I always try to visualise what is happening under the water, and the only concrete clues I can count on are the bites, or the lack of them.
When loose-feeding for roach and dace, it always pays to shuffle the tackle when bites cease. Moving a shot an inch or two, or altering the depth slightly, works so frequently that one has to assume that the fish, as well as becoming wary because of their diminishing numbers, also get shy of baits coming to them in precisely the same way all the time.
Good loose-feeing is one of the key factors affecting success in match angling, and the difficulty of getting it right is one of the reasons why I set so much store by practising for big matches.
The starting point is the knowledge that you cannot scare fish away if they are not there to begin with.
I always think fish behave a bit like birds. If you scatter breadcrumbs on a lawn the birds begin eating it from the edges, rarely alighting in the middle, and I reckon fish behave the same way.
The trick to drop fishing is to read the signs, and the most important one is getting a caster shelled or a maggot sucked without seeing a bite.
A stick float is quite heavy in relation to its size, and at any sort of range we can cop for a splashy sort of strike.
The fish in shallow water tend to be shy. They usually come into the baited area, pick up a bait and bolt.
The original choice of float is obviously dictated by the distance to be cast and the conditions on the day, and the aim should be to achieve whatever distance is required easily. It is better to overcast and pull back than to fall short and have to cast again.
It goes without saying that the kinds of bites we can expect depends entirely on the way the fish are behaving on the day, and how we are shotted in response to that behaviour.
To be perfectly honest the appearance of my floats has never interested me. I never even thought about them in the artistic sense until Colin brought it up, but I suppose the answer lies under the general heading of ignoring everything which is not essential. I devote a lot of time, thought and energy to my fishing, but only to those departments which require time, thought and energy.