Bobbers are some of the most popular fishing tackle ever. They’re easy to use (and easy to use incorrectly!), inexpensive, and perfect for a multitude of fishing conditions. Don’t let the bright colors fool you into thinking bobbers are only for kids!
3 Advantages To Using A Bobber
- You can float your bait in the middle of the water column. Unless you’re boat fishing, it’s pretty difficult to suspend your bait 5 feet off the bottom and 5 feet down from the surface of the water WITHOUT using a bobber.
- You can see if a fish is interested in your bait. When a fish has your bait, the bobber might start “swimming” in a direction, jerk, or completely disappear! How great is it to not only FEEL the line moving but also see evidence that a fish is interested in the bait!
- Bobbers can make it easier to cast out. Contrary to popular belief, having additional weight on your line usually makes it easier to cast your line. Having more weight means your line will cast farther, with more accuracy, and be less likely to be blown off course mid-cast.
Types Of Bobbers
Ball bobbers are those iconic read & white bobbers that always seem to come with the Snoopy fishing pole kiddie kit. But don’t underestimate their value! Ball bobbers range in size from small enough to catch little sunfish to large enough to fish for Northern Pike (and suspend a 10 inch bait minnow!)
The ball bobber has a spring-loaded button on the top. When the full button is pressed down it releases a wire hook at the bottom of the bobber. If the button is pushed down around the edges, just the button goes into the body of the bobber and the wire hook at the top of the bobber is revealed. Place your line through BOTH hooks and the bobber is fixed into position — perfect for fishing at 5 feet off the bottom!
Pencil Bobbers or Stick Bobbers
Pencil bobbers are the longest and thinnest bobbers. They also might have a bulge in the center of the bobber (round or egg shaped.) Like a ball bobber, a pencil bobber clips directly to the fishing line, but the pencil bobber only has one clasp. If the bobber is weighted on one end (typical) then the bobber floats upright in the water. If the bobber isn’t weighted, then it will float horizontally in the water and will stand upright when the fish pulls on the hook.
Slip bobbers are used when an angler is fishing in deep water. Slip bobbers are also perfect for when you need to change the depth of your bait frequently. Slip bobbers have a hole through the center so they can slide up and down the fishing line. There is usually a small knot tied on the fishing line to stop the bobber from sliding up the line. Whatever the distance is between the bobber stop and the hook is the depth at which the hook will hang.
How To Use A Bobber
The first thing on your line (closest to the pole) will be your bobber. When you clip it on, pull about 5 feet of line off the tip of your pole and attach the bobber. You can adjust the length of the line based on where the fish are AND how much line you can handle to cast out. I recommend having the bobber a bit closer to the hook until you learn how to cast it out! (Speaking from experience here!)
Then, you’ll want some weights. I typically put my weights about 12-15 inches away from the hook. You can use clam shell weights that clip to the line or slip sinkers. You want enough weight to suspend the line below the bobber, but not enough to drag the bobber under!
Lastly, you’ll want your baited hook. Make sure you have enough bait to just cover the hook. Much more and a fish will just eat around the hook and leave the hook hanging there! (Again, speaking from experience!)
When you cast out, let the bobber settle, and then reel in so there is very little slack in your line. Too much slack and the breeze will move the bobber. And if you have too much slack, you won’t be able to set your hook when the bobber does go under. You want the line slack free, but not so tight that the bobber is floating at your feet!
5 Final Bobber Tips
1. Size matters. You want to choose the smallest bobber that will float your bait and a weight. The smaller a bobber is the more sensitive it is and the less chance a fish can feel or see it. If the bobber sinks after you cast it out, you have too much weight on it. If this happens use less weight or a bigger bobber.
2. Make sure it’s attached! I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen somebody cast out their line only to have the bobber and line part company mid-air. When you’re casting 25-30 feet off shore, there’s no way you’ll swim out to retrieve a bobber!
3. Start Inexpensive But Quality. I recommend buying ONE high quality bobber. Don’t get the most expensive bobber but stay away from the cheapies too. You want a bobber that is well made enough to perform as it’s supposed to, but not so expensive you’ll never take it out of the tackle box. (Or yell if you lose it!)
4. Bobber Colors. Colors don’t matter at all to performance or to the fish. They do matter to the angler though! Some colors are easier to see in some lighting conditions. I recommend buying your favorite bobber style in a multitude of colors and sizes.
5. Cut Off Your Line. Since the bobber attaches to the line in one form or another, you always run the risk of shredding the fishing line. Most tears are too small to see with the naked eye and only become apparent when your line breaks as you’re trying to land a MONSTER fish. I recommend removing the last 6-10 feet after ever fishing trip anyway since you can’t see any damage caused by bobbers, rocks, or weeds.
Readers Weigh In:
- Do you ever fish with a bobber?
- What is your favorite bobber style?
- What tips do you have for fishing with a bobber?