The wide variety of floats is often bewildering for the beginner. There are hundreds of different shapes and sizes to choose from. A float is used for two main purposes. The first is to enable casting and presentation of a bait to the fish in such a way that the fish accepts the bait as a natural offering. The second reason is that the float acts as a very effective bile detector to the angler. Contrary to what some anglers believe, fish do not try to pull the float under. This is purely the result of a fish picking up the bail.
There is a float designed for just about every situation. Brightly coloured floats look attractive and there is a tendency for anglers to collect floats in the way that some fly anglers collect artificial flies. The majority of anglers have many more floats than they actually use. Start collecting floats for the particular type of water you are going to fish and then begin adding to your collection as and when you need them. For float fishing” in flowing rivers stick floats, balsa floats and avon floats are used. Vvaggler floats are now widely used in flowing water but it is advisable for beginners to get plenty of practice trotting a bait down with a stick float before attempting to fish wagglers. In very slow flowing rivers and lakes, antenna and windbeater floats are the best type. Always remember that these special floats are only a refinement and that an experienced angler will catch plenty of fish using a simple porcupine quill for a float. Modern floats are usually marked with the amount of split shot needed to cock them. These figures are not always accurate; to check them fasten a length of line to the float, add the shot and test in a bucket of water. Some floats are rather fragile – especially the longer antennae and waggler floats – so they should be kept in a separate container to avoid damage. A long plastic tube with two end caps is ideal.