Tackle Box


Poles
Rods
Reels
Pole floats
Running line floats
'Feeders
Sundry items

Introduction

The following is a guide to the essential, 'cool' and just plain whacky items of equipment that fellow match fishers and I either use or have used during our time bank fishing in the Midwest. Thus, the information in this section mostly deals with descriptions of what we consider to be current 'state of the art' tackle, as utilized on a regular basis by the serious competitive bank angler. However, with the exception of a few specialized accessories, which at the current time may only be purchased from overseas via mail order (list of reputable suppliers listed below), reasonable facsimiles of essentially all the major items of tackle listed here are also available in the U.S.

For the casual bank fisherman, perhaps looking to boost his of her catch rates by dabbling with what are essentially more efficient European style techniques, it is recommend that you start by perusing the Bankfishing strategies section. The Bankfishing strategies  portion of this site describes how equipment, which most domestic anglers either already own or are familiar with, may be utilized within the framework of applying European style methods and tactics.  If you have already reaped the rewards of implementing such an approach and now wish to boost you catch rates further by learning more about how to implement more specialized equipment, I encourage you to read on. You may either scroll through the whole document at your leisure, or find a section of interest by hitting the appropriate quick link listed above. If at any time you have a question of comment please feel free to drop me an e-mail or poll the CBA or membership at their club message bards (link at this sites index page).
 
 

Poles



The modern carbon fiber fishing pole has come a long way since the days of it's bamboo predecessor. Nowadays, slim, lightweight carbon poles as short as 2 meters (7 feet) up to an incredible 17 meters (56 feet) in length are the tools most commonly utilized by today's competitive bank fisher. As with the bamboo canes they supersede, modern poles afford the angler a finer degree of accuracy and control with respect to both presentation and feeding, but now at distances from the bank approaching those previously only obtainable using a traditional 'bobber' set up. Since each pole is constructed from a series of interlocking hollow sections, with each generally 1.5 meters in length, an angler may choose to fish at any distance from 1.5 meters to full length in increments 1.5 meters or one section. Thus, one often hears anglers talking in terms of sections used rather than distance fished from the shore. Fishing poles of less than 5 meters in length (such as those available commercially in the U.S.), which may be of either take apart or telescopic construction, are referred to as 'whips' - so named because of the swishing whip like noise generated when casting with them. Poles beyond this length are generally called either 'long poles' or just simply 'poles'.

Most bank fishers generally elect to purchase the longest pole they can comfortably fish with at its full length. Thus, the angler may either choose to utilize the first few sections of the pole as a 'whip', or alternatively, fish the  'long pole' by employing a greater number of sections. A pole's fishability can be traced to a number of key figures of merit, specifically length, weight, balance and stiffness. A pole that is too heavy will be uncomfortable to use for extended periods, while a poorly balanced pole will merely 'feel' heavy at it's full length due to the down force exerted by the weight of the most distant sections. A 'sloppy' or unstiff pole will droop at full length and be less efficient at setting the hook. Poles are generally classed either as 'match' or 'power' models, with the former variety sacrificing strength for a lower overall weight. Thus, match poles are most often used in concert with match top kits and finer lines, while power models are generally utilized in conjunction with more robust line and power kits (see below). Finally, poles can be of one of two general designs - fast taper or slow taper. Fast taper models become wider more quickly from the tip back to the butt, this results in a stiffer but wider bore pole that may be difficult to handle in windy conditions. The opposite is true for the slimmer slow taper poles that, although easy to handle in windy conditions, tend to be more 'sloppy' than fast taper models.

At the time of writing there are a number of reasonably cheap poles (~ $250) on the market that fish very well up to 12.5 meters (see below for some recommendations), although poles that fish well beyond this length can be very expensive - the  17 meter Daiwa TNP 710 illustrated above is the most expensive pole currently available, costing a staggering $10,000 per copy! Don't be too disheartened by these figures though, as most pole fishing is carried out at distances of 11 meters or less, meaning it is not essential to invest in such a large ticket item. Members of local Midwestern matchfishing clubs generally own either Maver, Daiwa or Garbolino (no manufacturer's web site available) poles. Products form these leading manufacturers are most often purchased from the UK via mail order. Reputable mail order companies in the UK dealing specifically in pole sales to overseas customers include Benwick Sports, Swifty's and Mike Stone's Internet Tackle shop. Worthy of a side note is that prices quoted at UK sites generally include a 17.5 % VAT surcharges -  luckily for the U.S. buyer, this tariff is removed for overseas shipments. A reasonable  12.5 meter pole, the Barrington II, is imported by Aurora Sports and is available through Henry's in Chicago; while Mick Thill can fix you up with a Garbolino pole.
 

Top kits

Each pole is supplied with one or more top kits. Top kits are simply the final two or three sections of the pole, to which the line is attached. Since the pole has no reel, the fish must be 'played' through the stretching of an internal elastic that is stored within each top kit. The following diagram, courtesy of Mike Stone, shows how a top kit should be elasticated:

.

As eluded to above, top kits come in two general types, match top 3s and 'long' power top 2s. Each type of kit is essentially of the same length, although the power kits can handle stronger elastics and are slightly heavier than the match kits. Generally speaking, match kits can handle elastics up to a size 10, while power kits can often cope with elastics up to a 'bungie' sized 20. It is important to carry a range of spare top kits, each possessing an elastic suitable for the style of fishing you employ. For example, snatching 'gills with a short, light line-to-hand rig in the margin of a pond may only require a match top kit with a #6 or #8 elastic, while chasing carp or cats on the river may necessitate a long pole equipped with a power kit / #14+ elastic combination. The following chart lists which sized elastic and line strengths are best suited:
 
 

Elastic # Line b. s.
8 2lb 8oz
10 3lb
12 3lb 8oz
14 4lb
16 5lb
18 6lb
20 7lb + 

'Cupping kit' is quite a self descriptive term, as these items are essentially unelasticated power kits with a small plastic cup attached to the end. Cupping kits are used to accurately deposit loose feed or ground bait (chum) where the angler is fishing. The Drennan cupping cups shown here are very popular in England and are widely available through UK mail order outlets:
 

 

Bungs, bushes and connectors

As can be seen in the above diagram of a generic top kit, the internal elastic must be anchored to the base of the second or third section (with a device known a bung), while also being free to run through the tip of the pole (via a hollow bush) to the elastic to line connector. Simple match and carp elastication kits (containing a bung, bush, connector plus a winder of either 8 or 12 elastic respectively) are simple to install and are currently (8/02) available through Henry's. The following pictures illustrate standard bungs  (note the special extractor rod also supplied), a connector and a selection of friction free PTFE (teflon) bushes. In each case, the bung should be selected based on how many sections of pole are to be elasticated (top 2 or 3 sized bung); while the choice of  connector and bush should be based on which diameter or number of elastic is to be used (thicker elastics require larger bore bushes).
 



