Beach Combing is a passion with attached personal rules. Walking the beach for hours on end in search of treasure leaves you a lot of time to think. There are as many mentalities about glass float collection as there are collectors. Some barter with locals for floats, some buy, sell and trade, some steal floats, some sell cheap imitations, etc. I love hunting the beaches for floats because I love hunting the beaches for floats, that's it. I appreciate the float because of the time spent in looking for it. Floats are beautiful displays full of history and mystery, but the bottom line for me is just that I love walking the beach looking for them. If I find floats....great. If I don't...great. I have never bought, sold, stolen, or bothered a local fisherman for a glass float. I also find some other cool stuff on the beach, like the whale bones pictured above. Snagex and I carried 7 vertebrae about 5 miles off the beach. This was after filling our packs with about 30 floats. We picked up the bones on the way back to the car after walking about 10 miles.
I was introduced to Beach Combing and Glass Float Collecting just prior to leaving Japan in '99 by Charles Woodward, aka "Woody". I have listed Woody's blog link on this site. If you want to know more about glass floats, visit his blog and his website. You can find the link to the website on the blog. Woody modestly claims not to be an expert on glass floats, but he most assuredly is. In my opinion, he is one of the foremost authorities, right up there with Walt Pitch, and the rest of the pros. Pictured above is a "grooved mini". This is the only one of its kind in my collection.
I have acquired around 600 floats on my walks. I usually leave the house for a walk around 0200 and arrive at the beach for sunrise. On a typical day of beach combing I'll walk from 10 to upwards of 20 miles. I have picked up over 60 floats on one of these walks, and only one float on another. There is a lot of science involved in the way the currents, tides, and weather bring the floats in to lay on the beach. I have my systems that help predict weather or not it will be a good day, but I'm sure that the biggest factor is luck.
Sometimes I introduce other folks to beach combing. Pictured above is the hall of a friend of mine. This was the first time this individual had been beach combing and he came home with a rare treasure. I have nothing this rare and valuable in my collection. I'm referring to the black float in the middle of the picture above. This float is known as a black pumpkin. I have not seen one of these since. It is believed that these were made in China, but little else is known.
To the Best of my knowledge, the Japanese don't make glass floats for fishing anymore. The glass has been replaced with plastic for the most part. The floats come in various shapes and sizes with different marks on the seal buttons, different mold lines, etc. There are a few good books on the subject and many good web sites. Although the floats are no longer made, fishermen do still use these floats. Pictured above is a fishing boat geared up for octopus. In this case, the float holds the jig upright on the line. the octopus attacks the jig and gets itself hooked. Glass floats are/were used for just about anything you can think of when a float device was needed. This ranged from Tuna net operations to scallop farming.
I'll add more to this posting on my next day off.