The Floating Rig

The floating rig is what most people think of when they think of fishing – a fishing rod with a bobber. It’s also the first technique that many of us learned as a child.

Imagine this: You are sitting quietly waiting, suddenly you see tiny bubbles in the water, moving closer and closer to your rig. Your heart starts pounding. Voila! You have caught your first fish.

It is a beautiful moment, one that everyone should be able to experience and will keep you coming back to fishing.

Beyond that, it’s a completely valid fishing method for even advanced angler for one reason: it works!

What is the Floating Rig

Float fishing is a fishing technique in which a bobber or a float is attached to the line. The floating device allows the angler to suspend the bait at whatever distance they prefer. It also alerts the angler to the bite of the fish. It is an exciting method, and you can catch different types of fish.

Fish that live in moving waters such as harbors or piers watch things flow past them all day long.

Most things move at the same speed as the water the floating rig is designed to match the speed of the water currents.

The floating rig is as simple as it to tie because it only consists of a float and a hook, and you can make adjustments as per your conditions and water depth.

The crucial thing to do here is to keep the drift natural and keep the excess line off the water.

Letting your line pile up in the water is going to allow the water to pull it at different current speeds. Most fish will avoid the bait because it will look unnatural.

How to Tie a Floating Rig?

  • Reel and rod fishing sets come with either loaded or normal floats. Loaded floats have a metal catch attached at the bottom whereas, normal floats do not. You will have a straight float in your fishing rig if you do not have a straight float. Then, choose any streamlined float that has an eye in the bottom for the line. Select the second largest one.
  • Thread the line through the middle of the rod rings and then attach the float onto the line. Select tow medium-sized split shots (sinkers). The sinkers should have a cut into them, place the line in the slit, and then squeeze the split shots shut.
  • Pass an inch of the line through the loop and pull the first stop off the wire and onto the fishing line. Attach the float onto the line and the second rubber float stop. The float should be stopped between the two float stops.
  • Tie a loop at the end of the line to join the hook line and the mainline. If your fishing set has loose hooks, then tie it using a Palomar knot. It is an easy and sturdy method to tie the knot and will work with any type of fishing line.
  • You should have the float on the line at about 1 ft to 2 ft (to start) from the hook if you don’t then after swinging the line into the water the float will either come out of the water a few inches or lay flat on the surface. This usually happens when there are not enough sinkers on the line to pull the weight of the float down. Make sure the weights you use are heavier.
  • Once that is adjusted, fine-tune the rig until 4 inches of the line lay on the bottom. To do this, leave one shot at 8 inches from the hook, and the rest of the shots should be 12 inches up the line. This is called a standard waggler rig.


There are many styles of floats/bobbers that you could choose from.

Bobbers come in a variety of shapes; the classic float is a white-and-red round plastic bobber. Some floats also come in streamlined styles with some boasting tube-like, oval shapes, and some have slim spinning tops


Avon float is a streamlined float with the body at the top, and it was specifically designed to cope with fast water currents. The name was inspired by the fast flow conditions of the English River Avon. Early floats had a cork body and were attached to the top and bottom of the line.


These floats are small balls that are used to control the fishing line and used when the normal float cannot be cast. They are hollow; therefore, they need to be partially filled with water to control the float above the water. They usually work best at the edge of reeds or surfaces with heavy plant growths.


This type of float is made of dark foam, and it is shaped like a cylinder with the top half painted red. The line is passed through the top and wrapped around the cylinder and then comes out through the bottom. This type of floats does not require a stopper on the line, and the wrap of the line holds it all together.


A popper float or ‘popper cork’ is designed to resemble a fish feeding at the surface of the rod. There are many different styles of float. Modern floats have a concave top, which makes a deep chugging sound when pulled, whereas some poppers use a metal wire to make a clicking sound.

The sounds mimic that of a large fish feeding at the top. Some popping corks have pellets inside to mimic the sound of a baitfish.


This was one of the earliest types of floats. When it was first introduced, it was made of a real feather quill. However, overtime anglers got their hands on more improved versions of the quill. For example, many used porcupine quills from Africa.


The stick float is a streamlined float with a taper. It is attached to the line at the bottom and the top and made from two different materials; one is a heavy stem of hardwood, plastic, or cane, and the other is made from a light top section of the balsa wood.


This type of float is attached at the bottom of the line and comes in two different types, bodied or straight. They are made up of balsa wood, cane, reed, plastic, and quills.

Bobber Materials

There were times when the float was made up of cork; however, after the introduction of plastic floats, many float manufacturers followed suit. Balsa is another material manufacturers use to make floats; however, plastic is usually preferred because of its durable properties.


With float fishing, anglers usually use small, light weights, but it depends on the type of water you are float fishing in.

If you are fishing in a lake, then you need a reasonably strong hook. Kamasan B911 is a heavy hook that is preferred by some. It is spade ended, bronze, wide-gaped, medium gauge wire hook, which is barbless. A good size for the hook is 20.

If you plan on float fishing in a river, then use light hooks tied to the line because heavy ‘clumsy’ hooks floating in the river would spook the fish.


Some people use weights with a floating rig and some don’t. It can largely depend on the conditions.

If you are fishing a pond with still water, you probably need a weight to help increase sensitivity of the bobber.

If you are fishing a river with a current, it’s a bit more of a personal preference. Try out both options and see what works best!

There are many styles of weights in the market but, for float fishing, you must ensure the float sits upright and gets your lure all the way down to the bottom. To achieve this, your weights need to be heavy.

How to Fish Using Floating Rig? Tips & Tricks

  • Attaching a bright-colored bead or corky between your float, and the float stopper will provide a reference point that will help you identify your float.
  • Add a second bead or a float stopper if your float tends to drift away downstream after it breaks off on a snag.
  • When fishing in calm waters, use heavier weights to create maximum sensitivity.
  • When fishing in choppy, fast water use a float with a broad profile and two times wider at the bottom and get a size larger than you would normally use. In such waters, avoid cigar-shaped floats. Prevent the bobber from going down because of the float bouncing with the current.
  • For water depths less than five feet, use fixed floats because they start fishing as soon as they hit the water. Sliding floats may not sink because of light weights and could snag off.
  • Throw in some bait every 20 to 30 minutes as a free offering to attract the fish.
  • Most anglers float fish from the rock marks because of the depth of the water, and there are many species of fish swimming in such areas.
  • Piers and harbors are also great locations to float fish from.
  • When fishing in a river, keep in mind that different sections of the rivers will be moving at different speeds. So, you have to cast your bait accordingly and make things a bit more interesting mix up some of your chosen baits to attract different types of fish.
  • Stay mobile! Keep moving your fishing spot throughout the day.

Best Baits for Floating Rig

Live bait is usually used when fishing using a floating rig. Nightcrawlers and shiners are hooked below the float, and the bait is cast out into the water.

Other bait options include:

  1. Luncheon meat, cut into ¼ inch cubes
  2. Soft hook pellets
  3. Sweet corn, frozen or tinned
  4. Maggots


Of all the techniques people use for fishing, using a float has to be one of the easiest and enjoyable methods of catching dozens of fish. The rule is simple; when float fishing, always keep a lookout for a bite, and if the float dips, it means you have a bite. This is also one of the reasons why so many young individuals enjoy this style of fishing. Not much technicality is needed to get the hang of float fishing as long as you follow the steps above you will have a great time. Happy Fishing!