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Bobbers and Floats for Freshwater Fishing

Updated on August 8, 2011
tapered wood bobbers
tapered wood bobbers

Bobbers and Floats

Bobbers and floats are essential equipment for freshwater fishing. Both terms are somewhat interchangable, although the term "float" usually applies to larger models. In some areas, the terms "cork" or "qull" are also used to describe the same equipment.

Freshwater anglers commonly use bobbers and floats to suspend live or cut baits at a pre-determined depth. Depending on the type of fishing, bobbers may have one or many purposes.

Uses of Bobbers

- act as a strike indicator

- improve casting distances

- set bait depth

- help in hook set

- some models attract fish

Types of Bobbers

Bobbers are available in hundreds of models. Bobber designs vary based on shape, size, color, material and methods of line connection.

The most common bobber shapes include round, tapered, torpedo, and quill. Depending on the model, flotation may be accomplished by the used of hollow plastic, styrofoam, natural cork, balsa wood or other materials.

Some models are hollow which allows the line to pass thru and then be held by a plug or other means. Other designs feature a spring or hook that is used to secure the bobber to the line.

Colors are important for bobbers. Some anglers prefer natural, unpainted cork or wood while others prefer brightly colored modes. In most cases, color helps anglers to see their equipment better which is why most bobbers come in bright patterns. In some fisheries, the bobber may also act as a fish attractant, with color being one possible factor.

There are several types of special use bobbers. Some models are made specifically to help anglers cast flies, poppers or other light weight surface lures. Others are equipped with lights for night fishing.

For attracting fish, several unique designs exist. One special bobber style contains metallic shot. These bobbers cast farther due to the added weight. They also attract fish with their loud rattle. Another design is the "popping cork". These bobbers feature a cupped top which has a popping or chugging action when snatched across the surface of the water.

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Types of Bobber Rigs

A number of rigs are used in conjunction with bobbers. The simplest is a plain hook on the end of the line, with a bobber set some distance above. This rig can be improved in a number of ways.

Small weights are often added below the bobber. Types of weights suitable for bobber fishing usually include split shot, small inline sinkers or rubber core designs. Weights are sometimes required when fishing in currents in order to keep the bait at the correct depth, Whenever weights are added to the line, setups become more complex.

Regardless of whether weights are used or not, adding a swivel in the line is usually beneficial. Small swivels add a slight amount of weight, which helps stabilize the leader. Swivels also reduce line twist, which can make fishing unpleasant. Line twist can be a significant problem when using bobbers and live baits, so the addition of a swivel is almost always worthwhile.

If using pre-snelled hooks, a snap swivel can be employed. Snap swivels allow the angler to quickly change hooks while fishing. This simple addition can be a big time saver in many situations.

In some applications, anglers fish a small jig with live bait under a bobber. One of the most common is the pairing of a shad dart with a live minnow. This rig is extremely popular for catching black crappie, yellow perch, and other panfish.


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