Beginners Guide to Pole Rigs.


Jul 15, 2007
Having searched the Internet for information on the basic way to put together a Pole Rig for stillwaters,commercials and rivers and the jargon that is used in the floats,line shot,i have put together my own guide.The amount of posts on Maggotdrowning asking for explanations of pole floats,shotting,line and what hook to use come up quite regularly.So to have it all in one place seemed a good idea.


These come in all shapes and sizes but basically you only need 6 types to cover most of your fishing.

1. Dibber
A short float thats ideal when presenting a bait in shallow water tight to the near or far bank of a commercial lake or canal. Do not use in a river. The fat tip makes the dibber highly visible so they are popular with anglers struggling to see a fine-tipped float. Best fished slightly overdepth with a split shot touching the bottom to anchor the float. Not great in windy conditions as the short stem doesnt stabilise the float.

2. Body-Up
The fat body and distinct shoulders make this a very buoyant float that is suitable for fishing rivers, it rides the current well and allows the angler to hold back the float against the flow to slow down the speed the hookbait goes through the swim.
Make sure the bulk of the weight added to the rig is bunched in the last third of the line to bomb the hookbait to the bottom of the river and stop it getting lifted away by the rivers flow.

3. Round
A popular and versatile float. In the smaller sizes (up to 1gram) it is best used in stillwaters, especially if there is a wind blowing.
The wide, buoyant body and the long stem helps keep the float stable in the water in rough conditions. In the larger sizes (1.5 gram and above) this float can also be used in slow flowing rivers.

4. Pear
An elongated pear-shaped body gives this float some stability in canals and commercial fisheries. The slender shape helps make this a responsive float that efficiently registers bites from shy-biting species like roach, skimmer bream and crucians.
Good for use with maggots, casters and pinkie hookbaits especially at this time of year when bites become more subtle.

5. Body-Down
A more pronounced shape than the pear with a fatter body for greater buoyancy and stability in windy conditions. Best used in swims at least six feet deep and the bulk of the shotting should be placed in the bottom third of the rig.

6. Shallow
A short, small bodied float with a fat cane tip for buoyancy and visibility. Made for presenting hookbaits in the mid-to-upper layers of commercial lakes.



The thin stem poking out of the base of the floats body is called the stem. The weight and buoyancy of the stem effects the behaviour of the float and dictates when they should be used

1. Cane
Similar to nylon - very light and strong. Use for shallow rigs but not in strong winds when the float will get blown around a lot.

2. Wire
Great when fishing in windy conditions. A long, wire stem helps keep the float stable while it also helps cock the float quickly in the water and reduces the amount of shot needed.

3. Carbon
Similar properties to wire stems but they are lighter, this can help if you want to fish a very sensitive rig.

4. Nylon
Very light and strong. Best for up-in-the-water rigs when you want the bait to sink very slowly.



The tip inserted into a pole float is called the bristle. The material each bristle is made from performs a different task, as this guide explains

1. Carbon
Very sensitive because they sink, only the buoyant body keeps the tip above the water. Brittle and easily broken. Great when using small baits for shy-biting species but floats with a carbon tip are difficult to shot up, you must be precise. A thin smear of Vaseline rubbed on the tip can make it slightly more buoyant.

2. Cane
Buoyant, and strong. They are ideal for using with heavier baits, such as meat and corn, as the buoyancy helps to hold up the bait.
The strength is useful when fishing tight to lilies, weed or rushes for big carp, if the float is dragged through the vegetation the tip wont get broken. Thicker tip allows for greater visibility.

3. Nylon
More durable than a carbon stem, slightly buoyant and therefore easier to shot up and use. Available in a variety of thicknesses, the fatter the nylon bristle the more buoyant they are.


That basically covers pole floats.There are thousands of designs,shapes,colours and manufacturers and no hard and fast rules as to how too fish them.These are just the basic types you would use to start you catching.


