FISHING THE DRIFTBEATER FLOAT – MY WAY….

The Constituent Parts Of The Driftbeater Float:

driftbeater

<—– The sight bob

 

<—–  The stem

 

 

<—– The body

 

 

 

<— The Eye

 

 

The Build And Purposes Of The Constituent Parts:

  • The sight bob … is primarily there, as implied in its description, as a visual aid to allow the angler to see the float at distance due to the slim stem that has to be used as part of the build. Due to its location on the float (at the very tip) it, of necessity, needs to be light in weight to avoid the unbalancing of the float as it cocks but also large enough to be seen, thus as one will recall from at least school days, the larger the object for a given weight (or alternatively the lighter an object for a given size) then the less dense the material it is made of will be … and, in this case, as the sight bob these days is usually formed from polystyrene or similar light density material, the bob will be of a density of less than 1g/cm^3 – ie of lesser density than water and thus will be buoyant.
  • The stem … a long thin spill of material, usually plastic or better still fibreglass which separates the body of  the float from the sight bob and allows the body to be fully submerged and thus minimising the effects of any wind/breeze and surface drift but allows the float to be seen by letting the sight bob remain above the surface when in use. The stem is minimally buoyant, or in the case of fibre-glass actually slightly negatively buoyant and as it is extremely thin it is resistant to any effects of wind or drift.
  • The body ... usually bulbous/cigar-shaped, formed of buoyant material (eg cork/balsa/polystyrene), the main purpose of the body is to support the weight for needed casting to a certain distance and especially so on a windy day when you may be casting into or across the wind but also to allow the float to be cocked correctly. The weight also affects the float’s behaviour/stability so both casting/stability factors need to be balanced.
  • The eye .… a small ring set in the base of the float, its entire use being to act as a point of attachment to the line either by directly passing the main line through or by connecting on to the link of a link swivel. The float can be fished either ‘fixed’ or ‘sliding’ by the actual method of attachment. The best way to attach is to use stop knots (may need small eye beads too if the link swivel method of attachment is used) either side of the float/swivel. To use as a ‘fixed float’ just set knots tight to both sides of the eye or swivel, to use as a ‘sliding float’ just set top stop knot to the required depth – thus to switch between the 2 types its just a matter of sliding knots around rather than a re-tackling. However, if you do use the ‘direct line through eye’ method and you need to change the float (smaller/bigger) then you will need to strip down the terminal end (shot/hook) to do that hence I  recommend the use of a link swivel which means it becomes just a case of unclip float from the link, clip on new one and adjust shotting to suit the new float.

The driftbeater float is, for me, the best float devised for STILLWATER fishing using the laying-on (ie bait anchored to the bottom) method in ANY condition … if it cannot be fished due to conditions being THAT bad then there is no other option than to turn to ledgering in my view.

Tackling Up – My Way Of Doing Things – And Why:

OK, for the purposes of this part we’ll assume we’re tackling up a perfect, or almost perfect, day – later I’ll discuss the fine tuning required for more difficult conditions. And yes, we are talking about using a driftbeater in good conditions with little or no breeze or water movements… surely, that’s strange? Well, no, not really… for me, due to its construction and build, the driftbeater float is, as I said earlier, THE best float for laying-on or more specifically fishing ‘the lift method’ in ANY stillwater scenario.

So…. firstly on my line I tie a sliding knot around my line about 24” from the bottom, add a small bore bead – as I use a link swivel for float attachment the swivel’s eye is too large for a knot to be effective on its own –  and then another bead followed by a stop knot below that. And finally at the end of the line a quick hook length attachment – I use a bead like device….

hook beads

… which allows me to add my pre-tied, 4”-6”,  hooklengths easily and thus change hook sizes quickly and easily whenever I need to throughout the day. And 4”-6” I find the perfect length for the laying-on method – any less and you get a lot of false bites or float wavers due to the fish hitting the line (and thus can move the shot and bait out of position) or due to currents set up by the wash of the fishs’ tails… any longer and the fish can have too much leeway to play with before a bite is detected.

I now select my float for the session (although I may change it if conditions change later) and it’s a 5AAA driftbeater and I attach it to the link on my link swivel….

I then add a SSG shot touching the hook length connector (and thus between this shot and the hook/bait there will requisite 4”-6” spacing when actually fishing). This shot will almost always be an SSG although in very adverse conditions it could be upped to 2SSG or even 3SSG or, if the fish are extremely finicky, I *might* drop to an AAA as the very least size I’d employ.

So, 5AAA float attached with 1 SSG of shot and with the float set (locked/fixed) at 24” depth (ie well shallow for the waters I fish) I add another SSG just below the lower stop knot (bulk shotting)) … cast in and see how the float reacts. And now its a case of adding extra shot (try SSG until too heavy, then try AAA) to the bulk until the last shot added sinks the float so around 1/2 to 3/4 of  the sight bob remains showing, but if the bob sinks completely you’ve , at least, slightly over-shotted). Usually the sight bob is quite buoyant and can support at least 1 AAA of shot on its own – but will vary with bob size, etc obviously.

