The first thing to get across is that sea float fishing is not any different from freshwater float fishing. Yes, those memories with your dad at your local pond with a bobber, weight, hook, and a worm are the same thing. The basic setup is the same, but the location is different. Like most things float fishing has evolved over time to be just as useful as it was when you were a child.
Sea Float Fishing For Beginners
When you first start fishing a float will most likely be suggested as well as live bait. The reason for this is you won’t have much fun fishing unless you catch a fish. These two things will improve your chances of catching a fish on your first try. When you get more experienced you can move to lures and other techniques. Please don’t feel like a beginner just because you haven’t tried it out at sea before. Everything is new at some point in time.
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Sea Float Fishing Setup
The general setup is with a fishing pole about 7-10 feet long which is medium to heavy action. You will need a saltwater spinning reel that can be used well in saltwater and handle fish up to 100lbs. Your fishing line should be applicable to the type of fish that you are going to catch. A slip bobber is required with the additional stoppers that help you place it a certain distance from the bait and weight.
Now doesn’t this sound super simple? Wait… this is the same stuff except it’s being used in salt water instead of freshwater. In reality, it is just that simple. However, the bobbers, stoppers, and rigs are a bit different to deal with the different types of environments that you will come across.
Saltwater Float Fishing Rigs
The most popular method for float fishing involves several components that are easy to find at your local bait shop. Most of the time you can find these rigs preconstructed just like flounder rigs you find at bait shops near the ocean. Let’s go over what exactly makes up these rigs.
- Stop Knot - This will allow you to manage how deep your bait is going to go. You can tie a stop knot with an extra piece of fishing line or you can use a rubber-based one. If you need to go deep you just pull up the stop knot and the float is allowed to go higher up your line and your bait goes deeper.
- Beads - You will use two plastic beads on either side of the float. I like to do this to protect the float from damage by the weight and to keep it from going over the stop knot.
- Fishing Weight - An egg sinker like weight that is a weight with a hole in the middle is the type you want to use here. You have to use enough weight so that the float stands up straight in the water. If you have light weight it will lay on it side and not present the bait properly and not allow you to see bites well either.
- Swivel - It is best to use a strong long up to the point of the swivel. Then for the line that has the hook you use either whatever it came with like a snell hook or you a less visible line. This will help to not spook the fish so much. Make sure to use strong knots.
- Hook - You should use the size hook for the fish you are trying to catch. Smaller hooks can be used for fish with small mouths that are delicate and bigger circle hooks can be used for larger fish that may have sharp teeth or molars for crushing shellfish.
How Do You Attach A Float?
Putting a float on your rod is rather simple and I basically explained it directly above this section. Floats are just like egg sinkers and have a hole in the middle of them. Bobbers used for freshwater fishing made you wrap the fishing line around it and you had to clamp it down with metal. This damages your fishing line and will indefinitely cause problems later. This is the reason that floats are more widely used today.
Sea Float Fishing Rod
The best sea float fishing rod that you should use is probably something you already have. You probably thought I was going to suggest something special, didn’t you… Nope, what you use for saltwater fishing should be good enough. As long as it is long 7ft+ and it sturdy enough for the type of fish you want to catch you shouldn’t have a problem.
Sea Float Fishing Bait
Just like your fishing rod your bait is up to the type of fish you are going after. You can put anything on the hook as long as it is something that the fish naturally eats. It can be live minnows or sand worms. You can use cut bait or even artificial lures like “Fish Bites” that replicate many saltwater baits.
Please don’t limit yourself to thinking that you have to use one thing to catch saltwater fish when using a float fishing rig. You are just allowing the fish to see your bait better. Not every fish lives on the bottom of the ocean. Many fish roam a certain column and will never see your bait. I bet if you go try this now you will start catching different fish than you were before!
What Is The Best Bait For Float Fishing?
Since you asked the question about what the best float fishing bait is I guess I can answer it. For saltwater fishing, when you go to the pier there is one bait that is almost always sold out. No it is not the menhaden that those Kingfish people are throwing out at the end. It’s the bait that catches the most fish. That piece of bait is SHRIMP!
Yes, those crescent moon shaped crustaceans at your local store. You will save money by just going to your local supermarket and get raw shrimp in the shell and fishing with them. You can use them whole or cut them up. It doesn’t matter. Almost all fish love shrimp. Right after this local crab is the next best thing. I used these two baits almost exclusively during my younger life and I caught massive fish with not much experience!
Float Fishing Techniques
In reality there are not many real float fishing techniques out there. You simply can’t modify this rig too much otherwise you would be doing a completely different thing. One of the ways to change things is by manipulating where the weight located. Some people use multiple and different sized weights. The reason for this is the TIDE!
