Spurred on by the constant enthusiasm for floater fishing by the team at Nash the last twelve months have been the most productive ever of my surface fishing career. I used to think that surface work was primarily a summer tactic when the fish weren’t being caught on the bottom...what a mistake! From freezing winter days to sweltering summer ones I have caught carp off the top and if I can YOU can too. Here’s how…
Find a prolific water
If you are new to floater fishing the best place to learn or build confidence is on well stocked waters. I built my confidence up on mixed fisheries with good numbers of carp between 10 and 20 lb and now those tactics are being used to outwit carp from 20 to 40 lb! Look at waters like Drayton, Chestnut, Thorpe Lea, Brasenose and these waters will teach you how changing hookbaits, presentations and different baiting strategies will work for you.
Dawn and Dusk
Without a shadow of a doubt THE best time to get carp taking off the top is either dawn and dusk. Time and time again for me after a quiet night or day, firing floaters out has had carp taking in minutes when I genuinely thought there were none anywhere near my swim! Literally a few Slickers or some Riser Pellets catapulted in the half light will have those carp slurping and taking. Put them out and see!
Mixing it up
Riser Pellets are an incredible surface bait but I find that mixing them with other pellets is even more effective. My usual mix is 60% Riser Pellet, 20% Chum Mixers and 20% Slicker Pellets. I just put them in a large bag, shake 'em up and they are ready to use.
Some days they seem to only want the Risers, other days the Chum Mixers and so on. It’s a bit like mixing up boilie sizes it seems to confuse them and definitely brings extra takes.
Whilst plain old surface baits can have the carp going crazy there are times when additional flavouring is a huge help. My favourites are the Amber Strawberry and Scopex Squid Food Dips. Strawberry Oil Palatant and Crustacean Extract are also highly rated by many surface anglers. The new Slicker Juice is also very attractive to surface feeders.
I pour some dip in a large plastic bucket and add a large cupful of warm water. Fill a third of the bucket with your floater mix and then just shake the bucket around to give the baits an even coating. Any unused floaters prepared this way can be frozen ready for next time.
Brilliant Bolt Machines
In the 'olden' days surface fishing was a delicate, almost stalking type tactic using a small float for casting or reaching the fish and then striking that hook home. Time and time again takes would be missed – which is why it was never very popular!
Bolt Machine controllers are deadly and change the game completely. Once I have got the carp feeding confidently on the freebies, I overcast with a Bolt Machine, and then pull it gently back into position amongst the surface feeders. Then I literally just wait letting the fish self-hook. Even on small waters I use the largest Bolt Machine and a hooklength of around four to six feet. The Bolt Machine is drawn into position and bingo the carp self hook against the resistance of it and the low stretch Zig Flo hooklength.
The key to success is patience. You start by trickling some bait out and get the odd one or two taking. It can take minutes, it can sometimes take hours but if you already have your zigs or bottom baits out that's no problem, you are still fishing anyway. As they start taking, keep the baits going in and eventually you should get the carp almost fighting to get the pellets. Then and only then do I overcast with the Bolt Machine and await my first take. Be patient and it truly is that easy......