Last year I spent several days working with Belgian international Pierre Francois Deschipper, who asked whether I had tried slider fishing with bulk shot on an anti-tangle tube, which was featured in an InfoPeche article some months earlier. No, I replied, but said I would make a point of trying it as soon as possible. That was in May 2010. So, true to my word, I tried them shortly after and they worked extremely well. So well in fact, that they sparked a sort of slider re-birth within my own personal fishing style.

Modern slider rigs now take away the age-old hassles of tangles, leaving you with a method that is both simple and fun to fish with. It works on any venue, from 1.50 metres to as deep as you like. Slider fishing is also capable of outscoring the feeder on certain venues, as I will explain later. I also managed to get some of the anglers I fish with in England excited about the slider as well. There are a now a few of us who pick venues where we can spend the day trying out different slider rigs, a sort of a 'slider-club' if you like.

It took a while, but I eventually managed to try out the tube system!It took a while, but I eventually managed to try out the tube system!So why did it take so long, since I first tried Pierre Francois' sliding tube, until I got round to writing about it in October 2011? Nicolas Beroud will tell you that I had been talking about this type of article for a year or more, but encountered three unforeseen delays:

  1. Research. I spent a lot of time looking and searching for new floats and rigs to try out. This proved really exciting because I began to realise that the slider was no longer the simple 'English versus Italian style' contest. As Pierre Francois showed, other countries were developing their own slant on sliders, Michael Schlögl in Germany being a prime example, along with the some of the latest developments from Cralusso... like their new Zero slider attachment.

  2. Ordering the right equipment. I've spent a bit of money on slider items over the last year or two, and bought a couple of rods, realising that you need the right rod for the right size of float. Getting hold of floats, such as Rive, Perfects' or Tamas Walters', for English style rigs was easy. Click on any decent UK tackle shop’s website and you are able to buy these between 4SSG and 6SSG, but you can’t pick up a proper Italian style slider for love nor money! So I decided to order the very best and went to Maurizio Schiepatti. He's one of the best float makers in Italy and such is the quality of his work that there is a delay of several months when ordering any quantity. But the wait is worth every second, because they are simply fantastic. The same goes for Michael Schlögl. I had to wait for his new Series 4 Genius sliders to be available and, again, I can tell you that the wait was worth it!
    Websites:   and
  3. Return to Serre Poncon. Having experienced delays in the spring of 2011, I made the decision to wait until my summer holidays and test my nearly acquired floats at Serre Poncon, in South-east France. This is a huge reservoir, over 23km long and at least a kilometre wide, with thermal winds every day which are guaranteed to test the stability of any slider rig. I believe there is no better, or more scenic, venue for this sort of fishing!

As well as putting together all the tackle required for testing, I called on the expertise of some great anglers to put me on the right track, with rigs and ideas:
Stuart Conroy. Drennan sponsored Team England stalwart, who travels on all team England trips with Alan Scotthorne, someone he reckons is the best slider angler in the world!
Milo Colombo. When I needed help in understanding Italian rigs and set ups, I went to the 'maestro' for help and inspiration
Pierre Francois 'Skippy' Deschipper. Is the angler who got me fishing the slider again regularly, a great thinking angler 'Skippy' has improved and refined his slider fishing further since we spoke in 2010.
Michael Schlögl. This German international has proved to be a source of inspiration, both in terms of the quality and the truly selective diversity of the tackle he is producing. Michael is not bound by any set of rules, when it comes to slider fishing, and has floats and rigs that simply cut across many established conventions. For example, his fantastic Italian style sliders that have a loading like an improved Hungarian Cralusso Rocket. You certainly need to think outside the box to come up with these ideas!

Schlögl’s idea of mixing up what is seen as conventional slider wisdom, is one of the key themes of this article. For instance, what happens when you fish an English style waggler with an Italian style rig? Or try a Hungarian Cralusso float with the Belgian inspired anti-tangle tube? But before I start looking into sort of international slider 'stew-pot', we need to be clear with what the base ingredients are. So let’s start by looking at what each nation brings into the kitchen, country by country.

The modern slider float, or sliding waggler to be specific, is an English invention. The 1975 World Championships, held on a canal in Poland, saw Ian Heaps win the individual crown with a couple of carp caught on this method. This brought international attention to the method and since then, ironically, gained popularity and strength on the continent, whilst in the UK it declined due to the rise of feeder fishing in most competitions.

The English slider method has undergone a change since that initial victory, when Ian used a No.4 shot above the bulk to sit the float on. This had proved to be the source of countless tangles and much frustration, but today things are quite different! So let’s take a look at the latest set-up of English slider rigs with Stuart Conroy:

It's a tried and tested set-up that Drennan Team England have implemented and used for over decade. The rig itself is so simple; being as comfortable at catching bream at 45 metres, as catching roach and skimmers at 17 metres.

