Question 1. The issue of pole float shapes is a bit of a minefield to me! Can you offer some advice on which types of float work in every given situation?
A minefield it most certainly is, as floats can range from a tiny dibber taking just a single small shot to a massive round lollipop float for rivers with a 50g-plus weight capacity. The starting point in your quest should be to work out the type of fishing you do – on rivers, commercial carp fisheries or canals.
This will narrow down the float styles and sizes needed, but within each category there are still a lot of options. Picking the right float for the job boils down to five things: weight, body shape, body, stem and tip materials, and if you were to pick six floats at random you’d find a mix of all these considerations. But what difference does a plastic bristle make from cane, and why is a wire stem better than carbon?
Question 2. On the Method feeder I get lots of little taps on the tip. Are these carp or small fish, and should I strike at them?
These are probably small fish such as roach and should be ignored. Even in winter, a bite will be a proper pull round on the tip – it’s extremely rare for a carp to give a finicky bite.
You may also get drop-back bites, which are normally caused by a fish moving the feeder back towards you or down a slope. Reel in and recast if this happens. It’s also worth casting more regularly, as the idea of the Method feeder is to get fish to investigate the ball of feed within minutes of it landing. If nothing has happened after five minutes, cast in again.
Question 3. I get a lot of lift bites on the pole but never hook any fish when this happens. Why?
There’s probably something amiss with the rig if it’s showing lift bites. Unless you’re deliberately trying to achieve this, you’re better off fishing a simple shotting pattern of a bulk of weight set close to the hook and then a couple of smaller dropper shot spaced equally apart underneath.
If you do get a lift bite from this set-up it will be caused by the fish picking up the bait and actually dislodging that large bulk of shot, which means there’s a good chance you’ll hook it on the strike. If you’re after skimmers or F1s you can use something called the double bulk which, as the name suggests, is two separate bulks of weight set close to the hook.
The first is closest to the float and the largest, to get the bait down and cock the float. The second is much smaller, perhaps only made up of two or three No10 shot. This normally sits just off bottom with the hookbait and hooklength fished overdepth. When a fish picks up the bait, it will dislodge this small bulk and the float will pop up. Simple!