Bobber or Float? This simple tool will help you catch fish

The bobber, or float, is one of fishing’s simplest pieces of equipment. Early models were little more than a piece of cork and many modern versions are very similar in their design. But regardless of the simplicity those early models worked and continue to work doing exactly what they were designed to do – catch fish! This is why you need to have one on your line.

Almost every youngster who ever wet a line is familiar with the bobber as this was often a staple of their early angling experience. It makes sense to have young or novice anglers use a bobber or float because they make it easier to position bait and detect bites, especially those too subtle for inexperienced hands to notice. But this is also why you should continue to use one even after you no longer consider yourself a novice. The problem is even many experienced anglers do not understand how or when to use a float, so let me give you some tips

Walk through the aisles of your favorite tackle shop and you will be amazed at the vast selection of bobbers or floats available. All different sizes, shapes and configurations in every color of the rainbow are on display. It appears to be far more complex than the simple days of being a kid with a cane pole, but it really isn’t. Most bobber can be divided into one of two versions – Fixed or slip. Everything else, even the paste floats many fly fishermen use, are variations on either of these two designs.

So what is the difference between the two versions and how do you properly use each?


These are often round or oblong shaped with recessed hooks on one of both ends. Imagine the red & white ball bobbers of your youth. The line is run through these hooks, which are often spring loaded, and when the hooks close the bobber is held in a stationary position on your line. Although these fixed bobbers are generally considered the simplest version available they are very popular with panfishermen and have a growing popularity with bass anglers as well. If used properly they can effectively be used for almost any species found in shallow water, or areas under 6 feet in depth.


These models are often elongated or pencil shaped and, as the name suggest, they are not stationary but instead slide along the line. Of course a bobber which slides without restriction is of little use as the bait would eventually lay on the bottom and fish could freely take your bait without detection. For these reasons it is necessary to establish an upper limit at which the bobber will stop and react as if it were fixed. This is done by adding a stopper or bead to the line above the bobber. Slip bobbers are excellent choices in deeper water or when fishing live bait.

Good luck, good fishing!

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