 

While standard bungs are fine under most circumstances, there are two additional styles of bung that offer a greater degree of versatility. The first of these is the Vespe tensioner bung:
 
  This bung has a small built in winder which, when packed with extra elastic, allows the angler to either increase or decrease the tension by respectively either winding coils of elastic on or off this device. This is important under certain conditions, as a loose elastic will prevent 'bump offs' with smaller fish, while a tighter elastic is better for 'bagging' when the fish are feeding confidently.

Additionally, elastics tend to wear out over time, particularly around the elastic to line connection. Thus, simply by releasing an extra coil of two of elastic from the winder, snipping off the final couple of inches of worn elastic at the tip and then retying the connector, the elastication set up  becomes as good as new. This also cuts down on costs in the long run, as an entire elastic does not have to be replaced simply because the last several inches of it have become worn.
 
 


 

The second type of improved bung is the Maver muleto system:
 

An excellent description of the muleto system is published at the Maver site. Briefly, the system can be summarized in the following way: The Muleto has approx. 1/3 extra elastic over regular setups. This is achieved by having the elastic anchored at the joint between the 1st and second section of the power kit, which then goes around a special 'pulley' bung at the base of the second section (where the normal bung would be); then back out through the center of it's anchoring device (called a nose cone, which is hollow) to the tip bush and connector. Muletos are pretty 'neat' and are vaunted as being great carp catching aids, since the extra elastic helps play larger fish to the net.

The only apparent down side of the system is that (even though you have more elastic that probably won't bottom out) it may take longer to land fish when 'bagging'. Under such conditions it may be more efficient to use either a standard or 'tight' tensioner style bung.
 
 

Personal Selections

As is most often the case with such things, you basically get what you pay for. I bought the highest spec. Maver match pole (H41) I could afford from Benwick Sports in the winter of 2001 / 2002. The pole itself is a fast taper model that is 14.5 meters in length, being supplied with 2 match top 3 kits, 3 'long' power top 2 kits and a cupping kit. I'm happy with the overall quality of the pole and would recommend it to others. My advice to anyone seeking to buy a pole would be to have a definite price range in mind and then shop around for the best deals, preferably on a Maver or Daiwa product. At the time of writing, the Maver Strong Arm or Grim Reaper are excellent cost effective (less than $ 300) solutions to those wishing to experiment with pole fishing. Both of these models are robust power models and may be used with either fine or heavy lines. If you have any questions or need some unbiased advice regarding purchasing goods from overseas please feel free to drop me an e-mail or poll the CBA membership at the Forum or the club's message board.

As discussed above, it is important to own a selection of top kits, as this will allow you to adapt quickly to any angling situation and, in turn, become more versatile and/or efficient angler. I have the following top kit setups:

2 x small fish kits
2 x 'anything that swims' kits
1 x 'whale' kit
1 x cupping kit

As was mentioned above, it's important to use a balanced set up in terms of  the elastic and line strength used. In more detail, my kits have the following intended uses:

1 x small fish kit -  size 6 elastic through top 3 sections of match kit, vespe tensioner bung. This is my 'gil bashing whip' top kit for places like Barth's Pond where the likely hood of a bigger bonus fish in the margins is minimal. To be used with 2.10 b.s. main line.

1 x small / bonus fish kit -  size 8 elastic through top 3 sections of match kit, vespe tensioner bung. This is my 'gil bashing whip' top kit for places like Lake Arlington where the likely hood of a bigger bonus fish in the margins is a possibility. The slightly stronger elastic is intended to deal with occasional larger fish, but still reduce bump offs. Recall that, dependent on conditions, the tension of the elastic can be altered 'on the fly' with this set up. To be used with 2.10 b.s. main line.

2 x 'anything that swims'  / bonus fish kits - size 12 elastic through top 2 sections of power kit, muleto bung (1/3 longer elastic). This is my top kit for fishing pretty much anywhere when large carp are also a possibility (such as Arlington and Montgomery canal). The extra elastic (which has greater stretch) cuts down on bump offs with small fish, as it 'feels like' a size eight or ten to the fish initially. This rig promises to be a good 'gil / carp compromise set up, so I expect to use this one quite a lot!  To be used with 3.5 - 4.5 lb b.s. main line.

1 x 'whale' kit - size 14  elastic through top 2 sections of power kit, muleto bung (1/3 longer elastic). This is my top kit for out and out carp or cat fishing with BIG baits! Essentially a stepped up version of the above. To be used with 4.5 - 5.5 lb b.s. line.

1 x cupping kit - Drennan cups shown above attached to a (cheap) generic power kit via a screw fitting. Great for putting bait exactly where your float will be.

A full discussion of the types of float used in conjunction with both long poles and ‘whips’ may be viewed in the ‘Pole Floats’ section of this page

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Rods

European bank fishing rods and U.S. spinning or bait casting rods are very different in in terms of their respective designs. European models are on the whole very long by American standards, typically being between 12 and 13 feet in length. While rods of this length would be cumbersome if used from the confines of a boat, rods such of this allow the bank angler to cast his or her terminal tackle distances approaching 100 yards, while also allowing for a greater degree of control over a hooked fish. A simple axiom for bank angling rods is 'longer is better'. While this statement is undoubtedly true, practicality and weight or balance considerations generally restrict rods to an maximum length of between 12 and 14 feet. Without exception, even though the different rods discussed here vary greatly in terms of their intended applications, test curves, actions and range of casting weights, each is invariably of either 12 or 13 feet in length.
 

Rod Characteristics

The following table gives a rough guide to how the intended application of a rod relates to its test curve, range of casting weights and recommended breaking strain of reel line. In each case it is important to 'balance' the power of the rod (test curve) with the correct breaking strain reel line and, to some extent, the species sought. The action of a rod is also an important variable and is discussed further below.
 
Rod type Test curve (lb)* Rec. reel lines (lb) Rec. casting weight (oz)
Match or float 0.50 - 0.75 1.5 - 4 less than 0.25 
'Power' match or Long
range float
0.75 - 1.25 2.5 - 6 0.20 - 0.80 
Leger / 'Feeder 1.0 - 2.0 3 - 8 0.25 - 2.5
Carp /Big fish 1.75 - 3.0 6 - 12+ 0.75 - 4.0+
* A rod's test curve is defined as the amount of force (weight) required to bend the blank trough an angle of 90o.
 
