Posts Tagged ‘fishing’

Set Your Hook

Polite Fishing Line

Nothing is more frustrating than a day of fishing when the fish just aren’t biting. Then, you finally get a “strike” and as you’re reeling in you realize that it’s not a fish on your hook, it’s a snarl of used fishing line.


If you must change out your line on the lakeshore, DON’T put it in the lake!

This fishing line receptical is at Goldwater Lake in Prescott, Arizona.

Ideally, there will be PVC receptacles from the Monofilament Recycling Project, sponsored by Berkley, for used fishing line that you can use, but again, push the line in deep! The fishing line poses a serious threat to fish, birds, and wildlife.

If there aren’t any recepticals (they’re getting to be pretty common here in Arizona at least) then push the fishing line way down deep in a trashcan. Line is lightweight and will float out of trashcans on a breeze. Of, even better, take it with you and recycle it later.

If you cut off line at the lake shore, throw it away properly, not just “away.”

Developed in the 1930s, monofilament fishing line is made from a single, continuous strand of nylon. Discarded monofilament is believed to last 600 years in the marine environment.

Special thanks to reader Paul Coomer for this tip.

Readers Weigh In:

  • How do you dispose of fishing line (and trash) lake side?
  • Have you ever seen wildlife snarled in fishing line? What did you do?

What is A “Polite” Tip?

I’m a big fan of enjoying all Mother Nature and our public lands have to offer. But anybody who knows me (or reads the blogs regularly) knows I have no patience with people who don’t take care of the Great Outdoors. That’s why I regularly post articles in my “Polite” series. These tips and articles are designed to give you easy-to-follow rules that protect the great outdoors for you, me, and future generations.

Set Your Hook

Fish Anatomy 101

This week, I wanted to go over the anatomy of a fresh-water game fish. You’ll need a basic knowledge of a fish’s body for next week’s article: Fish Cleaning 101.

Body shape

Obviously, not all fish are shaped exactly the same! Each species is adapted to a specific habitat. Surface dwelling fish have an upturned mouth, a flattened back.

Bottom-dwelling fish have flattened bellies and inferior mouths. Some bottom-dwellers have altered swim bladders so they “hop” along the substrate instead of swimming. By examining the shape of the body, especially the mouth, will give an indication of where the fish feeds.

And if you know WHERE it feeds, you can usually figure out WHAT it feeds on. Then, you just need to provide the appropriate bait to catch them!


Fish have 3 general mouth locations:

Surface feeding fish usually have an undershot, upturned (superior) mouth for feeding on insects.

Fish that feed in the middle of the water column have a terminal mouth, which is usually considered the “normal” fish mouth. Predatory fish usually have a wide mouth, while omnivorous fish have smaller mouths.

Bottom feeding fish generally have an underslung or inferior mouth. Often, bottom feeding species are also equipped with barbels (“whiskers”), which are tactile and taste organs used for locating food in dark or muddy waters.


Fins are used for movement, stability, nest-building, spawning, and as tactile organs. Fins can be single or paired.


Most fish are covered with scales, which protect the body. Scales in most bony fishes are either ctenoid or cycloid. Ctenoid scales have jagged edges and cycloid have smooth rounded edges.Catfish have no scales at all.


The gills exchange gases between the fish and the surrounding water. Through the gills, fish are able to absorb carbon oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. Like the lungs, the gills have a large area for gas exchange.

Lateral Line

The lateral line organ is a series of fluid-filled ducts located just under the scales. One of the fish’s primary sense organs; detects underwater vibrations and is capable of determining the direction of their source.

Special thanks to my model: Tony The Trout!

Swim Bladder

A swim bladder is a hollow, gas-filled balance organ that allows a fish to conserve energy by maintaining neutral buoyancy (suspending) in water. It is what allows fish to sleep in mid-water.

Now you’re ready for next week’s article: Fishing Cleaning 101!

