If you are like me rather than ledgering or going on the feeder, if the opportunity arises on the float then that's what I'll use, and for deep water it has to be the slider.
Now, back in the Sixties when I first got interested in sliding float tactics there was only one available, the Billy Lane slider. To describe this float, it was generally a peacock antennae with a balsa or cork body and a tiny brass eye protruding out of the body. You put your line through that, it would probably take about four or five swan-shot, they used to be positioned about three foot from the hook, the float would rest on those shot in the casting position and you'd have a dropper shop positioned about 18 inches from the hook. An adjustable stop-knot was then tied above the float. I tried to use this and found that casting was a problem, and so did lots of other people. The force of the five swan-shot when casting meant that sometimes the float was left dithering in mid-air while the line shot through it. Sometimes the stop-knot went through the brass eye on the float and tangles etc resulted. It was an awkward method to use unless you learned how to cast the tackle. Later on in life I learned that there was a casting method where the tackle was swung right around your head in a circle, the tackle left the circle at a tangent and that kept the tackle together.
It was because of the inability to cast this float that my father and I put our heads together and decided that the way to overcome this was to build weight into the float. In fact there was more weight built into the float than there was weight on the line! This made the float the "boss" during the cast rather than the bulk shot. Doing this allowed the float to drag the shot out, rather than the other way around - which was next to impossible as the float was sliding. So the loaded slider was born and it served me and England superbly.
In 1975 when I won the World Championship in Poland, it was the loaded slider that I used. In '85 when I won the European Championship in Portugal once again, in 20 odd foot of water it was the loaded slider that I used. When England won their first team Gold on the river Arno - a river that was only about eight foot deep with lots of current etc, apart from the section I drew. I was in the middle of the match length where the Italians had been extracting gravel by barge. I couldn't believe that this section that I had drawn was absolutely stagnant. The reason? It was around 27 foot deep! So out came the loaded slider yet again. We were drawn fishing next to Italy. I fished next to Milo Colombo, the chap that makes the Milo pole floats. The Italian method was to fish for chub, fishing shallow, just raining maggots in, lots of them, on the 11 meter pole line. I fished down the middle of the river on the loaded slider and started to catch lots of catfish - some of them only about the size of gudgeon, a big one being only about 6 ounces but in 27 foot of water I had a fish on just about every cast. Milo, with only three-quarters an hour left in the match, hadn't had a fish. The Italian crowd were getting a bit fed up with him, watching this English bloke in the next peg getting a fish a chuck. Milo, all credit due to him, in the last half hour, caught 4 crucian carp (Carassius) and clawed his way back to seventh place in that very difficult section. I actually won the section with around eight pound of these catfish.
The final reckoning: England became World Champions for the first time ever, beating the Italians off the next peg on their own venue by one point! I believe that not only did the England Team work a miracle on that day but my loaded slider got me out of the mire yet again.
It's a simple method to use. First, find a nice comfortable depth to cast it out at. Assuming that you are using a rod of around thirteen foot and bear in mind that it's best to cast it out set as deep as you possible can, set it at around 9 feet. Thread the line through the little tiny swivel at the base of the float, put the hook-length on.
Shotting: About nine foot from the hook put a No4 shot so that the float will slide down the line and rest on this No4 shot whilst it's in the casting position. It is important to have a No4 instead of a BB or an AA as these can cause a tangle, the line can wrap around the swivel. Don't use too small a shot as these can't take the inertia of the cast and the shot will slip down the line. A No4 seems to grip the line perfectly. This is the stop-shot, it stops the float from sliding down the line. The only other shot on the line will be the bulk-shot and the telltale shot.
The amount of loading in the float should be just enough so that if you threw it in the water it would stand up, with just the antennae standing clear of the water. The antennae will probably take about 3 AAA. That's what we will use as the bulk-shot and we place that about three foot from the hook. Never put it above the centre or half-way mark - in this case the 4ft 6in mark - because it will cause tangles. The telltale shot needs to be something that you can read on the float at a distance. Use a BB shot for the telltale and that should also be below the halfway mark. In this instance that's below 18ins from the bulk and about 15inches from the hook, that seems to be just about right. So, to recap:
We have a BB about 15 inches from the hook, we have three AAA about 3ft from the hook and we have a No4 about 9ft from the hook as the stop-shot. To test the full shotting of the float, we lock the float by positioning a dust-shot above it and close to the No4 stop shot to lock it - this is just a temporary shot that will be removed once we have tested the float. After casting the float, you can either add or subtract shot to the bulkshot area to suit clear vision at whatever distance you have decided to fish. There should be enough shot down the line so that the float sits how we want it to sit. Any addition or subtraction to the shot should all be done at the bulk shot area. Any added bigger shot will be placed tight above the bulk shot and any added smaller shot will be placed tight below the bulk-shot.
Remove the dust shot, cast in, the line will slide through the swivel in the base of the float until the stopknot reaches it. If the float settles to how you tested it when it was locked by the dust shot, it means the telltale shot is suspended and not resting on the bottom. We are actually using the BB telltale shot as a plummet. Retrieve the tackle and slide the stop-knot 15 inches up the line (deeper) and re-cast. Repeat this until more float than should be is protruding, proving we have now put the telltale shot on the bottom.
We now need to shallow the tackle off by sliding the knot back down towards the float by seven and a half inches. Our ultimate aim is to get the bb telltale shot 2 to 3 inches off the bottom./ If a fish picks the bait up and swims off with it, the float will go under. Deep bodied fish like bream often stand on their head to feed, they such the bait in and than level off which lifts the BB telltale shot and the float will rise out of the water by the equivalent
Tying the stop-knot is quite simple. The mainline I would recommend is 3.5lb Shakespeare Targa and, for the stop-knot, a nine-inch piece of 4.5lb. (It's bristlier when the knot is finished). Fold the nine inch piece of 4.5lb into a horseshoe and lay that on the main-line so that your left hand hods both the horseshoe and the main-line. With your right hand, hold one of the two legs of the horseshoe and go around the other leg and the main-line three and a half times and then though the loop that you are holding in your left hand. It's as simple as that. Pull the two ends so that it just tightens it onto the line and slide it down until you have the right depth. When you have the right depth, then you can tighten the knot and cut the legs off to about 3/4 of an inch long. Then tie a second knot alongside it! As in engineering we use a locking nut to stop another nut from coming off, so we use a second knot to stop the first from slipping. A knot next to a knot stops the thing from moving.
To recap: To get the depth we use the BB telltale shot as a plummet. Cast out the float to the desired area where you are to fish. If the float sets to how you shotted it, it means that the telltale shot is not on the bottom and is pulling down on the float. Slide the stop-knot up the line until the float is set 15ins deeper and recast. If the float settles to the same position then do it again, another 15 inches. Keep doing this until the float shows that the BB is laying on the bottom and the float is showing a good half inch or so more. Now. Shallow the knot off. The ultimate aim is to get that BB about 3 inches off the bottom, it could be six or five inches but the important thing is that it is pulling down on the float, so you will end up with a foot of line lying on the bottom. Get it like that and you are set up.
Put the groundbait in and cast past it. Immerse the rod-tip, wind and sink the line. Targa sinks perfectly. If you are fishing in say 20 feet of water, after you have sunk the line, open the bail arm and peel off about 11 foot of line, the little swivel on the float will allow the line to run straight through. It is loosely connected and will twist and turn to allow the line to run though and give it free passage to allow the bait to get straight down. It really is an exciting and rewarding way to fish.
If you have trouble finding these loaded sliders, call me and I have stocks of them here.
Any queries? Call Ian Heaps at the School of Angling - 01437 541285