 
Action of Rod Description
Fast or 'tip'
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A fast action rod essentially bends through the tip section only. The advantages of a fast action rod are that it quickly picks up line on the strike and (if of a robust construction) can also cast great distances. The disadvantage to this type of rod is that they generally possess poor fish hooking and playing characteristics. Thus, fast action rods can be considered something of a 'catch 22'. Specifically, although great for snatching small fish at short range, such rods tend to 'bump' larger fish at intermediate distances as the tip can quickly reach its maximum curvature on the strike. When this happens the rod is said to have 'locked up'. Additionally, when playing larger fish the the net rod will also tend to 'lock up' and so possess no more shock absorbing characteristics. At this point the strength of the line and the reel's drag setting are the things preventing a break. Often, a last second powerful lunge by a fish being played on a 'locked' up fast actioned rod can snap an anglers line.
Medium or 'Avon' 
 
 
 
 

 

An Avon rod has a hybrid action somewhere between 'tip' and 'through'. Simply, the rod bends from the tip to approximately half way along the blank when casting, striking or playing fish. While Avon rods seem like a good idea, they are really 'jack of all trades and masters of none'. Most rods available today have one of the three other actions listed here, while the original concept of the an 'all around' Avon type rod has subsequently been realized by modern progressive taper designs.
Slow or 'through'
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Slow action rods can bend through their entire length when either casting, striking or playing fish. This property makes for a great 'shock absorber', meaning that these rods possess inherently good fish playing characteristics. The down side to a through action rod is that they do not cast quite as far as fast taper rods and often do not transfer a great deal of force to the hook when striking at range. Although this property was something of a handicap in the early days of carp fishing (where one would have to strike through a tough boiled bait mounted on the hook), the advent of bare hook or 'hair' rigs has seen a rise in their popularity once more.
Progressive
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Progressive taper rods successfully fill the role that 'avon' rods were intended to. The rods are great 'all around' tools that can be used to successfully cast great distances using a wide variety of casting weights and breaking strains of line - without the fear of either bumping fish or 'locking up'. How is this possible? The rod is actually made up from the equivalent of three fast taper sections. As the tip section begins to 'lock out', the second section begins to bend. This progressive action is continued by the butt section, which begins to bend as the second section reaches its 'lock up' limit. Thus, when casting, striking or playing fish the rod smoothly transitions from a 'tippy' fast taper rod through to a powerful through actioned one. These rods have marvelous 'parabolic' actions and are a joy to use. Unfortunately, as discussed below, they are generally quite expensive.

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Types of rod
 

A 3 piece 13 foot  float rod. Float rods such as this  are generally available in either 'spliced ' tip or through action versions for short and long range fishing respectively (see below).
A pair of swimfeeder / leger rods. Notice the colored tips of the interchangeable quivertips. Each quivertip is used to detect bites under different conditions - each has a different test curve and / or action. See below for details.

The following list describes each type of rod commonly used by bank fishers in terms of its application and related characteristics, as discussed above:

Float Rods:

Float rods are designed to cast light float (bobber) rigs up anywhere from 1 to 30(+) yards, with power models capable of throwing specialized heavy carp floats (weighing up to ~1 oz / 18 grams) distances approaching 50 yards. Float rods are available in any of the four actions listed above, although either 'tippy' fast taper or slow taper through action models are the most widely available. Fast taper designs have a very 'crisp' action and allow for a fast strike. Such rods are generally used when fishing at short distance with a delicate presentation. For example, when fishing for (usually) shy biting species in the margins of a lake or pond, within the confines of a narrow canal, or most likely when 'trotting' (running the rig down the edge of) a river. They are generally not used for fishing further than 15 or so yards from the shore as 'lock up', and therefore 'bumping', can occur on the strike at longer ranges. The rods themselves are around 13 or 14 feet in length and consist of a stiff carbon blank with a flexible 3 foot or so length of pure solid carbon spliced into the tip section. This spliced in carbon piece provides the entire action for the rod, which is restricted to the tip section. Thus, such rods are often referred to as 'spliced tip' float rods, or occasionally 'stick' rods - due the fact that this type of rod is most often used in conjunction with a stick float (river floats connected to the line 'top and bottom' by small elastic sleeves). With the advent of reasonably priced long carbon fiber poles, short range float fishing has, perhaps understandably, suffered something of a decline in recent years and sales of spliced tipped match rods have suffered. However, for those who enjoy finesse fishing for pan fish at close range with an ultralight rod and reel, nothing quite beats a light action 'tippy' match rod coupled with a delicate float, small hook and and light line.

In contrast to the fast taper match rods, that are generally used at short range, through action models are best suited to fishing at ranges beyond ~ 15 yards - this is because the through action allows for a strong sweeping strike in response to a bite (which is required to pick up the long length of line to the rig), without fear of the rod locking up and 'bumping' the fish. The rod also has the bonus feature of possessing good fish playing characteristics. The typical long range float or 'waggler' rod (so called as waggler floats are almost always used for fishing at long range, see later sections) is a single blank (sectioned in to 3 pieces) of  13 or 14 feet in length, terminating in a hollow carbon tip - this gives the rod it's required through action. Since the waggler is generally fished beyond pole range, these rods remain popular with competitive bank anglers wishing to fish beyond 11 or so meters from the shore. Additionally, a waggler rig allows the angler to fish at any depth, a feat not possible when fishing a leger rig at longer range. Both 'stick' and 'waggler' rods are generally used with reel lines of less than four pounds breaking strain.

Power float rods are simply stepped up versions of the rods discussed above. Such rods are used to cast larger floats greater distances and are most often used with stronger lines up to ~ 6 lb breaking strain. Thus, power float rods are often used in the pursuit of larger species such as carp and catfish. Since power rods are generally used for long range fishing, they inevitably posses either  through or progressive actions.

Finally, it should be noted that the technically superior (and vastly more expensive) progressive taper designs can be used for virtually any application, and so can be used in place of either a dedicated fast or slow taper model rod. Thus, for anglers who can afford them, such rods are a good investment in terms of owning a single utilitarian float rod. At the time of writing, several European manufacturers offer progressive taper models. By far the best rods currently on the market are the Normark 'Titan' and 'Avenger' series, with the Avenger being a slightly stepped up model suited to heavier lines and floats. Similarly, MAP offer the 'Parabolix' series, with Preston Innovations offering the 'Carbonactive' brand. You can check out details on these rods at the Benwick Sports, Swifty's and Mike Stone's Internet Tackle shop, as well as dedicated manufacturer's web sites. One can expect to pay approaching $500 for a quality progressive taper float rod from either Normark or MAP (Carbonactive rods are somewhat more reasonably priced), so it becomes apparent as to why most anglers generally opt for a waggler rod for use in conjunction with their short range pole - reasonable quality waggler rods are available from the manufactures for less than $200.

Personal Selections

I currently own two 13' float rods - a fast taper, light actioned rod and a heavier, through actioned power model. I have owned the light actioned rod, a D.A.M. 'Quickstick', since the mid 1980's (it was a gift on my 15th birthday!) and, even though it is begining show it's age it still performs reasonably well. However, since I almost exclusively use my pole for fishing at shorter range this rod now rarely sees the light of day. My second rod is a Drennan 'Power carp waggler', purchased from Benwick Sports in the summer of 2000. The rod is a long range / heavy duty work horse and can cast weight up to 20 grams in conjunction with 6 lb test line. I purchased this rod for one specfific purpose - catching carp and catfish at long range on lakes and ponds, a task which it performs admirably. This rod was also reasonably cheap, costing less than $150.
 

