CHECK out the shelves of your local tackle shop and you’re sure to see hundreds of different float patterns lined up to catch your eye and draw your hand to your wallet.
You can pick from an array of natural and man-made materials including balsa wood, plastic, expanded foam and peacock quill (although the latter, once so popular, is now a rare sight on the bank, while porcupine quills are seen as collectors’ items).
The thing about floats, with the notable exceptions of deep-water sliders or trotters fixed top and bottom, is that they require longish rods with a tippy action to cast and control them. What we need is a rod that does it all, a true Jack of all Trades, as much at home chucking around a stubby little pellet waggler number on a small commercial, as it is delicately flicking out a crystal waggler into the margins of a gravel pit for summer tench.
This rod-for-all-seasons needn’t cost you that much money, it certainly doesn’t need to be any longer than 12ft, and if it has a two-section build you can leave it set up and ready to fish with as soon as you arrive.
My choice would be a lightweight 11ft rod, quite at home with reel lines from 3lb to 8lb and hooklengths down to around 0.12mm. It’ll need a whippy enough action to cast floats from 3g up to 10g and have a naturally progressive action that will handle silverfish and carp with equal aplomb.
All this leads me nicely on to this week’s live test rod, Shakespeare’s new two-piece 11ft Superteam Float. It’s made from a strong but very lightweight high density carbon that’s easy and comfy to hold and cast with, and it comes dressed in quality hard-wearing SiC guides that will last more or less forever if well treated.
The EVA and cork handle is warm to the touch and won’t slip in your hands, even if they are covered in fish slime. Its pleasing, naturally progressive action allows you plenty of tactical scope – so, for example, one day you could be floatfishing with pellets for carp up in the water at your local commercial while the next could see you on the banks of a small river, fishing wag and mag for chub and roach.
Shakespeare reckons that the rod can be used with floats with casting weights from 5g to 20g, but while I’m sure it can handle the light end of the scale I certainly wouldn’t want to chance it with anything much heavier than 15g.
I’m not knocking the rod, it’s just that in my opinion it hasn’t got the backbone for casting really heavy floats, and nor should it have.
For my money this is a true all-rounder, and the ideal choice for anyone who wants to have one float rod covering most angling situations.
Having spent a sunny afternoon maggot drowning with the Superteam rod at the picture-perfect Wold Farm day-ticket water in Northamptonshire I can vouch for its all-round versatility.
The Moat Lake here is packed with all manner of fish besides carp – plenty of decent-sized roach, loads of skimmers and bundles of butter-gold, fusspot crucians.
Okay, I know strictly speaking these are carp, but they are a world away from their muscle-bound pellet-guzzling cousins.
If crucians were people they’d wear a shirt and tie and sensible slip-on brown loafers, read the Times or Telegraph, drive a Vauxhall Corsa, drink only bottled water, and answer to the name of Rupert or Tristan.
Oh, and to that motley list of denizens swimming around in Moat you can add barbel. These ‘cherry on the cake’ fish can turn up at any time, on any bait, and they fight like tigers on light float gear.
So the live test progressed, and after trying several float patterns of different weights I settled on a 5g straight waggler. The rod cast this true as an arrow, and its line pick-up speed was more than quick enough at the 25m-30m range I was fishing at.
It will let you get away with hooks as small as a size 18 when using maggots, and I was happy enough that it could cope with hooklengths as light as 0.12mm. I wouldn’t want to go any lighter than that.
At the other end of the scale the blank could happily cast wagglers up to 15g, although a 10g upper limit would be better. That still gives you loads of scope if you’re looking to fish shallow with pellet wagglers at distances up to around 40m.
Push your luck with casting weight and distance, though, and the rod will gain about as many brownie points as the UK’s Eurovision entry.
As I said, you don’t need loads of float rods, especially when you’re starting out. At this price, as an all-round floatfishing tool, you’d be hard-pushed to find a better rod than Shakespeare’s Superteam 11ft Float. By the way, it’s also available in 10ft and 12ft versions.
Price: £54.99, www.shakespeare-fishing.co.uk