  • Mainline should be a minimum of 0.20mm, as this will eliminate tangles with a facing wind.
  • Floats should only be semi-loaded sliders, with at least 20% of the capacity of the waggler e.g. a 10 gram float would have 8 grams down the line and 2 grams loaded in the float body. This keeps the float on the bulk shot when casting.
  • Floats such as the Rive Scotthorne patterns, with brass inserts are ideal and should be connected to the mainline via a Drennan float adaptor. This adaptor is very important because the swivel is squashed slightly, creating an oval which helps the float and adaptor trap on the sliding stop knot.
  • The bulk shot should be positioned approximately just over a metre (4ft is Stu's recommendation, or about 1.20m) from the hook. Never use more than four large bulk shot as any more can contribute to tangles. A couple of trimming shot is okay but make sure all the splits in the shot are placed in a line for neatness and, under no circumstances, you should not leave any gaps between the shots.
  • Dropper shots, keep it simple. Position a No.4 shot 30cm below the bulk, a No.6 shot 30cm below that, then a No.8 swivel 30cm below that, to which a hooklength of approximately 30cm is attached. The swivel is used to eliminate spin on the retrieve. Hooks and hooklength breaking strain should be suited to your intended quarry. Sometimes dropper shot sizes need to be increased if lift bites are likely to be encountered. Make sure they are increased in their respective sizes, again to prevent tangles.
  • Lastly, the all-important slider stop knot completes the set up. Try to prevent the use of beads and other unnecessary objects on your line. They are NOT NECESSARY, according to Stuart.

Stuart's stop knot
Take around 6inch (15cm) of 0.25mm line and place it alongside your 0.20mm mainline, then form a loop. Pass one end of the 0.25mm line through the loop and around the main line. Repeat this five or six times, moisten then pull tight. Trim the ends back to around 3cm. This will help the line pass through the rod rings. The knot can now be adjusted to the required depth. You will realise that Stu passes the line through the loop on each turn, which is unlike the classic whipping knot, where the line is simply wrapped round the main line rather than through the loop each time.

Pierre Francois' stop knot
Pierre Francois has a different approach. He uses a lighter line than Stuart, such as a 0.14mm or 0.16mm, but then doubles the line over before tying the knot. This is actually quite easy to do. Take a length of nylon about 30cm long and double it over. Then about half way along the doubled section you form a loop. Simply wind the doubled tag ends around both the loop and the main line five times then back through the doubled loop once. Pull the knot tight and there you have it, a doubled slider knot. By using slightly finer diameter nylons the knot catches on the rings less and seems to bite into thicker reel line better, moving less. I've tried using a doubled slider knots with a thicker line, but it seems to make the knot slide more easily!

The Italian way!
One of the latest stop knot trends to come out of Italy is that of using marker braid, rather than mono line. This is a strong braid of between 10 and 15lb, which the carp boys use specifically on their marker/spod rods. The braid is capable of biting the reel line very tightly and has the added advantage over nylon of being bright green or yellow and thereby easy to spot!

Specific tackle

Stuart is a fan of 14ft rods but these don’t have to be 'beefed-up' to cast English slider floats. He uses and recommends Drennan Match Pro Ultra-light rods for all his slider work. (On a personal note, I have been using the slightly heavier Drennan Match Pro 14ft rod for my general slider fishing and this, I feel, gives a little more flexibility to go up to a 14 or 16 gram floats than the Ultra-light might, but both rods are fantastic tools for slider fishing). The key thing with any slider rod is that it has a clean tip action, so you can punch floats out, then pick up line cleanly when striking. There are lots of softer big fish waggler rods available, in 14ft lengths, but they don’t have that same crisp clean tip action that the Drennan classic rods do.

Floats: Stuart mentioned that an English waggler float should have no more than 20% of its load in the base with the rest bulked down the line. Some lead is needed in the base of the float so that the float stays alongside the bulk whilst being cast. There has been a lot of improvement in wagglers for English slider fishing over the last 5 years. For most fishing of his slider work, Stu tends to use floats of between 4 and 6SSG (one SSG = 1.8 grams, so you can do the maths).

The Hungarian Perfect models have a great range that have been used by everyone from myself to Will Raison! Then came the Tamas Walter floats, which used slightly longer white peacock stems. These have long been a favourite of many international anglers, not just for their rigidity in the heat, but for acting like a huge white traffic light when lift bites occur in sunny weather.

The latest quality floats available come from Rive. Both the Alan Scotthorne range, favoured by Stu from 4 to 6 SSG, and the Rive W24 floats, which allow up to 15 grams down the line! Didier Delannoy hadn't spent all that time with Alan Scotthorne not to understand what a good slider float should look like!

Finally, I must mention the Series 3 Michael Schlögl slider floats, which are based on classic English wagglers that go up to 20 grams down the line! I will be devoting a whole section to what Michael has come up with, in terms of float design, later in this article. These floats open up possibilities for getting a lot of lead down fast, in deeper waters, or anchoring floats in big drifts, that were previously impossible.

Float adaptor with flattened eye
You may have been aware that the floats I have already mentioned are all fitted with a simple brass rod for loading. I have not mentioned any of the many floats available from Sensas, Colmic, Browning etc,. with brass loading rings that can be set so they take approximately 20% of the load in the base of the float and the rest down the line. The reason is simple as I'm describing the classic English slider set up and on this, a float adaptor is used with a flattened eye to catch the stop knot. These float adaptors have several advantages:

  • They allow you to change floats over when fishing, from say a bristled to a solid tipped model.
  • Rigs can be made-up and stored more easily, as you only need a small winder for the float adaptor and the bulk shot to sit on. All your floats can travel safely in a float tube!
  • The swivel can easily be pinched on an adaptor to create that flattened oval shape that catches the stop knots so perfectly. On floats with built in rings and weight systems, I think you are better using beads and leaving the eyes alone, as they are not as thick or as strong as the swivels used in the adaptors.