Leger / Swimfeeder Rods:

Leger and swimfeeder rods are designed for a single purpose - fishing a bait on the bottom of a lake, pond, river or stream. The terms 'leger' and 'swimfeeder' are essentially interchangeable, as the type of set up used with each style of fishing is essentially identical - the 'feeder merely replaces the leger (sinker) in such rigs. Specifically, as discussed in later sections, a swimfeeder only differs form a leger (sinker) in that it is comprised of a lead weight which, in turn, has a small permeable container of some kind attached to it. While fishing, the angler fills this container with chum or hook bait samples in order to aid in the attraction and feeding of the fish. However, since a swimfeeder must by definition posses such a container, they are generally less aerodynamic than a sinker of an equivalent weight, so by consequence do not cast as far. Thus, 'feeders of relatively greater weight are required to cast a similar distances to smaller, more streamlined lead sinkers and so require stepped up leger rods  (know as a swimfeeder rods) to cast them a reasonable distance.
 

A 'blockend' 'swimfeeder. Used in place of a sinker, this device carries, then deposits, loose baits such as maggots in the vicinity of the hook bait.
A 'cage' 'swimfeeder. Used in place of a sinker, this device carries, then deposits, chum (groundbait) - such as damp bread crumbs, in the vicinity of the hook bait.

Leger / 'feeder rods come in various classes and can accommodate casting weights from 1/8 oz up to around 4 oz. Since the biggest sinker one would ever use would be  ~ 2 1/2 oz, stepped up rods capable of casting loaded swimfeeders exceeding 2 - 4 oz in weight are, as touched on above, most often referred to as 'feeder rods. Generally speaking, through action leger rods are used for fishing at medium range on stillwaters with lighter weight (~1 oz or less) sinkers and small swimfeeders, while fast taper 'feeder rods are utilized when fishing heavy rigs on fast - medium paced rivers, or at extreme distances on still waters. This fact arises from the consequence that fast taper rods pick up line on the strike much better than their slow action counterparts, so can apply a decent force at the hook over a longer range. Similarly, the significant bow develops in the line, due to the flow, when fishing a river can be quickly counteracted on the strike through the use of a fast taper 'feeder rod. Importantly, fish are generally not 'bumped' when fishing a 'feeder rig under such circumstances, as the large amount of line between the rod and the rig (which has an inherent stretch factor of around 10 % or more) also acts as a shock absorber when fishing at extended range or on a river. Indeed, it is this very fact which renders fast taper rods the best choice for these situations. However, one must be very careful when playing fish at close quarters when using fast taper rods, as their actions can cause them to 'lock up' (see the above rod action table). This design characteristic can easily lead to hook pulls or snapped lines, as the inherent shock absorbing stretch properties of  mono are negligible over shorter distances. Clearly, similar concerns also a concern when using non- stretch lines such as 'Fireline', in this case over any distance(!). However, these problems can be overcome by utilizing reels with smooth, reliable drags, or as is discussed below, by using a reel possessing a 'fighting drag'.

Unlike when using a float rod, bite indication when legering is not accomplished through watching a bobber, but by watching the tip if the rod for an indication of a take. This task is best accomplished through the use of a quiver tip. Most leger / 'feeder rods currently available are of this design, and are often generically referred to as 'tip' rods. A quiver tip is a short (~ 2 feet or less), low test curve push in section that is added to the very tip of the rod. Once the angler casts out and tightens up to the sinker, any movement of the bait can easily be seen at the tip. Quiver tips are available in test curves ranging from 3/4 of an ounce up to 4 or 5 ounces. Typically, a 1 oz test curve tip would be used on a calm lake, a 2 oz tip at long range on a lake (when undertow may be a problem) and 3 - 4 oz tips when fishing a river (the extra test curve allows for the steady pull of the current to be accounted for). Typically, the lower test curve tips used on still waters are made from 'through action' glass fiber, while fast actioned carbon tips are most often used on rivers - the fast taper allows for easy distinction of a bite against the background 'sway' of the tip, caused by the flowing water.

Interesting aside. Some astute anglers reading this entire section may be thinking that there is little difference between the actions of a spliced tip float rod and a fast taper quiver tip rod - both are of comparable length and have flexible tips spliced or pushed into a stiff blank. Aside from some simple cosmetics, and the fact that a modern 'tip' rod may have as many as five or more interchangeable quivertips, this is essentially true. However, modern spliced tip float rods are are designed for casting very small weights and so are constructed from thin walled lightweight carbon blanks. 'Feeder rods, on the other hand, are intended to case huge weights by comparison and are of a much more robust construction. Thus, if one of today's modern spliced tip float rods were used for feeder fishing it would quickly fail. This was not always the case however, as when swimfeeder fishing was in it's infancy dedicated 'feeder rods had not yet come onto the market. Insightful anglers at the time often pressed tough glass fiber or robust / cheap carbon spliced tip match rods into service as early feeder rods on powerful English rivers such as the Trent and Severn. These anglers' pioneering efforts led to the introduction of more suitable rods and the wide spread adoption what can be a very rewarding and productive method.

Personal Selection

I currently only own a single, powerful swimfeeder rod - it is a 12' Drennan 'Power carp feeder', capable of casting weights up to 4 oz  distances in excess of 80 yards. It was supplied with 3 interchangeable tips - 1 1/2 and 2 oz glass, plus 4 oz carbon fiber. I subsequently also purchased additional 3/4 and 1 oz  glass tips, as well as a 3 oz carbon tip in order to extend the rod's capabilities. The rod is of fast taper design, so is best suited to long range lake and / or river work. Thus, I tend to use it for fishing for carp beyond float range on stillwaters, as well as swimfeeder fishing for carp and catfish on the river. I inevitably use a swimfeeder of some description in conjunction with this rod, as such devices allow for accurate feeding of the swim and subsequently higher catch rates (see later sections and the groundbait section for details). Rods such as this are a worthwhile addition to anyone's bag and are reasonably priced at less that $120.

Carp /Big fish rods:

As their name implies, these rods are designed to be used with heavy lines, big baits and heavy casting weights. Typically, such rods are of 12 feet in length, possess test curves of between 2 .0 and 3.0 lbs and are designed to be used with casting weights up to 4 oz, coupled with lines in the 8 - 12 (+) lb class. Such rods can be of any action, although the use of bare hook rigs (hair rigs) and / or self hooking rigs (bolt rigs) within carp circles has negated the requirement to forcefully set the hook. Thus, through and progressive taper rods have become the norm. However, fast taper models do still find limited application with regard to casting to extreme range (100 yards +).

Carp rods typically have large diameter rings and abbreviated handles. The former allows for the easy passage of thick line on the cast, resulting in greater casting range, where as the latter allows the angler to more easily 'lock' the rod in it's rear rod rest. This is important, as a bolting 10 + lb fish can easily drag an unattended rod into the water.
 
 

A typical carp rod - note the large bore rings and abbreviated handle.

Since carp rods are generally used with rigs possessing either large sinkers (2 - 4 oz) or heavy method 'feeders, powerful tools such as these are needed to cast such weighty rigs - in addition to taming fish that are know to grow to in excess of 50 pounds! Additionally, carp generally feed on or near the bottom, so fishing with a float or bobber (although possible) is not generally employed with such rods. Carp rods are available from a variety of vendors here in the U.S., with Wacker baits and Aurora Sports supplying ranges to suit every taste and pocket.