When the tide comes in and starts ripping you want your bait to stay down and sometimes a single weight isn’t going to do it. Adding multiple weights that have stop knots or swivels between them will weigh the whole line down underwater and keep the bait where it should be… in front of your next personal best fish!
The other technique depends on where you are using the float. If you are fishing from shore you will need to deal with waves and rocks. If you are on a pier you have to deal with pilings and sunken structures that were made to attract fish to the pier. If you are on a boat you don’t have to worry about much except staying on top of the fish and not being pushed around. This will require that you know how to put your bait right in front of the fish instead of having it too high or too low and dragging the ground and getting an unwanted snag.
Float Fishing From The Beach
Like I just stated you can float fish from the beach. I have seen plenty of surf fishermen doing this. Some will do balloon rigs and others will use a drone to drop it out there. I mostly see this with shark fishing because sometimes a shark will swim toward you after eating and you don’t want it to swallow the bait.
What you have to watch out for it when the float gets to close the waves. You will have the float set pretty high and it should be floating just above the sand. This will have it blowing around naturally like a seaworm, crab, or shrimp that has lost its protection. Every fish like an easy meal and you will be providing one!
Be careful with casting because if you did not do your stop knot well you could cause it to fail and then you just have a fancy bottom rig. Of course, you will notice this when your bottom is not in the right position.
Sea Float Fishing At Night
This kind of fishing can be… a ton of fun. If you know about squid lights then you know they like green and blue lights and are attracted to them. You can take this from other baitfish that like the light as well. That is why you will also see a baitfish when at the pier. Just beyond the light is where the predators will be lurking.
You can take advantage of this by using a green or blue float light. This will light up your float so that you can see it. It will not scare the fish but do the exact opposite thing. You may notice that fishing is better with this than without a light.
Always be safe when it comes to the ocean and tides at night. If you are large shallow flights during low tide it can be incredible the amount of distance water can travel to fill up an area and trap you. When the slack tide is over you should run for the hills back to the safety of the shore or fish from a kayak and bring it along.
Bubble Float Sea Fishing
A bubble float is exactly that… a bubble. However, let me explain it a bit further. It is an egg-shaped bobber that gets filled with water and a bubble of air gets trapped in it. This allows it to naturally stay about halfway underwater. This is exactly where you want your float to be positioned and it happens naturally isn’t that cool. The rest of the float fishing rig is exactly the same.
It has a hole in the middle of it just like a cigar float and it can use stoppers and weights as well. Some people use bubble floats in different ways though. You will even find people using it with a fly tied lure with no weights or stoppers. It keeps a wet fly at the right depth and since it can be a clear bubble filled with water… it is virtually invisible!
Do You Need A Float For Sea Fishing?
Obviously, you don’t need a float to go fishing in the sea. I have use bottom rigs successfully for many species of fish like flounder, cod, scup, etc… However, you will find that you are missing out on a lot of fish that want to eat the same bait just because you are not offering it to them.
I know that fishing in a jetty can be a pain if your bait is floating by, but doesn’t that mean you are working a larger area of water and give fish more time to see it. It is like a crankbait or spinnerbait in bass tournaments. They are used almost exclusively to find where the fish are located so they can learn how to catch more and bigger bass.
Can You Float Fish With A Hair Rig?
Funny enough, I just mentioned how you can use a bubble float with a hair rig without the weights. You can substitute a lure with a natural bait if you so desire. One place this is done alot is with crappie fishing. If you have seen umbrella rigs of 10+ rods set up to catch a slab of crappie for dinner you know what I am talking about.
Sea Float Fishing For Mackerel
Float fishing is very popular when it comes to catching mackerel. Some people will eat these fish while many others will use them for bait. It is suggested that you use multiple hooks with your float system when doing this. You will want to use a lure that mimics a sandeel or use sandeel itself. I believe Fish Bites has a version for this that would work great.
You will find that when the tide is coming in you will have the best luck from shore. I do a lot of shore fishing and you have to do things a bit differently to make things happen. If you are on a boat you will be looking for the large schools just like the seagulls do. When you see some action you can get in there and catch baitfish and catch the bigger predator fish as well. Double the fun!
Float Fishing For Bass
Freshwater float or slip bobber fishing can be a bit different than fishing in the sea. You don’t have to deal with tides very much and too many obstructions. You are for the most part just throwing your bait in a pool of water and waiting. However, is it really that simple?
When it comes to bass you still have to know where they are located in the water column. Bass are known for roaming, but in general you will find them in certain areas at certain levels. Most of this has to deal with getting the right amount of oxygen and ambushing forage. If you know where these locations are you can pinpoint your bait in the exact spot to get bites and really have a great day!
You will find that you have a lot of success with live baits like minnows and worms. You could even have your setup to go just above rocks with a fat crayfish and the fish will love it because it can’t escape, but will look like it is trying.