The float adaptor itself is worthy of some mention. Stuart uses the Drennan adaptors and these are great, so long as you can get the brass rod right into the adaptor, otherwise the float has a tendency to flop over the leads. Michael Schlögl has developed some thicker and stiffer walled silicones, specifically for this style of slider fishing. They are perfect, because the thicker silicone helps to make the link to the float more rigid as well as being that little bit stronger and able to cope, when it comes  to punching out the heavier slider floats.
Michael Schlögl's strengthened adaptors for his float range.Michael Schlögl's strengthened adaptors for his float range.


The Italian concept of slider fishing is very different to that of the English approach. They generally use much heavier floats, but carry less weight down the line.

The rule for classic Italian style slider fishing is two-thirds of the weight in the base and one-third down the line. Being British myself, I've not had a lot of experience with this style of fishing until recently, when researching this article. Having received a stock of superb classic Italian style wagglers and then fished with them, two things occurred to me.

Having used the Maurizio Chinook wagglers in sizes 14g +7g, 18g +8g and a whopping 20g +10g, they are by far the largest I've ever used! The floats have to be this size to get the ratio of weights correct, because the more lead you need down the line, the more lead you need under the float, so as a consequence the float is much larger!

Secondly, despite the size of the floats being used, the rig itself is very delicate and is more fluid than the classic English set up. I think this relates directly to the type of fish both nations originally set out to catch with their sliders. The English were looking mainly at bream, tench and big roach when they pioneered slider fishing, whilst the Italians searched for carassio, carp and chub. Consequently, the English style evolved as a method to block baits and get a static presentation, with most of the lead down the line and closer to the hook. The Italians developed a more fluid and subtle style of rig, with more weight under the float and a lighter, more sensitive set up down the line.

The main issue for me with Italian rigs has been anglers fishing with the float blocked  above the bulk by a No.4 or 3 shot. Any rig that can’t be cast with the float sitting directly on the bulk casts badly. Dave Vincent used to describe these rigs as a 'sack of s**t', because the float would always pull against the bulk in flight.

In recent years we have seen the arrival of twizzled, or braided, lengths of line, that have stiffened the rigs and eliminated casting tangles, allowing the floats to be cast while sitting on the bulk, just like the English set ups. I was amazed at how well these rigs worked and how simple and trouble-free using a twizzled boom was. But why should I have been so surprised, when rigs such as these have been developed by anglers like Milo Colombo! Below on the right, is the actual one he recommended to me, while below, I came up with some of my own useful modifications:

  • Thread a small stop bead onto the line. I used the excellent Stonfo hard sliding beads
  • Now slide on the float
  • Then add two Drennan float stops to cushion the float against the bulk shot
  • Now add your main bulk. I used Cralusso bullets for my bulks, but any drilled bullet will do the job and one 10 grammer is all you need on a 20g +10g float, plus droppers. You might need to add a small shot or two below the main bullet but, as a guide, try and shot the float down to just below the red or yellow tip because you will add three No.6 droppers later
  • Now attach the rigid length of braided line and there are a couple of ways of creating these. One is to make your own. The Italians recommend using about 30cm of braided 0.30mm line. Some anglers further rigidify the link by using super glue to stiffen the line. I took the easy way out and bought some ready-made from Michael Schlögl’s website! Use a micro-swivel at the top to join it to the main line and another, if you wish, at the base. These micro-swivels will eliminate spin
  • Then tie a long hooklength, between a metre and 1.50 metres to the swivel. To this add three No.6, or two No.6 and a No.8 dropper. I use no swivel on the hooklength itself, preferring to go for a much longer and more spaced out sort of hooklength, which I believe adds to the efficiency of the whole rig.

Above left: Stonfo hard beads. Above centre: Two Drennan float stops act as a float buffer. Above right: The complete bulk set up with twizzled line attached to a micro swivel.Above left: Stonfo hard beads. Above centre: Two Drennan float stops act as a float buffer. Above right: The complete bulk set up with twizzled line attached to a micro swivel.This rig is simply fantastic. You can cast it off the bulk without fear of tangling! As there is less lead down the line and a longer hooklength, the rig is much more subtle than the English rig, where you always have a micro swivel about 30cm from the hook. This set up also lets you put that last dropper where you want, creating a long natural drop. It came as some surprise that, despite using such big floats with this system, it actually gave a more delicate presentation than our own classic set up.

Specific tackle
Rods: You need oned that has the backbone to cast some of the big wagglers. Look for rods with casting loads of up to 30 grams and again, avoid soft spongy carp type action rods. I have a Tubertini Grinta rod which is perfect for this type of work and a couple of good stiff action 10-30gr rods. In terms of length, there is something to be said for using a 4.5 or 4.8 metre rod, as you need to strike through the weight in the float, therefore the contact is less direct than with the English system. Whereas with an English slider, I think 4.20 metres is the ideal length, as the strike is very clean through to the bulk and fish itself.