Personal Selections

I currently own a pair of Shakespeare 'Valor' carp rods. The rods are of a somewhat standard design, being of 12 feet in length and having test curves of 2.5 pounds. However, most importantly for me, these rods are one of only a few designs featuring a 3 piece construction. This means that I can easily carry these rods in my rod holdall with the rest of my equipment. Most carp rods available today are of a 2 piece construction and, even though they are probably stronger and have better actions than my 3 piece rods, are the order of 6 feet or so in length when packed down. For the dedicated carp fisher this doesn't prove much or a problem, but for anglers like myself who own holdalls designed to carry rods generally of a  3 piece construction it can be an issue. Even though these rods are manufactured by angling giant Shakespeare, they are only available in Europe and so must be ordered via mail order. Excellent and reliable companies include  Benwick Sports, Leslies of Luton (printable on-line catalogue available) and Specialist tackle - a fine site that has grown into an angling community of sorts. I got my rods from this last company and can recommend them.

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Reels

Spinning Reels

The good news is that most spinning reels commonly available in U.S. tackle stores are ideally suited to 'Euro style' bankfishing applications and are, in fact, identical in every respect to those used across the 'pond'. So, the question now becomes 'which reel should I use'? As is discussed below, this choice is generally based on the intended application, as well as the cost of the reel(s) in question.

As with most things, you essentially get what you pay for - in this case, more expensive reels generally possess more ball bearings and, as a consequence, feel 'smoother' and have more reliable drag systems than their lower priced counterparts. For example, the top of the line Shimano Sustain (which has six bearings) retails at a significantly higher price than the entry level Sahara (four bearings), despite the fact that both models share similar features and are cosmetically very similar. Additionally, each model is generally available in a range of sizes, with either a front or rear drag system. Smaller more compact reels (i.e. the 1000, 2000 sizes) have relatively low line capacities and are best suited to short range fishing - their lower weight also means that they won't overbalance the ultra light rods they are most often used with. By contrast, larger sized reels (size 4000+) have much greater line capacities and may be use for fishing at much greater ranges. Also, because the components are these reels are of a larger size than the analogous components found within smaller reels of the same model, they tend to be more hard wearing and are so better suited to more demanding applications. With regard to the reel's drag system, it is undoubtedly true that front drag reels generally have a somewhat more reliable drag system (as more washers can be incorporated into this design) than their rear drag equivalents. However, rear drag reels offer a higher degree of versatility than front drag models, as their drag settings may be altered easily while in contact with a fish.

Obviously, as discussed above, there are many variables to be taken into account when selecting a reel - cost, size, number or bearings, type of drag system and so on. While essentially any medium sized spinning reel can be loaded with an appropriate strength line and pressed into service as a 'one size fits all' utilitarian work horse, I consider reels similar to those shown below and discussed in the following section most suited to specific bank fishing strategies and methods.
 

The Shimano Symetre 2000 FH - a reel whose size and delicate front drag is ideally suited to short - medium range float (bobber) fishing with through action or progressive taper rods
The Shimano Symetre 4000 RH - a reel whose size and rear mounted fighting drag is ideally suited to long range leger and swim feeder fishing, particularly with powerful fast taper rods.

Personal Selections

I currently own two Shimano spinning reels, specifically Symetre 2000 FH  (front drag) and  Symetre 4000 RH (rear drag) models. I tend to use the smaller front drag reel when float (bobber) fishing with my through action 'Power carp waggler' float rod. I adjust the drag so that just as the rod approaches it's maximum curvature the reel's drag begins to gives line. Since the action of the rod essentially plays the fish, the drag acts as a reliable insurance policy should the fish take the rod to or past it's limit. The reel has a total of 3 spools, loaded with 3, 4 and 6 lb b.s. line respectively. Of these breaking strains, the 4 and 6 lb test are best suited for use with this more powerful rod, while the 3 lb line is used in conjunction with my light action float rod.

As mentioned in the previous section dealing with rods and their respective actions, 'long range' fast taper designs have very little 'give', which in turn can lead to sever difficulties when playing fish at close range. To counteract this problem, I always use my larger sized rear drag reel in conjunction with my fast taper swimfeeder rod when fishing at distance. The trick here is the correct implementation of the reel's fighting drag system - as when a fish nears the net the fighting drag can quickly be flicked over to a looser setting. In this way, if a fish lunges at the net and  'locks up' the rod, the drag will immediately give line, so avoiding a hook pull or a snapped line. This trick can also be used 'from the get go' when fishing with non-stretch braids such as 'Fireline'. My rear drag reel has a total of 3 spools, loaded with 4 and 6 lb b.s. mono, as well as 6 lb 'Fireline' respectively. Each of these breaking strain lines are used in conjunction with my swimfeeder rod. Specifically, the 4 and 6 lb test mono are best suited for short range work and/or carp fishing (where bites are easily seen), whereas the non- stretch Fireline is best suited for detecting shy bites at extreme range during tough cold water conditions.
 

Baitrunner type reels

What is a baitrunner type reel? Simply, it is a spinning reel that has a facility for disengaging its own clutch mechanism, so causing the spool to spin freely when line is taken. A baitrunner type mechanism is a must for big fish anglers, as larger species like carp, pike and catfish tend to run with the bait before the hook can be set. Thus, when the baitrunner mechanism is engaged, the fish can take line while feeling little or no resistance. In response to a 'run', the angler can simply either turn the reel handle or flip the baitrunner lever to engage the reel's clutch and so hook the fish.

The original, and still best in many angler's books, baitrunner type reels were introduced by Shimano almost 20 years ago. In fact, the Shimano reels retain the 'Baitrunner' name as a trade mark. However, other manufacturers such as Diawa, Quantum and Aurora Sports have launched their own brands - the 'Bite n' Run,' 'Heat' and 'Speedrunner' brands respectively. All of these reels are of good design and work very well.
 

The Aurora Sports Speedrunner. Note the free spool lever and rear drag knob behind the reel's stem. This reel is readily available in the U.S. through Aurora Sports.
The Shimano baitrunner - the Rolls Royce of free spool reels. In addition to the free spool lever, the reel has a rear mounted fine tune drag knob and a rotating collar that alters the free spool tension.

Personal Selections

I currently own a pair of Diawa  Bite 'n Run reels. These reels were an efficient and cost effective solution to my carp fishing needs. As I only carp fish seriously for bigger specimens a dozen or so times per year, I decided to steer clear of the technically superior (and more expensive) Shimanos as my 'Bite n' runs', even though they posses only a pair of ball bearings, have a very good free spool system.

