I am an avid fisherman and hunter from the great state of Texas.
How to Make a Tennis Ball Fishing Float
Problem: Making a fishing float that can be cast for distance using surfcasting gear, requires minimal material, and is simple to put together.
Solution: The Tennis Ball Fishing Float uses a tennis ball, polypropylene rope, and a barrel swivel for the material.
Materials used to make the Tennis Ball Fishing Float are listed below:
- Tennis ball
- Polypropylene rope (3/8")
- Barrel swivel (size 5)
The tennis ball was rummaged from the garage. The polypropylene rope was the surplus from the rope used to replace an old garage door pull rope, and the barrel swivel came from our tackle box.
Tools used to make the Tennis Ball Fishing Float are listed below.
The picture above does not include the heat source for melting the rope or a spoon used to finish the rope.
- Pliers (pictured: Leathermen). Used to pull the rope through the tennis ball.
- Scissors (knife will work as well). Used to cut the entry hole for the rope to pass through the tennis ball.
- Awl (or small screwdriver). Used to puncture the exit hole for the rope to pass through the tennis ball.
- Ballpoint pen (with internals removed). Used to guide the lead wire that will be used to pull the rope through the tennis ball.
- Wire. Used as a lead for pulling the rope through the tennis ball.
- Gorilla Glue (or silicone sealant). Used to coat the barrel swivel once in place to form a waterproof seal.
- Heat source. Used to melt the rope once in place. In our case, we used a Zippo Lighter.
- Metal Spoon. Used to finish the rope and form a waterproof seal.
The tools used were ones we had in our toolbox. With some imagination, a substitute can be found if you are short an item. The main point is to understand how they are used.
Step 1: Cut the Exit Hole
The first step in making a Tennis Ball Fishing Float is to cut the exit hole where the rope will pass through the ball.
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- Using the Awl, puncture a small hole in the bottom of the ball.
Step 2: Cut the Entry Hole
Next, cut the entry hole where the rope will pass through the ball.
- Using the scissors (or a knife), cut a 1/4" slit into the top of the ball.
- Then, cut a second 1/4" slit into the top of the ball, perpendicular to the first cut.
The results for steps 1 and 2 are:
- A small hole in the bottom of the tennis ball.
- An "x" shaped cut in the top of the tennis ball.
Step 3: Passing the Lead Wire Through the Ball
Step 3 involves passing a lead wire through the tennis ball using a ballpoint pen that has had its internal parts removed. Specifically:
- Illustration A shows the ballpoint pen pushed through the tennis ball. Direction is from top to bottom of the ball.
- Illustration B is another view but shown from the bottom of the tennis ball.
- Illustration C shows the tennis ball and the lead wire that has been doubled over.
- Illustration D shows the lead wire being passed through the bottom of the tennis ball.
- Illustration E is the end result - the lead wire has been passed through the tennis ball and is set to pull the barrel swivel and rope through the ball.
Step 4: Passing the Swivel and Rope Through the Ball
Step 4 involves passing the barrel swivel and the polypropylene rope through the tennis ball and then finishing the rope by cutting it to length. Specifics are listed below:
- Illustration A shows the barrel swivel and the polypropylene rope tied together with an overhand knot (Note: As a precaution, apply glue to the knot to prevent it from untying).
- Illustration B shows the lead wire being attached to the barrel swivel. (Remember: The lead wire is passed from the bottom of the tennis ball and out the top and is doubled-over to allow attaching to the barrel swivel).
- Illustration C is the barrel swivel and rope as it is getting ready to be passed through the tennis ball from the top.
- Illustration D is the barrel swivel being pulled through the exit hole on the bottom of the tennis ball. (Note: Stop pulling when the barrel portion of the swivel can be clearly seen outside of the ball).
- Illustration E is the polypropylene rope being cut to length. Leave about 1/2" of rope sticking out the top of the tennis ball.
- Illustration F shows the cut rope sticking out the top of the tennis ball.
- Illustration G shows the heat source being applied to the rope. Apply enough heat to melt the rope. (Note: The melted rope is hot and may catch other items on fire. Proper safety measures are advised to prevent injury to personnel or damage to property).
- Illustration H is the end result. Once the rope has melted, using the metal spoon, press against the melted rope to form a waterproof seal. The results should look like the picture.
Step 5: Applying Glue
The final step calls for applying Gorilla Glue (or silicone sealant) to the exit hole.
- Illustration A shows a small amount of glue applied to the area where the barrel swivel meets the tennis ball.
- Illustration B shows the Gorilla Glue has dried and expanded slightly, forming a waterproof seal that will withstand repeated casts for distance!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Comments and feedback are welcomed. Also, let me know about fish you have caught using a Tennis Ball Fishing Float!
Johnny on April 05, 2017:
Is it dangerous to puncture the tennis ball? Will it pop when you poke into it?
hbng84 (author) on June 01, 2015:
Turns out the Tennis Ball Fishing Float works well for casting practice, too! Glad to have learned this tip from veteran Pier Fishermen in Oceanside, CA way back when!
C.S.Alexis from NW Indiana on July 06, 2009: