Bobber Fishing: How To Use A Fishing Bobber/Float

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While some people view the act of using a bobber while fishing as mere child’s play, there are lots of advantages to using these inexpensive tools.

Not only can bobbers help keep your bait suspended at a certain depth, but a bobber is highly visible, making it easier for you to see if you have a bite. 

You can seriously up your fishing game when you start using a bobber!

Also known as a float, a bobber can improve your accuracy and your reaction time.

Here’s your ultimate guide to bobber fishing – as well as tips for choosing a bobber.

What Exactly Is Bobber Fishing?

Bobber fishing is using a bobber to help mark your line. Usually, a bobber will be a piece of equipment attached to a fishing line. It can be done in a fixed or slip-on position. 

Either way, the bobber will keep the bait suspended at the desired depth and hold bait to previously inaccessible areas of the water.

It can also tell you when you have a bite. Many people think bobbers are meant for children, but that’s far from the case.

There’s no better way to simplify and improve your fishing processes than to use a bobber. 

Tips for Choosing a Bobber

Shape

Bobbers can be found in all kinds of shapes and sizes. While size is going to be of paramount concern – which I’ll get to in the next point as it relates directly to the species of fish you are targeting – shape is also important.

You might find bobbers that are pencil-shaped, quill-like, oblong, round, or even popping.

Fish Species

Going after a large species of fish? You’re going to need a large bobber. 

The larger the fish, the more tension it will exert on your bobber – although this can, of course, vary depending on how hard your fish species tend to bite. 

In most cases, though, a moderately-sized bobber will do the trick.

That’s good news because the bigger the fish is, the bigger your bobber will need to be – and the more money it will cost you. 

Accuracy & Sensitivity

A good bobber will be one that is not only sensitive but can also mimic the movements created when a fish nibbles on your line. 

Remember, fish can be quite subtle!

The best bobber will not only make it possible for you to feel such a nibble but will also allow you to react in time to prevent the fish from running off with your boat.

A bobber with the appropriate level of sensitivity will alert you to the bite of a fish.

You’ll know exactly when a fish has bumped your bait and you’ll be able to sense more subtle movements, too.

Visibility

Many anglers fall victim to only choosing the flashiest and prettiest bobber they find. 

While a bobber that is flashy and attention-grabbing in the store might be fine in the store, you also need to consider what it will look like once you get it out on the water. 

Various lighting conditions, as well as the water reflecting on the surface of the bobber, can play a role in how visible it is on the shore or from your boat.

If you plan on doing a lot of fishing at night, you might want to consider bobbers that glow, are reflective, or have neon stripes. 

Otherwise, yellow or orange bobbers might be best.

Materials

You can find a bobber made out of practically any kind of material – whilst plastic and cork are some of the most common, other options include wood and even bird quills!

Just keep in mind that your environment and the fish species you are targeting will play a big role in what material is right for you.

If you are new to bobber fishing or fishing of all kinds, you might want to use a cork, plastic, or wooden bobber. They tend to be reasonably priced and of good quality.

Types of Fishing Bobbers

There are essentially two major categories of bobbers – fixed bobbers and slip bobbers. 

However, these can be broken down into further sub-sections, too. While fixed bobbers do not move on your line, slip bobbers move up and down the line. 

You can maneuver your bait regardless of the depth if you use a slip bobber, but a fixed bobber is easier to use from a short distance away. 

Both fixed and slip bobbers can be made out of any material, but slip bobbers are often made out of balsa wood. 

These bobbers tend to be more expensive than traditional bobbers, not only because they are made out of higher-end materials but also because they take longer to attach.

Slip bobbers attach to the fishing line via a hole on both the top and bottom of the float. They are then hooked in place with a bead weight.

Beyond that, fishing bobbers can be easily categorized by their material or by their style. I’ll detail some of the most popular styles of floats for you here.

Round Bobber

Round bobbers are some of the most common floats you will see. These are the type you usually see children fishing with, as they are inexpensive and easy to attach.

They connect to the line on the bottom and top and simply move up and down on the water, helping you notice the movement of the fish as they do so. 

You will want to make sure you match the size of your bobber to the size of your fish, however. 

Spring Float

Another option for you to consider is a spring float. These tend to be made out of balsa wood and can be a bit costly. 

They have springs on the bottom that attach to your line.