Floats: As I mentioned before, my Italian sliders came from the best floatmaker in Italy, Maurizio Schiepatti, who has a real cult following because of the quality and care he puts into his products. The floats I used are called Chinooks, and have large balsa bodies with peacock inserts. Maurizio does not use individual brass discs for loading these sliders, but rather an integral brass unit.

German ingenuity: An unusual but effective solution to Cralusso's long wire!German ingenuity: An unusual but effective solution to Cralusso's long wire!Other quality floats are the Milo Geradix sliders, which go up to a whopping 30g +15g model! These floats are similar in design to Maurizio's and also have a fixed loading in the base, to represent a two-thirds ratio of the floats overall capacity. You'd think that you wouldn't find Italian style slider floats on Michael Schlögl’s website… but you’d be wrong! Michael has his own fantastic range of Italian sliders which feature an innovative take on the Cralusso Rocket design.

One of the problems I encountered with Cralusso Rockets was that the side wire was too long which caused the float, sometimes, to hang wrong, thereby needing a shake of the rod to set it right. This is especially true on all the Rocket Light floats, and I've adapted it with a piece of catapult elastic place over the wire, effectively shortening the length of the wire. Michael has produced a slider with a short wire and a ball weight, which still casts straight and accurate, but never hangs the wrong way!

Universal Slider Rules:

No. 1  –  Use decent diameter line for ALL slider rigs!
Stuart talked about 0.20mm as a minimum for slider rigs, but with some of these big Italian floats, 0.23mm or 0.25mm would not be out of place! Ask Stuart what his worst slider nightmare was and he replied "fishing into a headwind with only 0.18mm reel line". Ask Tommy Pickering, or Alan Scotthorne, what was the one thing that suddenly made slider fishing easier, and it was the use of thicker reel lines! It took these experienced anglers sometime to learn that a thicker line was stiffer and therefore tangled less when using a slider. When it comes to the big Italian sliders, line becomes more like that used for feeder fishing! Thicker lines also help cope when continually casting heavy weights. Some good slider lines are Maxima for short range work (it's robust, lies well, a bit stretchy and never lets you down). For longer range work go for more of a medium low-stretch line with a decent casting coating, like Tubertini Gorilla Carp, Shimano Technium or Cralusso's Match line.

No. 2  –  Ensure your rod can cope with the floats you're using
When fishing the slider, one of the key points to avoid tangling is always cast forward with a firm punch. The ideal casting style is to draw the rod smoothly back, then punch forward, again rather like feeder fishing! And just like feeder fishing, you need the right rod matched to the right weight of float. A 13ft light match rod will simply not be able to punch out a 25 gram float... a strong 20-30 gram action rod will not punch a 10 gram slider, because its tip will be too strong to flex and deliver the right punch! It's essential that you use a crisp action rod for slider work, so avoid carp style power rods and go for proper heavy waggler rods with some flex. However, if the action goes too far through the blank, you won’t get the crisp punch you need, as the blanks will muffle the power in the cast.


England and Italy may be the two classic homes of slider fishing, but it's great to see how other nations are taking the style forward. I mentioned at the start that Pierre Francois originally renewed my interest in slider fishing with his simple tube system. Here is how his system works:

  • Place your bulk shot on a short 10-12cm piece of rigid tube, grouping them at the top of the tube. The weighted tube can now slide freely on the line
  • The reason why this rig is so tangle-proof lies in the fact that because the tube is rigid, it forces the hooklength to sit at a slight angle to the float. This slight angle seems to completely eliminate the chance of line wrapping around the bulk, even in a facing wind
  • Pierre Franciois uses Cralusso bullets, which are split and have an internal central groove, which folds perfectly around the tube when squeezed.

I've tried several things to obtain the perfect tube. The first tubes I made where from cotton ear bud stalks (after first removing the cotton buds of course!). These were fine, but the hole was a little big and the tubing itself was too weak, because the Cralusso leads tended to crush them when you squeezed them together. Pierre Francois used rigid anti-tangle feeder booms, but I was not able to find the right diameter tubing in our UK shops.

One of the best pieces of tubing I came across was those used with cans of WD40, those red plastic tubes taped to the side of the can. But this is a very expensive way to buy plastic tubing!
A good way to get hold of the right diameter tubing!A good way to get hold of the right diameter tubing!
The answer to finding the right tubes came when I ordered some Cralusso assorted tubing, used for float bristle making (Product code 2010). In each packet you get a length of thin yellow, red and black tubes, which are enough to make nine adaptor tubes for your rigs. I simply camouflaged the yellow and red tubing a little with my black marker pen, to make them a bit more discrete!

I made two other modifications to Pierre Francois' original concept by allowing the tubing to sit on two Drennan float stops, rather than let it rest on shot. This allows me to easily lift and adjust the height of the tubing, depending on whether I want a more sensitive drop. It also stops floats bouncing off shot and getting damaged (I have previously chipped a few floats on shot below the tubes). It must also be said that part of this problem has been created by not having silicone adaptors stiff enough to stop the float sagging over, a problem I've since resolved by using the float adaptors sold by Michael!

The second modification is down to my son, Dave Jnr, who fine-tuned his floats by wrapping lead wire on the tubing, just to get each float settled perfectly.

