How to Use a Fishing Bobber

How to Use a Fishing Bobber – Step by Step Guide to Using a Bobber

All anglers, at least once in their lives, have certainly fished with a float. Floats, or bobbers, aren’t only fun but work. Isn’t it exciting to see those little taps as a fish nibbles at your bait and the float go under?

Some fishing snobs look down on floats. But, watching floats while sitting on a riverbank can be one of the most pleasant experiences. This scenario is a mixture of both doing something and nothing. When you think about it, it’s one of the joys of fishing.

Should I fish with a Bobber?

Bobbers are a piece of buoyant fishing equipment connected to a line to control the depth of your bait. Moreover, they alert us once a fish bites because it pulls and moves them.

They also let you access “inaccessible” parts of the water since they can float a bit further than you can throw. They help prevent your bait and hook from getting caught at something at the bottom of the water.

Bobbers help indicate bites immediately, especially from delicate biters like suckers, bluegills, and trout. They will nibble on the bait, and unless you have a bobber, can finish it and you’d have no clue. This is why bobbers are important since they tell you when fish are no longer interested in the bait.

Using a bobber can also help save your time. For instance, let’s say you’ve been waiting for almost 30 minutes for a fish to bite. You start wondering what’s wrong until you realize there’s no more bait and that a fish had already stolen it. With a bobber, you would’ve known that you hadn’t gotten any nibbles in minutes. This would have led you to check your bait right away. Fishing a bare hook thinking your bait is still on is perhaps the biggest waste of time ever.

Lastly, bobbers let your baits suspend over cover off the bottom. This is perfect for fishing upper or mid-level in the water column. It also helps keep the bait out of weeds and debris that may snag the hook.

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Is it Better to Use a Bobber When Fishing?

Bobbers are beneficial if fishing live bait for panfish, trout, and bullheads, or simply suspending the bait off the bottom. Meanwhile, they can be detrimental to your success if fishing large bait for bigger fish or fishing on the bottom.

There are times when bobbers are exactly what you need and others when they can ruin your luck.

When Should You Use a Bobber?

There are two types of fishing bobbers: fixed and slip.

Fixed bobbers attach firmly to the line using spring-loaded hooks, pegs, or other devices. This type is best when fishing waters that are no deeper than the length of your rod. They also help keep your bait at a pre-set depth during fishing.

Slip bobbers eliminate any casting problems the long distance between the hook and bobber in deeper water may cause. They slide up and down, and you can reel the whole rigging (bobber, sinker, and hook) to the rod tip. They float on the surface when cast while the sinker pulls line through them. A bobber stop placed on the line stops line movement and suspends the bait at your desired depth.

How Do You Use a Bobber for Fishing?

Here are steps you can follow when using a bobber while fishing:

  1. Decide which type of bait you’ll use.
  2. Depending on your bait, choose the appropriate hook and attach it to the end of the line.
  3. Pick an appropriately sized fishing bobber. Bobber sizes can vary, so start with the smallest one possible that would still keep your rig at the surface. Choose bigger bobbers for heavier baits.
  4. Know the depth where you’re fishing. Six to twelve inches from the hook will usually suffice. This is where you will attach your standard fishing bobber.
  5. Attach the bobber by knowing which side is top and which is bottom. The top normally has a protruding piece of plastic that when pushed down, a hook will emerge from the bottom.
  6. Place the line in the hook and release pressure on the top. This part is a bit tricky. Push the upper part of the bobber down again, putting your fingers carefully on the edges of the plastic. This will expose the hook on top.
  7. Hold it down and then place the line through the upper hook to release pressure. This allows the bobber sleeve to cover the hook and grasp the line.
  8. Place your bait on the hook. Doing this will help prevent the bait from getting dislodged or beaten up.

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Current Best Selling Fishing Lures on Amazon

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Which Side of a Bobber Goes Up?

Always remember to keep the weighted side down. Toss one of the red/white bobbers in the water. If the white side floats up on its own, that’s the side you use. If you do it the other way around, there’s a chance your line will twist.

How Do I Stop My Bobber from Drifting?

Fishing floats help make it as easy as possible for the fish underneath to take the bait. Oftentimes, even the slightest resistance can be enough for some fish to stop the effort and abandon the bait. This is true, especially for larger panfish.

Less resistance against the water surface means it’s easier for fish to take the float under. This is where long, narrow pencil-type bobbers shine. Rigging them as slip bobbers make them twice as effective and versatile.

Generally, slip bobbers have a small knot of the Dacron-type line that you slip on the line and pull tight. A small bead normally follows that to stop the knot from going through the hole in the bobber. It technically becomes your depth setter.

How Do You Stop a Bobber?

You can stop a bobber using bobber stops. These are pieces of string, plastic, or rubber tied onto the line to set the depth of your slip bobber. When fishing deeper, simply slide the bobber stop further up or down when fishing higher.

Rubber bobber stops are strung up on a wire trace with a loop on the end and a stop bead. They come in three different sizes, which depend on the pound test of your line. Here’s a quick table to guide you on which size to use:

Bobber Stop SizePound Test
S2-4 lbs.
M4-8 lbs.
L8-12 lbs.

Here is how to properly rig a rubber bobber stop:

  1. Grab your fishing line and start running it through the small wire loop.
  2. The tag end should be around two to three inches long from the wire loop.
  3. Use your thumb and index finger to slide the small rubber stop over and onto the line.
  4. Repeat for the little stop bead.
  5. Put on your slip bobber and end tackle, and you’re done! To change fishing depths, use your thumb and index finger to slide the rubber bobber stop up and down.

