Waggler heroes

This series showcases angling history's masters of the waggler float technique, brought to you courtesy of author and angler Jim Baxter.

The Rising Antenna by Jim Baxter

Jim has picked the 12 anglers that he considers the best ever proponents of waggler fishing. Use the links in the side menu to see Jim's choices.

What is a waggler?

It’s doubtful the term 'waggler' would have appeared in the dictionary much before the 1980s or even later. A quick Google search today reveals the following descriptions:

  • A float, only the bottom of which is attached to the line.
  • A type of long float designed to be especially sensitive to movement of the bait, chiefly used in semi-still water.
  • A fishing float consisting of a thin tube of plastic with a line threaded through an eye at the bottom.

Perhaps none of the above are perfect descriptions, but all anglers know what a waggler is when they see one.

Where did the name waggler come from?

Dick Bowker Junior, a top matchman from Leigh, is credited with the origin of the name, observing how a peacock quill float waggled from side to side when hanging upside down from the line. Who knows who first decided to fish with their float bottom only.

By the late 1960s and early 1970s the floats we now know as wagglers were being made from peacock quill and the term waggler appears in the Billy Lane book ‘Match Fishing to Win’ published in 1975.

Jim’s writing career

Jim started off with a fishing column in the Barnsley Chronicle, followed by the Sheffield Star and Coarse Fishing magazine. He later edited three monthly magazines: Angling Monthly, Bank Talk and Angling Star.

In 2016 Jim released his book, 'The Rising Antenna, a waggler man’s journey', which contains the full story not only of the 12 waggler heroes chosen here, but of many other great float anglers that Jim encountered during his time in fishing. Jim is now working on a similar project covering the stick float.

Jim the angler

Younger readers might never have heard of Jim Baxter the angler but he was a team member of the 1979 Barnsley Blacks First Division National winning team in 1979. He was picked for England trials in 1982, missing out on selection with the likes of fellow Yorkshireman Denis White, who he beat off the next peg in that trial match. It was one of Jim’s waggler heroes, Kevin Ashurst, son of the equally famous Benny, who eventually won gold for England in the championship match itself.

Despite Jim being a contender to represent his country, there are many good judges who take the view that Jim’s wife Lynne was the better of the two anglers in the Baxter household.

Last date edited: 6 January 2021