During the summer months, surface fishing with floating baits can be a devastating method for catching Carp and for many anglers there is nothing better than catching a fish ‘off the top’. The pure visual nature of watching your bait be taken by a huge pair of lips is something that really gets your heart pumping, much more than waiting for the shrill of an alarm. Nonetheless, surface fishing can be tricky at times, so here are a few choice tips to help you be a little more proficient in the art of surface fishing combat.
1). Encourage a Feeding Frenzy with Bait
As with so much fishing, the key is feeding. If you feed correctly the fish will be hoovering up everything without caution. For this reason it is important to keep that bait going in otherwise fish will grow bored and just swim off. Regular feeding with small amounts of bait makes them much more catchable, as they’ve somewhat thrown caution to the wind in a competitive feeding frenzy. The key to achieving this is to have your rod rigged up and ready to go, but to spend time feeding little and often until more and more fish start taking your surface baits. Keep this going until fish are taking regularly, and baits aren’t being let abandoned on the surface for ages.
Get the fish feeding before casting your hookbait is a must. Building up confidence in your swim so more fish trust the food being given before tricking them into taking the hookbait. When the fish are practically waiting for your bait to land in their mouth, then it's time to cast in. Simply cast over the group of feeding fish, and draw your floating hookbait right into the feeding frenzy.
2). Riding Your Line and End Tackle High
Surface fishing means that the carp are quite near to the top of the water and so they can become quick picky in the way that they feed. Always ensure that your mainline and hook length float. If either sinks, then this will cause the hookbaits and overall presentation to look alien to the fish, causing them to spook.
Try using a zig line or a float line as these floating lines can be enhanced with some vaseline rubbed along the hook line to ensure the last 1m of your hook line floats so that the carp are not spooked by the bow of a line. You can also choose a designated float fishing mainline and hooklength, and then apply a floatant, such as Gink. This ensures that your line is floating on the surface, and everything is primed for a take.
3). Encourage Self Hooking
Sometimes when you are surface fishing you can end up striking and missing the fish, especially if you are free lining and the fish aren’t feeding aggressively. This can be resolved by using a bolt style controller float which creates resistance on the take, setting the hook for you without the need for stroking. These awesome pieces of tackle are so good you can even leave your rod on the floor with the bait runner on or clutch loose, and then concentrate on feeding. when you get a take the fish hooks itself and you simply pick up the rod and play the fish in. Experiment with the length of line from the float to the hookbait, as this can need changing depending on how the fish are feeding off the top from day-to-day. As a rule the fussier the fish the longer this length needs to be.
4). What Bait is Best for Surface Fishing?
When it comes to surface fishing you want anything buoyant and the ability to float looking good for the fish. Floating pellets are heavily suggested by many anglers but you tend to use 3 kilos or more on a session so be sure to stock up! Alternatively, you could try bread or a boilie on the hair.
Don’t just feed one size of floating bait. Use small pellets, dog biscuits and cat biscuits, all of which are different sizes and buoyancies. This, just like fishing on the bottom, gives a greater variety of options for the fish, and also ensures they can't grow wary of one specific type of bait that may contain a hook. The same goes for your hookbaits; try a piece of trimmed cork, a popup boilie, or even a fake, everlasting dog biscuit imitation bait. The key is to not be predictable. Also apply oil to your baits; this will help create a slick that will ensure there's no ripple to disrupt your vision of your hookbaits, and it also adds attraction.
5). Try Something Different
If fish do not seem interested in your bait, try changing for a bigger hook buried into the boilie or bait of choice so it is more discreet and hidden to the fish. You can also try changing the shape of the classic rounded boilies by scraping off the sides to make a more dog biscuit shaped bait.
If you want to catch multiple fish on the surface, try fishing two over depth zigs side by side, and feeding your floating bait on top of them. Set your zig over depth by two inches and keep feeding over the top of them. You’ll keep your hookbaits in the correct area and you’ll find that you will get double-takes, and be able to catch more fish with less casting and disturbance than you would have with traditional floater fishing tactics.
Overall, take advantage of the weather and increased daylight hours, get out there, and give surface fishing a go. You won’t be disappointed. As anglers, we also advise protecting yourself in the sunlight. You spend the majority of your time surface fishing watching your hook bait, watching your controllers so you want to be able to see exactly what is going on without shadows or glare from the sun causing issues. A pair of polarized glasses are a must. For more summer fishing essentials, check the latest tips on our blog.
You can also find more tips for surface fishing in the video below.