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Pole Floats

As alluded to in a previous section dealing with poles, methods utilizing these items of tackle are most often the first choice of the competitive bank (match) angler. This truism can be traced to several key facts: pole fishing affords the angler both enhanced sensitivity and a greater degree of control with respect to his or her terminal tackle and, in part due to its inherent simplicity, pole fishing can also a very fast / efficient method. The simplicity, and subsequent effectiveness, of pole angling can be traced to the fact that each rig utilized is comprised of the same three basic components - a float (bobber), lead shot and hook, all of which are attached to a suitable length of line that is, in turn, attached to the tip of the pole. The rig is then simply baited and then either lowered (if a long pole is used) or cast (if a short pole or ‘whip’ is used) in to the swim. However, while this approach may at first seem simple, the ‘devil’, as they say, ‘is in the details’. In the case of pole fishing, the choice of pole float incorporated into the rig is the single most important factor governing its effectiveness. What follows is a discussion of which types and sizes of pole floats work best when key variables, such as depth water, strength of flow and surface drag or ‘skim’ due to wind, are taken into account.

Choosing a Pole Float

Essentially every pole float is comprised of three principle components - a tip, body and stem. Unfortunately, it is easy to become confused when trying to select a suitable pole float, as differences among these components (in terms of their size, shape and material of construction) render floats possessing certain combinations of these variables the most suitable choice for specific conditions of depth and flow. However, by developing an understanding of which features of a pole float make it best suited for certain general applications, this ‘mystery’ can be easily solved. In more detail, the behavioral characteristics of any pole float can be traced to several figures of merit: body shape, float weight or loading, stem material and length, as well tip material and size:

Body Shape

Pole floats generally posses one of three common body shapes, ‘body up’, ‘body down’ or ‘football’ / ‘slim’:

Body up shape: These floats have the widest part of the body towards the top. They are most suitable for use on flowing water because their body shape will not allow the float to ‘ride up’ out of the water (and thereby affect bite detection) when they are slowed down or ‘held back’. This allows the angler to run the bait through the swim at a slower pace than the flow and still maintain a perfect presentation. Such a design is not suited to use on still water though, as ‘body up’ floats are more effected by wind induced ‘skim’ than ‘body down’ designs.

Examples:
 
Flo (thick cane tip, carbon stem)
Turbo (cane tip, wire stem) 

Body down shape: These floats have a characteristic ‘pear’ or ‘tear drop’ shape, with the float body tapering from being narrow near the tip to the widest part at the base. These patterns are traditionally used for fishing still waters, such as lakes and ponds, or very slow flowing waters and often have fairly long stems to provide extra stability in windy conditions. The fact that the body tapers gently into the tip means that they are often easy to ‘read’ as the rig’s final dropper shots settle (see below for a standard rig diagram).

Examples:
 
Lake (thin cane tip, long carbon stem) 
Carp 2 (cane tip, carbon stem) 
Choppa (thick cane tip, short carbon stem) 

Football / Slim shapes: These categories cover floats that have a symmetrically shaped body with the widest part in the middle. They are used on still or very slow flowing waters, particularly when the fish are shy biting. Due to the fact that they have particularly hydrodynamic shapes (more so for the slimmer floats) they are typically easier for the fish to pull under than either ‘body up’ or ‘body down’ patterns. However, they are typically a little less stable than comparable ‘body down’ designs (which have a lower center of gravity), so should only be utilized when there is little or no ‘skim’ over the water’s surface.

Examples:
 
Pinkie (thin cane tip, carbon stem) 
Carp 3 (thick cane tip, short glass fiber stem) 
Squatt (cane tip, carbon stem) 

Summary of float body shapes and applications
 
Body shape Use
Body up Rivers or other flowing water
Body down Still waters, slow rivers
Slim / Football Still waters, slow rivers – most often under calm conditions 

Tip size and material

Float tips are typically constructed of either nylon or cane. For a similar tip size, nylon is more sensitive than cane – this fact is due to the fact that nylon is far denser than cane and, therefore, less buoyant. Thus, nylon tipped floats are typically employed during cold water conditions (when the fish are typically more tentative), or in conjunction with smaller (lighter) baits. Since cane tips are more buoyant than nylon ones, they are typically used in conjunction with either with bigger (heavier) baits, when the fish are biting well (such as during warm water conditions), or when fishing flowing water as they have less of a propensity to ‘drag under’. Remember also that the bigger the tip volume is, the more buoyant the tip will be. Thus, a long thick nylon tip will have a similar buoyancy, or sensitivity, to that of a slimmer, shorter cane tip. However, this is something of a moot point as floats are typically shotted so that only a uniform half-inch or so of the tip is exposed.

Summary of float tip materials and applications
 
Float tip material Condition(s)
Nylon Cold water, shy biting fish and/or small baits
Cane Warm water, positive biting fish, bigger baits and/or river fishing 

Stem materials

In addition to the amount of shot a pole float carries (see below), its stability is also related to the position of its ‘balance point’ or center of gravity. Typically, if the float’s center of gravity sits below the depth of the surface ‘skim’ (induced by wind over the water’s surface) it will remain stable. Thus, for a similar weight loading, floats with either longer or denser stems will be more stable than floats possessing shorter or less dense stems. The catch 22, of course, is that using a long stemmed float in shallow and/or very clear water can often spook wary fish.

Carbon is probably the most popular material used for constructing float stems. It is strong and durable, plus it is dense enough to provide stability under most conditions. However, in strong winds or when fishing strongly flowing water, a more stable (dense) wire stemmed pattern is preferred. Such floats offer a greater degree of stability at the cost of a little sensitivity. However, this sensitivity difference is in many cases negligible, meaning that a wire stemmed float is often a (personal) first choice. This fact is discussed in more detail immediately below. Although of a somewhat lower density than either carbon or wire, glass fiber is very tough and so is often used in specialized, robust float designs intended for use around snags.

Interestingly, since wire is denser (and therefore heavier per unit volume) than carbon, floats possessing wire stems typically have bodies that are slightly larger in volume than carbon stemmed models of the same weight loading. This is why wire stemmed pole floats are generally considered to be both more stable and less sensitive than comparable carbon stemmed models. However, this difference is not as great as one may think, as wire stems are often much narrower than carbon stems and usually add no more than 0.05 - 0.10 grams to the overall weight of a pole float. A good way to think about this is that, with all things being equal, carbon stemmed floats of a 'size up' are of similar sensitivity to comparable wire stemmed patterns. For example, I would consider a 4 x 16 'Lake' (carbon stem) and a 4 x 14 'Dandi' (wire stem) to be comparable in terms of their sensitivities. One conclusion that can be drawn from these facts is that, with the possible exception of very light floats, the benefits afforded (in terms of increased stability) by wire stemmed models generally out weigh their perceived sensitivity 'costs'. I will be putting this theory to the test during the 2003 season by using the Tubertini 'Delta' for much of my still and slow water fishing. The 'Delta' has a wire stem, medium cane tip and a mid sized 'football' shaped body - see the end of this article for a picture.
 

