How To Float Fish For Carp: A Complete Guide (Updated 2024)

Float fishing is a fishing technique where the angler watches a float and strikes to hook the fish when the float bobbes under. One of the most commonly used techniques to catch fish throughout the United Kingdom. For many new anglers, it’s considered an easy way to get into Carp fishing. This statement is correct however just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s not effective.

Float Fishing can be a thrilling experience filled with tons of tension and excitement. There’s just something about seeing that float dash under the water that is addictive. For a fairly easy-to-learn fishing style, float fishing is a skill worth learning.

In this article, we’ll be going through the basics of how to get set up and fishing using this technique.

What Tackle You’ll Need To Get Started

Rod: There isn’t a definitive “best” float fishing rod for catching carp, as the ideal rod depends on various factors such as personal preference, fishing location, and the size of carp you’re targeting. However, there are several popular options and features to consider when choosing a float fishing rod for carp:

  1. Length: Carp fishing rods typically range from 10 to 13 feet in length. Longer rods can provide better control when casting and handling fish, especially in larger bodies of water.
  2. Action and Power: Medium to heavy action rods with enough power to handle the weight and fight o= carp are often preferred. This helps to cast heavier rigs and handle the weight of the fish during the fight.
  3. Material: Carbon fiber/graphite rods are popular due to their strength, sensitivity, and lightweight nature. They offer good casting performance and sensitivity to detect bites.
  4. Guides and Reel Seat: Look for quality guides that facilitate smooth line movement and a reliable reel seat that securely holds the reel in place.
  5. Handle and Grip: Comfortable and ergonomic handles are crucial for long hours of fishing. Cork or EVA foam grips are commonly used for their durability and comfort.

Some popular brands known for quality carp fishing rods include Daiwa, Shimano, Fox, Nash, and Greys. However, it’s advisable to visit a local tackle shop, handle different rods, and get advice from experienced anglers to find the rod that best suits your fishing style and preferences.

Reel: When selecting a reel for float fishing for carp, there are a few key features to consider:

  1. Size: Opt for a reel that matches the rod’s specifications and can handle the weight of the carp you’re targeting. A larger spool size can accommodate more line, which can be beneficial for casting distance and handling bigger fish.
  2. Smooth Drag System: Carp can put up a strong fight, so a smooth and reliable drag system is essential to handle their runs without snapping the line.
  3. Gear Ratio: A moderate gear ratio (around 4:1 to 6:1) provides a balance between power and speed, allowing you to reel in carp efficiently without tiring yourself out.
  4. Build Quality: Look for a durable construction that can withstand the rigors of carp fishing. Materials like aluminum or carbon fiber are often used for their strength and lightness.
  5. Line Capacity: Ensure the reel has sufficient line capacity to handle various fishing situations, especially if you’re targeting larger carp in waters where they can run long distances.

Some reputable brands known for producing quality reels suitable for carp fishing include Shimano, Daiwa, Penn, and Okuma. Models like the Shimano Baitrunner series or Daiwa Emcast are often favored among carp anglers due to their reliability, smooth drag, and sturdy construction.

Ultimately, the best reel for float fishing for carp depends on your specific fishing needs, preferences, and budget. Visiting a local tackle shop or seeking advice from experienced anglers can help you make a more informed decision based on your unique fishing style and target species.


All the other gear you’ll need is a few pounds, here’s a short list of the essentials which you can find all at your local angling shop:

  • Split shots
  • Monofilament Hooklink Material
  • Slingshot
  • Size 10 Barbless Wide Gape Hooks
  • Waggler Floats 

How To Set Up Your Float Fishing Rig

Step 1: Thread your float onto your mainline and loosely squeeze on a couple of large split shots to keep it in place

Step 2: Next tie your hook to your mainline using a simple knotless knot.

Step 3: Plum the depth where you’ll be fishing with a plumbing lead

Step 4: Once you’ve found the correct depth, adjust the float accordingly squeeze the split on tight, and add a couple more on either side of the float if required to balance it out 

Step 5: Add one more split shot near the hook so that you can get a confident lift bite

A key element of a float fishing rig is having balance, without balance your rig won’t be stable in the water and you’ll keep striking at line bites which will spook the fish away. This is why we recommend having a wide variety of split shots so you can have your rig perfectly balanced, you want the tip of the float just is above the surface of the water.

How To Plumb The Depth

Plumbing the depth of a lake when float fishing for carp is crucial for setting your rig at the right depth where the carp are feeding. The reason why plumping the depth is key for float fishing is so you know exactly where to position your float along the rig. Having the float too high or low could mean you miss a bite and is not a good indication as to whether there are carp in your swim. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

Equipment Needed:

  • Plummet or Weight: This can be a specialized plummet or a weight with a swivel attached to it.
  • Float: The float you intend to use for fishing.
  • Rod and Reel: Setup with a rig ready to fish.

Steps to Plumb the Depth:

  1. Attach the Weight: Connect the plummet or weight to the bottom of your fishing line. Ensure it’s secure and won’t detach easily.
  2. Attach the Float: Slide the float onto the line above the weight, ensuring it’s positioned where you intend to fish on the line.
  3. Cast Out: Gently cast the setup into the water at the spot you plan to fish.
  4. Wait and Allow the Float to Settle: Let the weight sink to the bottom of the lake. Allow the float to drift until it settles, indicating it has reached the water’s surface tension point.
  5. Reel In Slowly: Start reeling in the line slowly while watching the float. The float will move as the weight comes up from the bottom.
  6. Note the Depth: When the float reaches the point where it settles in the water (neither sinking nor floating too high), stop reeling. The distance between the float and the hook is the depth of the water at that spot.
  7. Adjust Rig Depth: Now that you know the depth, adjust your rig by sliding the float up or down the line accordingly to set your hook bait at the desired depth where you think the carp are feeding.
  8. Test and Fine-Tune: Cast out again to confirm the depth. Make any necessary adjustments to ensure your bait is at the right depth.

Check out this video to watch someone put all the steps into play and plump the depth before fishing:

Remember, carp often feed at various depths depending on factors like temperature, time of day, and food availability. Therefore, it might be beneficial to test different depths to find where the carp are actively feeding.

Tips And Tactics For Float Fishing

Ensure your rig presentation is spot on when exploring new swims in weedy, snag-laden lakes. Check for any weed drag; if your rig is caught, recast to a clearer area. This ensures your setup sits perfectly on the bed, boosting your chances of enticing a catch.

When your line snaps, it reveals vital information. A clean break suggests strain, while curls indicate a poorly tied knot. Correctly identifying the cause helps refine your technique.

Elevate your fishing game by outsmarting the competition. To amplify your bite rate, stand out from the crowd. Enhance your bait with liquid additives like Sonubaits attractant, perfect for ground bait or hook bait dipping.

Observation is key. Take a stroll around the lake to spot fish activity—ripples, splashes—that indicate their whereabouts. This investment of time often pays off, unlike settling for a nearby swim. The fanciest rig and baits won’t help if there are no fish around.