Pierre Francois has also been developing his rig and now he only uses two leads on the tube where possible. What he found was that if you used a large and a small lead, rather than say three similar weights, the larger lead helps to create more of an angle on the tube by pushing the lower part of your rig further away from your main line, thereby making the whole set up even more tangle proof!

Another development that he pioneered, has been a rig for dragging the bottom. Initially, Pierre Francois dragged the base of the tube along the bottom to slow a bait down. However, he started using a group of five or six No.4 shot, set tight together below the tube and found that this group of shot was far better at slowing the rig than having the tube itself scrape the bottom. A small detail maybe, but this is what developing a technique is all about!

Once the bulk is fixed on the sliding tube, the rigs themselves are almost fool/tangle-proof, even if you have a poor cast. The worse that can happen is that your hooklength may fold over the tube, but this can always be undone by simply pulling the hooklength... rather like with feeder rig!

I also believe that the sliding tube brings a suppleness to the rig that fixed bulk shot do not. This may seem illogical, as the total amount of shot down the line is the same as if it is on a tube or pinched on the line, BUT, there is something in the way the weight can slide on the line that seems to make bite indication cleaner and less hesitant. In particular you seem to get better lift bites with a tube, possibly because as a fish picks up the bait below the tube, the angle on the tube changes, allowing the bulk to slide along the line, thereby offering less resistance than a fixed bulk.

In fact, since replacing locked bulk shots rigs with the sliding tube, I've not had any problems whatsoever with tangles plus, the whole set up is very easy to make up either at home or on the bank.

Universal Slider Rules:

No.3    Increased dropper shot spacing
Saying that there are no tangle problems when using the Belgian style tube rigs DOES NOT mean that a rig won’t tangle if you break rule No.3! The spacing of droppers and your hooklength is crucial to this. Always ensure that the hooklength is attached to a swivel and cannot touch the dropper above it when folded back. Any subsequent droppers above, MUST be spaced at equal or, even better, at slightly increased distances. It's an easy and simple rule but if you break it you can say with almost certainty that you will experience a tangle for sure, even with tube or twizzled booms rigs!


Our next port of call, on our European slider tour, is Hungary, who emerged throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s as the NEW force in world angling. They were led by a group of talented and dedicated world class anglers, such as dual WC Tamas Walter, and driven by a desire to develop their angling into a manufacturing industry. Perfect and Cralusso have been two companies who have taken this force and turned it to creative use. I mentioned earlier that the Perfect slider floats seemed to inject new life into the method, even for top English anglers like Will Raison and Steve Gardener, who started using these floats for all their slider work. Perfect floats were the first to get the 20%, or less, brass loading in the base of the float accurately. Since then, Hungary has carried on the great tradition of quality float manufacturing and many of the top waggler floats on the market today, not to mention the many pole varieties, still originate from Hungary.

In terms of innovation, Cralusso set new boundaries when it came to slider fishing. They managed to overcome an age old problem associated with the original unloaded English float set up. If you had ever tried using an unloaded waggler as a slider, you would have experienced the float moving back up the line during the cast, causing you to loose distance and accuracy. Cralusso studied the problem and realised that what you needed was a base attachment that would lock the float in place during flight, yet allow the line to slide through the float once it was in the water.

What Karoly Kralik and his team came up with was rather clever. They created a plastic base attachment where the line is fed through at a specific angle, effectively locking the float in place during casting, then releasing it once it settled upright in the water.

How to attach a Cralusso Zero:

  • Tie a sliding knot on your mainline. You will not need any beads or other stopping devices with these floats.
  • Thread the float onto the line taking care that the lower end of the angled hole goes through first and the line comes out of the higher end of the attachment
  • Test the float to make sure you have it on the right way. The float should hold on the line if you fold it back parallel with your reel line. The golden rule is the higher side of the attachment should be the one CLOSEST to the hook.
  • Now add your bulk. Zero sliders work best with a tube, or as a simple grouped bulk.

There are, however, a couple of issues:

  1. Having tested Zero's against normal swivel attached sliders, they proved fractionally slower to settle than their counterparts.
  2. The floats do occasionally catch up the line as you lift them out of the water ready for the next cast. All this requires is for you to shake the rod a little, in order to drop them back onto the bulk.

As much as I like the attachments, there are several reasons why I'm less keen on the actual floats themselves. The idea of the Zero was that it was a float which had all of the loading capacity down the line. Cralusso's premise was that if you had loading in the float then this was somehow 'wasted' capacity, as that 20% of loading would be better served down the line, as part of your bulk. Sounds theoretically OK, but actually I disagree with this. I believe that some weight in the base of a float actually helps stabilise it and, as a consequence of fishing with an Italian style rig, I am beginning to think that we often have TOO MUCH weight down the line when it comes to delicate presentation.

For instance, imagine pole fishing in 5 metres of water. Can it be said that a 10 gram float will get you more bites than a 2 gram? Of course not... in fact the reverse is probably true in most cases. Some, or even lots of loading can help with a float's stability in wind and wave. Having no loading in the base of a float, leaves it more likely, rather than less likely, to be moved about!

