Floater fishing fixes – Brian Skoyles
Brian Skoyles reveals his top tips for floating fishing so you can enjoy summer’s number one big carp tactic
ASPLIT second after an eruption on the surface Brian Skoyles’ line tightened and his rod bent as it was swept back to connect with the fish. He did his best to steer the carp away from the many weedbeds in front of his swim and a golden mirror with huge apple-slice scales decorating its flanks came over the net cord after 10 nerve-wracking minutes. “This is why you can’t beat surface fishing!” exclaimed an exuberant Brian. With dark shapes of several carp just under the surface and the chance of more fish on the cards, it’s hard to argue.
After taking a few photos of the immaculate mirror, Brian attached a fresh hookbait ready for a recast. “You don’t want to be overgunned and a rod with a 2.25lb test curve is about right for the lighter lines and smaller hooks that the tactic requires. A small reel such as a Daiwa Theory SP3000A or SS2600 Whisker is preferable as you have to hold the rod and reel for long periods,” advised Brian. “I’m very fussy with regards to lines and I use a different mainline and hooklength for floater fishing. I really rate Korda Kruiser Control as a mainline and I have one spool loaded with 10lb and one with 12lb. My hooklink is tied from Stroft GTM and I carry a range of breaking strains from 9.4lb to 17.6lb to cover any scenario from open water with no weed or snags to hit-and-hold situations near lily pads or heavy weed. “For this style of fishing you need a strong, reasonably fine wire hook in a wide gape pattern such as Korda Mixas, Gamakatsu Specialist Wide Gapes and Drennan Super Specialist Barbel hooks.
Staying in control
There are two main types of controller floats used for floater fishing – drift, which lay flat on the surface, and vertical which sit upright in the water. “I carry both styles to cover most wind conditions,” he said. “When it’s flat calm or there’s a light wind, I use the drift type and in stronger winds I opt for vertical floats. Drift controllers also work better over weed.” Brian sets up his vertical controllers in a different way to most people who simply thread their mainline through the swivel on the top and trap the float in place with rubber float stops. “A helicopter set-up is less prone to tangles,” said Brian. “It’s really easy to set-up, too. Simply attach a size 8 swivel to the end of your hooklink and thread this on to your mainline, followed by a Korda anti-tangle sleeve. Next, tie your mainline to the swivel on the controller, push the sleeve over the swivel and then bring the hooklength swivel down and over the anti-tangle sleeve.” Many carp waters receive a lot of pressure and because most surface fishing takes place from close in to 30 yards, the fish can become increasingly wary at these ranges. They will, however, happily snack on any floater that comes their way further out. “I carry a couple of much larger controllers capable of casting big distances and the
difference in the percentage increase in the number of confident takes from longer range is notable. At long range, you can’t always see the take and you have to watch for line movement, and in some cases wait for the reel to spin. Exciting stuff!”
“Most of my floater fishing is enjoyed with various sizes of floating pellets. The two I really rate are the 6mm and 11mm Floating Trout Pellets from Hinders. The larger ones support a size 12 or 10 hook brilliantly and last well in the water,” he explained. “The smaller ones are excellent for getting fish to feed, but the carp can become preoccupied on them so, ideally, I like to feed a mix of sizes.” Brian has also found a way of making his feed even more attractive. “My favourite method is oiling up. It’s dead easy to do, and I’ve found carp will react very strongly to oiled baits,” he said. Many anglers use artificial mixers, trimmeddown pop-ups or cork balls in an attempt to imitate their loosefeed. Brian, however, simply hooks the same size pellet he feeds. “This makes it much harder for carp to tell your hookbait apart from the freebies, but you need a quick and easy way of regularly replacing your hookbait before casting. I have found that pellet bands are the best way of
achieving this and I tie these on to a shortshor braided hair. I tie my hooklengths with the pellet held close to the eye so the hook hangs down under the pellet. It also ensures that the pellet band stays in place, even on a strong cast,” he explained.
Avoiding the birds
“Ideally, Ideally, you should feed the swim for a while and get the fish actively feeding and confident before casting a hookbait. This can be problematic as birdlife also like what youy are feeding and can disturb the swim. “Assess Assess your swim on the day and react accordingly. If birdlife is a problem, I usuallyusuall fish close in or move regularly. I alwaysalw take a lightweight spod rod equipped with a Mini Spomb. It makes baiting up with 6mm pellets much more efficient and birdlife doesn’tdoesn always associate it with floating food and won’t investigate. A standard catty works fine for larger baits.”
Brian’s favourite baits are 6mm and 11mm Floating Trout Pellets from Hinders
Oiling and flavouring his pellets is the best way Brian has found of making them more attractive
Catching carp off the surface is great fun in the summer
Brian feeds larger baits via a catapult and uses a Spomb when 6mm pellets are being offered
Brian carries a selection of hook sizes with bait bands tied on and ready to go
Size 12 hooks are pefectly balanced with the 11mm pellets Brian uses as a hookbait
Fine-tuned floater fishing can produce some real monsters!