Do you love big bluegill?
Steve, I use 3/16" rigid aquarium tubing.
The center shaft? Anything.
I use thin bamboo skewers, because I have a bunch of them. I don't generally use slip floats that pass the line through the center; I usually use slip floats with eyelets at the bottom. This keeps the line down in the water and not out in the wind. The bamboo is tough and about the thickness of a tooth pick.
Long fireplace matchsticks would work, too, and with a coating of super glue would be tough enough for the job. The thinnest hardwood dowel availiable might also work. Old shafts from artists paint brushes, maybe? Sure, why not?
If you want through-float centers, those little cocktail straws or coffee stirrers come to mind. They are maybe a little fragile though if you extend them too far. So another one I've used is the plastic centers from those cotton swabs that have them. These are more solid, but are only about 3" long. I know you can get polystyrene tubing from craft and hobby suppliers so that is another option.
hey steven;; get with keith ritter!! he makes all kinds of floats!
Good for you! Long and thin is what you are looking for, then.
To long and they impede good casting, unless you get into some specialized tackle, i.e, long whippy rods and free running light lines.
I tend to go shorter. Some guys here go the other way, using long "Waggler" type floats. Once in the water they are okay, but I find those to be a pain to work with OUT OF THE WATER. I usually use them only when fishing close and casting is at a minimum.
For bluegill, the aim is to signal what is sometimes a gentle take. Many times bluegill will snatch a bait and run, but at others they eyeball it, sidle around for awhile and finally approach to gently suck it in. This sort of timid behavior means you need a float that has a chance of responding. I favor a 4" pencil-style float in calm waters. I make them from dowels or balsa, with skewers and toothpicks on either end. One end will be the top, or "flag," and the other will be the eye support.
In more open water I reach got a more pear-shaped version, with more floatation, because it handles chop better.
For each I use just enough weight so they balance upright, with only the top 1/3 above the surface. They are then sensitive and able to signal a bite more readily.
Up til now you've heard me make a fuss out of the eye at the bottom, too. Unless I'm fishing telescopic poles, I invariably pick a float with a bottom eye. This provides a more direct connection to the hook, and keeps your line down and out of the wind..