I cannot understand why Zero's do not have painted stems. White, black, red stripes... I don’t care which, anything but transparent, because when you are trying to spot lift bites on windy waters the last thing you want is a transparent float stem! I've fished these floats alongside a Rive slider, and when you get a lift on the Rive, you can see a clear bit of white, ride up in the waves. Unmisstakeable! When Cralusso's transparent stem pops up above a wave, it takes a moment to see what's happening. So why make a float's visibility difficult for anglers?

My final criticism is simple and purely personal... I don’t like plastic stemmed floats! I've used Drennan Crystal wagglers, Cralusso Rockets and Rocket Lights on a number of occasions, but have always returned to a peacock model, because in my opinion plastic simply does not fish as well as peacock!

I've mentioned Michael Schlögl and his great floats a couple of times already in this article. In both cases he's brought an innovative twist to both English and Italian sliders, but in addition to these, he has developed some uniquely Germanic angles on slider fishing, which I'm describing here as legitimate techniques.

The first is the special Kugelblei, which is German for drilled bullets. This is a completely different approach to tangle-free bulk shotting. When you look at a classic English style bulk, of say four 2 gram shots bunched together, the tangles appear to happen as the lower part of the rig wraps itself around these shot. Both the Belgian rigid tube method and the Italian braided tail, work by pushing the line away from the bulk itself. Michael took a different approach and created a bulk that was, in itself, tangle-proof.

The problem with a classic English bulk is that shot is grouped, rather like beads on a necklace, so line can spin around any of the shot. Michael wanted a way of creating a bulk that did not have the same effect as beads on a necklace! His special Kugelblei are in fact countersunk bullets, designed to be fished with 2AA or BB shot protected within the body of the countersunk bullet.

The countersunk hole on the Kugelblei bullet completely encases the first shot and partially covers the second, which gives the rig some freedom to move and rotate on both the drop, thereby showing any potential lift bites. Michael recommends that you buy a Kugelblei 1.5 grams lighter than your floats loading, so that you're able to add at least 2BB and a couple of droppers to get the float sitting just right. What you eventually end up with is a bulk shot that effectively hides or cradles the smaller shot, eliminating that necklace tangle-risk syndrome! It's a principle similar to the special pellet waggler leads, now being produced for the UK market.

If you have problems getting hold of Michael's special bullets, then try sourcing one of these pellet waggler leads and smoothing off the stems to create exactly the same effect.

The second original concept (at least new in terms of commercially manufactured slider floats) is Michael's Series 4 Genius sliders. Designed to be fished with English style bulks, Belgium tubes or, in particular, his Kugelblei system, they have a relatively modest loading in the base of the float and a built-in oval swivel for sliding with.

What makes these floats unique is their stem. Michael has managed to create floats with long slender stems, that pick up less wave resistance and get the float body down below the surface drift on windy days. These long slender stems are also perfect for registering and exaggerating any lift bites and are painted with broad bands of yellow, white, red and black to show up clearly.

The idea of these types of sliders have been around for a while. Last year Didier Delannoy was making floats using hollow carbon tubes to create these long stems. But Michael had preferred to use long green sarkandas reed for his stems and reinforced them with shrink tube, to make the floats less fragile.

Another positive thing about this float range is that it goes from 4 to 20 grams. Having originally ordered large floats for fishing on Serre Poncon, and other big reservoirs in England (more of this in a moment), I can now order 4 and 6 gram models for shallow venues, where I might only be fishing in 2 metres or less, and looking for lift bites.

Universal Slider Rules:

No.4    Rigidify your bulk for tangle-free casting
From Stuart Conroy insisting that the locking shot must have no gaps between them, to Michael Schlögl’s countersunk Kugelblei, it's really all about streamlining, or making the bulk rigid, so that the lower part of the rig does not tangle and all the methods I have highlighted work. I've been using the tube system for over a year now and they are simply an excellent way to avoid tangles. The Italian braided lines work equally as well. Once you sort out how to tangle-proof your bulk then the rest is pure fishing, WITHOUT the frustration!

No.5    Always cast off your bulk shot
This is bound to cause some controversy amongst certain anglers south of Lyon, who still love to use big (or very big) Italian style wagglers, cast off a shot placed above the bulk. But when Italy took the new braided anti-tangle rigs to Valence in 2008 and showed that they could cast off the bulk with their rigs, I think the death-knell was sounded at that point for anyone casting any other way. I've tested the Italian set-up with big floats in strong winds, and found that if you want to cast straight and accurate, a long way out, you MUST cast with the float resting on the bulk, so that bulk and float fly through the air as one! For me the case is now closed.

A fusion of styles!

The interesting thing, when talking to anglers like Pierre Francois and Stu about slider fishing, is that they remain loyal to the systems that work for them. Stuart especially takes the Team England view that their way of slider fishing is right and, based on their international results, who is to argue? Yet there is a distinct possibility of anglers opening up different approaches, when it comes to mixing different slider systems. To illustrate and explain a little of what this means I want to talk about the two days, last summer, that I spent fishing around Embrun in the French Alps.

Day 1 – The lake in Embrun

This is a difficult lake at the best of times as the water is crystal clear with heavy weed growth in bands, usually 15 – 20 metres from the bank, with deeper water beyond. Depths vary from 3.5 to about 4.5 metres at casting range. Target fish were roach, bleak, with the odd rogue bream and some elusive tench.

