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Slip bobbers create more possibilities

OUTDOORS --

June 08, 2008|By BILL ANDERSON

The summer fishing season is here.

Summertime is live bait time, which means its time to drag out the slip-bobber rigs to present the live bait.

Most young anglers start out watching a bobber. When introducing kids to fishing, a great approach is to take them to a bluegill pond and tell them to watch the bobber for signs of fish activity. The average kid has a limited attention span, and the jiggle of the bobber is the kind of visual reward that will help keep their attention.

Most of us like to think we graduated from this approach to more advanced fishing levels. But bobber fishing has been very popular in recent years (mostly as a result of the professional walleye fishermen), and anglers in fresh and saltwater venues are using bobbers in a variety of situations.

The bobbers we are talking about are not the old style red and white clip-on bobbers. The rigging or design that is all the rage recently is the slip bobber. The pro walleye anglers seem to be the leaders in the trend, but you can also find plenty of information on slip bobbers for bass, catfish and even various saltwater species.

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The rigging for slip bobbers usually consists of the following components: A bobber with a hole through the center, a small bead and a bobber 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 item 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, and is also small enough to pass through the guides and wind onto your reel on retrieve. Bobber stops are available commercially, or you can make your own by tying a double Uni-knot to the running line.

The advantages of this rigging are many. In the old days, we attached the bobber to the line at an exact, fixed depth and cast the entire rig out. Obviously, you were limited to a depth that allowed you to cast the rig. With the slip bobber, you can fish at nearly any depth, because the bobber stop winds up on the reel with the running line. This means you can fish at 5, 15 or 30 feet -- whatever the depth you think the gamefish are holding.

For past few years, friends and I have been using slip bobbers to present live bait to river smallmouths and catfish. The 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 baits include live minnows, crayfish, hellgrammites and madtom catfish.

Each spring, I see more and more crappie fishermen using this rigging. Slip bobbers are an ideal way of presenting jigs or minnows to crappies holding near underwater cover such as brush or rock piles. Once the proper depth is determined, you can adjust your bobber stop to the precise depth and work them over.

Slip-bobber fishing opens up any number of opportunities for the creative angler. For example, a friend recently told me about using a slip bobber and small bucktail jigs for speckled trout in the Chesapeake Bay.

The possibilities are almost endless.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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