The slip-bobber method for presenting bait to fish has been around for several decades. Over time, however, this simple yet often effective method got pushed to the side by much of the diehard angling crowd (me included) in favor of what are viewed as more complex, higher order fishing presentations that often garner terms like “cutting edge” and “game changer” as descriptors.
All the while, the simple slip-bobber toiled on in relative obscurity, always amongst the best rigging set-ups for use with kids and beginners but too simple for use amongst at least some of fishing’s diehards. Well, that has changed in recent times as many high-dollar walleye derbies have been won by anglers employing slip-bobbers in at least part of their winning ways. Tournament wins and the fishing methods used to win them do turn heads and recent results seem to have the simple slip-bobber experiencing somewhat of a renaissance amongst today’s hardcore walleye anglers!
Tournament successes aside, this blog is a look at the basics of the slip-bobber rig for use by kids and others just getting started. In fact, the basics to be presented below form the backbone of the rod rigging curriculum presented at ZEBCO School of Fish classes taught to thousands of kids across the upper Midwest by myself and other angling educators the past ten-plus years. However, these basics may also serve as useful reminders to others with much more fishing experience who may need a refresher in slip-bobbers 101 to rejuvenate their fishing successes!
A slip bobber rig begins with the bobber stop (often made of string or rubber), which threads on the line to start the rigging. The stop is designed to be able to be slid up and down the line with this adjustability at the heart of the entire rig. More on that later.
Following the bobber stop, a small sliding bead is added, followed by a slip-bobber. The bead acts as a cushion between the stop and bobber to prevent the bobber from sliding over the stop. The bobber itself may be made of various design, with some allowing the line to slide the entire length of the bobber while others have “slotted” ends that allow the bobber to slide.
The line below the bobber eventually has a hook or jig tied on, usually baited with a leech, minnow, or portion of a nightcrawler. Often a split-shot weight or two are pinched on the line a foot or so above the hook or jig. The split-shots add weight to aid in casting and keep the bobber riding low in the water column to prevent it from being easily blown around by wind. A low riding bobber also increases fish hook-ups as a barely buoyant bobber easily slides under the water without spooking even the wariest of light-biting fish!
Now that we’re rigged, let’s look at some slip-bobber advantages.
First and foremost, the fishing depth the hook/jig fishes at can be adjusted by sliding the bobber stop. Moving the stop up the line/away from the jig or hook makes the rig fish deeper, while moving the stop closer to the hook/jig makes for shallower fishing. These adjustments can be made by the angler using his or her fingers to move the stop, so no line-cutting or retying is necessary.
Second, because the small bobber stop can be reeled right up the rod into the reel and the bobber itself slides down to either the split-shot weights or the jig, a short amount of line can be out from the rod tip when casting. A short line when casting makes for safer casting when kids are involved and is also very advantageous when deep waters are being fished.
Lastly, the slip-bobber rig excels at fish landing. Again, because the bobber stop can easily be retrieved right up through the rod’s guides onto the reel, the fish can be reeled close to the rod tip to allow for easier, more successful fish landing. More than one trophy fish has gotten away at the landing net when a traditional “pinch on” bobber kept the trophy of a lifetime just out of reach during the landing process. With a slip-bobber the fish can be reeled close to the rod tip and landed.
If landing more fish is your goal, regardless your fishing experience, a slip-bobber rig may need to be introduced or reintroduced into your angling arsenal. Following the tips just presented might, in fact, lead to you landing the fish of a lifetime this season, and on a slip-bobber!
As always, remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure.
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com to see all things Fishing the Midwest.