For my first session I decided to fish the area beyond the weedbeds, about 30 metres out. I set up two 10 gram rigs to compare. One was a Cralusso Zero, set with a Belgium style tube rig followed by a metre hooklength. The other, a Rive Scotthorne 6SSG, was rigged with an Italian style braided boom with a good 1.50m of hooklength below the braid. What this did, in effect, was fix the bulk 1.80m above the hook to create a slow dropping hooklength.

The fishing here is ultra-hard, as there are strong afternoon winds and windsurfers zig zagging across the lake, so I always know things will be tough! Having laid down 10 good sized balls of groundbait, it took about half an hour before I started to pick up roach, small at first, but then some proper ones followed. I was alternating between rods, but what was interesting was that most of the bites came on the Italian rig, fished with English style loading and a Rive slider. The more direct loading of the Zero was picking up the odd fish, but seemed too weighty for them. You would see a small dip, then nothing as the fish obviously dropped the bait. The thing I liked about the fluid Italian rig was that bites were mostly shown as little lifts, unusual from roach, but nevertheless easy to spot and hit. It's quite possible that these 'lifts' were being caused by the roach taking the bait on the drop, then swimming off and unbalancing the rig, as most indications happened within 30 seconds of the float settling.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the Italian twizzled boom rig, fished inconjunction with a classic English slider float (Rive), proved better at catching fish than my other rod, which had the more direct Belgian tube system, which seemingly proved too severe for the roach. What it did highlight was that you can benefit from using the extra suppleness of an Italian set up, without having to source specific Italian wagglers. Yet how many of us have tried a twizzled link on a standard slider float? The point I'm trying to make is that we should not be put off by any Italian or English rig 'label'. You can transfer any element of any rigs I've featured in this article and apply it to suit your own particular needs. I could have just as easily fished an Italian style waggler with 6 grams down the line, on a tube to see if a smaller bulk made a difference... in fact I'll make a point of trying this on my next summer visit in 2012.

In terms of performance both rigs fished perfectly all day, no tangles, no tears but sadly, no bonus fish on either set up! It proved an interesting and enjoyable session, winkling out some pristine roach on single and double maggot. What was clear is that twisted braid and long hooklengths change the way a bait is presented in a way that classic loading doesn’t. It's that long hooklength, helped naturally by the stiff braid, that makes the fall of the bait so effective. Steve Gardener talks about the waggler rigs he used for roach and dace over 20 years ago, when hooklengths of 1.2 to 1.5 metres, with a couple of small dropper shot attached, were quite normal. These Italian rigs have something of the same suppleness about them, no matter what style of float you fish with up the line!

Day 2 – Serre Poncon

My second day out was on the massive Serre Poncon reservoir, where I fished the Pre D’emmeraude section, well known to match anglers as being a hard area containing some roach, bleak and of course some of those elusive big bream that the lake is famous for! The lake is fed by the Durance River, with additional water coming straight from mountain streams and glaciers. In the southern French sun, the water takes on a deep blue sheen, but is actually very clear. However, it's not the clarity of the water that is such a challenge at Serre Poncon, it's the sheer size of it! It is, afterall, the second largest man-made water in Europe! Being so enormous, the lake has its own micro-climate and a daily challenge, when fishing on the lake, is the strong thermal wind that picks up about midday and gets stronger in the afternoon.

This presents a huge challenge to the float angler, as the amount of water movement from a body of water this size, is truly immense! To make matters even more challenging, the wind today was left to right and slightly facing me. It was the sort of wind that holds groundbait balls up in the air and makes them land a little short of the target... such is its power! So with this in mind I decided on two rigs that were specifically designed to cope with such windy conditions.

Rig 1:
The Italian heavyweight A classic set up using a big 20+10g Chinook waggler. One of the arguments in favour of this type of slider rig has always been the added weight down the line for extra stability, especially in the wind. I enjoyed setting this rig up because I can honestly say that it's the biggest slider I have ever fished with! But I was unsure as to whether just 10 grams down the line would cope with the drift on such a huge mass of water?

Rig 2: The German/Belgian combo I wanted to see how more weight down the line would affect the control of the float in a strong wind. So I chose the 18 gram model of Michael’s Series 4 Genius range, with the long thin sarkandas stem, which reduces wind friction and sits the float lower in the chop. I used two 8g and one 2g Cralusso ball leads, on a tube, with two Drennan Float Stops to hold it, then two No.6 shot and a micro swivel. In total, a metre from bulk to hook. But would nearly double the weight down the line stabilise the float and cope with Serre Poncon's ferocious drift, any better than the Italian model?

I marked both reel lines to fish at about 35 metres, which was as far as I felt I could get away with in the strong wind. The good thing about this section of the lake is that there are numerous large fixed yellow buoys, about 150 metres out, that give me the perfect sight marker to feed to and judge drift against. With my Italian float lined up against one of these buoys and began to catapult out several balls of groundbait, enough to lay a good feeding area.

It took 20 minutes to get my first bite, a bleak of about 30 grams... incredibly on a near 30 gram float! The bite was positive and clearly seen, even in the choppy conditions and more small bleak and roach followed.