Summary of float stem materials and applications
 
Float stem material Uses
Glass fiber Fishing near snags
Carbon  General all round use
Wire  Rivers, windy conditions


Summary of pole float selection criteria for 'silver' fish on stillwaters


Calm        
Choppy
Windy
Cold water
Tip: nylon or fine cane
Body: slim
Stem: carbon

Examples:
Strike (nylon tip)
Squat (fine cane tip)
 
Tip: nylon or fine cane
Body: round or body down
Stem: carbon

Examples:
Tipo (nylon tip)
Lake (fine cane tip)
Pinkie (fine cane tip)
Tip: nylon or fine cane
Body: round or body down
Stem: wire

Examples:
Darkline 3 (nylon tip)
Quad (nylon tip)

Warm water
Tip: cane
Body: slim
Stem: carbon

Examples:
Chianti (thin cane tip)
Caster (med. cane tip)  
Tip: cane
Body: round or body down
Stem: carbon

Examples:
Pinkie (fine cane tip)
Carp 2 (med. cane tip)  
Tip: cane
Body: round or body down
Stem: wire

Examples:
Delta (round body)
Dandi (body down)


Summary of pole float selection criteria for carp and catfish on stillwaters


Small Bait (e.g 1 corn)       
Medium bait (e.g 2 corn)
Large bait (e.g 3 corn)
Shallow water
(up to ~4 ft)

Tip: thin cane
Body: Any*

Stem length: short          

Examples:
Caster
Dome dibber (dotted down)

 
Tip: medium cane
Body
Any*
Stem length: short

Examples:
Tyson
Choppa (born to catch!)
Dome dibber ('half' dotted down)
Tip: thick cane
Body
Any*
Stem length: short

Examples:
PB 4
Dome dibber
Deep water
(greater than ~4 ft)

Tip: thin cane
Body: Any*

Stem length: long


Examples:
Chianti (slim shape, sensitive)
Carp 2 (the standard)
Delta (wire stem for 'chop')*

Tip: medium cane
Body
Any*
Stem length: long

Examples:
Choppa (if calm)
Carptek 1 (the standard)
Tip: thick cane
Body
Any*
Stem length: long

Examples:
PB 4 (if calm)
Carptek 2 (the standard)

* recall that round or body down body shapes, as well as wire stems,  are more stable under choppy and windy conditions.


Float size / weight loading

With all other factors being equal, ‘size’ or weight loading is, perhaps, the biggest single factor affecting both a pole float’s sensitivity and stability. Why is this? Simply stated, the lighter the float, the more sensitive it will be. This is due to the fact that light floats (in conjunction with their associated lower shot loadings) have less inertia, and so are easier to ‘get moving’ than heavier floats. Result - they are easier to pull under by a biting fish. However, even though heavier floats are relatively less sensitive than their lighter counterparts, they are inherently more stable as their increased weight loadings better counteract conditions of increased depth, greater flow and increased surface ‘skim’ or 'drag'. This fact can be explained through reference to a standard pole float shotting diagram:

As can be seen above, a pole float is typically weighted down by either a single large shot (olivettte), or group of split shots, equal to ~ 90% or more of the float’s total weight loading. This bulk is most often set at between 6 – 18 inches from the hook, with several small ‘dropper’ or ‘tell tale’ shot spread out between the bulk and the hook. If one ponders the mechanics of this set up, the resulting tight line between the float and the bulk shot can be considered to be a flexible extension to the pole float’s stem. Thus, for greater separations between the float and bulk (as one would typically employ in deeper waters), a greater weight of bulk shot is required to maintain the integrity of this extended ‘pseudo stem'. Clearly, the longer this pseudo stem, along with a necessary and concomitant increased in the bulk shot weight, the more stable the rig will be.

In summary, even though the angler should always try to ‘get away with’ the lightest float possible, the depth of the water being fished and the strength of flow encountered most often dictate the choice of float size. Shown below are some general rules of thumb with regard to which float sizes work best under certain generic conditions. However, recall that under windy conditions float loading should be increased in order to counteract increased surface ‘skim’ or ‘drag’.
 
Still waters
 
Depth Float ‘size’ (weight loading)*
less than 2ft 0.05g to 0.3g
2ft to 4ft 0.2g to 0.5g
4ft to 6ft  0.5g to 1g
6ft to 12ft 0.75g to 2g
12ft to 20ft 1.5g to 4g

*Recall that under increasingly windy conditions larger sized floats will be required - typically (just like in golf?) 1 size up for 'choppy' conditions and two sizes larger for 'windy' conditions. Example: a 4 x 12 float may be fine for water that is 3 ft deep under calm conditions, but if choppy or windy increasingly heavier (4 x 14 and 4 x 16 respectively) floats should be utilized.

Small Rivers (up to 6ft deep)
 
Flow condition Float ‘size’ (weight loading)
Slow flow  0.4g to 1g
Medium flow 0.5g to 1.5g
Fast flow 1g to 4g

Large Rivers (over 6ft deep)
 
Flow condition Float ‘size’ (weight loading)
Slow flow 0.5g to 2g
Medium flow 1g to 4g
Fast flow 3g to 10g

Float loading scales

Often times, pole floats will be marked with a weight loading quoted in styl weights, e.g. ‘4 x 14’. What follows is a conversion table showing the relationship between, styls, grams and more familiar numbered shot.
 
Styl Grams Approx. Shot equivalent*
4 x 10 0.1 1 x #6 or 2 x #8
4 x 12 0.2  2 x #6 or 4 x #8
4 x 14 0.3 3 x #6 or 6 x #8
4 x 16 0.5  5 x #6 or 10 x #8
4 x 18 0.75 7 x #6  + 1 x #8
4 x 20 1.0 5 x #4 or 10 x #6
*A useful conversion factor to remember is that 0.1 g = 1 x  #6 shot. Recall also that 2 x #8 shot = 1 x #6 shot, 2 x #6 shot = 1 x #4 shot etc. Also, one other thing to remember is that the stated weights for floats are somewhat approximate, due to the natural variability in the materials used to make the float and to the weight of the line, hook and bait to be used.
 

Personal selections

What follows is a list of the pole floats I most often use when fishing my local venues, along with a discussion of why the particular floats chosen are suited to the job:
 
 
Location Typical FP or park district pond or lake
Time of year:        Early or late season, cold water conditions
Depth ~3 – 5+ ft 
Target species Bluegill and shiner
Method: Long pole
Float choices:
     
4 x 14 (+) Colmic Strike (calm), 0.4 g (+) Drennan Lake (choppy) or 4 x 16 Quad (windy)

Discussion During cold water conditions bite detection can be very difficult – pan fish often times just suck in a bait without moving off, causing little or no movement of the float. Thus, one must use the most sensitive of floats during such conditions. The ‘Strike’ is the most sensitive float in my arsenal  - it has a long, slim nylon tip and a slim body. It also has a longer than normal stem, meaning it has a little more stability than you might expect for such a design. I fish the rig with small baits (1 or 2 spikes, or small worm segment) an inch or so off bottom (so it does not drag under) and strike at any ‘dip’ or ‘dink’ of the tip. Often times, it pays to periodically lift and drop the rig, as a fish is often attached (yes, they can be that shy!). If the wind gets up and ‘skim’ becomes an issue I switch to the ‘Lake’. This float has a body down design and a long stem, so is inherently more stable than the ‘Strike’ for a similar weight loading. Although the ‘Lake’ has a cane tip, it remains very sensitive because the cane used is very thin. I generally either fish the rig just touching the bottom or an inch or two over depth (to keep the bait still when there is ‘skim’) and periodically ‘jig’ the bait by lifting and dropping the pole tip by a foot or so. The long stem and narrow shoulder of the float allows for the final drop of the bait to be ‘read’ through the strike zone – striking when the tip ‘holds up’ or ‘checks’ sideways often results in a hooked fish.
 