The spring pulls back and attaches to a small hook at the end. Your float will suspend in the water until a fish is ready to bite.

Once it does, the spring will pop up noticeably, giving you quite a bit of visibility. 

If you’re fishing in heavy current (drift fishing) a spring float is the way to go.

Cigar Float

A cigar float is another type of fixed bobber, like a round bobber, that attaches to your line on one end. 

It is usually made out of styrofoam but one end is weighted. When the fish strikes, the bobber will move up and down in a vertical fashion.

This is not the most common type of bobber you will find, but definitely worth your consideration. 

When and How to Use a Bobber 

The main purpose of using a float or bobber is, of course, to suspend your bait in a set location and to notify you when you have a bite. 

Most basic bobbers perform this function, but some also have the ability to make noise. 

Either way, you will want to think carefully about the fish species you are targeting before attaching and casting your bobber. Your techniques may vary. 

Pick Your Species and Adapt Your Bobber Style

Bobber For Trout

Trout love to hang out in cool water during the summer – which is usually toward the bottom of the water column. 

You’ll want to use a sinking rig during the summer, but during the rest of the year, you can use a slip bobber with any kind of boat (like nightcrawlers or mealworms).

Bobber For Bass

Many anglers overestimate the size bobber they need when fishing for bass. Don’t overdo it! 

Use your smallest bobber and float it near the surface of the water – this will give you added visibility. 

Bobber For Crappie

Slip floats work best for crappie, who like to hang out at a certain depth in the water column.

Slip floats help you find crappie and stay with them better than other types of bobbers.

How To Attach a Bobber To Fishing Line And Cast

If you are rigging up a slip bobber, you will need to start by gathering all your necessary materials. 

In addition to the bobber itself, you will also need your hook and bait, a swivel, a sliding weight, and a bobber stop.

Begin by pulling the desired length of fishing line. Add the bobber stop to your line (it will either pinch or be tied on) and then run your line through the bobber. 

Most have hollow tubes that you can fish the line through.

Add your sliding weight, remembering that the farther you intend to cast, the more weight you will need.

You may have to do some trial and error to figure this out. Then, attach your swivel.

Add extra line if necessary before you tie on your hook. Then, add your bait. You’re done!

A fixed bobber is attached in a slightly different way. It’s much easier to attach than a slip bobber – all you need to do is fix it to your line. 

The line will attach to the top and bottom of the bobber and will remain fixed in place.

Casting with a bobber can be tricky – but the best technique is to lob cast. To lob cast, you’ll leave about five feet of line hanging from your rod. 

Raise your tip to swing the lure back and forth, then bring the rod tip up and to release the line when you swing forward. 

Still confused? Here’s a quick video below that will show you how to rig up your bobber.

What Kind of Bait to Use?

You can use just about any kind of bait when you are using a bobber. If it worked without a bobber, it would probably work with one, too. 

Some good options include grasshoppers, eggs, crickets, worms, minnows, and mealworms.

These options are the most natural-looking and will help encourage more fish to bite your hook. 

Use a Bobber to Enhance Your Fishing This Summer

You can use a bobber for fishing at any time of the year, but you’ll want to add one to your tacklebox this summer so you can make the most of your time out there on the water. 

Remember, bobbers aren’t just for distracted fishermen or anglers who are young (or young at heart).

A bobber has a place in any fisherman’s arsenal of supplies – and can enhance your time out there on the water!

6 Quick Bobber Fishing Recommendations to Get You Started

In a hurry? Here are the best bobber selections.

Last update on 2022-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6 Best Bobbers for You to Consider

Here are the top bobbers on the market today

Thill Pro Series Slip Bobber Rig Kit

The Thill Pro Series Slip Bobber is one of the best slip bobbers you can buy because it comes with a helpful, all-inclusive kit. 

You don’t have to purchase all the elements you need to go fishing separately because this one has it all. 

After all, that’s a major disadvantage of using a slip bobber – it seems to take forever to get things rigged up. 

However, this option not only comes with sinkers, beads, bobber stops, split shot, and a hook, but the bobber itself. 

All of these items are of exceptional quality – you’re not sacrificing quality in this bulk buy. They are incredibly durable and straightforward to use. 

If you aren’t sure how to get started with the Thill Pro Series Slip Bobber Rig Kit, don’t worry. 

The kit comes with an easy-to-follow guide that you can use to get everything set up and running effectively. 

