Win with the Waggler

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The waggler can be a devastating method when used correctly. We’ve recruited the help of Tommy Pickering to show you how…

I love fishing the waggler, it’s a method that often gets overlooked by anglers, most opting for the pole or bomb, but on the right day, the waggler will outscore any other method. In the early years of my international fishing, the waggler was a key tactic, leading to many match wins, including the tactic I used to win an individual Gold medal at the World Championships. 

There are a few things, however, that when set up incorrectly will ruin your day’s fishing. With a little bit of advice, and some practice, knowing how to effectively fish the waggler might just get you out of a mess some days.Tommy uses the insert tip when fishing on the bottom, and a straight tip when fishing shallow

What wagglers? 

There’s a huge amount of different waggler floats available on the market, in all shapes and sizes, but there’s two patterns that I use for my fishing, both from the Dura Waggler range. 

With a huge range of sizes and loading choices, coupled with the ability to easily change the colour of the insert tip depending on the light conditions, makes them a must have in my opinion. I use them in 3, 4 or 5g depending on how far I need to cast. They’re also as tough as old boots – shattered or crushed clear brittle floats are a thing of the past!

For fishing on the bottom, as you would conventionally, the Adjustable Insert Waggler is my first choice. Its robust translucent body and sensitive, interchangeable tip is perfect for showing up the most delicate of bites even on the drop. I’ll fish with these at dead depth most of the time. 

On the right day, the waggler will outscore any other method

Tommy Pickering

The second float I use is for a slightly different purpose. When the fish are up in the water and you are catching fish quickly, the Adjustable Straight Waggler is my float of choice. 

One thing I do add is a small ‘splash disk’ the ones that come attached to the Dura Pellet Wagglers. It’s incredible how much of a difference these can be, making the float cock and not dive upon impact with the water, that allows you to be fishing much quicker and also reduce the chances of spooking fish by diving a waggler through the water where they are feeding. With positive bites the order of the day, the insert tip is not needed, and the wider tip is much easier to spot. The little splash disks have a minimal effect on the casting distance, but are a big help when the rig hits the water. These can be fished as shallow as 8in on the right day as they are incredibly unobtrusive. 

Tackle choice

So when you know what waggler to use, you’ll need to know the rest of the bits to go with it! For fishing with Dura Wagglers, the 12ft 2-piece Carbonactive Mini F1 rod is what I find myself using time after time. It’s the perfect tool for the job when fishing like this on commercials. Coupled with a nice and compact PC-R 3000 reel and 4lb Power Max reel line makes this super easy to use. 

You don’t need heavy line or long rods for most commercial waggler fishing; the 12ft rod is a faultless compromise between length and ease of use. Tommy’s choice of rod and reel
Attaching the wagglers to the line could not be easier. It’s also something that many people get completely wrong, especially when using loaded wagglers. Split shot don’t need to feature anywhere near the float’s base. I use Method Feeder Stops to secure my wagglers. These are a longer version of the more traditional shaped float stop. Two Method Feeder stops each side of a link swivel will hold your float in position without slipping, and also eliminate the chances of split shot damaging the line when you adjust the depth.

At the business end of the rig, a 10in hooklength of 0.11m Reflo Power and a size 18 PR 36 is attached. Whether I’m using a bait band, Rapid Stop or even hooking the bait directly, when using corn or maggot hookbaits I use the same hook, just by trimming off the hair. Bait choice could not be any easier

Proper Plumbing

One thing that many anglers can get wrong is accurate plumbing up with a waggler. The first and most important part when using loaded wagglers is to leave off any shot down the line. The float will then sit with lots of bristle showing out of the water and allow you to read the depth properly. When I’m only fishing short, up to around 30m, I’ll use a standard plummet attached to the hook. After casting out to where I’ll be fishing I wait for 20 seconds for the float to reappear. If the float doesn’t appear, add another 6in on to the depth and repeat the same process. Once I think I’ve got the float set at dead depth, the plummet comes off and is swapped for a AAA shot pinched onto the hook. Sometimes the heavy plummet can sink by an inch or two into the silt, so the AA shot just double checks that the depth is correct. Only after I have the depth correct will I attach the dropper shot to the rig. 

My dropper shot consists of two No.8 and a No.10 Super Soft Shot. The last shot is placed on next to the loop joining the hooklength and the other two are spaced equally above. It’s important to remember that all of your shot needs to be placed in the bottom half of the rig to stop tangles when casting.Two method feeder stops either side of the float will prevent it from slipping

Sitting comfortably? 

After you’ve got all of your tackle and rig sorted there’s only one final thing to do. Waggler fishing can be an extremely active style of fishing, but sometimes you’ll be waiting for only a few bites - that could be the difference between a blank or winning the match. If the fishing is very active, or I’m fishing shallow and will be constantly reeling in, I like to hold the rod in my hand. When the fishing is hard and I might only get a few bites per match, I’ll use an XS Feeder Arm to hold the rod, making sure that the rod is in comfortable range to hold my hand on the reel seat. This takes out the strain of holding a rod for 5 hours, but still allows me to hit lightning fast bites. Another one slides over the net on a difficult day

Tommy says

Next time you go fishing; just think how the waggler could give you an advantage. There’s a whole host of different situations where it could be used, and by following these few hints and tips, you’ll be able to catch plenty of fish!