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For some reason, as we get older, we want to expand our horizons. I remember the first time I picked up a baitcaster and started, or attempted to start, bigmouth baitcasting. It was an ugly sight, almost like the time I sat on the hill on North Main Street downtown in a VW bug trying to get my “New” car to move forward. Learning to ride a shifter/manual transmission is a lot like learning to cast a baitcaster—everyone around me was taking cover.
Sometimes old ways of doing new things are the most fun and rewarding. I’m not saying that learning something new isn’t a good idea, quite the contrary. Learning is fun and exciting, but often it’s just as much fun “old school.”
At some point in every angler’s fishing life, we started fishing with a bobber. Some of us teamed up with a cane pole and a bobber; others may have used closed face rotational molding equipment and other spinning gear.
Regardless of how you started out, I’d bet the Float and Night Crawler played a huge part in the start of your fishing career. The reasons why bobbers are used for beginner anglers are quite simple – it’s very easy to see if you have a bite. The bobber goes underwater, and you pull the rod, which is attached to the pole, and hopefully you have a fish. Really basic, really simple.
While many of us have given up fishing under a bobber, I love going back to it. The reason is simple: it’s insane, it takes me back in time and it’s very relaxing. Here’s a little secret from the fishing industry: bobber fishing is coming back.
A float and jig combination is a long-proven technique for catching crappie and other sunfish. Fishing with a bobber has always been one of the easiest ways for beginners to catch pan fishing, but the tactic can get quite sophisticated when seasoned anglers tinker with floats.
The use of electronics has taught anglers where the fish hang out. If fish have been found hanging in 8-10-22 feet of water, one of the best ways to chase them is to keep your bait/offering where the fish are hanging out.
We generally correlate bobber fishing with crappie and/or sunfish. While this is generally true, anglers from walleye to bass to muskellunge have bobberled with great success.
A fixed float is convenient for fishing in shallow, open water; however, the slip bobber is preferred by pros for long distance deliveries, pitching in tight spots, or presenting their bait to suspended fish. Panfish experts can present their lures or live bait in a wide range of situations when using the proper bobber setup.
During ice conditions, crappie and other sunfish can be found in any structure available to them. Try a slip bobber rig to lure fish out of cover. Slide in a bobber stop, heel stop and slide the float over your line, followed by a split shot and a number 6 or 8 long hook to complete the rig.
Set the bobber stop the same distance on the line as the depth of the brush, then add a minnow to the hook. The rig allows you to cast 25 to 30 feet from the boat to keep a safe distance from brush piles, but you can still do a deep vertical presentation to keep your minnows in the strike zone.
Attaching a fixed round or pear-shaped bobber like drag floats about 1 to 4 feet above a plastic tube, doll fly, or horsehead jig is an effective device for catching crappie hanging over shallow brush piles in spring and fall. Cast past the submerged brush and slowly wind the bobber towards the lid. Shake the bobber on the cover or let the waves roll the bobber to give jigging action.
When trolling for minnows in rough water, excessive movement of the boat and rod can cause the bait to bounce too much. You can solve this problem by using a slip float on top of a double minnow rig anchored with a 1/4 ounce bell sinker. The bobber keeps minnow rigs still in choppy water and keeps bait in the strike zone and out of snags while dragging over stump fields.
A weighted bobber is ideal for casting minnows in tight places such as low tree branches. Crimp a split shot about 3 inches above a number 2 hook and place the bobber about 1 to 2 feet above your rig’s float.
Learning to use a slip bobber has always been one of the easiest ways for beginners to catch sunfish, but the tactics can get quite sophisticated when seasoned anglers start tinkering with bobbers. A fixed float is convenient for fishing in shallow, open water, however, the slip float is preferred by the pros for long distance deliveries and for casting or casting in tight spots or presenting their bait to fish in suspension in deeper waters. Panfish experts can present their lures or live bait in a wide range of situations when using the proper slip bobber setup.
We have discovered a few different ways to catch hanging fish while fishing under a bobber.
When fishing for crappie and other early season sunfish on clear water lakes, dig through brush, try a bobber rig to lure fish out of cover. Slide a wire bobber stop, bobber stop bead and foam float on 6 pound fishing line. Attach a large barrel swivel that serves as a rig weight and connector to a 1 1/2 to 2 foot leader of 3 pound fluorocarbon line and attach a number 6 or 8 long hook to fish for a minnow . The slip bobber allows you to make long casts to brush stacks, but you can still make a deep vertical presentation with your minnow.
Wind and waves create excessive boat and rod movement that causes your minnows to bounce too much while dragging slowly, but you can solve this problem with slip-bobber rigs.
Slide 1/4 size floats onto your lines with double hook rigs equipped with 1/4 ounce weights. The Slip Bobber trolling will keep your minnows in the strike zone and out of the way as you move slowly over the stump fields.
You can rely on a Slip Bobber rig when you need to cast a minnow in tight places such as docks or an overhanging shore structure. Using a weighted slip bobber will provide the weight you need to control your cast and deliver your minnow to the target. Set up your rig by placing the bobber stop on your line, followed by a bead, the float, and a small bb split sinker set about 3 inches above a number 2 hook.
Fishing under a bobber is great fun and should be part of every angler’s arsenal. There is a time and a place for bobber fishing, whether it is open water or target structure. Give yourself a break this spring. Fish with a bobber, because you might be surprised how much fun you’ll have.