How To Fish With Bobbers In 2021 To Catch Any Fish

You never really start fishing unless you learn how to fish with bobbers. A basic bobber rig is one of the most versatile and most effective bait rigs out there. Most commonly, they are the most popular producers for all manners of panfish. These include species such as bluegill, pumpkinseed, shellcracker, green Sunfish, and longear.

The simplicity of a bobber and a split shot is also its beauty. Many of us have been taught as kids to pull up on the fishing rod when the float goes down. Fishing this very basic setup could produce loads of fun for the children as well as anyone else. If you’re anything like me, this particular rig is special to you.

It is likely that your first fish will come on this one. This is going to be a basic tutorial that will go over and review fishing in its most basic form. The very image of a thread, a sinker, a floating circle, a hook, a worm, and fun. Bobber fishing is a historic activity enjoyed by many for its simplicity and effectiveness. You can rig up this historical rig yourself and capitalize on what makes it so commonly used by many anglers, both beginners and pros alike.

Hook, Line, And Sinker!

One of the greatest parts about float fishing is that it can be as simple or as overly complicated as you wanted to be. You can use anything. A $100 ultralight dock setup or a stick. Both can fish basic floats. Well, what is optimal? Pretty much always, I always recommend being smaller in your approach.

A common mistake with newer anglers is that they want to get the biggest floats on the shelf, an average hook, and thread on an entire nightcrawler. Most of the time, this results in a lot of missed strikes, a ton of lost bait, and very few fish. Then, they are surprised at what went wrong. To be quite truthful, there really are no restrictions on what you can catch on one of these.

This is why it is important to use lighter tackle. Try using a very small hook, a decently small float, a piece of the worm, and if possible, use a spinning rod. Small hooks will catch small fish as well as huge fish. It is hard to predict what you may catch so it is important to prepare beforehand.

Bob, Bob, Bob, Sink!

The very first thing you need to do is decide on a properly sized float. As mentioned earlier, your best bet would be a pretty small one. Smaller floats are sensitive enough to detect bites from literally anything and they should always be your go-to. Even so, which type to try is situational.

One example would be slip bobber fishing. When a fish comes and grabs the bait, the float will start to pulsate and break the surface at random intervals. The oldest practice in the book is still valid. Wait until it is submerged to pull it up. The float should also be brightly colored if you are at long distances.

Try not to settle for a basic white and red color either. Instead, try neon yellow and orange, or pink and purple for the little girls who are into makeup or Barbie dolls. You can see those brighter colors better especially from longer distances. It should be attached 4 to 7 inches above the hook.

Proper Hook Selection

A black fishing hook connected to a fishing line on a white background.I guarantee that nobody has told you this yet but it needs to be covered anyway. You need a good hook. Period. Say what you want, start laughing, call me crazy, but the quality of your hook is important. This is because it is what grabs the fish for you. This doesn’t matter near as much when you are catching and landing specimens less than a pound.

As mentioned earlier though, you can never be absolutely, positively, certain of what you may look into. For this reason, it never hurts to have hooks that will stand up to abuse when it matters most. You won’t just catch panfish.

You also can catch catfish, bass, pike, Walleye, and others, depending on your location. Using a very small but sturdy hook will ensure you can haul in the beast if one bites. We love Gamakatsu hooks the most. Also, use a very thin wire hook. Thick wire hooks kill bait a whole lot faster. Why? It is simple.

The thicker wire puts a bigger hole into the body and it will die much quicker because it will lose a lot more blood in the process. You would survive longer from a hook in your hand than somebody stabbing you with a spear. Same principle. Doing the least amount of injury possible will ensure it stays alive, kicking, and attractive.

The Use Of Lead Or Tungsten Split Shots And Sinkers

A pile of tungsten and lead shot on a white background.

As it stands in order of importance, what split shot or sinker you decide to use is almost irrelevant. As long as it weighs the proper amount and balances well with the float and hook combination, it is a viable option.

Pinching split shots onto the line is the most common practice because they are easy to use and can be adjusted rather easily. Split shot is basically lead birdshot from a shotgun shell that has been split down the middle half.

The split shot or sinker should be heavy enough to weigh down the bobber and prevent it from moving in the waves. You can also add them to other rigs to enhance them. The purpose is to give it a little bit of weight so you can see exactly when a fish picks up the hook. Place it closer to the hook if you want the hook to sink faster. Place it closer to the float for more sensitivity.

Choosing The Correct Bait Options

The only thing more important than the hook selection is the choice of bait you decide to use. If your bait choice does not reflect the dietary preferences of the fish in your area, it won’t catch any fish and you will have a bad day. Which one you decide to use will also affect the size as well as the species that you can catch. Nothing is set in stone and you may catch huge fish on unrelated baits.

If you’re reading this post now, it is possible that you just want to catch anything out of the local farm pond with this rig. No shame there. A great option for you to try would be an earthworm such as a Nightcrawler, a Red Worm, or a piece of white sandwich bread. The sandwich bread appeals to sunfish like Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, and Green Sunfish. Pretty much all worms will target everything.

If you can keep minnows alive, you can rig them too. This will allow you to catch bigger fish like bass and catfish, depending on the size of the minnow. Always try to use the natural food source for the fish you want to catch. This will give you the greatest chance of success.

How To Set Up The Perfect Float Fishing Rig

A basic bobber rig with a bobber on the top, a split shot below, and a baited hook underneath.Now that you have everything you need to get started, you will now need to assemble it and get everything set up correctly. For most basic panfish fishing as well as many predator species, the rig should be set up as follows.

A bobber on the top of the rig, followed by a split shot of varying lengths down, and finally not least, a hook with your bait on it. The way it is set up is extremely important too. Make sure it is exactly correct. Everything is extremely precise. All parts of this rig work together to create something special.

If just one of the parts is missed or not applied properly, the entire thing loses its effectiveness. It needs to be in that order. Bobber, then sinker, then hook. The bobber floats on the water’s surface and acts as a visual cue for the angler. There are bobbers for every situation too. The split shot weighs the bobber down and makes it more sensitive.

The baited hook is what actually sticks your fish down for the count. The length of the line to the hook from the bobber varies and can be adapted on the fly as well as the split shot.

You can catch most fish on it if you set it up correctly and fish it right. While fishing one properly may seem straight forward and not very difficult at all, we are going to touch a bit on that now for the sake of simplicity, edification, information, and even redundancy.

How To Fish A Basic Bobber Rig

Fishing a basic bobber rig is actually pretty easy. In the simplest way known to man, it may be the easiest one to fish correctly. All you really have to do is cast it out to where you believe fish are hiding and wait. Many people have this preconceived notion that this is all you do in the entire sport of fishing. What they don’t understand is that there are many more ways to fish.

There’s much more to the sport than just a hook and bobber but this one is very easy to use. Since the weather can affect your fishing, try this. Go to the boat, fishing pier, or somewhere else near the bank from your boat and cast out toward structure. Quite often, you’ll find places like this that are stacked with potential catches, usually on the smaller side. Always remember that smaller fish exist in higher numbers.

That means that if you want to get a bite, you may just decide to catch small fish. There is no rule that says you have to stay still though. Another popular method is to cast a very far distance, let the rig sink, slowly retrieve it, as well as pop it a few times along the way to alert any fish in the area. The slow-moving speed, as well as the occasional pop, can actually trigger big fish into striking.

The best practice is to find a school of actively feeding fish. If you have not gotten a bite in 10 minutes, that means you are in a bad spot. It is at that point that I would pick up all my gear and look for another spot to fish in. This is because the fish have told you that they aren’t there. If they are, they don’t want what you have to offer. They have told you more than once that they are not interested.

Try somewhere else. If you absolutely must stay on the same spot for whatever reason, try changing up your tactics a bit. Use smaller bobbers, smaller hooks, change your bait choice, change your bait size, or do something else that is not identical to before. Try to vary your retrieve speed, pop it, and so on until you get bit.

Fishing With Bobbers Is Actually Very Easy

Once you have the wisdom, learning to fish with bobbers and similar floats is a very easy concept to master. They are very effective at catching almost anything and once mastered, it’s so easy that a child could do it. In conclusion, you have to choose the right tackle by pairing the float of your choice with a balanced, high quality, sharp, hook, and pair this with bait options that the fish are used to eating.

Pair it with enough weight to make it sink. Aside from that, sitting and waiting is effective but not needed. You can also catch fish on the retrieve as well as popping it too. What works best for you will vary and it is up to you to find out that perfect formula.


Don’t forget to drop us a comment below this post in a reply to let us hear what you think about bobber fishing. Leave one. It helps us out!


6 thoughts on “How To Fish With Bobbers In 2021 To Catch Any Fish”

  1. Hi David,

    When I was a kid, I fished almost every day, as we lived near a small pond. Fished with worms for bream and would occasionally catch some other types. I’m now retired and decided to start fishing again and ran across your post. This is exactly what I needed, a quick refresher on setting up your gear for fishing.
    I didn’t realize how important fish hooks were until I read your post. I’ll certainly look and buy fish hooks differently. Great information. Since I now know I can fish and catch most fish with a bobber I’ll start with that setup.
    I would also like to try to catch some bass in the future.
    Do you recommend a certain hook for bass fishing?

    • Hello Bob. What hook you decide to use has more to do with what size bait you are using and what size fish you will go after. Small bass and large bass can be caught on small hooks but they may bend out under pressure. This is the reason I suggest starting out with a 1/0 size hook if you are bait fishing for bass. Try using minnows instead of worms too, as bass don’t go for hooked worms very often. Minnows or other live bait fish will work much better n those situations. Keep us updated about how things go for you! 🙂

  2. Hi David
    This is a great post! As someone that knows next to nothing about fishing, this article was very informative. I live on a freshwater lake in NZ, our lakes are now being invaded with catfish an invasive species here, that is killing our native trout and crayfish. So learning about matching hooks and bait to food source and habit of a target fish, as well as all the different variety of bobbers has been a bit mind blowing. Thanks for the write up

    • Hello Nadine. You are right. All species of catfish can completely ruin a water body if not properly managed. The key to preventing them from killing a ton of native species is a balance in harvesting. I have seen it happen. Crayfish and trout will be decimated by hungry catfish if they are not kept in check by anglers. Catfish are a HUGE problem because they have few natural predators. With that, great hooks will better penetrate those thick-skinned fish. Using crayfish or trout on a hook seems to be a great setup if you ever want to catch some of those invasive catfish. We appreciate your feedback!

  3. Hi David, thank you for a great article full of interesting and useful information. I really enjoyed reading!

    As someone who is new to fishing the tips and advice you gave really helped me to understand the direction I should be taking when it comes to buying fishing hooks and other items.

    As a beginner, it can be overwhelming and confusing when you want to buy the right gear and really don’t have much of an idea. Your article cleared up a lot of things in my mind.

    Thank you, I am sure I will be returning to your site on a regular basis to learn more!

    • Hello Moni. We are glad that the article helped you out. Being a beginner is a little tough and may get boring at times, but we all have to start somewhere don’t we. We hope so see you again soon. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to contact us!


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