Set Your Hook

Types of Freshwater Fishing Reels

If you’ve ever gone walking down the fishing aisle of any sporting goods store, you’re sure to be AMAZED at the variety of fishing poles and reels available. To make life easier, I thought I should probably explain about the three (FOUR!) main types of reels.

  • Spin cast
  • Spinning
  • Baitcasting
  • Fly (I’m not even going to get into fly fishing in this article, just know that they are wildly different!)

You’ll want to match your pole, reel, and tackle to the type of fishing that you’ll be doing. But, for the beginner, it’s easiest to just find a rod-reel combo that works for you and then get comfortable with it!

Spin Cast Reels

Also known as a closed-face reel, spin cast reels are the best choice for beginning fishermen due to their ease of use. To this day, this is the type of reel I use. It is PERFECT for kids and novice anglers since it is easy to use and hard to screw up!

Spin cast reels are typically inexpensive. Another plus if you’re just getting started fishing!

A spin cast reel sits on top of the fishing rod.

Using A Spin Cast Reel

Spin cast reels combine spinning and casting. The spool of line remains stationary until you use a thumb button to cast. When you release the button, your bait or lure propel your line.

Pros of a Spin Cast Reel

  • They can be inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Not a lot that can go wrong with them
  • Are usually easy to cast

Cons of a Spin Cast Reel

  • Aren’t high-capacity so don’t hold a lot of line
  • Are typically only good for light to medium weight line (small to medium sized fish)
  • Drag systems aren’t always reliable

Spinning Reels

Also known as an open-faced reel, spinning reels come in a variety of sizes and can be used for a variety of fish species, from small panfish to large saltwater predators.

The reel is mounted below the rod.

The reel is mounted under the rod.

Using A Spinning Reel

A spinning reel has a fixed spool which doesn’t turn during the cast or retrieve. Instead, line is retrieved through a pickup mechanism called a bail, which turns around the spool as you turn the reel’s handle.

Pros of a Spinning Reel

  • Variable-sized spool that can accommodate varying amounts of line
  • From or rear drag systems (helps to keep the fish from breaking the line)
  • Good at casting light lures
  • Lures can be cast accurately (if you know how!)

Cons of a Spinning Reel

  • If you’re not careful, you can get the line completely tangles
  • Not (usually) a good choice for beginners to kids
  • Since the reel mounts under the rod, you might have to “relearn” how to cast
  • Can be expensive

Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasting reels are among the most specialized type of reels. They are best used with heavier lures than can be fished with a spinning reel. Baitcasting reels sit atop the fishing rod and come in a wide variety of sizes. They can be used to catch fish ranging in size from a pound or two to hundreds or thousands of pounds.

Not for the beginner, a baitcasting reel is used when fishing heavy cover. This type of reel is not meant to be used with light lures! A baitcasting reel has more uses than the others, but also requires more coordination to use.

Using a Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting reels work with the weight of the bait or lure as it pulls on the line and turns the spool to release more line; the heavier the lure, the longer the cast.

The baitcaster reel mounts to the top of the rod. The line comes off these reels from the top, so it doesn’t twist, however, the angler’s thumb is used to help control the speed the line unwinds off the reel when casting. However, that can make it difficult to cast. Because, if you forget to put your thumb down over the line on the reel, or don’t use enough pressure, the reel spins faster than the line can go through the guides, so it creates a big mess of snarled, tangled line called a backlash.

Pros of a Baitcasting Reel

  • You can cast with pin-point accuracy (after you learn how!)
  • Can handle heavy tackle and line
  • Perfect for catching big fish

Cons of a Baitcasting Reel

  • Difficult to learn to use
  • Expensive
  • Can make a huge mess of your line if used incorrectly
  • Not good for fishing lightweight tackle or for small fish

When you’re in the market for a new reel, be sure it will incorporate with your fishing pole. Not all reels can be used on all poles; the styles need to match. Also keep in mind the type of fishing you’re likely to be doing before buying a reel: size of fish, line diameter, tackle weight.

Also make sure you get a reel that matches your dominant hand. Not all reels are reversible for right- or left-handed anglers!

My biggest suggestion with buying any type of fishing gear is to always start out in a moderate price range. I also recommending going to a good tackle shop and talk to an expert: explain the type of fishing you want to do and listen to their advice!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What type of reel do you use?
  • Do you have any horror stories of tangled line or the one that got away?

Set Your Hook

Stream Trout Jigs

I know you all know that I live in Arizona. And, that my favorite type of fishing is in our put-and-take lakes. But, not everybody is into the “easy” ways of catching trout. If you’re feeling up to it (and can handle loosing some tackle to the rocks of a stream) then read on to find out about how to use a jig set up to catch stream trout!

Most trout in lakes will eat whatever you throw out to them, either on the bottom, trolling, or cast and reel. (Provided of course, they’re biting at all!) Stream trout, on the other hand, feed more selectively than many game fish.

Whatever big trout are feeding on, whether it is insect larvae or minnows, it’s important to use a presentation that looks and moves like the real thing. If you can, creep up to the stream, not letting your shadow fall on the water, and see if you can spot what the trout are after. If you can’t figure it out, (and who can read a trout’s mind!) then don’t be afraid to try different baits or techniques.

Most of the major diet items for a stream trout can be imitated by a jig.

Jig: type of fishing lure, it usually consists of a lead sinker with a hook molded into it. There is then some sort of body on the shank of the hook. The jig is very versatile and can be used in both salt water as well as fresh water. Many species are attracted to the lure which has made it popular amongst anglers for years.

The head of a jig can consist of many different shapes and colors along with different features. The most common is the round head, but others include fish head shaped, coned shaped, etc. These heads come in many different weights usually ranging from 1/64th of an ounce to over 1 ounce. They can also be found in a wide array of colors and patterns. The hooks also vary. These variances can be on the hook type, color, angle of the hook or the material of the hook. Some jig heads even offer a weed guard.

Tiny 1/64-ounce jigs tipped with plastic nymph imitate nymph-stage insects, while a larger 1/16-ounce jig with a 1-inch white curlytail grub imitates a larger pupae or small baitfish.

Nymph-stage insect: stage between larva and mature insect; given to young stages of insects which undergo a partial metamorphosis. The nymph is usually quite similar to the adult except that its wings are not fully developed. It normally feeds on the same kind of food as the adult.

Jigs can be worked slowly (bounced lightly across bottom) or swum through deeper waters of pools and runs. In summer, cast jigs along under-cut banks, around deeper wood, below cascades into plunge pools, and behind boulders in runs.

Since jigs are already weighted, they often don’t require additional weight to sink them to the bottom. Depending on the way the water moves, however, they can raise in the water column, so keep an eye on how the jig sits in the water.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What set-up do you like to use to fish for trout in streams?

Set Your Hook

Catching Crayfish

Crayfish, also called crawfish, mudbugs, or crawdads, are closely related to the lobster. (I will admit that that’s one point in their favor!) They are pretty easy to catch and very easy to cook. Plus, they’re nearly free.

(Okay, in my opinion the FREE bit makes them better than lobster!)

Before you go out to catch these guys, be sure you know what the fishing regulations for your area are: In Arizona there is no limit, but they can’t be transported live.

I do all of my crayfish fishing at night, in the early evening at sunset until I get too cold to continue. My favorite crayfish lakes are near Flagstaff, Arizona, or in the White Mountains.

While you’re out fishing for game fish, keep an eye out for likely crayfish hiding spots: large rocks along shore, under boat docks, etc. A sure-sign is to find claws in the water.

There are two ways of catching crayfish:

  1. One at a time with bait and a string
  2. A bunch at once with a baited trap

If you’re going to go after crawdads with a baited string, you’ll need the following:

  • A flashlight
  • Bait, tied to a long string (I like fish heads)
  • A net
  • An ice chest
  • Dry shoes, clothes, etc.

