When the sun is out, summer surface floater fishing comes into play.

Floater fishing can be one of the most exciting forms of fishing but takes a bit of practice to get the hang of.

By following these tips, you will not only catch more fish, you will be exposed to an adrenaline packed style of fishing.

Surface floater fishing can get frustrating at times, not only because you can see the fish so close to your rigs and then turn away, but also due to other occupants of the lakes, mainly birds.

Feed off the Birds First

Birdlife can kill the excitement for many anglers when they start stealing the loose feed meant for the sunbathing fish.

Not only is it a waste of money for the birds to be taking your bait and the gulls flying over everytime your bait hits the water, it can make catching carp from the surface virtually impossible.

Not only that, it is dangerous for the birds if they find your hook bait and swallow your hook. Now, the angler has a hooked bird to deal with.

Because of this, some anglers don’t even bother with surface fishing, instead, they waste the day fishing on the bottom, even though the fish are sunbathing in the upper layers.

To combat the birds, you need to feed them off first, then focus on getting the attention of the fish.

Obviously, you will want to feed off the birds as cheaply as possible. You are going to need a trolley load of cheap bread and a budget dog biscuit.

Stocking up on discounted bread the night before from the supermarket is a very cheap option of feeding off the birds.

If you are able to visit the lake the day before, you will get an indication of how many birds are present on the lake, which will make it easier for you to judge how much bread and dog biscuits you are going to need.

How to Feed Them Off

Try and keep them away from your swim as they will spook the fish.

If you can see that the fish are clearly on the top of the water sunbathing, then you may decide to start feeding off the birds.

To do this, find a quiet corner away from other anglers and away from your swim to fill the birds up.

Once you start feeding some of the birds, the rest will follow.

Keep feeding them and eventually, they will flock back to the trees for a nap and the swans will fall asleep on the lake.

Seagulls are more problematic as they swoop down, so it can take a while to feed them off. It always seems like they wake up all of the other birds too because once one starts flying around and swooping, a whole load of birds follows.

This is time-consuming and it is frustrating that anglers have to go through this process, but it will make catching the fish from the surface a lot easier.

It will also prevent the birds from scaring off the fish in your swim.

If the birds come back when you are surface fishing, go back to the quiet corner and carry on feeding off the birds.

Although once you can get the fish confidently feeding on the bait, it is likely they will scare the birds off when they are competing for the bait.

Get the Fish Competing for the Bait

You must resist putting a rig in the water until you have got the fish competing for the floating bait.

Waiting until the time is right is one of the most important things to keep in mind when you are surface fishing. If you don’t wait, you will most likely spook the fish and ruin your chances of catching fish off the top.

Fishing off the top can be a lot more tricky than ledger fishing, especially when they aren’t interested in the bait because the weather is too hot. If you can get the fish feeding, keep feeding them until there are a lot of fish taking the bait boldly. Sometimes, it can take hours for them to start feeding confidently.

Don’t rush, take your time and enjoy the process.

Once the fish start to get confident, they will start to get more bullish and fighting for the bait whilst competing, they will start snatching at the bait.

When they are doing this, without knowing it, they are taking more risk as they aren’t mouthing and checking the bait like they normally would. But, they only do this when there are other fish competing. This is when your chances of catching them increases.

Don’t be surprised if it takes you a few hours to get them fighting, I’ve spent half a day feeding fish before even thinking about casting out my rig, and it was worth every last bit of patience and effort.

Mix it up

Many anglers will use dog biscuit when surface fishing, which is great to start, but they take on a lot of water very quickly.

I like to use floating pellets and I sometimes use bright boilies, but the main thing I do is mix it up with different sizes and different types of bait.

Pellets leak out a good amount of attraction and get the fish really excited, which gets them competing quicker.

Everyone I know use large baits when surface floater fishing for carp, but they are minimizing the potential of their sessions.

By using 3mm, 6mm and 11mm baits, with lots of smaller pellet for the fish to fight over, the fish have more work to do to eat the food, giving you more over a chance of hooking one.

Using smaller baits have caught me a lot more fish.

To add to the attraction, I put a capful of fish oil to my bucket of floating baits, which puts a nice slick on the water to make it really obvious to the fish that there is quality food up for grabs.

The slick literally draws them over from a long way away and once they see other fish grabbing the food, it gets them in fight mode too.

Get Your End Tackle Right

Try and use the smallest hook and the thinnest line you can get away with.

A size 10 hook and .30 diameter line is a good starting point, but if there are no risks of getting snagged up you could potentially decrease the size of your hook to a size 12 with .25 line.

This rule is true not only with floater fishing but with other styles of fishing and other rigs too.

The lighter tackle tends to get more bites if you can risk it.

You must always ensure that your hooks are as sharp as they possibly can be. I use Korum hooks because they are as sharp as syringes! Try putting one in your finger if you don’t believe me.