Pros:

  • Easy to use and assemble
  • Made out of durable materials 
  • The all-inclusive product comes with a helpful guide

Cons:

  • A bit costly if you’re really only interested in the bobbers

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Eagle Claw Balsa Style Oval Fixed Float

If effortless fishing is what you’re after, then this oval fixed float by Eagle Claw is one you’ve got to consider. 

Eagle Claw has long been regarded as one of the best manufacturers of angling equipment, and these bobbers are no exception. 

There are two pieces to this kit, both of which measure in around six inches. This is much larger than what you might be used to receiving in a standard bobber. 

The size is large for a reason. These bobbers are remarkably easy to see in any kind of fishing condition. 

You can even see them when they are slightly submerged in deep water since they have heavy sinkers. 

The Eagle Claw bobbers are also quite sensitive. You will be able to see every movement of the fish. 

Plus, Eagle Claw is a reliable manufacturer with nearly a century’s worth of experience in manufacturing some of the best-rated fishing equipment. 

Pros:

  • Especially effective for panfish and gentle-biting fish 
  • Length of six inches makes them easy to see
  • Responsive and easy to use 

Cons:

  • Can be a bit too big for some species of fish 

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Eagle Claw Snap-On Floats Assortment

Another top pick by Eagle Claw is this assortment of snap-on floats. You will be able to choose between three colors – red and white, orange and yellow, and green and pink.

Made out of strong, dependable plastic, these bobbers come in assorted sizes. Pick up one of these packages, and you’ll have floats that work well regardless of the location or species. 

They measure 1”, 1 ¼”, and 1 ½”. Since there are several color options available, you’ll be able to pick the choices that are most visible for your unique eyes. 

Not only that, but these bobbers are offered at an inexpensive price. If you’re new to bobber fishing – or fishing with a small child – they are a great bet. 

Pros:

  • Come in an assortment of sizes
  • Several colors available for maximum visibility 
  • Easy to attach to your line

Cons:

  • Some customers report that they break easily while in use

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Billy Boy 94 Weighted Snap-On Float Asst, 6 Piece

Another great variety pack for you to consider is this pack of six by Billy Boy. 

These bobbers have bright, highly visible colors like green, electric yellow, and orange – they are remarkably easy to see in low light conditions.

The Billy Boy floats attach easily to your line – they simply snap right on. You won’t need to spend hours trying to get your bobbers attached to your gear. 

Instead, the bobbers have two small hooks, both at the top and bottom, that expands when you push down. 

The easy method of attachment on these bobbers prevents tangles and makes them perfect for just about any kind of fishing.

Pros:

  • Just the right amount of weight for most types of fish
  • Come in various highly visible colors
  • Ultra-sensitive to fish movement

Cons

  • Some customers report some variations and inconsistencies in the products they received

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

Thill Fish’N Foam Cigar Floats – Red – 2 1/2 in – Weighted Clip

I would be remiss without mentioning these awesome cigar floats by Thill Fish’N Foam!

Not only are they incredibly easy to see with their bright red coloring, but they are also easy to use.

These bobbers are made out of durable foam. When you buy, you’ll get a package of two separate bobbers. 

Each has a fixed design that allows you to quickly and easily find and set a depth.

The weight of the bobbers helps them stand up on their own, making them a smart choice for fishing for just about any kind of fish.

Pros:

  • Easy to see in the water
  • Works for just about any kind of fish 
  • Durable foam design resists damage

Cons:

  • Some customers report that it’s difficult to snap these bobbers on to your line

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

THKFISH Slip Bobbers Fishing Floats and Bobbers Balsa Wood

One final bobber option for you to consider is the THKFISH slip bobber. They are light and sensitive and incredibly responsive. 

The slip bobbers slide freely up and down the line, making it easy for you to fish at a variety of depths. 

Whether you’re fishing for panfish, bass, or trout, these floats are ideal. An incredibly versatile set of bobbers, they make it easy to detect light, subtle bites. 

They are attractive and come in a variety of colors, including beige, black, green, blue, and red. 

Made out of high-quality balsa wood, these are bobbers that you wouldn’t mind giving as a gift, either.

Pros:

  • Comes with manufacturer’s warranty
  • Easy to install
  • Attractive and stylish 

Cons:

  • Some of the bobber’s color options can be hard to see

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

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Sean Ward

Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’m based in the UK yet I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.

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