My pole rigs
For Commercial style stillwater venues

Do you struggle to choose the right float for your pole fishing?

Preston ace Lee Kerry tells you everything you need to know about choosing the correct pole float. Some really useful tips here to help you choose the best pole float for your fishing.

I tend to favour Nick Gilbert pole floats coupled with Guru line, Preston stotz's and Guru Ready Rigs for my hook lengths hooks. (I don't tie my own these days the pre-tied options on the market are now excellent have made tying my own redundant)  

Floats are not just a markers, you need to know the differences between Carbon, Glass and Wire stems. Tip diameter and body shape coupled with the correct shotting pattern for that style of pole float your using to target Carp, Silvers or F1's

These days I fish generally on Carp and F1 venues, some canals and the odd river. These are the rigs that I make up myself. Success on matches means hours of preparation. I carry all the rigs that I may need in my seatbox with plenty of spares. You will not find any spools of line and packets of hooks in my seatbox. In a match you can not afford to be tying up rigs and hook lenghts during the match. You need to be fishing all the time and this is one of the difference's to being successful or not in a match.


I try to keep my pole rigs simple but effective. Generally being heavy summer bagging rigs, Summer F1, winter carp/F1 rigs and Silver fish rigs. My rig lengths vary and I use the general rule of 0.1g of weight for my pole floats for every foot of water I am fishing in. Main line and hook choice is also important as are the shotting patterns that I use. In recent years the standard of pre-tied hook lengths available on the market has made tying your own hook lengths redundant and I now use Guru Ready Rigs for my pole lengths. Read more on these HERE

All my pole rigs use floats made by Nick Gilbert. I have no association with Nick, I just believe his floats are built to last, strong and supply is easy from his website giving me an better value over the general mass produced floats you buy in tackle shops which don't that last long. You can visit Nick's website by clicking HERE 

Summer Carp rigs (Meat,corn,worm)  

bottom rigs 

My choice for summer on the deck bagging with heavy baits like meat are Nick Gilbert XT Decker HD pole floats 

This float is built to be TOUGH. The body is made of a hard high density foam that will never take on water even in the unlikely event of the paint getting damaged. It is fitted with the new type of spring eye that totally encloses the line. The stem is 1mm glass going well into the 1.7mm diameter, 35mm long hollow plastic tip. The combination of heavy glass stem, long tip, rounded diamond body gives this float unrivaled stability, making it the ultimate on the deck carp bagging float. These are virtually unbreakable in normal use. 

Guru LWG Ready Rig
Guru LWG Ready Rig

I tie these pole floats up on 0.17mm Guru N-Gauge main line, not just because its strong but also I like its stretch factor. I use a 6 inch Guru size 14 LWG Ready Rig when I'm fishing for Carp with meat or corn.

I use a small bulk of Preston stotz's using no.8, no.9 or no.10's depending on the weight of the float. There is no need for small dropper shot if fishing with meat or corn as the bulk is only 6 inches from the hook the rig is very positive. The weight of the bait means it sinks quickly and nails the bait to the bottom.

I generally start fishing 2 inches over depth. If there is a tow on the water the rig stays still. This rig allows you to fish with strong elastic's up to size 18. An ultimate summer bagging rig.  

Summer Carp Pellet rigs 

For Summer hard pellet Carp fishing in good conditions I favour Nick Gilbert's XT Finesse Power, pole floats as these have a slim hard foam body with a 2mm diameter hollow tip, spring eye on a 1mm glass stem. with a durable metallic black paint, These floats are virtual unbreakable for big weight carp fishing! 

Guru SLWG Ready Rig
Guru SLWG Ready Rig

I fish these on 0.17mm Guru N-Gauge mainline with a bulk of no.8 or no.9 Preston stotz's 18 inches from the hook length with 2 smaller no.10 dropper. Under this I use a size 14 0.15mm Guru SLWG banded Ready Rig.  Elastic choice is generally for open water Grey or Black Hydro to Purple Hydro if the water is very shallow with lillys and reed beds nearby.  

