Complete Guide to Floater Fishing for Carp

29 Dec 21


Floater fishing is very exciting but also, in my opinion, a highly underutilised method of catching carp.

Many anglers miss the mark when attempting floater fishing for various reasons, which we will explain in this article.

We’ll cover the do’s and don’ts complete with various tips and tricks to ensure you fully utilise floater fishing on your next session.

Let’s get into it!

Get the Carp Feeding

Before we consider the art of floater fishing, we need to talk about the initial work. 

Many anglers will simply cast to carp cruising on the surface and wonder why they don’t get any bites.

floater fishing for carp

Carp are wily characters and on high pressured waters, will be even more apprehensive about taking your bait.

In order to solve this problem, you need to build the confidence of the carp by offering up some free baits. 

I like to prime several areas of the lake, if possible, and get multiple groups of carp feeding. This can be impractical on busy day tickets waters but use your own judgment and implement this approach where possible. 

You will find once the carp feel more at ease they will continue to feed off the top and often in numbers, this is the moment you can start to get your tackle primed.

Don’t Spook the Carp

Now you have the carp feeding off the top with confidence, you can start to think about trying to catch one or two.

Don’t, whatever you do, cast right on top of them. 

This will undo all of your hard work in getting them to feed. Instead, cast past the spot you want to fish, then slowly bring back your bait into a prime spot. 

This approach is very simple and highly effective in not spooking any carp. 

Bait and Attractions

I like to floater fish for carp using a selection of floating pellets. I tend to carry 6mm, 8mm & 11mm. Pellets can be attached using a simple banded hair rig.

floater fishing pellets

For added attraction and to really grab the attention of the carp, I will always soak my pellets in oils.

These oils will extrude when in the water and, hopefully, be irresistible to a big carp patrolling my swim. Carp seems to really love oils, which makes this tip simple and highly effective.

Light Tackle

Carp have excellent sight and carp tackle just seems more prominent when floater fishing on the surface. 

Based on this, you need to use the lightest tackle you can get away with to try and keep everything is invisible as possible. 

This will depend on the lake conditions, for example, if the lake contains lots of weed you might want to use a size 10 hook and if the lake is clear and contains smaller carp, you could get away with a size 12 hook.

As far as mainline, I would suggest something like an 8lb or 10lb specialist floater fishing line

These types of mainline are very supple and have low visibility on the surface. They also offer some stretch to minimise hook pulls. 

I would highly recommend you pick some dedicated floater fishing line as its very effective and low cost.

The key point here is to use as lighter tackle as you are comfortable with based on the conditions.

Sharp Hooks

When you get a bite from a big carp, you must ensure you get a good hook hold to lower the chances of losing the fish.

Having very sharp hooks will help with this. Either use brand new hooks or a hook sharpener if you have one.

Soft Fishing Rod Tip

As I mentioned, you should be using lighter tackle than if you were fishing on the bottom. Based on this, if possible, use a softer rod tip to limit the hook pulls. 

A softer rod tip works much better with smaller hooks, in my opinion. 

The last thing you want is a very stiff fishing rod pulling like mad on a carp that is hooked with a lighter fishing line and a smaller hook!

Bright Pop-ups

As an alternative to oil-soaked pellets, I will always carry a couple of pots of bright pop-ups.

On occasion, when the pellets are not working a bright bait sometimes grabs the attention of the carp. 

I like to trim down a pop-up to suit the size of the hook I am fishing with.

As an added bonus, these bright pop-up baits are very easy to see when cast out.

Strike at the Right Time

This is a key point, that I think many anglers get wrong.

You want to ensure you strike just at the right time.

I will look for either a carp physically sucking in the bait and will strike when I see the bait disappear into the carps mouth or when I see my line moving off when a carp takes the bait.

Many anglers will strike too early and miss a good hook hold. This takes some practice but you’ll get a feel for the right time to strike after a few takes.

carp lake

Blend into the Surrounding

If you are floater fishing at a relatively short distance, make sure you blend into the surroundings.

Carp are very wily and will spot you a mile off if you contrast with the trees, which will ruin any chances of catching a carp.

This is very simple to do, by simply wearing greens/browns/camouflage.

Distract the Wildlife

We have all been in a situation when birds have ruined any chances of trying to fish on the surface or when trying cast of free bait offerings.

Well, this doesn’t need to be the case.

floater fishing birds

Feed the birds with some seed and you can rid them of ruining your floater fishing. Feed them enough and they will eventually get full and leave you in peace, to land a couple of big carp.

Too many anglers give up because of nuisance birds or simply don’t even attempt floater fishing, missing out on a great potential to catch some carp!

Best Time for a Bite

So many anglers pack up during the early evening, which is actually one of the best times to catch carp on the surface or the bottom for that matter.

I believe at first light and early evening are the best times to catch carp using floater fishing. 

These times of the day just seem to produce more bites and so make sure you don’t miss out on these time periods. Let all the other anglers go home and take full advantage.

Essential Tackle

The following is a summary of the essential tackle I believe is required to be successful when floater fishing.

  • Brand new (sharp) size 10 or 12 hooks
  • Dedicated floater fishing line - 8lbs or 10lbs
  • A mixed selection of floating pellets - 6mm, 8mm & 11mm
  • Banded hair to attach the pellet to your mainline
  • A tub of bright pop-ups


Floater fishing is a very exciting method to catch carp but also a very underutilised method.

Use some of the tips and tricks in this article and I’m sure you’ll have success on your next session.


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