Mark Pitchers

At this time of year the first pieces of kit to be loaded into my van before setting off from home will be my floater fishing gear. This form of catching carp is perhaps my most enjoyable and something that I really do find exciting. The adrenaline rush of watching carp feed on the freebies only to get close and closer to the hookbait really is insane and that build up of anticipation as a big old pair of lips comes out of the water to nail the hookbait really does make my heart pound more than anything else in carp fishing. If you have yet to try surface fishing then you are missing out on some of the most prolific and exciting sport on offer…

Now of course you could rig up your 3.5lb carp rod combined with 12000-sized big pit reel with a controller float and no doubt you will catch a few fish. However, that is all a little too heavy-handed and certainly not going to enable you to reach your full potential on the surface. It is far better to invest in some specific kit for this style of angling so that you can fish with lighter more balanced tackle. Try investing in a rod with a light test curve and partner it with a small free spool reel such as the EOS 10,000, which I use. By having a softer rod you will be able to cast your controller further and also when playing a fish on the light hooklink and small hook the rod will bend much more and vastly reduce the chances of any hookpulls or line breakages. Finally the reel you choose will need to be spooled up with an appropriate line. There is no point using a thick mono or even worse a fluorocarbon line as these will sink and drag your float out of position and also make striking very hard. Instead you should look for a purpose-designed neutrally buoyant floater fishing line that has a fine diameter yet is strong and abrasion resistant, something like the Surface that I use is perfect.

The EOS 10,000 reel is the perfect size for floater fishing.

Specially formulated surface fishing main line is a massive edge.

Float Selection
There are a couple of models of controller float that I like to use and both of them have bought me a fair amount of success in recent years. When fishing an extreme long range on the surface I will opt for the Bolt Bubble, which is an inline float that can have water added to it. This water gives extra casting weight and means I can fish well over 80yds should I need to. Due to its clear nature is very low vis on the water whilst its shape means that the fish will often hook themselves rather than me needing to strike the hook home. If I am fishing at short to medium range then I will opt for the Exocet. It is designed not to dive too far into the water on the cast meaning it has less chance of spooking fish when casting in amongst them and also has a semi-translucent green body that blends in with the water very well. In addition to this the float has flat sides so when a carp picks up the hookbait it is immediately met with resistance in the same way as achieved with the Bolt Bubble.

Mark prefers the Bolt Bubble float for long range.

The Exocet controller comes into its own for short to medium range work.

The Business End
When fishing on the top it is important that you scale our rigs down so as not to cause too much suspicion with the fish. I will usually use a size 10 hook and couple this with a purpose-made surface fishing line, as these lines are pre-stretched which means they are much thinner than lines normally are of that breaking strain. The hooklink I tend to use is the Zig + Floater Hooklink, and will often use the 12lb unless the weed is really thick and then I will ‘beef up’ to the 15lb version. The length of my rig will vary on how confidently the carp are feeding (the more aggressive they are the shorter the rig will be) but I’d say 4-6ft is what I tend to use on average.

Hookbait Choice
Since last summer my number choice of hookbait has been a brown Zig Aligna coupled with a small slither of brown foam, which tends to mimic a floating pellet nicely. The Zig Aligna not only helps to camouflage the hook but it also extends the shank of the hook at an aggressive angle and aids the hooking potential greatly. The HD foam I use is so buoyant I can get away with using it really small when the carp are feeding with great caution, which is another added bonus. On days where the carp won’t take the foam hookbait I will then experiment with other options such as small bits of cork or a Hair rigged floating pellet.

The business end – simple yet effective and reliable!

Free Feed
I am a big fan of floating pellets for free feed, as over the years I have found that carp tend to feed more aggressively on these than dog biscuits. I like to add a nice coating of hemp oil to the pellets, which not only increases their attraction in the water but also adds a slick to the surface making it easier for me to see my float and hookbait. When it comes to introducing the feed into the swim it will depend on the range I am fishing at. When at range over 40-50yds I will use an Impact Spod to get the pellets out. If I’m fishing less than 40yds then I will use a catapult or throwing stick. The beauty of the throwing stick is that it enables me to keep feeding freebies whilst I’m playing a hooked fish, as it can be done one handed.

The throwing stick is great for short range feeding as it allows you to bait up whilst playing a fish.

Essential Extras
In addition to all of the actual fishing kit that you need to invest in to make a serious effort when floater fishing, you will also need to make sure you have a good pair of polarised sunglasses and a baseball cap. These will help to reduce the glare on the surface of the water enabling you to see into the water easier, which helps when fish spotting. The glasses also help to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays when staring out across the water at your float for long periods of time.


Polarised sunglasses and a baseball cap are essential items!

Surface success!