Bobber Fishing for Bass: Tips for Float Fishing Success

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Whether you call them fishing bobbers or fishing floats, having these useful items on your line can make adjusting the depth of your bait much easier when bass fishing, as well as making it easier to detect bites from fish in the area.

Not only that, but having a bass fishing bobber or float on your line when bobber fishing can give you a heads up for when a bass might be nibbling on the bait. For many bass anglers, both new and experienced, this can help make catching bass much easier overall.

While some bass fish anglers never use floats when catching bass, others swear by these bobber fishing techniques.

Traditional and slip bobbers are also extremely common with beginning anglers learning about fishing, or those that simply want an easier time to see if a fish has taken their bait or lure.

Whether you are catching fish for fun or as a profession, keeping a bobber rig in your tackle box is a great choice. Regardless of which fishing tactics you prefer, and which fish species you are focusing on, float rigs, a bobber rig, or weighted bobber can make your fishing experience more enjoyable.

Fishing Bobbers For Bass: Is it Effective?

Depending on the style of bait you are using to catch bass, fishing with a bobber attached can be extremely effective for largemouth bass. In some areas around the lake you are fishing at, using a bobber can also help prevent your fishing lure from getting snagged or dragged into heavy cover by suspicious or pressured largemouth bass that strike then spit out the lure.

Types of Bobber Rig For Bass

Fixed Bobbers

Fixed bobbers are best for beginners and their advantage is their ability to easily hold your bait at shallow depths where fish are feeding.

The traditional style of red and white round bobbers, fixed bobbers will attach to your fishing line in a specific location and will stay there through casts and retrievals. Many anglers that enjoy fishing with bobbers will say these are the best bobbers for beginners to use.

This gives you full control over how far down your bait will remain, and can also serve as an early alert system when fish strike. If the fishing float or bobber is pulled under the water, you know you have a fish on the line and won’t need to keep an eye on the rod tip for movement.

Fixed fishing bobbers are extremely easy to attach and remove from your line when fishing. There are two recessed hooks on the top and bottom which are spring loaded. As you press down on the top of the fishing bobber, the bottom hook will extend and you can place your line over it.

When you stop pressing on the top of the fishing bobber, the bottom hook will retract back against the bottom of the bobber holding your line tight. The same is true for the top hook on the bobber, only on this one you will press on a small plastic sheath that is around the hook to expose it. 

Once attached, a fixed bobber will not slide up and down your main line which gives you complete control over how deep your hook or lure is in the water.

Slip Bobbers

Slip bobbers are also known as sliding floats. These elongated oval shaped fishing bobbers are normally made from balsa wood or foam and are made to move up and down your line.

This gives your lure or live bait under the water a bit of wiggle room if the water is choppy or the fish are a bit hesitant to commit to a solid strike during your fishing trip and will only shy bite.

A slip bobber is extremely easy to apply to your line, though will need to be done in advance of attaching your fishing leader such as with a Carolina rig or Drop shot rig.

You will also need to determine the depth you want your hook to be under the water and attach bobber stops in specific areas to keep the right bobber or float from sliding up and down your line too much when fishing.

Bobber Stops

Pencil-shaped slip bobbers are less wind resistant which keeps your lure or bait in one location so the wind can’t blow it away from the fish you are targeting.

When using a slip style bobber, having a bobber stop is absolutely necessary when fishing. Otherwise your bobber will simply slip up the line to the surface of the shallow water, regardless of how much line is being pulled through below.

A bobber stop can be found in a variety of styles depending on your personal fishing preference and generalized fishing needs. For example, there is a simple string wrapped bobber stop that can be tied on your line yourself, or purchased as commercial pre-tied stops from a fishing store or tackle shop.

Additionally, there are beads that work as a bobber stop. This type of bobber stop can be hooked onto your line in any location to serve as a bumper that stops your slip float from sliding the entire length of your line as you fish.

This style of bobber stopper is probably the most common type you can find as they are useful for most sizes and styles of sliding floats, and work for most fishing styles.

Regardless of the bobber stops you decide to use, it is highly recommended with most pencil bobbers to keep them from sliding too much.

Popular Float Designs For Bass Fishing

These traditional round-shaped fishing bobbers can be a good way to get your lure or live bait over to inconvenient locations you can’t easily cast into.

Bass fishing floats in the pencil design and most bobbers in the traditional round design come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.

The traditional style for bobber fishing is a perfectly round bubble that is almost always found in red and white colors. It comes in a variety of sizes making it suitable for even largemouth bass fishing and can be found in a few different colors as well.

These traditional round-shaped fishing bobbers will move across the water as the wind blows. This can be a good way to get your lure or live bait over to inconvenient locations you can’t easily cast into. But it can also be a downside if the wind pushes your bobber into thick vegetation and it gets tangled in weeds.

In addition to the traditional round-shaped fixed bobbers, there are narrow pencil-shaped slip bobbers which serve the same purpose, but are less wind resistant. This helps keep your fishing lure or live bait in one location so the wind can’t blow it into weeds or away from the fish you are targeting.

How to Fish Bobber Rigs for Bass

Largemouth bass underwater
The traditional style for bobber fishing comes in a variety of sizes making it suitable for even largemouth bass fishing.

Areas to Target

Bass love to hide out in heavy vegetation, shallow structure and high cover areas. This can include edges of the lake or reservoir, deep water areas under the dock, or around rock piles in open water. Always check these fishing areas first when you want to catch bass.

When using a traditional or pencil-style bobber for big bass fishing, you can use the wind to your advantage in order to get your lure into tight spaces where largemouth bass may hide.

If you’re having difficulty casting into heavy cover areas, you can cast your bass lures nearby and let the wind blow your bobber into the shallow water area to get fish biting.

What Bait to Put Under the Float

With bass fishing bobbers, you can use a huge range of different deeper water bait with success. In general, it doesn’t matter what sort of bait you use under your fishing bobbers. It works with a variety of soft plastics, rubber worms, cut bait, artificial bait, and live minnows. 

You can also use a variety of lures with your bobber. Unless you are fishing with a specific rig that uses its own series of float beads or sinkers, you can use any bait style with your bobber or floats. In general, your fishing style won’t need to change at all when using a float or not.

How Long to Leave the Float in a Spot

When fishing with a big bobber, or any kind of bobber rig, you should keep it in one area for only a short time if no fish bites. When fishing without a bobber, your fishing techniques may only have you leaving artificial lures in one spot for a few seconds.

You may also be concerned about fishing with a traditional or pencil shape bobber due to it scaring fish. In most cases, very few bobbers scare fish away from the fishing area. If the area has aggressive fish, the bobber and artificial lures you use won’t be any threat to that bass.

Final Thoughts On Bobber Fishing for Bass

While fishing for bass does not need a bobber by any means, it can make fishing much easier in several ways. For one, if you have issues determining when you have a fish on the line, a bobber can be a very obvious way to see when fish are attacking your lure.

Additionally, fishing with a bobber to catch more fish can let you determine how deep you want your bait or lure to float, giving you full control over which areas of the lake or reservoir you want to actively target fish.

In general, you won’t have to adjust your fishing style when using a bobber or not. Most fish will still eagerly take your bait directly under a large bobber, but if they feel too much resistance when striking they may be more prone to spitting out the bait.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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