Tie the fish head to the string by poking the string through the mouth and out the back of the head. In Arizona, it’s okay to use fish heads, but not pieces of the game fish.

Fish guts work well, but they’re hard to keep on the string. I would try putting the fish guts in a nylon stocking or a little mesh bag.

Other baits can be raw chicken or pork, canned cat food, or hotdogs. I always use cotton string because it fills with water and sinks; nylon string usually does not.

No matter what type of bait you try, be sure that it s fresh. Crawfish are scavengers but aren’t too keen on eating anything that’s rotten or spoiled. I can’t say I blame them!

Then, gently toss the head into a crevasse between rocks or just at the edge of the dock. Keep gentle tension on the string and when your fish head starts walking away, you’ve got a crayfish! Pull up gently until your friend can get the net under it.

TIP: Don’t bring the crayfish all the way up to the surface of the water: it’ll let go! Slow movements are the best, and remember, crayfish usually swim backwards, so you can get them to swim back into the net!

Then, put the crayfish into your ice chest. Make sure there is some water in the bottom of the chest first! Make sure you don’t over-crowd the ice chest with crayfish. Live crayfish should not be transported, because they can get into any other body of water.

I’ve never had any problems taking them back to a campground adjacent to the lake to cook them right away, but, again, check with your state’s regulations before moving them. Arizona prohibits the transport of live fish (crawfish included) but I did as Game & Fish if it was okay to take them back to camp live. The officer requested that I put a bag of ice in with the crayfish and return to camp immediately and cook them.

Now that I’m older (not 9 and thinking that falling in a cold mountain lake after dark is fun) I use crayfish traps from Trapper Arne. ESP Boss and I use the same types of bait: fish heads! The trap has a large safety pin the in center that I pass through the fish head.

And yes, I bait the traps. It might be a bit gross, but it’s worth it to have fresh crayfish for lunch!

Tips for placing traps:

  • Make sure the trap is fully submerged.
  • Tie the trap to something so you can pull it up the next morning!
  • Label the trap with your name and address. In Arizona, we also have to put the number of our fishing license on the trap as well.
  • Make sure you remember where you put it!

Early the next morning, we pull the traps up and take it back to camp for cooking. A huge advantage of the traps is that we’re not cooking and cleaning crayfish by lantern light!

I like The Trapper, which is made by Trapper Arne himself, in Payson Arizona.

What’s a keeper and what gets thrown back?

We keep crayfish that are big enough not to fall through our net holes, about 1″. If they’re smaller, they get tossed back. Any females carrying eggs under their tails get put back immediately- they’re a mess to clean!

Although I imagine we should keep them to further limit population growth… What are your thoughts about it?

Tomorrow, I’ll share my favorite crayfish cooking recipe and cleaning tips! So be sure to check for the article!

Readers Weigh In:

  • Have you ever caught and eaten crayfish?
  • Would you rather catch them with a string or a trap?

Set Your Hook

What Are The Parts Of A Fishing Rod?

I’ve decided that since I’ve talked about the anatomy of a fish HOOK it was high time I discussed the anatomy of a fishing POLE.

My favorite fishing pole!

There are literally hundreds of fishing poles to choose from. There are everything from ice fishing to fly; kiddie poles to high-dollar deep sea poles. But no matter what, all fishing poles are made of the same four parts:


The rod itself can be made out of a variety of materials including bamboo, graphite, carbon, fiberglass, plastic, or a composite material. Of course, all rods come in different lengths and diameters depending on what type of fishing, the angler’s preference, and what species of fish you’re after.

A rod that is all of a piece (that doesn’t break down for easy transport) have a much different feel than a multi-piece rod. But frankly, a single-piece rod is pretty difficult to transport! Two piece rods are joined together by a ferrule and if engineered well, won’t give up much in the way of having a natural feel to it.