Do Bobber Stops Work on a Braided Line?

The 4-hole bobber stops and rubber stops are perhaps the best kinds of bobber stops to use. Use rubber bobber stops if you’re fishing with a monofilament line. Meanwhile, if you’re fishing with a slip bobber, use 4-hole bobber stops on a braided line.

Why is My Bobber Sideways?

This means that you may have set the sinker to go too deep and it is on the bottom. Having the sinker is on the bottom means that the bobber will float on its side.

Do You Use a Sinker with a Bobber?

This depends on where you want to fish. If going pond fishing, using a bobber will keep your bait afloat. If river fishing, using a sinker will weigh the bait down. Meanwhile, the strong current will push your bait back to the bank when using a bobber in a river. This is why in the case of bobbers, size matters.

Fish can hold longer onto the bait the smaller and thinner your bobber is. Big bobbers have a lot of resistance, so the fish don’t hold on.

Do Bobbers Scare Fish?

Bobbers won’t scare fish because your line will be suspended at least 24 to 36 inches away from the hook. This makes it look like a piece of floating debris. The fish will be able to see it, but won’t be scared of it, unless the line has just hit the water.

When the bobber and hook make the first splash, the fish may swim away quickly. But, they will normally swim back if you leave your bait alone and let the water settle. In clear water, the fish may be able to see it better, but shouldn’t also scare the fish in any way.

How Do You Rig a Slip Bobber for Trout?

While there are many ways to make a bobber fishing rig, the slip bobber rig remains the most versatile. It’s the most common trout rig and you can use it for almost all types of trout in various situations!

Simply adjust the size of the hook, weight, and bobber depending on the size of the trout. This also lets you adjust the depth of the bait and hook by slipping the bobber to your desired depth.

All you need is a hook, bobber, bobber stopper, fishing line, split-shot weight, a barrel swivel, and bait.

  1. Decide the depth you want the bait suspended at. If you know how deep your target trout are, then pull that length of line from your reel. If not, check out the place you’re planning to fish in advance or ask your local bait shop.
  2. Apply the bobber at this length. This will hold the bobber still at this point and suspend the bait in the water.
  3. Thread the remaining line through the bobber. There must be a hollow tube down the center that the bobber can use to slide up and down.
  4. After threading the bobber, place it against the stop and cut it with about six inches of the extra line.
  5. Tie the swivel on this end and the remaining piece of line. The swivel will help keep the line from twisting and getting tangled.
  6. Add the split-shot weight a foot away from the end of the fishing line. Depending on how big the bait is, you may need to add more weight. Bigger weights also let you cast trout bobber rigs a little farther too.
  7. Use a Palomar or cinch knot to tie the hook on the end of the line. This will make sure that the hook doesn’t slip off.
  8. Add your bait and you’re good to go!

Can I Use a Fake Worm with a Bobber?

You need to think small to be successful with a bobber and worm. You probably rig too much worm on big hooks with huge bobbers. As a result, you end up with lots of nibbles and lost bait, but few fish.

A small hook fits in the mouth of small fish but can still catch big fish. A small part of a worm on the hook often works better than threading a whole piece on the hook. Too much worm means the fish can grab a section away easily from the hook point and rob the bait.

So, try a 1-inch section of the worm. A smaller bobber is more sensitive and has less resistance so the fish can eat the bait easily. Lastly, a shorter distance between the hook and bobber can get the worm in front of the fish but keeps the hook from snagging the bottom. Keep at least a one to two-foot distance.

This summer, try a small piece of worm on a #4 to #6 hook beneath a small bobber. Crimp a small split-shot sinker on the line just below the bobber. Make sure it has enough weight to keep the bobber upright, but not too much that it sinks the float. Fresh bait puts out natural scents that attract fish, so replace your worm when it becomes soggy and pale.

Do You Use a Bobber for Crappie?

Use a fixed bobber set one/two feet above a minnow. Then, attach it to a number 1 or 2 Aberdeen hook if fishing shallow in the spring. You may present the minnow without weight so the bait swims around freely. Alternatively, you can add a BB split shot. This keeps the minnow at a certain depth and prevents it from swimming around too much.

Meanwhile, when fishing brush piles or standing timber in deeper water, use a slip bobber and set it at a depth you find crappie suspended in the cover. Use larger BB split shots or 1/8 to ¼ oz. pinch-on sinkers to drop the minnow to the preferred depth.

You may want a longer rod for flipping to cover works for a bobber and minnow setup. Rods ranging from seven feet for casting to up to 12 feet are ideal.

Do You Need a Bobber for Catfishing?

The slip bobber rig is a staple for many anglers for catching different species of catfish.

They’re popular among those who target channel catfish. While they can be effective for blue catfish and flathead catfish, they remain the “go-to” catfish rig for many anglers who prefer channel catfish.

Slip bobbers are a flexible and effective tool to have in your catfishing gear. You just need to know when to rig and fish them when fishing for a channel catfish. You may even find situations when fishing with them is helpful when targeting blues and flatheads.

Here are some reasons why slip bobber rigs are better than the traditional fixed round fishing floats:

  • Much more sensitive.
  • Usually much easier to cast.
  • Their depth is adjustable, so it doesn’t matter how shallow or deep you’re fishing.
  • They’re the only bobber that you can easily use in deep water.

You may also want to look for these key features when selecting slip bobbers:

  • Lightweight.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Sensitive.
  • Streamlined.


Fishing bobbers are a great tool, for beginners especially. I hope this article answered most of your questions, including how to use them, which fish they’re for, etc.

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