Margin rigs 

You can't ignore the margins in the summer months. You can come from last in the match to winning it in the last hour fishing the margins. I use Nick Gilbert, XT Edger Slim HD margin floats.

These floats are designed for fishing big baits down the margins or far side of snake lakes, fitted with a new type of spring eye and is virtually unbreakable.The 1mm glass stem is glued into a 2mm or 2.5mm hollow plastic bristle.

Guru XS Carp Ready Rig
Guru XS Carp Ready Rig

I generally use this float with 0.19mm Guru N-Gauge mainline with size 14 0.17mm Guru XS Carp Ready Rig. Elastics range from Red Hydro if big fish are expected or Black Hydro.

The slim HD foam body will pull through most snags or reeds and remain intact. The smaller sizes are perfect for fishing along the mud line. 

 Short pole line (meat/corn)

I look for a strong pole float with a 2mm Hollow tip with a strong spring eye and a short glass stem. XT Mini Diamonds are the pole float I turn to. 

Summer short meat pole line fishing needs a strong short stable pole float and the Nick Gilbert NG XT Mini Diamond pole float is my 1st choice. A short balsa bodied float fitted with a 25mm long 2mm hollow tip and 1mm glass stem. Being only 125-130mm long this float is ideal for fishing in short shallow pole lines.

Guru LWG Ready Rig
Guru LWG Ready Rig

I tie this rig up with 0.17mm Guru N-Gauge mainline with a small bulk of no. 8 or no. 9 Preston Stotz's above a size 14 or 16 Guru LWG Ready Rig I tend to use elastics from 12-16 

Far bank mud line (snake lakes)

On snake lakes this rig allows you to fish tight to the mud line up on the shelf, sometimes in only inches of water. I favour a Nick Gilbert NG XT Inline Gandhi pole float that's perfect for the far side of Snake Lakes and tight to islands in shallow water, and allows you to fish larger summer baits. As this can be close to far bank vegetation and under hanging brambles

 I use 0.17mm Guru N-Gauge main line with a small bulk of Preston Stotz's to a size 14 Guru SLWG Banned Ready Rig. This float cocks straight away. With this style of fishing its better with a lighter elastic and Black Hydro suits me best in the summer months. 

Shallow Rigs 

I use Nick Gilbert NG XT inline Dibber floats for my shallow fishing because these floats eliminate wrap overs when shipping in and out. This float is perfect for fishing 4-12mm pellets shallow. It is virtually unbreakable with a dense balsa body. Built with a 0.8mm glass stem. I use this pole float for Carp and F1 shallow fishing on 0.17mm Guru N-Gauge mainline. Carp shallow rigs are generally 2-3 foot deep but if F1's are expected then I would have two set up at different depths between 2 foot and 6 inchs as F1 can move up and down the water column in the summer months.  

Hook lengths are Guru SLWG Banded Ready rigs. However I cut these 6 inch rigs down to 4 inches. the hook size's range from 20's to 14 depending on bait and expected fish size.

Spring and Summer F1 rigs (pellets)

F1 fishing requires sensitive floats with 1.5mm or 1.2mm tips

F1's can move up and down in the water during a match so I always have rigs set up and different depths. 

Guru F1 Pellet Ready Rig
Guru F1 Pellet Ready Rig

For Spring and summer F1 fishing with pellets I favour these Nick Gilbert XT Jordans because I want a short pole float with a wire stem designed for F1 fishing, This float is built with a short 21mm long, 1.5mm diameter hollow tip and heavy 0.6mm wire stem so the float is fishing straight away. I use 0.15mm Guru N-Gauge mainline with no.10 shot. The shot is a loosely strung out bulk starting at the hook length at 1 inch gaps. Hook lengths are 0.13mm - 0.11mm Guru SLWG Banned Ready Rigs for hard pellets or 18/20 sizes of Guru F1 Pellet Ready Rigs if fishing with soft pellets.  