The ferrule.

Fishing rods are sorted by the rod’s action, as well as its power. Power refers to how much force is needed to make the rod flex. Action is determined by where the rod flexes.


The guides are where the fishing line is threaded through. The guide has two main parts: the foot, which contacts the fishing pole, and the loop which sticks out from the rod. The guides of a rod are either metal or ceramic and are attached along the rod in a variety of locations.


With a multi-section rod, it’s important to have the guides lined up so your line will flow from the reel through the guides properly and without catching. Depending on the style of rod and its length, the placement and size of the guides will vary.

While you’re fishing, be sure to check the alignment of the guides often. A fighting fish can actually twist the two sections of rod so the guides no longer line up!

Reel Seat

The reel seat on a fishing pole is located above the base and is where the reel is attached to the rod. What reel you use, will determine what the reel seat will look like. Since there are three standard reels, there are three standard reel seats: fly, casting and spinning.

Obviously my reel seat has my reel attached to it!


The handle of a fishing pole is what you hold onto while fishing. The type of rod will determine what the handle looks like. Spinning and fly rods have a thinner and more streamlined handle, compared to a rod used for casting.

If you look closely, you might see the ground-in worms and PowerBait on my handle!

The majority of handles are manufactured out of foam or cork.

When you’re using a fishing pole, you want to be very careful with the rod tip. It’s easy to step on, break off, or otherwise damage. The other part that should be checked regularly are the guides as they can become loose and detach from the rod shaft.

Be very careful with the tip!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What is your favorite style of fishing rod?
  • Do you have a favorite brand or style?

Set Your Hook

Bass Fishing For Beginners

Every time I do some research about bass fishing I encounter the exact same thing: ONLY enough information to be confusing! The authors of the best bass articles toss around terms like “crankbaits” and “fight of the fish” and “structure” and “going deep” as if they’ll mean anything to somebody just getting started in bass fishing.

Or, the article is for the every-day bass fisher but was written by an author who spends 95% of the time fishing in bass tournaments.

Largemouth bass

Let’s talk about just some general “rules” about bass fishing to begin with and in future articles, I’ll build on this knowledge for more tips or techniques about how to land bass.

1. When you’re just getting started, go for a lightweight rod and reel set up.

Yes, you are running the risk that it won’t be big enough to handle monster bass, but be honest: as a beginner do you really think you’ll be catching any monster bass at all?

The advantage to a light-weight set up is that you can really feel the way the bass hits the bait and how it fights. Because, at the end of the day, bass are fighting fish and the fun is in the fight!

2. Buy a selection of baits but don’t get anything too cheap or anything too expensive.

It’s better to buy several different types of baits so you can figure out what works best for the bass and what you like the best. I’d recommend getting a natural colored and a bright colored lure for each bait type and get at least three different types.

Smallmouth Bass

Remember that you will lose some lures and you’ll also spend money on something that you’ll never use. That’s the name of the fishing game! The idea is to spend your money wisely until you know what you really want to spring for.

Once, when I was fishing on Ashurst Lake, near Flagstaff, AZ, in high-wind conditions. Not willing to not fish, I headed into town to buy some new bobbers. (Bobbers will travel along the lake surface in the wind so you can see when you need to take out slack or re-cast.) I wanted to try a “new” type of bobber that was an egg shaped middle with a plastic point coming from the top and one from the bottom. And, of course, they were four times the cost of the regular round red and white bobbers.

Instead of loading up on them, I bought one package. After having tested them, THEN I went back and stocked up on sizes, colors, and bobbers with rattles in them.

The moral of the story: new tackle is good but spending money on the right type of tackle is better.

3. You’ve got to find the fish before you can catch them.

As with any game fish, finding the fish can be harder than actually catching them. Bass will follow their food source. Ask anglers who are catching fish where they were at — if they won’t tell you their hidden hot spot, try and find out what the water conditions were like.

