The flat float first gained popularity in the UK off the back of England’s World Champs win in Paris back in 2001, when massive disc-shaped floats taking up to 40g of weight were used to catch eels on the River Seine.
Slowly, anglers on home soil began to cotton on to the effectiveness of these unusual bits of kit that were brilliant for slowing a hookbait down to a virtual standstill, even on the most powerful rivers.
Now, almost 20 years on, if you watch a match on a river that’s carrying a little bit of extra water, you’ll see plenty of flatties set up and ready to go.
But there’s more versatility to the flat float than it being just for flood conditions. On a medium-paced river like my local River Severn around Bewdley and Stourport, the float is ideal for catching perch, bream and skimmers. These species much prefer a bait that’s stood still or only just moving through the swim, the type of presentation you can’t get by using classic round-bodied pole floats.
The flat float works by the thin circular-shaped body turning thin side on into the flow when lowered into the water. This means that there’s far less body surface area for the current to get hold of which, with a normal-bodied float, would pull the rest of the rig and the bait off bottom because the float wouldn’t sit straight. This doesn’t happen with a flat float.
Originally, this float was designed to nail a bait totally still on the bottom, but where perch are concerned, I’ve found that letting the bait run slightly can get more bites. The process here is to lower the rig in and then hold it still for 10 seconds, keeping the line from the pole to the float tight. Then lift the pole-tip and let the float travel through the swim, only for about four or five inches, and then hold it still again. Repeat this process until you reach the end of the swim.
Fishing well overdepth is the norm for flat float work and it’s possible to have up to 2ft of line laid on the riverbed at times.
Experimentation is key, and fishing with the bait just touching bottom can get better results on some days. I begin by fishing around the length of the float overdepth and make adjustments from there.
Shotting a flat float is also easy and, if anything, I like to fish with the float overshotted (carrying too much weight).
For a 3g float, I’ll use perhaps 3.25g. I know that this means the float will sink, but because you’re holding the rig still a lot of the time and only letting it run down the peg a few inches at a time, that doesn’t matter.
Overshotting the float also makes bite indication brilliant!
Here are my six top tips for flat float fishing…
Delicate flat float
As well as a standard 4g Sensas Stach I also use a 2g Sensas Pawe – more delicate, with a thinner tip and the use of smaller dropper shot.
Change your hooks
If you catch a lot of perch, your hook can blunt. If I lose a run of fish, I change the hook! My favourite is the Tubertini Series 18 in a size 16.
Go past the feed
Sometimes the fish can be fussy and won’t sit right over the feed. When I get a lot of small indications but no proper bites, I’ll add a 0.5m extension.
Worms are unbeatable for perch, but if I feel there’s a chance of skimmers or bream, I’ll always use dead fluoro pink maggots.
I will always feed groundbait at the start. I use eight balls of ABC Baits River and Roach, holding hemp and dead maggots to draw in prey fish
Give them maggots!
I will also feed maggots and chopped worm with a bait dropper. The worm needs to be finely chopped so it doesn’t fill the fish up.