Bailey and Tench – Catching Tench on the float

Tench are undoubtedly one of my favourite species.They signify the coming of spring in the fishing calendar and pound for pound they fight as hard as any stillwater fish. In this first of my series on the why’s and where for’s of catching tench I share my approach to tackling them on the float.

Using a float for tench isn’t some old fashioned Crabtree traditional twaddle. There are times it works better than any other method. Equally there are times when it is out of its depth, so to speak.


The perfect use for the float is when you are fishing the first drop off. Most pits have a deep gulley running around much of their perimeter. This might be 10 or more feet deep and you find the shelf dives deeply down only feet from the bank. Tench love following this feature and they love feeding along it. However, bear in mind that if the pit is very heavily fished, they might move further out.

On most occasions I will use as small a float as I can get away with. I am not casting far, five yards at the most, and I am not having to control a float at distance. On the vast majority of the lakes I know 2 BB shot floats will be more than enough. In part, I want the float and shot to land as quietly as possible and secondly I want the tench to feel as little resistance as possible too.

I will use a waggler of one sort or another and I will nearly always put the weight up around the float itself/ I might have a BB-but no more- a foot away from the hook but if I am using a small boilie as bait or something similar in weight I prefer that as my anchor rather than shot. I do not like shot on the line as tench see it and feel more resistance when they pick up a bait. Or rather suck a bait in.

These floats from Ian Lewis at Handmade Floats are the type i will aim to use .

I like to fish with the float 12-18 inches over depth. I don’t use a standard plummet because they make too much disturbance. I just nip an SSG onto the line by the hook and that will sink the smaller floats I am using. I like the line then to be quite slack from float to hook as  a tench won’t be too spooked by it if it touches it or brushes against it in passing. A tight line feels less like a weed strand and is more threatening perhaps.

I have mentioned using 10mml boilies on very short hairs and size 14 hooks as tench love them and they give casting weight and anchor weight . Other larger baits like lobs work equally well and tench love these. If I am using small baits like corn or maggots I might use a number 6 shot 6 inches up from the float as anchor if the undertow is not too great.A boilie has the advantage of avoiding small fish and you can pretty well leave it till you get a bite. The less casting, the better I feel.

A tench in the upper eights for Tim.

So, you see, I am getting close to free-lining a bait as using a float as an indication. I don’t use the classic laying on method as the pressured tench I fish for don’t like the SSG on the bed and rarely dislodge it. My approach is softly softly catches Tinca and it works. Mostly. If not, I move on and try something else.

Next in the series will be ‘Tench on the feeder’ and ‘Tench watercraft’,which is probably the most important skill of all.

John Bailey