Sometimes anglers get ideas locked in their heads about certain techniques. Some think that using a jig requires a natural knowledge of how the bait should be hopped across the bottom.
Others think that using a crankbait is nothing more than just throwing it out and reeling it back in, or putting it out behind the boat and trolling around.
And then there are those that think that bobbers are what inexperienced anglers use to detect strikes. They feel that once an angler gets to a certain skill level, bobbers should become a thing of the past. Well, anyone can learn to use a jig, for maximum effectiveness you should give lots of consideration to the crankbait you’re using and how you’re using it, and the most accomplished anglers in the world still use bobbers. Here’s how you can incorporate bobbers into your fishing for more success.
Bobbers, specifically slip-bobbers, are designed to do much more than indicate when a fish has taken your bait. Used properly, bobbers will help you get more fish to take your bait.
Slip-bobbers are different than the fixed-position bobbers you probably used as a youngster. Those round red and white bobbers that you snapped onto your line years ago did a good job of keeping your bait off the bottom and letting you know when a fish ate that bait, but they were cumbersome to work with. Since they were in a fixed position, you couldn’t cast or reel a fish in close if the bobber was more than a couple of feet above the bait.
Slip-bobbers slide on your line. You set a tiny bobber stop at the position where you want to suspend the bait. For instance, if you want the bait six feet below the surface, you set the bobber stop six feet above the bait. The bobber stop is small enough to reel through the rod guides and even onto the spool of your reel, so casting and reeling fish in is much easier.
You generally want to set the bobber stop so your bait will be at or a little above the level where you expect the fish to be. If you’re after walleyes, generally it works best to set the bobber-stop so the bobber will be just a few inches above the bottom.
Crappies and bluegills will often be found a little higher off the bottom, so you’ll want to set the bobber stop shallower. It pays to experiment with how deep or shallow you’re setting the bobber. An adjustment of just a foot or two can make a lot of difference.
There are lots of other considerations for fishing below slip-bobbers. Sometimes a thin bobber is preferred, other times some anglers believe that a round slip-bobber is better.
You can use a jig or a plain hook below a bobber: They each have a place that we’ll talk about later on. For now, just realize that in some situations, slip-bobbers will definitely help you catch more fish.
This is part of a series of monthly columns by Bob Jensen, noted Midwest outdoor writer and host of television’s “Fishing The Midwest.”