Make your own floats - Centerpin Articles - Quest Outdoors, Ltd.

Over the past few years float fishing for lake run trout and salmon has grown in popularity by leaps and bounds. The tackle industry is beginning to take notice of this growing trend and in response they have begun to introduce floats of every kind from avons to wagglers. More and more people are concerned about saving a penny here and a penny there and float fishermen are no different. Some of the floats on the market can cost over five bucks each and over the course of a season this can turn into hundreds of dollars spent on floats. So over the past few years I began to experiment with homemade floats and have had just as much success as I did with the store bought ones I had been using. And with no shortage of materials out there a float can be made for pennies on the dollar not to mention having a float made that will fit your style of fishing.

A float consists of an antenna or tip, the body, and the stem all of which can be made from a multitude of materials.

The antenna/tip is the part of the float that will be seen above the water and will signal the bite by going under water, moving upwards, or moving in some sort of unnatural way. The antenna/tip is typically made as part of the body or as one piece with the stem and inserted through the body.

The body is what suports the weight of the terminal tackle and offering below the float. It is typically made of plastic or balsa wood.

The stem is the long thin section of the float which helps aid in keeping the float stable and also helps the float track through your chosen drift. It can also be made from a variety of materials such as bamboo, wire, plastic, carbon, balsa or some other type of wood.

Tools & Materials Needed:
Mini-Lathe or Drill
Balsa Wood
Bamboo Skewer
Sandpaper (Various Grits)
Paint & Brushes
Finish & Brushes
Waterproof Glue

The float below is made with the Antenna/Tip and body being turned out of one single piece of balsa. The stem is a seperate piece and is inserted into the body. You can also turn the body as one single piece and insert a dowel completely through it for a simple Antenna & Stem as shown in the image above.

Select a piece of wood youíre going to use for the body. You could use a chunk of balsa, a square rod, or even a balsa dowel which can all be purchased at any hobby shop. Place it in your lathe or drill and turn to approximate shape.
After the body has been turned to the approximate shape cut a 6" stem out of a wooden dowell or bamboo skewer. Drill a 1/2" hole in the bottom of the body, insert and glue up the stem.
When the glue has set, place the float back in the drill or lathe and proceed to finish.
When turning the float start with the tip/antenna and work your way down to the stem making a teardrop shape to the body. Remember to start with the coarsest grit and work your way down to a finer grit until the float is nice and smooth.

After youíve shaped the float to your liking itís time to paint it. Start at the tip. Usually a good color to use is a multitude of light conditions is fluorescent orange.

After the tip is painted I like to add a stripe of either white or black or both colors. This helps separate the body from the tip and adds a little contrast, or you donít even need the stripe, itís up to you. When the tip is finished start on the body. The body can be any color you choose or you can leave it natural. Painting the stem is totally up to you. Sometimes I paint them and sometimes I donít.

After the float is painted itís time to put the finish on. If you are going to use polyurethane brush it on using multiple thin coats. If youíre going to use the two part resins follow the instructions on the bottles for mixing. Itís a good idea to either rotate the float so the finish levels out or you could hang it upside down and let it drip dry. Remember donít touch the finish to check if itís dry, leave some on a piece of foil and use that as an indicator.

Hereís the best step of all, after the finish is dry and has had time to cure, take it fishing!

More Tips & Tricks
  • After each coat of paint/primer is dry, sand with fine grit sand paper to achieve a super smooth final finish.
  • Make sure to turn a variety of sizes for varying water conditions.
  • Hot melt glue works well for securing the stem/antenna to the body.
  • If you're going to leave the stem unpainted be sure to coat it with finish so it doesn't absorb water.