Bobbers can save the day

Let’s face it. Most if not all of us got our start fishing by using a bobber or, as they call them in England, “floats.” A bobber is an item of fishing equipment that is as important to some fishermen as is a hook. Generally speaking, a bobber serves several purposes, the first of which is that it can suspend a particular bait at a predetermined depth. This is particularly important when fishing for panfish like crappie or perch.

Crappies approach a baited hook from below and they prefer bait that is suspended above them, and bobbers do this perfectly. Show me a kid fishing and I’ll bet he or she is using a bobber because it’s a perfect strike indicator. Who doesn’t get excited seeing a bobber with a baited hook disappear beneath the surface of a lake or pond? Rest assured, it’s just not kids who get excited seeing a floating bobber suddenly disappear like a billiard ball down a corner pocket.

Last summer we were on a fishing trip in central Quebec and our usual walleye tactics weren’t working. No amount of jigging could get one of those milky eyed critters to bite when my brother looked at the fish finder and said, “it looks like they’re suspended about five feet from the bottom.” It didn’t take us long to find out. We each tied on a slip bobber and set the jig depth to 20 feet, about 5 feet off bottom. We baited our jigs with a piece of night crawler and flipped the offering over the side. The line sank to the prescribed depth as it was supposed to and stopped at the small plastic bead we threaded onto our monofilament line.

The slim bobber lay flat on the surface of the lake for a minute or two and then suddenly stood upright, only to disappear in the tea-colored depth of the lake. Our first walleye of the day was soon in the boat. We boated nine more fish between us and it appeared the bobber saved the day.

I can’t tell you the number of trout I caught at a local lake using a torpedo-shaped bobber and a number 16 black fly tied on to six feet of 7X tippet leader material. The only way the fish would hit the fly is if the wind blew and the lake surface was choppy. Using a fly rod in the stiff wind was out of the question, but the bobber allowed me to cast the fly a good distance and then to bring the small fly in through the chop. How the trout could spot such a small offering is beyond me but believe me, this technique caught a lot of fish, and once again it was a bobber that made a good day fishing.

Bobbers come in different sizes and shapes, and they can be made from various materials, such as balsa wood, cork, plastic or even porcupine quills. There are about a dozen or more shapes all made for a specific purpose. Each float style is designed to be used in certain types of conditions, such as slow or fast rivers or when fishing in windy or still air conditions. Bobbers are one of the most useful tools a fisherman can have in his tackle box but they still don’t get the respect they deserve.

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