I began swapping rods over and comparing how both systems coped with the drift and wind and came to these conclusions:

The Italian heavyweight
Casting: The rig cast like a dream. In calmer conditions these floats would tackle 50 metres plus as they cast so easily!
Settling: Once in the water the float took slightly longer to settle than the German float.
Stability/sensitivity: The float was very stable in the chop and showed bites very clearly, even dips from small fish could be picked up. It was amazing how sensitive such a big float can be. I was catching fish that were the same weight as the float itself and seeing and striking at bites with ease!
Drifting: Any rig will drift on these big windswept waters... it is not so much the float, as the line between float and rod that pulls the whole rig off course, almost from the moment it hits the water.
Tangles: None! Punching into a wind is the worst cause of all slider tangles, yet this rig proved perfect.
A nice 'slab' on the giant Italian rig.A nice 'slab' on the giant Italian rig.The German/Belgian combo

The German/Belgian combo proved equally effective for the bream!The German/Belgian combo proved equally effective for the bream!Casting: I was not able to cast this float as far, or as easily, as the larger Italian model. Which was not surprising as it was 12 grams lighter! But this is nearly the heaviest English style float you can get and it does show that in these extreme winds there is a place for very big floats.
Settling: Quick and easy. Once it hit the water, the float settled quickly and well.
Stability/sensitivity: The float proved very stable and sat low in the water, cutting through all the waves quite easily. The bites were very precise with this float, showing any lifts or dips quite clearly. I would say there was an edge in bites and stability over the Italian model.
Drifting: The same problem As with the Italian rig, drifting occurred as the pressure on the main line built up in the wind... BUT, the rig had the edge in that it took longer for it to start drifting. This meant there was a period, each cast, where you could fish with the bait relatively still over the feed before it started drifting off. This I put down to the float thinners stem, which offered less resistance against the waves than the thicker Italian peacock. Once the main line started to pull, it didn't matter whether you had 10 or 18 grams of weight down the line.
Tangles: None!

Why slider fishing is so good?
The proof:
Reading this article, you might think that my tests in the French Alps were proving a point about rigs... not fishing. You may also ask, wouldn't a better 'game-plan' on this type of water have been a small cage feeder, which would probably catch more fish than a slider? Surely on a windy Serre Poncon the venue looks ideal for a long distance feeder attack? Well, I had fished this game-plan a few days before my slider session and caught…. ONE big roach. I also hooked and dropped one bream and got a few bleak, but the feeder is not always the answer on these big clear waters.

So far I'd been using these big floats to catch just small roach and bleak, but after an hour or two into the session I got a bite right over the feed on the Italian rig, almost immediately after the float settled, and it was no small fish! As I was using a 0.12mm hooklength, I took my time and eventually saw a beautiful bronze bream of about 4lb (1.9kgs). A few more bleak followed, then on the German rig the float buried and another bream, this time slightly larger, was hooked. The bite came just to the right of where my feed was landing and it was apparent that the particles coming off it had drifted in line with the wind. This pattern continued for the rest of the session. I would feed in bursts of 5 or 6 balls each time, which were followed immediately by a few bleak and roach, then a bream, usually away from where the feed had landed.
A wild Alps bream needed time to get in on the Italian rig, but it was well worth it!A wild Alps bream needed time to get in on the Italian rig, but it was well worth it!The final result of the afternoon was seven bream hooked, six landed and plenty of bleak and roach. I never managed to fish into evening, when the wind usually drops, because the kids wanted to go swimming and, it was my job to get some meat ready for the barbeque… after all, it was the summer holidays! The slider had outscored the feeder easily, from the same peg I'd fished sevearal days earlier. There are various reasons for this... the presentation for a start... the lack of resistance from when fish in clear water pick up a bait. These all played a part, no doubt, but the biggest single advantage for me was that on wind affected waters, fish can often be a fair distance away from where your main feed had landed. This is because strong drifts may distribute a trail of groundbait particles away from your diminishing feed-zone. The slider allows you to 'follow' this trail, much more effectively than the feeder!

What can I now say at the end of my slider research? Well, the first thing is that there are rigs and set-ups out there that are completely idiot-proof. Try the Belgian tube set-up... you'll never seriously tangle a rig again. Then there's scope to experiment with the more supple Italian style rigs, even with smaller English style wagglers. This was a revelation to me and something I will endeavour to try again, not just when bream are the quarry, but when roach, or even carp become the target species. Try looking on the web for slider floats across Europe. If I had based this article simply on the floats available in the UK, this would have become a fairly restricted article.

Which were my favourite floats for slider fishing? Without doubt the Series 4 Genius models from Michael Schlögl. Those long slender sarkandas reed stems were simply perfect at beating drift and showing up lift bites from small fish, as well as bream.

Finally, respect the Universal Slider Rules, cast with the float sitting on the bulk... use sensible reel lines... choose the right rods... keep the shotting logical AND use tangle-proof bulk shot. Once you do, you can experiment to your hearts content... Italian rigs on Hungarian wagglers... Belgium tubes on Italian wagglers... etc, etc, etc. You'll find slider fishing so simple, enjoyable and flexible... once you're confident that your rigs won’t tangle!