Bobbers are one of the most common tools used in fishing, and while the average person might not think of them often there are many different types of bobbers out there that serve a specific purpose.
In this post, we will cover the most common types of bobbers found in the fishing world, and describe how they are different and how they work.
Why are Bobbers Used?
Bobbers serve a few purposes for anglers who are using them, and it is important to have a clear understanding of how they are used and what they do for newcomers to the fishing world.
Bobbers allow anglers to present their bait at a specific depth of their choosing, and allow the angler to fish with the bait just above submerged vegetation, or set the bait several feet deep to target suspending fish at a known depth.
They are also strike indicators, and when a fish takes the bait, the bobber can sit upright, bob aggressively on the surface, move across the surface, or simply disappear under the surface.
All of these things indicate that a fish has taken your offering.
Author Note: Bobbers can also help determine the location of your bait, with wind and current moving bait in the water, the bobber will help you indicate exactly where your bait is presented even at long distances.
Fixed bobbers are the most common type of bobber used. The traditional red and white round bobber that almost everyone is familiar with is a type of fixed bobber.
Fixed bobbers can come in various shapes and sizes, and most of them function in a similar way, with either one or two-line retaining points that hold the line by pressure, and can easily be adjusted.
Some bobbers like stick style fixed bobbers work by using a spring to hold the line in place in a recessed notch, and an angler only needs to pull the spring back and pull the line to adjust the length of the line and depth of the bait beneath the bobber.
Slip bobbers are another very common bobber type used by anglers, with walleye, trout, and crappie anglers being large fans of this bobber type.
Slip bobbers allow you to cast further than many other bobber types, as it is in line with the actual fishing line, and they also have better depth control compared to other bobber types.
They are great for using in suspended bait presentations where exact depth is key and deeper presentations over 5 feet are needed.
Author Note: The reason slip bobbers are advantageous in deep water presentations is due to the bobber not being fixed to the line and is free to slide up or down the fishing line itself.
Slip bobbers incorporate a line stop that is tied directly to the fishing line itself and can be used in conjunction with a bead, this means the line stop can be reeled all the way to the spool of the reel with no intrusion to casting, allowing for virtually any depth setting.
Slip bobbers like fixed bobbers can come in many different sizes and shapes and can be made from a variety of materials like foam, balsa wood, or plastic.
They can also come with weights on them as well to aid in casting and give a vertical floating presentation.
Bubble floats are much rarer than the two bobber types that we have discussed above. Bubble floats are two halves that can be secured together and have a piece of rubber surgical tubing running through the center of the float.
When the line is threaded through the surgical tubing, an angler can twist the two halves together to constrict the tubing around the line and hold its place at the desired length.
One of the problems with bubble floats is that they are typically clear, so in low-light situations or distances that are far from the angler, it is easy to lose the location of the float.
Bubble floats have a nice advantage when fishing. Anglers can partially fill it with water when using it, and this will cause the float to sit upright, and strike indication will become very sensitive.
Bubble floats allow anglers to throw incredibly light lures or bait due to the water filling capability and can allow anglers to throw flies typically reserved for fly fishing and other incredibly tiny and light lures.
Many ice fishing bobbers function in the same way as many of the bobbers already mentioned in this article, and others are incredibly simple in design, with some being a simple small cylinder of foam with a hole in the center, and is held in place with a toothpick.
Ice fishing bobbers are normally significantly smaller than bobbers used for the same species of fish in the open water season.
Waggler bobbers increase the length where the line is tied on the shaft, this gives the bobber increased action and sensitivity, being able to detect the lightest of bites.
These bobbers also allow for the easy addition of glow sticks, making it great as a night fishing bobber, and night is also when light strike detection is crucial.
Popping corks are made specifically to flash and create vibration and splashing to proactively attract predatory fish.
They are used in conjunction with a leader, so one end of the float is for tying your main line to, and the other end is solely dedicated to the leader.
Cigar floats have the same shape as a cigar, hence their name. Cigar floats sit vertically in the water, and have more of the float above than below the waterline, and are typically aided with a lead weight on the bottom side to keep them vertical.
Cigar floats and their vertical design make them very useful for use in rough waves and volatile water conditions and are highly visible compared to some other floats and bobbers.
They are great for moderate to large-sized bait, and a great alternative float when fishing for large predatory species.
As it pertains to fish, bobber color really doesn’t matter, even for popping corks this is arguable, as it is the noise and commotion that is pulling the fish to the bait, and not the color itself.
Color, as it pertains to anglers, is where it gets useful, and bright colors like yellow, orange, and bright green when contrasting with dark colors like black allow for easy viewing by the angler.
Top Tip: At night the bright green, yellow, or orange glow of the glow stick is crucial to viewing your bobbers and floats after dark.
For some species, in particular, predator species in saltwater fishing situations common party balloons can be used as a bobber.
Balloons are much larger and lighter than bobbers made of other materials and the air in them creates an incredibly buoyant float and can stay afloat with a very large bait.
The colors of the balloons also make them incredibly easy to spot even at very long distances.
Balloons are not only used for saltwater species but can be used for other species like catfish, musky, pike, and other large fish that are targeted using large live bait or dead bait.
One mistake many beginner anglers do is to use bobbers that are far larger than necessary, with the thought process being that extra buoyancy and added casting distance due to weight is beneficial when using a bobber that is too large.
You should choose a bobber that is large enough to keep the bait from submerging the bobber itself and defeating its purpose, and too large of a bobber will also work against you when detecting very light and sensitive bites due to its large size.
You also want to use the best-sized bobber for your bait being used to help with fish committing to taking your bait.
The fish should be able to pull the bobber or float easily under the surface with minimal resistance, as too much resistance can cause the fish to drop the bait before you can set the hook.
Larger bobbers also create a big splash and create substantially more noise when they impact the surface of the water, this can scare fish, in particular smaller fish.
Top Tip: If you are casting in the same area repetitively a large bobber can scare all the fish away that you are attempting to catch.
Using the correct float type for your fishing situation can be very important, in particular for depth and casting distance.
Mastering the various types of floats for fishing will ensure that you know when to use each individual one, and this will in turn result in more success on the water.