Guru SLWG Ready Rig
Guru SLWG Ready Rig

Winter F1 and carp maggot rigs 

bottom rigs 

F1 and winter carp require very sentive floats and these Nick Gilbert NG XT Finesse Carbon HD (spring eye) floats are my first choice. These are a superb winter float. They are built with a 0.6mm carbon stem going all the way through the high density foam body into a 1.2mm hollow tip. The spring eye totally encloses the line so you can fish light without fear of line damage. Perfect for baits like maggots. They are designed to get maximum shot for the float size giving unrivaled sensitivity with a slim body. This float can be fished with a bulk shot or strung out fishing on the drop. I use tapered strung out no. 10's from the hook length. These float are designed for silverfish/F1's but with the spring eye and tough construction are suitable for winter carp.

Guru F1 Pellet Ready Rig
Guru F1 Pellet Ready Rig

F1 fishing requires softer elastic's to be used so a hooked fish swims out of the shoal and doesn't disturb other fish in the swim. So a balanced rig using the floats above are best. I use 0.15mm Guru N-Gauge mainline and 0.13mm or 0.11mm 6 inch Guru F1 Pellet Ready Rigs. Elastic's are white hydro (6-10) or Orange F1 Hydro (4-8) set on in a short stop kit.  

Float size again depends on the depth of water and I use the general rule of 0.1g for every foot of water. For these shy biting F1's generally a tapered strung out shotting pattern of no.10 shot is best with 1.5cm gaps nearer the hook and 1.0cm gaps further up the rig, this allows a more natural fall of the bait which will slow down in the bottom layers of the water. Some times hooking the maggot through the side is a killer tactic as this slows the fall of the bait through the water layers.

I sometimes fish a heavy Summer Carp rig in the winter during my matches, if you think this is a little strange you should read about my views on line diameters and winter carp fishing. read it HERE

Silver fish rigs

My choice for silver fish work are Nick Gilbert NG XT Finesse Carbon HD (side eye) pole floats.These are a superb winter silverfish float. They are built with a 0.6mm carbon stem going all the way through the high density foam body into a 1.2mm hollow tip. Perfect for baits like soft pellet, maggot and corn. They are designed to get maximum shot for the float size giving unrivaled sensitivity with a slim body. This float can be fished with a bulk shot or strung out fishing on the drop. These are designed for silverfish/winter F1's if you are fishing for carp I would recommend the spring eyed model.

Silver fish fishing means light lines, hooks and light elastic's where a use a no.4 and no.6 elastics, with small shots going down to no.11's and 12's Main line choice is 0.13mm Guru N-Gauge with 6 inch hook lengths of Silstar Matchteam 0.10mm, 0.08mm and even 0.06mm using spade end B611 and B510 barbless hooks in sizes 18 to 24. Again I work on a 0.1g for every foot of water. However on some canals where there is a lot of boat traffic using a heavy float is better as this combats the water flow when the water is moving because of the locks opening. 

Shotting patterns

These vary and these floats can be fishing with either strung out shot or a small bulk with a few dropper shot but generally I try to fish a light as I can so the bait sinks slowly and more naturally. The most important thing is to have the float dotted right down and sometimes a little bristle grease it required to set the float correctly. This is really important in the winter months when the feeding fish will hardly move the float. Sometimes the float will only more sideways and not dip down. When fishing a bulk I have it 18 inches from the hook with three very small no.11 droppers spaced at 6 inch intervals, the last dropper being just above the hook length loop. 

I will normally start to fish an inch over depth but as the match goes on you have to experiment and change this if no bites are happening. If you have not had a bite for a while do some thing different with the rig or your feeding. There is no point just sitting there waiting for a bite and I have had countless times when a small change results in a bite.