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Make your own waggler in seven easy steps

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Published Date: 09 September 2008
Top Tip...

Yes, quality wagglers are available over tackle shop counters these days, in various brands, but if you can take the trouble to make your own, it's easier than you think, cheaper, and you can tailor the float to meet your exact requirements.

Let's make an inserted peacock waggler for lake fishing...

1.Take a nice thick peacock quill (12 ins. minimum length) with the herl (the soft bit of the feather) first cut off as close as you dare with sharp scissors, then sanded down with fine emery paper (eg. 800 grade). Good sources for peacock quills are bird sanctuaries, zoos, tackle shops, or craft centres.

2. Think of your local lake and how far out you catch fish and decide on the size of float required to easily cast to that spot. Let's say it is two Swan shot©plus capacity (we'll be adding an insert to the float to add a few small shot to the capacity - making it say, two swan plus four number 8 shot total). First, nip the two Swans on a piece of cotton, or line, and sellotape to the bottom of your quill. Test in a spaghetti jar, or similar tall container, full of water. Mark the quill (in black marker pen) at the point just above where it meets the water surface and cut off the (waste) piece above the mark with a sharp modelling knife. Carefully score the full circumference of the quill before slicing through, rather than cutting the quill in one movement or you'll likely tear and damage the quill.

3. Now as we are not going to remove any of the pith from the quill, when the float is completed and shotted up 'in situ' the body should sink close to that mark, leaving only the float's insert clear of the surface. The next job is to add a base and an insert to the quill © both in cane. (you can buy 3mm float canes in some tackle shops, but cane kebab skewers are a good alternative).

4. HOLING OUT. My friend Trevor Goodison, ace floatmaker, has one gadget which he couldn't do without for drilling out quills: a large 4-inch darning needle. But drill is not quite the right word, he simply inserts the needle's point dead centre into one end of the quill, grips the needle firmly, then turns the quill with fingers and thumb pressure around and along the needle. Centrifugal force helps the needle stay central inside the quill. In this way no pith is removed so the quill's strength and buoyancy is protected. When the needle has been inserted to a depth of an inch or more, take a wooden cocktail stick and bore out the same hole you've just made to enlarge slightly.

5. Take a two©inch piece of cane and wittle down one end to a point with a Stanley knife until its roughly the thickness of the cocktail stick, or until half of this cane fits snugly inside the quill. Repeat the process at the other end of the quill. This time with a four-inch length of cane (again make a one inch hole).

6. Glue the three parts together. Any epoxy resin will suffice, though the slow-setting Araldite is claimed to give the strongest bond.

7. The final job is to paint the quill. But hold on a second, if you paint directly onto peacock it will soon start flaking away, the quill being such a naturally silky smooth material. So you must prime the surface. Trevor's way is to add a couple of coats of a water and Uni-bond glue mixed 5:1 ratio (a teaspoon of Uniªbond goes a long way), then paint the colour of your choice - matt black is popular for the body. Base white for the top inch of the insert, and blaze red, orange, or yellow for the 1/2'' tip. For the base you want a float adaptor that fits tightly over the cane.


1. It can be an advantage to add a 'sight bob' to the float's cane antenna, particularly in bad light conditions or if your eyesight is weak. Cut a 2 cm. piece of quill of approx. 4mm diameter. Hole out with the needle and stick, then glue on top of the cane before you start the painting

2. If planning to make a set of floats, use the first one as a length guide for the rest. You can cut at least two bodies from a full length peacock quill, but remember the thinnest one must be left slightly longer to achieve the same shot capacity. Again, testing in advance in the jar rules out guesswork........

TIGHT LINES - Jim Baxter

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  • Last Updated: 09 September 2008 8:37 AM
  • Source: n/a
  • Location: Sheffield

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