, you will have a better catch rate.

How To Sharpen Your Hooks

Hook Patterns & Sizes

The next thing to think about is hook pattern and size.

I tend to look at the bait I am fishing with before choosing which pattern, and size, to go for.

The aim is to try and hide the hook as discreetly as you can, so smaller is better, but it still should be strong enough to hold the fish as you reel it in.

I use size 10 hooks mostly, and increase this to size 8 if I am using a bigger bait, such as a dog biscuit.

Wide gape and mixer hooks are perfect for floater fishing.

Floater Fishing Line

The line you choose is just important as any other part of your floater fishing setup!

You should use a floating line, not sinking, that offers a combination of strength to land the fish, but with high concealment properties so there is less change of spooking fish.

For me, I usually use Korda Kruiser Control or Fox Surface Floater mainline in 10lb.

Both are great when used as mainline straight through, in fact my float rod setup is spooled up with Korda Kruiser at the moment, or alternatively, they are just as good when used as a hooklink.

They both float, and are clear monofilament swhich is what you should be using when floater fishing.

Freelining For Carp

Floater Fishing Baits

So, what type of baits should you use when floater fishing?

The answer is anything that floats, and attracts carp!

Here are some great floater fishing baits that you can use:

  • Bread
  • Floating Pellets
  • Dog or Cat Biscuits
  • Pop Ups
  • Boilies plugged with cork
  • Foam
  • Imitation Insects & Bugs
  • Fake Baits, such as buoyant sweetcorn

Remember, try and change up your baits if you are having little success.

Floater Fishing Tips

I hope you have enjoyed reading through our floater fishing guide so far?

I wanted to finish up by sharing some tips and tricks that, even if it increases your chances by 5%, are worth considering.

Polarised Sunglasses

These are a key piece of equipment for spotting carp, but perhaps more important when surface fishing.

This is because, from Spring, when the weather starts to get warmer, the sun can also make viewing the lake difficult, especially when you are trying to locate fish.

So investing in a good quality pair of polarised sunglasses is the first thing you do before considering floater fishing!

Free Bait

Even if you have spotted carp cruising on the surface, how do you keep them there?

By offering them some freebies of course!

Nash Upper Layers Floating Pellets

But this is where you should tread carefully, because you don’t want to spook them.

I begin by chucking a small handful of floater pellets in, just off the area where I’ve seen carp cruising.

I’ll then crouch down, stay quiet, and watch the water for 5 to 10 minutes to see if they are taking my free offerings.

carp cruising

If they are – that’s good news, and I will repeat the process a few more times until I have them feeding confidently.

After that, I will cast out, but not right on top of them, because we don’t want them to spook.

Then it is just a case of waiting for that take. I suggest not taking your eyes off your hookbait for one second, because that is all it takes.

Hopefully you will be able to land one or two carp!

Move Around The Lake Often

When floater fishing, you should keep as mobile as possible.

Carp will move all over the lake in the hot months, and so should you!

One area may dry up quickly if you have landed a carp due to the commotion, so this another reason for keeping mobile.

stalking carp

This can be hard if there are certain lake rules to abide by, but it is always worth checking if you need to fish in-between swims.

Move with the fish – but only if you can!

Time Of Day

Having spoken to a few anglers recently, I always wondered why surface fishing is one in the middle of the day?

From experience, I have found that fishing on the surface at first light, and last light, can be the two most successful windows to snare a hungry carp!

Give it a try the next time you out on the water and the sun is blaring!

Floater Fishing: Final Verdict

So there you have it – the ultimate guide to floater fishing!

By following these tips, you should be well on your way to landing some impressive catches of your own from the surface!

Remember to keep an open mind and experiment with different techniques until you find what works best for you, and most importantly, have fun out there on the water!

Thanks for reading.

Like this content?

We would really appreciate it if you could please share it on social media, or Whatsapp it to a friend, or even email a colleague who may be interested.

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running.

Last update on 2022-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API