Floats and Weights Setup: How Much Weight?

Choosing the right float is important, knowing how to set up your float with the right amount of weights is also very important, and as a guide, I do this for my clients, and I will tell you how.

You first need to be sure you are using the right float for river fishing because not all floats are good floats. You also need to be sure that your float is not too deep, sinking, or is not too high. It also needs to be floating correctly or sitting on the water right.

Weighting Centerpin Floats Properly
A properly weighted centerpin float should sink the float to the colored line on the float.

Sitting perfectly usually means only an inch or two of the float is sticking up out of the water. Many floats have lines on the floats or color separations which help you determine where the float should be sitting.

So an orange top float should probably be sunk to where the float goes from orange to black, clear, or brown, or whatever the lower float color is.

To sink it to that level you need to have enough weight.

Raven FM floats For Float Fishing For trout
The Raven FM floats are a great general purpose float for trout, steelhead, and even salmon.

There are advantages to sinking the float deep enough, which include the float tracking straight in the water better or not being pushed around by the wind.

How to know how much weight to use for each float size?

An example, a 6.2-gram float might be able to handle up to about 9 AB-sized shots, however, not all weight brands are classified as AB, or AA, or BB, some might be 1, 2, or 3 instead.

Therefore, it will depend on your brand of float, but you can figure it out manually.

Take float, attach it to your fishing line and leave 10 inches of line below the float (no hook), put it in flat slow water, and keep adding weights to that 10 inches of line below the float until the float sits perfectly in the water, AKA, or sinks to the perfect depth in the water.

Then remember how many of that size weights you need for that float to be perfect.

If you use more than one size of float, you should start with your smallest float add enough weights until it’s perfect, then go up one size of float and add more weight until that float size is perfect, then go to a bigger one, and add more weights again until it’s perfect.

Record or remember all that information so you will know it for future trips.

I also try to use the same type of floats and the same brand of weights all the time otherwise changing floats or changing weights might mean you need to figure it all out again.

The right types of weights are important, and it does make a difference for many reasons.

I use the same type of weights when float fishing that I do when bottom bouncing, and when fly fishing.

See my page Weights For Fly Fishing: Everything You Need To Know if you want to know more about the weights that I use and recommend.

When you fish, use the right amount of weights based on the velocity and the depth of each spot and then change floats according to your weights.

Also keep in mind that when using stuff like weighted jigs for steelhead, the jig itself can add a lot of extra weight, therefore, you may need to go to a bigger float to accommodate for the extra weight, or use fewer weights knowing that your jig will add the weight you need to get down to the fish or give you a great leader angle.

I would usually go with fewer weights and a smaller float, over more weights and a bigger float unless I need that extra weight to cast a mile out.

Your leader is a huge part of your success when float fishing. But just having the right amount of weights will only do so much if your leader is not good, or if you don’t know how deep to set your float.

Therefore, these articles can help.

Tight Lines,

Graham and The Trout And Steelhead Team


  • Graham - River Guide / Instructor

    I am a full-time river fishing guide with over 20 years of guiding experience and I run one of the top river guide services with a team of great river guides. I have guided about 3000 anglers and this website is a compilation of the tips and methods that I teach my clients and other guides. Check the About Us page in the bottom menu for more about me and our river guide contributors.


  1. for a 6.2 FM raven float, would it be optimal to use 7 AAA instead of 9 AB since you’d have less shot to put on and be able to save more money?

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