Monofilament line comes in all diameters,colours and strengths.The important thing to do is Balance the mainline and hook length.You would not for instance use a mainline of 10lb with a 1lb hook length as you would probably "crack off" on the strike/lift.This is a ROUGH GUIDE to line diameters and APPROXIMATE breaking strains.Each maufacturer will have their own and can be found on their relevant websites.

Line Diameter/ Approx Breaking Strain

0.06mm 12oz
0.07mm 1lb 2oz
0.08mm 1lb 12oz
0.09mm 2lb
0.10mm 2lb 6oz
0.11mm 2lb 14oz
0.12mm 3lb 4oz
0.14mm 4lb 12oz
0.16mm 5lb 10oz
0.18mm 6lb 8oz
0.20mm 7lb 12oz
0.22mm 9lb
0.24mm 10lb 4oz
0.26mm 11lb 6oz


This to most people is the most confusing part.Some floats come with numbers on the side i.e

4X12 this is the STYL weight if shotted with styls.Styl weights have been used for decades by some f the world's top anglers. Even today, they are perfect for making a slow falling on the drop shotting, or fine adjustments to delicate rigs.

The markings maybe like this 0.2g is the weight in GRAMMES needed to shot the float.THE RULE OF THUMB IS THAT 0.1g IS EQUAL TO 1 FOOT OF DEPTH SO 0.5g WOULD BE FOR A FLOAT TO BE FISHED IN 5 FEET OF WATER.

The markings may just say 5no 10s this is the weight in SHOT

The most common are the first two.

This is a ROUGH GUIDE to the most common sizes.

float size/weight/shot
3x10 0.10g 2x no 10
4x10 0.15g 3x no 9
4x12 0.2g 5x no10
4x14 0.4g 6x no8
4x16 0.5g 8x no8
4x18 0.75g 3x no3
4x20 1g 4x no3
5x20 1.25g 5x no3
6x20 1.5g 6 no3


As i have said before this is just a rough guide to the weight to shot your floats,trial and error and using them when you are fishing will give you a better idea of what you need to do.


Yet again hook preference is down to the individual and how they fish.We now have a vast array of hooks specifically designed for a certain purpose.We have hooks for maggot,caster,pellet,meat,paste etc...etc..Again it's the BALANCE of the hook to the hookbait.It's no good putting a single maggot on a size 10 hook or trying to put a 8 mm pellet on a size 24.Below is a ROUGH GUIDE to what bait to use on a specific hook size.

Size 26 Bait- joker,bloodworm
Size 24 Bait- joker,bloodworm,squatt
Size 22 Bait- Squatt,bloodworm,pinkie
Size 20 Bait- 2xpinkies,maggot,caster,punched bread,hemp
Size 18 Bait- Maggot,caster,punched bread,redworm,expander pellet,hemp,tares.
Size 16 Bait- 2xmaggot,2xcaster,punched bread,redworm,half a dendrobena,sweetcorn,expander pellet,meat,tares.
Size 14 Bait- Breadflake,3xmaggot,2xsweetcorn,worm(red and dendros),cocktails,expander pellet.
Size 12 Bait- Breadflake,paste,meat,3xsweetcorn,cocktails,pellet.
Size 10 Bait- Paste,meat,bread crust.

This is just a STANDARD list.Some anglers use specific patterns for certain baits and with the advent of banded pellets and mini boilies it is just a case of experimenting on the bank.

I have not mentioned anything about putting the rig together,thats the fun part and only you,through trial and error,and fishing with the rig will know what will work for you.

Most of the information i have borrowed from sources on the 'net including Angling Times,Go-Fishing and some others.I hope this guide helps a few of you out.[:T]
Last edited:


Proud to be a.....
May 26, 2006
Nice one Neptune[:T]

Well, after seeing a few posts on here asking how to make a pole rig from scratch, I thought Id put up this post to give a basic understanding and a rough guide to how simple it can be.

We all start somewhere in our sport, and with many newcomers to the site, and the art of Pole Fishing, understandably, there are a few out there that either havent got the first clue how to go about setting up a rig, or just arent quite sure on the ins and outs of it.

