Slip bobbers? Allow me to explain

July 02, 2006|by BILL ANDERSON

I have received e-mails recently asking me for more information about the slip bobbers that have been mentioned in several of my columns.

What are slip bobbers? How do you attach them to the line? And where do you get them?

The answer to the final question is that you can find them at many tackle shops. I think the last ones I bought came from Wal-Mart.

Slip bobbers have been around forever, but I started using them some years back after seeing several shows and reading articles on the pro walleye tour. The walleye pros are some of the most innovative anglers in the country and you can learn all kinds of neat presentation things from them.

The rigging for slip bobbers usually consists of the following: A bobber with a hole through the center, a small bead and a bob stop. The running line is threaded through the bead, the bobber is threaded on and the hook or lure is tied to the end of the line. The key component of the rigging is the bobber stop, which is attached to the running line above the bead and bobber.


The bobber stop determines the depth your bait or lure will fish, but it also must be small enough to pass through the guides and maybe even wind onto your reel. Bobber stops are available commercially, but you make your own by typing a double uni-knot to the running line.

The advantages of this presentation are many. In the old days, we would attach the bobber to the line at a certain depth and sling the entire rig out. Obviously you were limited to a depth that allowed you to still cast the rig. With the slip bobber, you can fish at nearly any depth, because the bobber stop winds up on the reel. With this approach, you can fish a bobber at 2 feet or at 20 feet, if that is the depth you think the fish are holding.

My friends and I have been using slip bobbers for years for many fishing situations. For example, when fishing for river smallmouths, the slip bobber approach is to set the bobber stop at a depth to keep the bait near the bottom and attempt to drift the bait naturally through likely holding waters. Popular smallmouth baits include live shiners, crayfish, hellgrammites and madtom catfish.

This is also a great approach for channel catfish. We like to wet-wade, and drift minnows or small chunks of chicken liver through pools and eddies. I have also found them very useful when crappie fishing. A slip bobber is an ideal way of presenting jigs or minnows to fish holding near under-water cover, such as brush. Once the proper depth is determined, you can adjust your bobber stop to the precise depth and stay on the fish.

Slip bobber fishing opens up any number of opportunities for the creative angler. I have even used them in the Chesapeake Bay to suspend minnows for sea trout that were holding over submerged weed beds.

The possibilities are almost endless.

Bill Anderson writes a weekley outdoors column for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached by e-mail at

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