Wack’em with the Waggler!

The waggler is one of the oldest methods ever used in angling. It has always been a popular method with all forms of fisherman, from match, to pleasure anglers, and the specimen boys too. The waggler float itself consists of a bottom end only float, where the float is locked onto the line with shot, although, as you will see in this article, other adaptations have evolved. The waggler has taken a bit of a back seat to poles in the last few decades, but there is no doubt that this cracking method is still winning matches on all venues throughout the country and most definitely always will be. Below are the various wagglers fishing styles and set ups that are effective nowadays, although many ways are still the same as in the olden days!

Wagglers come in all shapes and sizes!

SIMPLE!!!….You can make waggler fishing as complicated as you like, but quite simply, all you need is a rod, reel, and a few bits of terminal tackle. To set up this waggler rig, you first need to assemble your rod and reel, and then thread up all he runners. It’s always better to use a heavier float than needed, as this will be easy to cast and you can be very accurate. It is recommended that a quick change wag attachment is used, so the float can be changed if it’s not right or gets broken, without setting the whole rig up again.

The float is then threaded up the main line, and locked in place using shots. A good tip us to use several smaller shot than just two big ones to lock the float in place (e.g., instead of 2 swan shots, use 4/5 AA’s) as this gives the rig more versatility, and should prevent tangles (as said…SHOULD!!!). The hook length can then be attached to the rig, which is best done using a small swivel to prevent line twist.

A hooklength of around 50cm is a goods starting point. The dropper shot can now be placed on the rig. This is personal preference, and you can fish with a small bulk, or strung out shotting. Try to make sure that your first dropper is below half depth, to again prevent tangles. Number 8 shots or stotz are a good starting size for basic waggler fishing. Either an insert or a straight wag can be used on this rig, which can be fished on most venues, short/medium range, at all depths for most species. Casting the rig is easy and comes with practice. Swing the rod back so the rig is behind, and smoothly lob the rig forward. This is where the heavier float comes in. Try not to snatch at the cast, and make a slashing sound with the rod.


This form of waggler fishing has become more popular with match fisherman in the UK over the last few years, and allows you to fish at long distance with a waggler. It has been very effective for catching big carp up in the water at places such as Larford and Drayton by anglers such as Will Raison and Simon Gould, where groundbait is regularly fired out.

This method may have evolved from the ‘zoomer’ wagglers that Ivan Marks invented on the Witham and other rivers. It has also been used on the continent, where feeder fishing is not allowed, to catch a variety of species. The float is exceptionally large, weighted at the bottom, in which the stem of the float is. These bulky floats can still have a very sensitive insert tip. These large floats are loaded, and have changeable weights. They shouldn’t require any locking shots, as a T-bar waggler attachment is used, and normally, only dropper shots are used to shot the float down. Again, a T-bar attatchment used on big wagglersswivel should be used to minimise line twist at these long distances.

There isn’t really any need to use a stupidly heavy rod for this sort of waggler fishing, although a heavier mainline can be used to take the strain of casting the heavier waggler. This is a fantastic bagging method in the summer, and when the big carp are really having it they home in on the splash of the waggler and bites are instant. Keep hold of your rod too, there’s no need to strike, the rod will wrap round before you realise he float has gone under!!! Its dead important that these wagglers are cast smoothly. If you start to snatch on the cast you will suffer crack offs. Get plenty of height, and cast the waggler with a punchy lob.

Different wagglers….

Straight on left, Insert on rightAn insert waggler is one that is stepped down towards the top and has a thinner insert. This is for sensitivity, and helps when bites are really shy.

The straight waggler is one that is the same thickness all the way through. These are really useful when lying lots of line on the bottom, a the don’t drag under a easy as the inserts. However, sensitivity is lost slightly, but they are still a very versatile and effective waggler. Also, they can be clearly seen at some distance.

One method that has really dominated commercials over the last few years is the pellet waggler. this consists of a thickish balsa solid straight waggler, and looks very ugly! The pellet wag is usually fished up in the water firing pellets and fishing a banded hard pellet on the hook, although other baits can be used. Its a real bagging method if you get into a rhythm, and you can affoerd to use strong lines and heavy gear when they’re ‘avin it! they come is various shapes and sizes nowadays, with self cocking loaded ones to heavy ones which need shotting.

The waggler is a method that can be used on many venues. It isn’t just for vast open water pegs. On clear canals, it has been used to great effect to catch chub. The benefit is that the fish don’t have a pole waving over their heads in shallow/clear water. Also, you can fish well down your peg. Don’t let yourself catch the spreading pole’itus, because there will be some cases when the wag just offers that presentation that the fish want. When its really windy, don’t be scared to get the wag out, it will offer good presentation, allow you to fish off and on the deck, and you wont be struggling holding a long pole with the rig blowing all over.

The waggler has also come into play when whip fishing, and being known as ‘the whip wag’. Using a dumpy canal waggler on the whip enables the angler to sink his line with ease, keeping everything tight.


  1. keith

    Aug 09, 2008

    hi mat just registered not fished for many years found your site & realised fishing has changed over the years would like to say thanks for all the info
    to everyone i am sure this will help to get going again thanks keith

  2. Steve

    Oct 20, 2008

    Agree with the previous poster. Fishing has changed my life too. I love this site

  3. Danny Bragan

    Dec 10, 2008

    Matt you are my idol and my life. Love this blog. I been fishing with waggler a lot recently groundbait works a treat round Kiveton and Farthill.

  4. Mark

    Jan 26, 2009

    Matt as always great. What i would like to ask you is? I’m not very good at fishing yet but would like your advice as to where to fish in and around Basildon Essex. Mainly just pleasure fishing (not just carp).
    Thanks for any help.

  5. susieblue74

    Apr 14, 2009

    matt ive allways fished the waggler for more years than i care to remember but since retirring last year ive joined a local fishing club and all the lads are pole crazy so guess what ive bought one ive practiced a lot but still rate waggler fishing my better forte and since reading your article wack em with the waggler it has restored my beliefs my preferred method thanks for all your positive thoughts is there any plans for the great rod race with you and brownie superb series thanks again

  6. sharle66

    Jul 25, 2009

    Around essex the best place in my opinion for wagler fishing ids tyler’s common off of nags head lane has four lakes the fourth – the horshoe is excellent for waglers. anything up to 12lb carp can be caught along with plenty of nice bream, roach, perch and crucians.

  7. Dennis Miles

    Aug 01, 2010

    Only found this site yesterday going on my first fishing holliday next weak thanks for all the tips hopeing to up my catch rate useing the wagler instead of the pole

  8. shed

    Oct 06, 2010

    where could i get slider wags from


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