Many people I have come across that are new to Pole Fishing, ask about how I tie a hook on, "Is it done any differently?"


You can use either a standard hooklink, or if you prefer to fish straight through, you can use a very simple way of attaching a hook called the "Hook In The Loop".
Rather than me go through all that on here, take a look at this short video made by MAP's Giles Cochrane:

I think you ll agree, its extremely simple to tie, and very effective.

To show how easy and simple a pole rig can be, here is my guide to a basic, typical commercial fishery type rig.

I would suggest a mainline of around 5 lb, with a hooklink of 4 lb, and a size 14 or 16 hook. This should cover you for most commercial carp you will encounter, and handle fish up to around 7 lb or more, and with a 14 or 16 hook, you can use most larger baits such as corn, meat and pellets.

Please note, I have used over sized hooks, line and float rubbers for ease of illustration[;)]

Step 1

These are the basic items you will need for each rig you make:

2009128125240_step 1.jpg

Your chosen float, your chosen mainline, float silicone (make sure these are tight on the float stem, but also loose enough to alow you to pull the line through aswell), or rubbers, hooks, and a winder to store your rig on once completed.

Step 2

Take your line, and spool off around 6ft and trim off.
(6ft of line should cover you for most commercial venues, and you will more than likely end up cutting some line off to adjust for the swim you are in)

200912813433_step 2.jpg

Cut three peices of silicone (or 3 suitable sized rubbers)
Then push the line downwards through the float eye, threading on the three rubbers below the float. Then push the rubbers onto the float stem and space them out evenly:

200912813555_step 3.jpg

Step 3

Now you have attached the float to the mainline, you need to decide if you are going to be using a hooklink, or wanting to tie a hook direct to the line.

For this guide, Ive used a standard hooklink and attached it via a simple loop to loop (obviously below the float[;)]), as you would with any rod and line set up.

Step 4

Next, you need to create the loop that is needed to attach the completed rig to the pole.
Assuming that you are using a standard connector on your pole, I use a double over hand loop of around 1/2 - 1 inch in length, at the end of the line above the float:

2009128131642_step 4.jpg

Tighten up and trim off the tag end:
2009128131758_step 5.jpg

Well, thats pretty much it[:0]

You ve now made a rig, the only thing left to do now is shot the line to suit the float, but if you are unsure of the shot needed for it, dont worry, you can do it on the bank when you use it.

2009128134151_step 7.jpg

All thats left to do now is put the completed rig onto a winder and stick it in your box until you are ready to use it[^][^]

I like to use what are known as "Slide winders", as these have a sliding hook up on the side of the winder, thus eliminating the need for any rubber winder anchors.

Simply place the hook through the small hole in the winder, and wind the line around the winder, adjusting the float until it sits neatly in the deeper groove of the winder (make sure the body of the float is in the deeper side of the winder, or if the body is sticking out above the winder sides, you could crush it if if anything lays on top of it[;)]), and when you reach the top loop, hook it over the sliding hook up, and pull tight.

2009128134219_step 8.jpg


Once you get to the bank, shot the float, plumb up and adjust the float accordingly to the depth, then if you find you are left with loads of line between float and pole tip, just cut the line at around 8-12" above the float and re tie a double overhand loop, stick on a bit of bait, and you re fishing[:D][:D]

Hopefully thats help a few out and shown them that its NOT difficult to make a pole rig.
Infact, in my experience, simplicity is key.


The shot patterns for pole rigs can vary a lot depending on the float, conditions of the day, depth of water, and also how the fish are feeding a the time.

The way I look at things, again is keeping things quite simple, and as long as you have the float shotted correctly in the first place, then really its just a case of trial and error and seeing which way you position your shot works best on the day.

As a general rule, the way you shot a pole float is not any different to any other float rig. They just tend to be alot lighter, so smaller shot is required.

I also must point out that for 99% of my rigs, I use the Preston Stotz, which are a cylindrical shaped shot, rather than your average rounded shot.
I find these are easier to put on the line, and also to remove and slide up and down the line without damaging your line.