 
Location Typical FP or park district pond or lake
Time of year Early or late season, cold water conditions
Depth ~2 – 4 ft 
Target species Bluegill and shiner
Method: Short pole to hand (‘whip’)
Float choices: 4 x 14 Drennan Pinkie (calm) or 0.25 g Drennan Quad (choppy)

Discussion Similar considerations to those discussed with regard to fishing the long pole during the cooler months must also be taken into account when fishing the short pole or ‘whip’ during cold weather. Therefore, both the ‘Pinkie’ and ‘Quad’ floats used possess very fine / sensitive tips to aid in bite detection but, due to the fact they are used at closer range in shallower water, have relatively shorter stems and lower weight loadings. Specifically, the ‘Pinkie’ has a very fine cane tip and the ‘Quad’ a set of different colored nylon tips. Because the floats have relatively low weight loadings, a slightly wider ‘football’ type body shapes can be used without unduly sacrificing sensitivity – this design feature also increases the stability of the floats, which can be important when fishing a ‘whip’ rig. The only other major difference between the two floats is that the ‘Quad’ has a wire stem, while the ‘Pinkie’ has a carbon stem. Thus, the ‘Quad’ is a better choice when there is a noticeable ‘skim’ on the water.  Note: a whip rig should only be used when the fish are feeding well and the angler is attracting at least a bite a cast – when this is not the case the long pole rigs detailed above offer a significantly better degree of control and, inevitably, attract more bites from the fish present.
 
 
Location Typical FP or park district pond or lake
Time of year Mid season, mild or warm water conditions
Depth ~3 – 5+ ft 
Target species Bluegill and shiner
Method: Long pole
Float choices: 4 x 14 (+) Preston Chianti (calm), 4 x 14 (+) Tubertini Dandi or 4 x 14 (+) Tubertini Delta (choppy or windy)

Discussion:  When the water begins to warm (typically above 50 –55 oF), the fish become more active and easier to catch. Thus, it is not necessary to utilize floats with fine, ultra-sensitive tips, as bites are usually pretty positive. In fact, it is to the anglers advantage to use floats with tips that are slightly more buoyant than those used during the cooler months. In this way, slightly bigger baits may be used without having to re-shot the float and ‘line bites’ (due to fish knocking the line) become less noticeable. Similar tactics to those discussed above for cold water are used, except the ‘Chianti’ is used in place of the ‘Strike’ and the  ‘Dandi’ in place of the ‘Lake’. In each case, these new floats have similar shapes and lengths to their cold-water analogues, but have slightly thicker cane tips and (for the ‘Dandi’) a wire stem. The ‘Delta’ is an excellent all around model that has a medium cane tip, a ‘football’ shape and a wire stem.
 
 
Location Typical FP or park district pond or lake
Time of year Mid season, mild or warm water conditions
Depth ~2 – 4 ft 
Target species Bluegill and shiner
Method: Short pole to hand (‘whip’)
Float choices: 4 x 14 Drennan Pinkie (calm) , 4 x 14 Drennan Caster (calm and very shallow) or 4 x 12 Tubertini Delta (choppy)

Discussion:  Fishing the whip during the late spring, summer and early fall can result in some spectacular catches of bluegill from the margins. It is not uncommon for US match anglers to bank in excess of 500 fish during a four hour period! Bites from ‘gils during this time are very positive, so, in addition to the standard ‘Pinkie’, slightly thicker cane tipped floats such as the ‘Caster’ and ‘Delta’ should be used preferentially. The ‘Caster’ is especially effective when fishing shallow water, as it has a very short body and stem, while the ‘Delta’s’ wire stem makes it the first choice when there is a noticeable surface ‘skim’. Additionally, the ‘Delta’ will settle quickly when cast due to the fact that it’s wire stem gives it a low center of gravity.
 
 
Location Typical FP or park district pond or lake
Time of year Mid season, mild or warm water conditions
Depth ~2 – 4 ft (shallow water)
Target species Carp and catfish
Method: Long pole
Float choices: 4 x 14 Drennan Choppa (medium bait), 4 x 14 Preston PB 4 (large bait)

Discussion:  Fishing the shallows for larger species during the summer months can be both highly exciting and extremely nerve wracking, as fish often give there location away by nudging the float, clouding up the water as they feed, and then taking off at speed once hooked. Clearly, pole floats used in water as little as 18 inches deep must have short stems, while they must also have reasonably thick cane tips that are, in turn, capable of supporting / not being dragged under by large baits. For a bunch of maggots, one or two grains of corn, or several pieces of chopped worm the ‘Choppa’ is ideal, while the biggest of baits – 2 or 3 grains of corn, a bunch of chopped worms or a pinch of dough bait are best fished under a ‘PB 4’. Both floats have short carbon stems and stout cane tips, although the tip on the PB 4 is noticeably thicker than that of the ‘Choppa’. Typically for big fish rigs, the bait is fished either at dead depth or up to a foot or so over depth in order to maintain a static presentation (the more ‘skim’ or drift, the more over depth the rig must be fished).
 
 
 
Location Typical FP or park district pond or lake
Time of year Mid season, mild or warm water conditions
Depth ~3 – 5+ ft
Target species Carp and catfish
Method: Long pole
Float choices: 4 x 16 Drennan Carp 2 (small baits, calm or choppy), 4 x 16 Delta (small baits, choppy or windy), 4 x 16 Drennan Choppa (medium sized baits, calm), 4 x 16 Preston PB 4 (large baits, calm), MAP Carptek series 1 (medium baits, choppy or windy) or MAP Carptek series 2 (large baits, choppy or windy)

Discussion:  A similar approach to that detailed above for shallow water big fish angling is followed, although larger floats are generally employed because of the greater depths fished. While ‘Choppa’ and 'PB 4’ floats are often used, similar models with longer stems are often a better choice for such deep water swims or when surface ‘skim’ becomes a problem. Thus, longer stem ‘body down’ patterns like the ‘Carp 2’ or 'Delta' are often used to fish a bunch of maggots or a single grain of corn, while the ‘Carptek 1’ and ‘Carptek 2’patterns may be substituted for the ‘Choppa’ and 'PB 4’patterns, respectively, when fishing increasingly larger baits either under windy conditions and/or at depths of greater than 5 feet.
 

Selected Floats
 

Colmic
‘Strike’
Preston
‘Chianti’
Tubertini
‘Dandi’
Tubertini
‘Delta’
Preston
‘PB4’
MAP
‘Carptek 1’
MAP
‘Carptek 2’

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