My introduction to fishing came at the end of some black nylon line with a wine cork tied above a worm-baited hook. Between the two was tied a bolt. It was pretty rudimentary but functional.

The first time I saw that cork disappear beneath the surface it seemed this fishing stuff was pretty easy, Not!!!

Regardless of which title one applies to these little pieces of plastic or balsa wood, they are an essential tool or the ground pounder. For our purposes here they are bobbers.

Bobbers come in basically two classes: fixed position and slip bobber. The wine cork of earlier fishing experiences is a classic example of the fixed position bobber. It holds the bait or lure in a set position. The disadvantage is that one can only set the depth at what will allow for casting. That distance is seldom more than the length of one’s rod. Anything longer becomes unwieldy to cast.

Slip bobbers are another situation. Allowing ease in casting, they also allow the bobber to slide up and down the line and stop at the position where you want to suspend the bait. You set the bobber stop so that the bait will be at or a little above the level you expect the fish to be holding.

With crappie, bluegill and sunfish this distance will be a little up off the bottom. One experiments as to how deep or shallow the bobber should be set. For channel catfish this is usually about 9 inches off the bottom. Flatheads and blue catfish it is just above where the fish suspend as they feed up from their positions.

Channel catfish in put and take lakes are often inclined to feed about 18 inches beneath the surface. This is because often they are accustomed to eating commercial pellets where they in the rearing ponds at the hatchery.

All bobbers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Generally smaller is better. On windy days a low profile bobber is less inclined to be move around by the wind and waves.

Ground pounders need to know the depth near shore and do not have the luxury of an electronic depth finder. A basic way of finding the bottom is through the use of the bobber.

If the bobber lies on its side, it is set too shallow. If it rides vertical then you are just touching bottom or close to it.

The typical slip bobber rig consists of a bobber stop on the line at the desired depth. It is a good idea to slide the knot slowly. Heat from the friction of sliding the line too quickly can damage the line and even cause it to break unexpectedly. If the stop fits too loosely, soak it in water. Most are made of thread that will absorb water and tighten on the line.

Next place a small plastic bead on the line and below the top. It will keep the bobber from slipping past the stop.

Tie a hook at the end of the line. The hook can be a bait hook, a jig or jig combo. About 12 to 18 inches above the hook or jig, place the desired amount of split shot needed to hold the bobber upright in the water. Place split shot on the line in order to make the smallest amount of the bobber showing above the surface. It makes the float less buoyant so that shy-biting fish won’t have to pull against the extra buoyancy. Raise or lower the stop on the line to make the hook or jig suspend at a desired depth.

Regardless of whether one uses the fixed position bobber or a slip bobber rig, bobber fishing is basic fishing. Used properly and with an understanding of its purpose, the bobber can greatly enhance a fisherman’s chances to catch fish.


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