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Middle to late Spring has got to be the best time to go out fishing! Everything is awake and all the trees are full of leaves. It really is a magical time of year.

Now the waters are all up in temperature the Carp are a lot more awake, they may even be spawning like they are currently! But after you have let them have their time to do what they need to do it is the perfect time to go and stalk some carp off (or near) the surface.

There are a few tactics you can go with, but free lining a floater or a bunch of maggots has to be my favourite. I am going to run you though some of my go to tactics and a few tips that I have learnt along the way to make your stalking session more enjoyable and maybe even more productive!


There are a lot of choices out there and you may already have your favourite. But try not to swamp yourself down with to much choice! Take a handful of different options max.

Soft hookable floaters are a godsend, I always have a ‘match the hatch’ pot and a white option.

Pop ups are really useful as you can hair rig them on and whittle them down to any shape. This makes them great for durability when you need to cast them a long way. Again, a match the hatch and a high vis option.

Maggots are just great. So versatile and every fish loves them. I always take half a pint when stalking. If the fish are under the surface then 8 of these on a size 7 hook will sink down to the zone.

FLOATERS! you can not go stalking without them! I like to dose mine up with lots of liquid. This liquid from Nash was amazing but is now unfortunately discontinued 🙁 . Obviously used for baiting up, but don’t forget you can also superglue these onto your hook for a very discrete presentation.

I also never leave home without a loaf of brilliant white and a pack of bread bombs. For the opportunist angler these are brilliant!


Preparation is key with tackle. I have large Scope ops Amo pouch full of all my stalking / floater gear. It has everything I need from hooks, line, PVA and controllers. It certainly beats taking all your gear with you!

I take 3 rods with me… two fishing rods and a spod rod. I use a 6ft 2lb Scope paired with a GT4000 for my freelining and up close work. Then I have a 9ft 2.75lb Scope with a GT6000 with a controller on for anything I need to do further out. The spod rod is a Dwarf 10ft Spod rod with a Daiwa Emblem 35 spod reel. I like this set up as it means I do not have to keep chopping and changing for the situation I find myself in. A opportunity may present itself and you have to completely re-rig for it, by which time the fish has gone. I prefer to be set up and ready to go from the car park so I can fish as soon as I hit the bank.

Both of the reels are spooled up with floating line as well. The smaller set up has 10lb on it and the bigger set up has 12lb. This is a real key tip. You must use floating line when floater fishing! Normal mono will sink giving the fish something to spook off but also as it sinks it will pull your hook bait back towards you.

The Spod is always useful if a fishing situation presents itself out in front of you and a catapult isn’t going to cut it. You can get your floaters out in a tight accurate area and keep the fish occupied.

Onto the trusty catapult! 80% of time you will be using this. I always have two with me; A heavier one and a light match style on. Just for different baiting situations.

Probably the most important piece of gear you can take with you.. Polaroids. Without these you will miss 90% of the opportunities in front of you. They are a must-have item.

As you can clearly see below. The difference is huge.

When I have all of my gear ready it all fits like this… My unhooking mat holds everything apart from the bait, so 3 rods, landing net, fish care, terminal tackle, baiting pouch and a bottle of water (stay hydrated kids!) all go in it.

Fishing like this is very mobile. You could cover miles in a day lapping the lake or walking up and down the canal so you need it all to be light and easy to manage. Take the essentials, not the kitchen sink.


The freelining set up is nice and easy to rig as it just really involves a hook. The other set up has a controller float. So it isn’t really very ‘riggy’ but I will show you how I tie up.

Firstly cut about 4mm of silicone tube and slide it onto your line. Then thread the line onto you hook (to tie a Palomar knot).

I use the Flota Claw hooks. My favourite hook pattern of them all. I generally use a 6 or 7 for my freelining, but if the fish are being really shy I will drop down to an 8.

Pass the line back through the eye again so it is on a doubled over section of line. Tie a knot in the doubled over material like so… Then pass the hook through the loop.

Pull the knot down tight. Then trim the tag end. Finally slide the silicone over the eye of the hook to keep it all straight.

I use the same hook and knot for the controller set up. Sometimes I add a hair by using a knotless knot for harder baits like pop ups. I always have a selection of floats in different sizes and I use an XL anti tangle sleeve to keep it all strait. In the water they sit nice and flat and also act as a weight to help set the hook at distance.

I use a yellow hair stop to aid as a visual mark and trim the boilie down to match the free offerings. Make sure you whip the knot on very tight next to the bait so there is no separation and the hook doesn’t hang to low in the water.

The size 7 hook with one hookable floater on will sink.. slowly. With two on it sits perfectly. The bigger durable white hooker hold on really well and quickly vanishes on the take.


In the water both of these options sit really nicely. The white durable hooker leaks of lots of attractants and colour to get that quick bite. Whilst the soft hookers leak off oils similar to the loose feed.

If I am fishing with no controller but want to get out a little further then a PVA mesh bag of floaters nicked on the hook add the extra weight needed and add a few free offerings right by your hookbait. I do this A LOT!

The spod is a fantastic way of getting the bait of there when you need the extra distance. Or if you just want to b

ait up really tightly because of the drift.


These types of areas are perfect for stalking on the surface. Lots of cover for the fish and lots of natural food as well.

The margins should never be over looked as they are usually shallower than the rest of the lake so warm up quicker. Keep quiet and keep your polaroids on!

Its fair to say the main body of the lake is where most of the floater fun happens as you can create your own competitive feeding zone and have multiple hits in a short time. Always try to position yourself with the wind on your back as it will create the best line lay for your set up. Bait short so your loose feed floats over your zone and keeps them in the same area. Fishing with a side wind is a nightmare with floating line as you have to keep correcting it. Sometimes though you cannot pick the swim and wind direction, in which case you just have to work hard to make sure your line lay is good and you keep removing the bows out of it that the wind direction has caused. Also in this situation bait at the extreme side of your swim so the baits drifts past you. Otherwise you just end up baiting the swim next door!

Hopefully there are a few tips there that can help you out, if not I hope it has given you the fire to get out there yourself and catch some fish off the top.

Good luck!



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