As an example.
Say the swim was 4ft deep.
If my float needed 4X No.8 Stotz, then I would put on 3 No. 8's around halfway down the rig quite close together as the main bulk, and see how the float was sitting. Then to dot the float down to how I wanted it to sit, I would add a number 10 Stotz around halfway between hook and the number 8's. Again, I would test how the float is sitting, and if more shot is required, add another No.10 next to the other No.10.
We all know that pole floats stated shot capacity can be vastly different to reality, just the same as running line floats can.
So you may have to keep adding or taking shot off to get it to sit nicely.

This is normally how I start off, and then its just a case of moving the shot around a little and seeing which way produces the most bites.
After a while, things become second knowledge, and you will soon find a patterns that you become comfortable with.

Distance between Pole tip and Float

Again, this becomes a personal thing, and some anglers prefer to have a longer line between float and tip, where as others will have what seems a very short line.

For a start, and until you get used to holding the pole for long periods at longers lengths, then really, a distance of around 12" should be just about right when starting out on the pole.
As you become more confident with shipping in and out with a pole, you will notice that you wont be bouncing the tip around so much, and then you can start to experiment with different lengths of line, and find how you like to do it[;)]

Things like wind, and flow of the water will mean that you need to experiment with differing lengths of line to suit the day, and I have often ended up with 2ft of line on really windy days, when others seem quite happy with alot less[;)]

Thats the beauty of fishing. There are no hard and fast rules as to how you do things. We each have our own little ways, and thats not a bad thing. We are all continiously learning, and sharing information on how we have been doing things, whether it works or not, is the best way to learn[:T]

Thanks for looking.

Happy rig making[:W]



'Wot's geet Wilf?
Sep 26, 2009
Thanks for taking the touble with that Nemesis,very useful info,I'll put it in the favourites menu.[:T][:T]


Priapism! ladies?
Site Supporter
Aug 12, 2006
Outstanding Nemesis, very usefull. Thankyou very much.[:T]

Steve M

Regular member
Site Supporter
Feb 7, 2003
Hi.......very interesting and very useful. I have made my own sticky of this which I will come back to in times of need. [:T][:T]
Good job and thanks for taking the time to put it together.




Active member
Sep 20, 2009
Great Post Nemesis and the earlier BPP Guide to Pole Rigs is another very good reference work.

I have saved them both as word documents and I am sure I will refer to them frequently.

Again many thanks

Neil ofthe nene

Doing things differently.
Site Supporter
May 4, 2009
I always write the line BS, length and month/year of making on the side of the winder. I use a CD marker pen that can be cleaned off with meths.


Mar 31, 2010
what an excellent post,and the pics of the float rig really sounds complicated when you read up on it but seeing your post has eased my mind.thanks very much[:T]


Regular member
Apr 18, 2005
Nemesis,brilliant! Been pole fishing for approx 3 yrs & this is the most comprehensive guide I've seen. You deserve an OFE - Order of the Fishing Empire! The shotting bit is the really difficult bit for beginners as you feel stupid asking "What does 4 x 10 mean on the float".Well done. Will watch the vid as well Bagpicker.


Jul 12, 2010
Thanks Nemesis for this insite to pole fishing. I have been fishing for years but only started doing more on the pole recently and looking at making my own rigs. Its nice to know what floats I should be using and when... Again a great post


Oct 31, 2005
Excellent guide and very good work. Butdo u have a thumbfingerrule for the length of the hooklength, and do u usually use shotting on the hooklength?


Proud to be a.....
May 26, 2006
Originally posted by Lak

Excellent guide and very good work. Butdo u have a thumbfingerrule for the length of the hooklength, and do u usually use shotting on the hooklength?

When using a hook link, I find around 6-8" is about right for most deeper water swims, but in shallow water, or up to islands I rarely use one, as the water there is normaly under a foot deep, so having say around 18" of line from pole to hook, for me, seems a bit pointless having a hooklink, but its all personal preference really.

Also, I try not to put shot on the hooklength, dunno why, just never been comfortable with it.