How to make quill fishing floats

Written by allison melman
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How to make quill fishing floats
Making quill and other types of fishing floats is a tradition among many anglers. (Fishing image by Antonio Oquias from

A fishing float serves a dual purpose for the angler. It keeps bait used for catching fish suspended at the appropriate depth in the water and it tells the angler when a fish has taken the bait on the hook. Quill floats are more sensitive to nibbling fish than many other types of floats. They are good a good choice when angling for light-biting fish such as carp or chubs. Making your own floats and lures is a time-honoured tradition among serious anglers. It is a skill that is both fun and a money saver.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Mild washing up liquid
  • Goose or duck quills
  • Soft, absorbent towel
  • Sharp scissors
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Small wire ring to fit in end of quill
  • Silk fishing thread
  • White waterproof, non-toxic paint
  • Waterproof, non-toxic paint bright in colour
  • Brushes
  • Varnish
  • Feathers

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  1. 1

    Wash the quill with cold water and mild washing up liquid. Lay on a soft towel until thoroughly dry.

  2. 2

    Use the scissors to cut the feathers off the quill as close to the stem as possible without cutting through the stem. Do not pull the feathers out because this will leave holes that affect the buoyancy of the float.

  3. 3

    Sand away stubble left on the stem of the quill. Gently sand the areas showing feather remnants. Do this slowly and with a light stroke so as not to break the stem.

  4. 4

    Place the small wire ring onto the bottom of the quill. The ring should slide onto the quill snugly. Pull the end of the silk thread through the ring and around the top of the quill. Starting at the point where the ring in inserted into the quill, begin tightly twisting the thread around the top of the quill and continue for about two inches to make sure the ring is tight and secure. Additionally, you can wrap more wire around the ring and quill to keep it secured tightly.

  5. 5

    Paint over the area at the end opposite the ring with a coat of the white waterproof paint. Paint about one-third of the way down the quill. Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours; apply a coat of bright-coloured paint, leaving 2.5 cm (1 inch) at the top of the quill white.

  6. 6

    Let the second coat dry for 24 hours. Apply a coat of varnish and allow to dry.

  7. 7

    Add decorative touches, such as feathers, by tying them on with silk thread. Do not cover the bright coloured tip of the quill.

Tips and warnings

  • Make quill floats out of various types of bird quills and see what works best for the fish you are angling for.
  • Check area laws for items prohibited for use in the waters where you will fish.

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