Due to having to set the hook yourself, getting the hook point into the lip cleanly and quickly is the key, and a sharp hook will help you achieve this.

Don’t Be Scared of Bright Hookbaits

It can be very difficult to distinguish between the freebies and your hookbait if you are using only one type of bait.

You might be watching that hook bait for a long time, and when you take your eye away for the hookbait for even a split second, you may end up watching the wrong one.

Don’t be scared to use a bright pop-up as a hookbait to make your life easier.

White and yellow is good to use when it is overcast, black baits and darker baits are good to use when it is very bright and sunny.

Also, with pop-ups, you can trim down the edges to make it look different to other hookbaits that may make the fish weary of taking it.

It’s more than likely that you have a few different colors and sizes kicking around in your bag so don’t be afraid to chop and change to see what works.

When it comes to hooking the bait, tying a hair rig with a really small hair, to keep the bait tight to the rig is the easiest option. Other options include bait bands, gluing the bait to the hook and even hooking the hook through the bait itself. Whichever method you use will depend on the type of bait you are using, so experiment and try different methods until the hook and bait sits naturally in the water.

Sometimes, the smaller the hookbait, the better and more of a chance of hooking into a carp.

Surface Floater Fishing for Carp at Range

The majority of floater fishing is at short range, somewhere between an undercast to thirty yards is the norm.

But you are missing out if you aren’t floater fishing at range.

Up until a few years ago, it was very difficult to fish at range because the controller floats simply just weren’t heavy enough.

But now, it’s possible to get to decent distances with the heavier Korda long distance controller floats and similar heavy floats.

The fish are rarely caught on the surface at range because not many anglers bother, but you will find that the further out you fish, the more confident they will be at feeding because they will think they are safe there, having never been caught at that distance off the top.

Getting free baits out at range is a little more tricky though, so you will need to rig up a spod or spomb and send the baits out in that.

Be sure the check which way the wind is blowing. If it is blowing right to left, spod your baits off to the right of where the fish are and let the wind push the bait onto their nose, this way you won’t spook the fish as much when you are baiting up.

Surface controller floats can be bought in lighter weights and heavier weights, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have the different sizes in your tackle box. You want to use the lightest controller float you can get away with, but being able to still be able to cast to the fish.

Having each option available when you need it, will get your floating baits out to the fish, even when others can’t get there.

How To Fish With Bread for Carp

Not many people think about using bread in this day and age, mainly due to the amazing marketing efforts by the manufacturers, but you will be surprised as to how well bread works if you give it a go.

Most anglers just wouldn’t bother trying it as it isn’t as sexy as highly technologically advanced boilies.

The truth is that bread will catch almost every species of fish in most lakes and always will.

Not only that, it’s a very cheap way to get a quick bite.

All the way from tiny fish, to huge carp, the majority of fish will fall for bread.

Don’t just take my word for it, just watch the match anglers and look at the bait they use.

Match anglers regularly use bread that has been ground down into bread crumb and push it into a cage feeder to attract carp. But, it can also be used to attract the fish on top of the water too.

Catching carp with bread can sometimes be a challenge, trying to keep bread on the hook is one of the trickiest parts.

When bread gets wet, it will come off of the hook very easily. This is why I prefer to use a harder hook bait or a pellet when surface fishing. But, if you get the hang of it and manage to keep the bread on the hook, bread can set your swim on fire. Especially if you can feed off the birds and get the fish taking the bread.

Best Line for Surface Carp Fishing

Using braided mainline is what the pro’s do, so why shouldn’t you.

By using mainline, you set the hook a lot quicker because there is no stretch with braid.

It can take some getting used to, and some lakes won’t allow it, but if you can use it, give it a go.

Cast Past the Fish

One of the biggest mistakes anglers make when surface fishing, is spodding and casting the controller float directly at the fish.

Don’t do this! Instead, cast past the fish on the surface and draw the rig bag into the fish by reeling in.

You could also use the wind to blow the rig into the fish by casting to the left or the right of the fish.

Best Hooks for Floater Fishing

I always start with a size 10 mixa B hook from Korda to start with, but if I can get away with it, I will try smaller hooks.

As always, try to match the hook size to the hook bait, but also choose a strong enough hook to make sure it doesn’t bend while playing the fish.

Surface Fishing for Carp Rigs

When it comes to rigs, surface fishing are very simple.

No floats except the surface controller float, a 6ft floating line (a little bit of vaseline will help it float), and the hook tied to the line, with a bait tied very close to the hook.

As mentioned earlier, you could also try gluing the bait to the hook, or bait bands which can also be an effective method of connecting the bait to the hook.



I have made a lot of mistakes during my fishing sessions and don’t want you to make the same mistakes. I’ve learned the hard way over 20 years of fishing most weekends, testing, tweaking, and testing again and now want to help you excel with your carp fishing.

If you need any help, you can reach me at Fishing Again’s Facebook page

Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Shane