Basically, due to the construction of the float, the body will support the weight as its added firstly starting to cock upright and then sinking and bit more with every shot added until the body is *JUST* immersed at which point the whole body and stem will suddenly submerge (remember the stem has extremely little, if any, buoyancy so the addition of the smallest of shot can take the float from 0.1mm of body showing to the whole body and stem submerged and just the bob showing).

So what I’m looking for, ideally, at this point is to reach a shotting whereby I have one SSG (anchor) shot 4”-6” from the hook, and  the set of bulk shot 24” up the line which when cast out into the water cocks and shows just the top part the sight bob. Both anchor and bulk shots will remain in their positions as set throughout the day unless absolutely required to do so by conditions. I will usually only change the fishing depth via the stop knots.

Setting of the float shotting performed, it now only necessary to set the float to fish correctly – and I do this by firstly by setting the tackle for the depth of water in my swim much of which is done by use of ‘plummeting’ per usual. To do this I add a 2SSG or 3SSG tight to the anchoring SSG shot and then setting the float at a ’guesstimate’ I cast into the swim and see how the float behaves … if it lies flat I know for certain I’ve over-estimated by at least 24”, if it fully submerges I know I’m under-estimated by at least 12” (ie 2x the length of the stem) … and then based on that result I make an adjustment in the required direction and repeat … and what I’m looking for is the point whereby the whole stem is standing clear of the water, and if a merest bit of body also protrudes then that’s OK too. Once this depth is sorted I’m ready to fish…

So, I removing the ‘plummet’ shot and clip on my desired hook length, bait the hook and cast out into the swim … and then place the rod in two rod rests … one at the rod’s butt end, the other supporting the rod beyond the butt ring. The front rod rest head is one of those that has a channel that allows free passage of line as this is important for setting the line tension to the float correctly and the placement of the rod rests is made so that the rod slopes down towards the water and the tip lies, ideally, just touching the surface to prevent the wind catching the line as far as possible and to ease the sinking of the line itself below the water’s surface which is important.

Once the rod is settled in the rests, I *slowly* wind in line to tension it … note, slowly, as I do not wish to drag the anchor shot out of position, … and as I do so the float will sink lower and lower in the water and I continue to tension until the point is reached that all or nearly all of the whole stem is submerged – note that it is best if the entire sight bob remains above water surface and thus gives some leeway to allow for ripples on the water not to have an effect of lifting the float and thus moving anchor shot and bait as this will affect the tension and allow then float to rise and thus will require re-tensioning – or the movement may be taken for a ‘ghost’ of a bite. TIP: if fishing at a reasonable depth to allow it to be done without catching on rings, etc then a small shot placed above the float (back-shotting) can be useful to assist sinking the line without pulling on the anchor shot.

I’m now fishing and looking for mainly two indications that I’ve got a bite…

  1. The float will rise in the water …. a fish has taken the bait and lifted/moved the anchor shot thus taking tension off the line and the float will now start to rise in response. NOW … a heavy’ish float is in use (5AAA, if you recall, in this example) … but until the body itself actually starts rising above the surface the only mass/weight/resistance the fish feels is the small amount of overshotting applied to sink the float twixt top of body and sight bob as weight of the bulk shot is still being supported by the float’s body. So, even if the full stem and part of the body rises from the water then, unless the fish has risen 24”+ and is taking up the weight of the bulk shot (unlikely) the MAXIMUM weight the fish will feel is that of the anchor shot ie 1SSG in this example. The ‘stereotypical’ bite in this situation is that the float lifts as bait is taken, followed by the float tilting and moving away and then submerging as the fish swims off…
  2. The float just suddenly dives under … in this case the fish has picked up the bait and swum away from my location thus increasing line tension … STRIKE!

Adverse Conditions

There a number of things that can be adjusted to suit changing and adverse conditions…

Bigger/heavier float…

Lower bulk shotting … the lower the bulk shot the more its effect is in the vertical plane and this can help stability.

Heavier anchor shot….

More float stem showing above the surface … lifts sight bob above waves, allows float to tilt with the breeze but still keep sight bob above the surface. Remember the bob can be quite buoyant in its own right and actually support quite a weight so can easily cause the anchor shot to be lifted.

Fish with more line twixt float and anchor shot – this create more tolerance in the tensioning and also allow a bow to form which will change the pull from the float to the anchor shot from vertical to more of a horizontal one and thus allow the anchor shot to grip by friction or catching up lightly on the bottom (think boat anchoring)…..

Maybe some of these in combination ….

Experiment to find what works for you! 🙂

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