I found that when float fishing near to piers and rocks, you will almost always lose floats. The cost of a float is not a lot but alternatives to a shop-bought rig cost a few pence to make and, as it turned out, are more versatile. I quite often want to change from float fishing to bottom fishing and the rig shown allows this change to be made in seconds; unclip the float and put back in your tackle box, unclip the weight and re-clip to the snap swivel you have taken the float from and you have a simple running ledger. The float is made from one of the two foam packing pieces that comes with a cd-rom drive box. You can make four floats from one cd-rom packing kit, scrounge some from your local computer shop or passing techie geek. Use a sharp knife to cut off the two ends of the rectangle to give two pieces of foam the same length as the width of the cd drive, carve to an octagonal cross section, round the ends and insert a nylon cable tie, clip up the tie and trim off end. The float you have just made will take a standard one ounce weight. Obviously if you make the float longer and leave it almost square the float will take more weight, up to two ounces. The sequence for tackling up is bead, snap swivel, bead and tie on snap swivel. Float goes on the snap swivel that is free to run up and down the line and the weight and hook length loop go on the tied snap swivel.... easy peasy !
Another source of material is a foam kid's swimming aid, I picked up one for a couple of pounds from Lidl, it is about 5'6" long and nearly 3" diameter so there are lots of floats in that !
update: Even cheaper.... I notice Poundland are selling them, as you would expect, for a pound.
The float ( like a traditional a sliding float set-up) can then be set to fish at any depth. If I am fishing a regular spot I will tie a permanent knot as a stop at the known catching depth. Any minor adjustment, a foot or two, can be made simple by changing the hook length which is attached to the same snap swivel as the lead by a double overhand loop.
The cunning part of this setup comes when dark falls, snap a starlight ( a small chemical light stick) to activate it and just push it firmly through the foam at the top of the float . The light will protrude at either side of the float and give plenty of light to track your float in the dark. Pollack, bass, scad and mackerel can be taken after dark.
If you use this advice, and if you think it has saved you money, put a bit of that saved money into the RNLI collecting box as a thankyou.
revised Sept 2008