"The Broads are full of perch - catch 'em on a float"
The Norfolk Broads is full of small, greedy and ravenous perch that will swallow any maggot or worm (and usually the hook too) they come across. Catching small perch is not difficult, and as I am sure you’re after the larger perch swimming around the Norfolk Broads I am not going to go in to detail on how you can catch small perch. Instead, this article focuses on float fishing for the big perch.
Whilst perch will take a bait presented mid-water they are typically bottom feeders and will lie close to the river bed. Perch are not like carp, bream and tench, all of which will suck bait off the river bed, but they feed just off the bottom. If you want to maximise your chances of catching a big perch you need to fish the hook bait just off the river bed.
Leaving the depth of the river or Broad aside for the time being, the maximum depth you can float fish depends on the length of your rod, and the longer the rod the deeper you can fish. This is fine, but it is worth remembering the Broads is a natural environment, and whilst parts of it are cut back the trees aren’t and there are several places where over hanging trees prevents the use of long rods. There are some sections of the Broads network where using a rod longer than 6ft is a real head ache. That said, there are other sections of the Broads network where, if you have one, you can use a 17ft float rod.
The Broads network doesn’t have a uniform depth and the depth massively varies. I know of a section of the River Ant that is less than 6 inches deep (approx. 0.15m), and a section of the Thurne that is 13ft (approx. 4m) deep. I don’t know if there are any sections of the Broads network that are deeper, however I wouldn’t be surprised if there are. In theory, a 13ft rod should be sufficient to float fish a bait just off the bottom around most of the Broads network, unless there are over hanging trees of course, but in reality it’s a different story.
There is, of course, the issue of overhanging trees and bankside vegetation not allowing the use of long rods, but there are other issues to consider too.
Long rods can be a handful used for long periods of time. A 13ft rod may seem fine to begin with, but after a few hours they can become heavy, cumbersome and not nice to use.
When the length of the end tackle is the same as the rod fishing becomes very awkward. Casting is awkward, striking is awkward and landing fish is awkward too. With a long rig the slightest bit of wind can create tangle after tangle, which is very frustrating. I would never recommend fishing with a rig that is three quarters as long as the rod, let alone the length of the rod.
There is a solution to the above, and there is a method of float fishing that enables you to fish a bait on the river bed beneath a float in any depth of water, using any length rod. With this method you can use a 5ft rod and float fish a bait on the bottom in water 20m deep. The method I am referring to is float ledgering, and it is my preferred method of float fishing for big perch on the Norfolk Broads.
When you float ledger the hook bait is not on the river bed, as the current will force it up a little which is prime location for the perch. When I fish on sections where the current is weak I add a little foam to make sure the hook bait raises just off the bottom.
There was a time when float ledgering was a real faff, and you had to find the depth of the water (by trial and error), tie a stop knot and then position the stop knot at the required depth. If you moved swims or cast to a different place the depth is likely to be totally different and you’d have to repeat the process again. Fortunately, this method of float ledgering is redundant and thanks to the Locslide ledger floats setting everything up is far easier.
With the Locslide float you simply thread the float on to the line, thread the ledger on to the line, tie on the hook link, bait up and cast out. Once the tackle has settled you need to wait for the float to rise to the surface and lie flat. When you see the float on the surface you simply tighten the line, and the float will lift up and start sinking. When the float has sunk to the position where there is sufficient float tip above the water you’re good to go, so it’s time to put the rod on a rest and wait for the perch to make an appearance. Setting up the Locslide takes less time than it does to read about how to set the float. Below is a quick tour around the Locslide float:
Compared to other fishing floats available the Locslide floats are expensive, but they are worth every penny and they make float ledgering for perch, and other fish too, so much easier.
In my experience and opinion there is only one way to float fish for perch on the Norfolk Broads, and that is to float ledger.
The best way to catch perch from the Norfolk Broads
If I had to choose just one fishing method to catch perch from the Norfolk Broads it would, without a shadow of a doubt, be drop shotting. Drop shot fishing, or ultra-light lure fishing as it is also known is a great way to catch perch that is not only super fun and addictive, but also easy to get to grips with.
To get the most out of the drop shot fishing technique you need to use the right fishing gear Even though you need to use the right fishing gear, there isn’t a lot of it and it’s not that expensive either. Kitting yourself out with a carp or pike set up costs several hundred pounds, whereas kitting yourself out for drop shot fishing costs tens of pounds.
The drop shot fishing gear I use to catch perch from the Norfolk Broads is as below:-
I bought all of my drop shot fishing gear from Amazon, and all of the gear I use is included in the carousel below. Please note that the links below are affiliate links and if you follow any one of them and make a purchase (this will not cost you any more) I may get a small commission.
Below are some perch fishing links you may find interesting and/or useful:-