These floats are fished double rubber style, which means the line passes through float caps that are positioned at the end of the float tip and at the base of the float. This float is normally fished either at the depth of the swim or slightly deeper. A number 8 shot is placed directly under the float to act as a depth marker. This is the only function of that shot. The bulk shot is placed fairly close to the hook. The function of the bulk shot is to get the bait down close to the bottom as quickly as possible. This is often only 18 inches from the hook. A couple of number 4 and a number 6 shot are placed between the bulk shot and hook. The smaller shot is the closest to the hook.
If you look at flowing swims in a river, you can get the wrong impression of the pace. The faster water is on the surface whilst the water at the bottom is much slower flowing, as it is slowed down by the uneven bottom. Every little stone creates a minor back-eddy slowing the flow. Therefore the float should go through the swim at the pace of the bottom flow rather than the surface flow for the bait to be presented naturally at the speed of the water where they are feeding.
In practical terms this means that you should hold back when trotting through. As a rough guide, in 5ft of flowing water I will hold back to trot through at about two thirds of the surface current speed. Naturally this requires a lot of practice to get right but it is worthwhile as results can be very good.
There are few manufacturers making swan necked balsa floats. I tend to use them in larger sizes than are generally available. I am therefore forced to make my own. I must admit that I do enjoy making my own floats on a cold winters evening. By making your own you are saving money and at the same time producing what you really want.
Instructions for making your own swan necked balsa floats.
I buy round balsa dowel from a local model shop. I select wood that is not too soft as I have to turn it in a drill chuck.
Place the wood in the chuck of an electric drill which is held in a vice. The float is shaped using glass paper. It is best to start by shaping the tip of the float and then moving on to shape the lower body. This reduces the chance of any breakage when shaping.
(Technical tip. I always cut an insert under the tip where the top float cap sits so that it sits flush with the rest of the float. The bulbous bottom end that I leave helps keep the longer float rubber in place.)
The float is finally hand finished with a bulbous bottom.
I use water based acrylics for painting as they are light and quick drying. Humbrol make these for about £1 per small bottle. First paint your tip base white.
The body is painted
I mottle my float bodies with a sponge soaked in black paint.
The tip is painted orange and float finished with a coat of clear varnish.
Float making is very easy and great fun whilst saving you money. I hope this guide encourages some of you to try making your own floats.