Perhaps you have found that most fishing floaters sold at fishing supply stores are bulky, heavy, fragile, and quite expensive. An enticing solution is to make your own. There are various materials and designs to make these floaters. I’ll describe how I make them, and if you note something which is useful, follow the pattern or adapt it to suit your particular needs.
My style of fishing is bait cast fishing, where a long telescopic rod with a baitcast or spinning reel is mounted to lauch the cast with a bait basket as part of a simple, but specialized set up. Long distance casting is the objective. This requires a light and well balanced floater which quickly sets the fishing depth and instantly indicates a fish on the line.
Styrofoam, urethane, or polyurethane rods are usually used to shape the floater body. They come in various widths. Styrofoam rods I’ve used are hard, easy to shape, and have a hole in the core. Polyurethane is softer and is quite popular as it is available in various colors. The urethane is also soft, white, and there is no hole at it core. It is the least expensive of these three types.
My set up is fairly heavy, weighing over four ounces, so I use a floater which is about 10 inches long. The body is made with a two-inch diameter urethane rod which is about seven inches long and is fairly soft but not porous like a sponge. I purchase it at a local building supply wholesaler here in Japan, and I am told that it is used for insulation in walls. The rod is over six feet long, so I slice the length I require.
A hole in the core of the floater body is necessary as a fiberglass rod is slid through this with a small sinker attached to the bottom end, and four fins placed at the top. This can be a painstaking process until you get used to doing it. A thin, firm rod, like the top section of an unused fishing pole works best. If that is not available, sharpen the end of a fiberglass rod which you’ll use later anyway, and work slowly. Focus on keeping the hole in dead center. When you’ve reached the halfway point, turn the urethane rod around and do the same from the other end. If all works well, the hole will align exactly in the center. You may have holes coming through the sides at all angles in the beginning, but eventually you’ll develop a good technique to consistently do it well.
Before shaping, it’s a good idea to place a sinker at the bottom of the fiberglass rod. The sinker to use is one with a hole bored in the center and is quite light; about 3.75 grams, or 0.13 ounces in weight. Even half of that weight will suffice if wind is not a factor. Form a loop at the top end of a thin stainless rod and slide it through the hole of the sinker, leaving about a quarter inch remaining past the end of the hole before snipping the excess of the stainless bar. If you haven’t done so, shave one end of the fiberglass bar with a razor or cutter so that it leads to a sharp point. Fit it into the hole heading near the loop of the stainless bar. You may need to enlarge the hole to do this. Use thin, sturdy thread or fiber and wrap around the rods, then tie the thread near the sinker. Glue the wrapped area, and if you’ like, you can paint it after it dries.
Shaping the body while the glue dries is a good game plan. I use pencil or other marks along the length of the body at regular intervals to serve as guidelines when shaping. Using a cutter which is razor-sharp, I shape as if peeling an apple, and never shave it as if working a pencil tip. If there are rough edges remaining, sand paper is used to smooth them out. Then heat to soften the body is used so that molding the final form can be done with my hands.
An electric or gas range may be used to heat. It is best to have a rod inserted through the body while rotating it. Never use high heat and do not rotate the body very slowly. The body is useless if the urethane starts to bubble. Heat just past the point where the body is warm, then roll and rotate the hands over the entire length of the body to produce the final shape. Let it cool and glue it to the fiberglass rod at the desired position.
Placing the four fins at the top takes you to the final stages. A plastic sheet is used, but avoid brittle or hard plastic. Sand down the surface using a circular motion so that applying luminous paint later will be easy to do. It’s always a good idea to keep a master sample of fin designs for easy duplication. Half of a heart shape without sharp edges works very well.
Apply quick drying cement glue on the edge of a fin and carefully place the rod on it. Allow bonding time. Do the same for the next fin on the opposite side. Examine the exposed parts of the rod remaining on the adjoining sides and you will see that you have two natural slots left to attach your next two fins. Take your time, glue precisely, and don’t allow the glue to drip down along the rod.
Blue and green are not good colors to paint the fins as they are tough to spot at a distance. An easy color to spot in most conditions is luminous orange. Black stands out in strong sunlight.
To test your floater capacity, fasten a snap or ring through the loop at the bottom with sinkers equivalent to the total weight of your fishing set up attached. I judge my floater to be acceptable when about a third of its body remains exposed in a bucket of water.
I hope you give creating the fishing floater a try. Before you take it fishing, try throwing it in a high arc like a dart. You’ll be pleased with its light weight and keen balance. When you take it out for a spin in the water, don’t admire its sight. The real fun is when it shoots down into the water, out of sight.