How To Float Fish For Carp: A Complete Guide

To new anglers, carp fishing can seem to be a complex and difficult hobby that requires a big budget and a lot of time. However, this is far from the reality for most people which is why we prefer simpler, easier, and more affordable ways to catch these beauties.

The perfect example is float fishing, it’s easy to learn, cheap, and a ton of fun, in this article we’ll be diving into every detail you need to know for float fishing so that you can get the most out of the next float fishing session.

Setting Up A Float Fishing Rig

Its arguably the most important part of float fishing for carp, it is simple but it’s crucial that you get this part of the process right. Let’s start with the sharp end, the hooklink.

We like to keep things fairly simple so it is easy to set up on the bank and we don’t have to do any rig work at home.

We use size 10 hooks which is the maximum size you’re allowed on most match fisheries, you’re fine with a smaller hook as well but we use the largest possible as we don’t want to be continuously peppered with nuisance fish as we are currently fishing a lake with many roach and rudd. 

We also add a couple of smaller split shots near the hook to ensure the hook sits cleanly on the bottom, this increases the accuracy of bites which means you know for sure when you have a bite so you can set the hook quicker, this is because by having a split shot at the end, we can easily tell when we have a bite because the float will confidently lift up, so we can ignore whenever its bobbing up and down a little.

We also tie our hook directly onto the mainline when float fishing, the mainline is usually plenty strong and makes the rig much simpler. And that’s it! No leads, no complicated knots, no hassle. Simple and easy, just the way it should be.

What Tackle You Need For Float Fishing

There’s honestly not that much gear that you need when float fishing for carp. A beginner’s setup isn’t expensive and you can pick up a very capable rod for £30-40. We used our original float fishing rod for over ten years, so if you choose a high-quality rod from a reliable brand, it can really last a long time.

There are a lot of great options to choose from but we’d nearly always recommend the Diawa Ninja match rod. You can find lower-priced rods but this rod has great value for money and a really premium feel. As well as this, its incredibly capable and caters to pretty much anything you’ll encounter at commercial fisheries. For most people, the 10-foot model will be more than enough. However, if you feel you’ll be casting long distances a longer version of the rod is also available. Its an overall great package and performs well under pressure, even when a big brute of a carp is thrashing around at the end of your line. You can find the Diawa Ninja match rod on Amazon.

You also want a small fast reel when float fishing as it is quite active and you don’t want to be hauling around a big behemoth of reel all the time. Our favourite current reel for float fishing is the MAP ACS 4000  FS. It’s a lightweight sharp, responsive reel that we’ve caught some proper carp = recently and it really holds up well especially considering the price.

But it is a bit pricey if you’re a beginner, the NGT CKR50 (Check current price on Amazon) is great value for money. Its perfect for multiple styles of fishing and is very affordable, perfect for beginners!

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 

Float Fishing Setup Guide

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 and 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.

Dinsmores split shots (Check current price on Amazon). We use Dinsmores split shots for all our fishing and they cover pretty much anything, there’s a great assortment of split shots and there’s also a lot of them. So don’t worry, they won’t run out fast!

Plumbing The Depth For Float Fishing

Before you start float fishing, you do need to do a bit of quick preparation. One of them is plumbing the depth for the swim you have chosen to fish. This involves using a plumbing lead but don’t, worry it doesn’t need any fancy knots or links, you just pierce the hook through the rubber at the bottom, cast it out and let it sink. 

You can then see how much you need to adjust your float, if it is too high, move it down the mainline, if it is too low move it up.

You want the tip of the float to be just above the surface of the water. This also increases the accuracy of your takes so you can be certain when you have a fish on.

Tips & Tactics For Float Fishing

Present Rigs Well:

Whenever you’re fishing a new swim on a lake with lots of weeds and snags, its good to check your rig isn’t dragging in weeds. If it is then recast and find a better spot where it’s clear, this will mean that your rig is well presented on the bed and gives you a better chance of bringing a fish in.

If your line snaps you can tell if it was due to over-strain or a poorly tied knot if the line is cleanly snapped it was due to strain if it has curls, in the end, it was due to your knot so that means you didn’t tie it correctly.

Bait enhancement:

One of the best ways to increase the volume of bites that you’re getting is by gaining an edge over your competitors. Basically, everyone else who is float fishing will be doing nearly the same thing so in order to make the fish choose your bait over the others there needs to be something extra in there. What we like to do is add some liquid additives to our baits. These can be used in groundbaits and you can dip your hookbait in them. We use the Sonubaits liquid attractant (check price on Amazon) lots on commercial fisheries.


Take a walk around when you’re fishing a new lake, look for splashes and ripples in the water and try to spot where the fish are. It is sometimes time-consuming but can be very rewarding, especially during long sessions. It is so surprising how many anglers just park themselves in the swim closest to their car and complain about not getting bites, you can have the fanciest rig in the world and all the best baits, but if there aren’t fish in your swim, you won’t catch any. Simple as that.

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