  • How deep were the bass?
  • What types of structure was there? (Channels, drop offs, underwater islands, etc)
  • What type and amount of cover was available?

Another great way to find bass is to subscribe to your state’s fishing report. The report here in Arizona says what was caught (size & quantity); what time of day; what was used; and in most cases, where they were caught (deep water, shallow water, in cover, etc.)

And, at the end of the day, remember that learning a new style of fishing can be frustrating but to stick with it will pay off in some great fish-tales in the end!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What are your tips for people just getting into bass fishing?
  • Do you have any sure-fire bass tips?
  • What’s your favorite type of fish to go after?

Set Your Hook: Video

Video: Sure-Fire Trout-Catching Setup

My Sure-Fire Trout-Catching Setup has been one of my most popular articles ever. And since it’s just the tip you need to fish for trout in weedy, rocky lakes, I wanted to illustrate just how to set it up.

Set Your Hook

The Best Way To Fish With Worms

ESP Boss discovered a worm threader about three years ago while on vacation in the White Mountains. NOTHING was working to catch fish; not PowerBait, not salmon eggs, not corn: NOTHING. But, there was one “old geezer” who seemed not to be effected by the lousy fishing conditions.

He told ESP Boss and The Queen Mother his fishing secret:


But not just sticking a worm on a treble hook and tossing it in. Nope, the man explained that he was fishing with night crawlers and a worm threader.

Of course, like most good fishing tips, there was a part of the worm threader tip that the man didn’t explain: how to USE the thing. Now, a worm threader seems pretty simple, but there is defiantly a technique to making it work well.

You’ll need:

  • Night crawlers or other live fishing worm
  • Worm threader
  • Single hook with a leader (as opposed to double, or treble)

Everything you'll need to fish with worms!

For all these photos, I use a whole nigh crawler so you can really see what is going on. When I’m using this set up for trout of sunfish, I usually use 1.5″ to 2″ of worm.

The first step is to insert the threader through the body of the worm. You don’t want to go from end to end, rather begin by puncturing the worm about 1/4 of the way up from on end.

This can be difficult since the worm will slide on the tip of the threader and try to curl around your fingers.

Once you have inserted the threader, you will slide it along the mud vein and out the end of the worm. The threader is now encased in the worm. You’re not “sewing” the worm onto the threader but rather sliding the theader through the body of the worm.

3/4 of the worm is on the threader

The tip of the worm threader has a small hole in it. That is where you will place the point of the hook.

The hole is deep enough to hold most of the tip and barb.

Holding the worm threader in one hand and the leader of the hook in the other hand, you will then slide the worm OFF the threader and onto the hook and leader. This is where it can get tricky!


You’ll be forming a V with the threader and leader. It’s a lot easier to do if you keep the leader taut to maintain the V shape.

If the tip of the hook comes out of the tip of the worm threader, you’re best bet is to take the worm off and start again. You can’t really fix it at that point.

The hardest part (once you get the worm started) is getting it over the knot and eye of the hook. The fishing hook is thicker there. You might want to use a shorter section of worm.

See the V shape this makes? Keep tension on the leader to maintain that shape.

Once you have the worm threaded onto the hook, you can cast like normal. Since the hook is incased in the worm, you’re less likely to have a fish steal the worm. And, it makes it very difficult for the worm to fall off. (Always a plus!)

Keep sliding the worm down the leader. See how much is left on the threader? That's why I like to use a smaller piece of worm. Plus, worms tend to get longer & thinner when you're working with them!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What’s your favorite way of fishing a worm?
  • Have you ever used a worm threader? What are your tips for making it work well?
  • What is your go-to bait (or technique) when the fish just aren’t biting?

Set Your Hook

3 Advantages To Using A Bobber

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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 Bobber

Ball 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!

Stick Bobber

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 Bobber

Slip Bobbers
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?
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