Bobber (Float) Fishing: How to catch fish with it?

Bobber (Float) Fishing

When people mention fishing, the first picture we see in our head is a person sitting on a riverbank, holding their fishing rod and staring into water.

And in the water, we see a colorful fishing bobber ...

There is something exceptional about bobber (float) fishing!

You look and wait and you finally see it moving.

And a few moments later, if you are lucky, you are holding the best fish you ever caught in your hands.

Bobber fishing is very popular, has a lot of advantages which we will mention later on.

So let's get started and answer some questions.



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What is bobber (float) fishing?

Bobber or a float (it is actually the same thing but different name) is a piece of fishing equipment, a buoyant item, connected to the fishing line, to control the depth of your bait.

Except that, it shows us when the fish bites because it pulls it and moves it.

It is also good to access otherwise inaccessible parts of water because we can let it float a bit further than we can throw.

It also prevents our bait and hooks to get caught in something at the bottom of the water.

Different types of bobbers (floats)

History of fishing bobbers is very long and it is one of the most popular fishing methods in the world, from the time when fishing was a way to survive, not just a hobby.

There are numerous manufacturers, types, and varieties of bobbers.

Most of them are plastic or styrofoam, but there are even wooden ones. They are colorful or even illuminated for nighttime bobber fishing.

We divide them into two main groups:

  • Fixed - it is set in place whit no possibility to move it up and down your fishing line. The desired depth of your bait must be decided before you set up your bobber. The fishing line is attached from both sides, up and down.
  • Slip - this one can move up and down your fishing line and you can change the bait depth. It is hollow and the fishing line goes through it. This one is a bit harder to set up, but we will explain that later on.

Fishing bobbers also have different shapes:

  • Round - Most popular floats for numerous users and beginners. Made of plastic, easy to set up. Available in different sizes. To choose a size just follow a simple roule: The bigger the fish the bigger the float. If you use big ones for small fish you may end up empty-handed because fish won't be able to pull the fishing line. They are in a group of fixed bobbers. Ideal for dock/riverbank fishing.
  • Cigare - Cylinder shaped, made of styrofoam. Not as popular as the round ones. Easy to set up, they are fixed bobbers too. One end is heavier so when the fish pulls it stands upwards. Ideal for light biting fish.
  • Slip - This one goes into the slip bobber group. Hollow in the middle, made of basla wood. Bead weight below and rubber stopper above hold it in place. Their main advantage is the ability to move along the fishing line. The price of those is also a bit higher. Light and thin ones can detect the lightest bite and are very popular in Europe and are pencil shaped. Oval shaped are larger.
  • Spring - they have a spring on the bottom part. Spring is attached to your fishing line and it holds the bobber in place. This fishing bobber is also made of balsa wood and the price is higher. They are the best for wavy waters.

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Bobber (Float) Fishing - Types

How to set up the bobber for fishing?

As already mentioned, fixed bobbers are easier to set up than slip. That means that fixed ones are better for complete beginners.

Let's start with more complicated one. If you think that is too hard, then the subsequent one will seem like a child play.

Slip fishing bobber:

Having just a bobber here is just a beginning.

You will need few more items here; bobber stopper, sliding weight, swivel, hook and bait. You have to follow a few steps:

  1. Determine the desired depth for your bait and pull that length of the fishing line.
  2. First item you should fix to the fishing line is bobber stopper.
  3. Fishing bead is the second item. It is optional but advisable to have. It takes out the possibility your bobber stopper will end up passing through the bobber.
  4. Attach the fishing bobber. There is a narrow hole down the middle of it and you need to pull the fishing line through.
  5. Next step is to attach sliding weight. Make sure you use the right one. Too heavy can submerge the bobber and too light will cause this whole set up to "dance around" while in water.
  6. Set up the swivel. Make sure the distance from the bobber is correct.
  7. Finally, tie down your hook, put on your favorite bait and get started.

Fixed fishing bobber: 

This one is much easier to set up ... 

  1. Determine the desired depth and pull out that length of the fishing line.
  2. Locate the "button" on one side of the fishing bobber and press it.
  3. Slip the fishing line through the wire hook and relese the "button".
  4. Fully press the "button" and attach the fishing line to the other side of the fishing bobber.
  5. Add the hook.

Bait and fishing bobber:

Size of a bobber depends on bait, not just the size of the fish we are trying to catch.

Baits can be live or dead. If you use live bait it will move a bit and if too small bobber is used it will be hard to determine is the fish moving it or the bait itself. Examples:

  • Round bobber with 1 inch (2.54 cm) diameter is ideal for dock fishing and using small worms as bait.
  • Oval slip bobbers are best for larger live bait.

Popular baits are grasshoppers, worms, minnows, and crickets.

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Bobber (Float) Fishing - How to set correctly

Fishing with the bobber

As we already mentioned, choosing a bobber depends on the fish we want to catch and bait we want to use.

How do you fish a carp with the bobber (float)?

Various floats exist on the market specialized for carps...

Carps can be heavy so you should use the proper size of bobbers. You can use the ones you have available.

During warm seasons, carps are usually in the more shallow waters or closer to surface.

One kind of specialized carp bobbers can be described as bait (food) dispensers. With this bobber carps can be caught using carp pellets as bait. Using this kind of pellet feeder waggler float is very efficient.

Pellets fall around and attract fish. You can cast them straight and the line won't tangle if they are full. They are actually cigar shaped bobbers that have crate shaped feeders located at the base.

They are used for fishing in upper water layers. Upper part of this bobber looks "normal" and you can see them as regular floats. Those upper parts are colorful but the "food dispenser" part is transparent. They can be cast and they do not tanhle the fishing line if used correctly.

These may not be the best for beginners ...

Despite those specialized bobbers you can still catch a carp in the "old fashioned" way, with standard bobbers and some standard baits like corn, bread, worms and more.

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Can you catch bass, trout or catfish with a bobber?

We will mention three more popular fishes that can be caught using bobbers.

Bass fishing with bobber (float)

For this fish is best to use fixed bobber, round or oval. You should use them together with shiners or other bait fish. Casting is difficult if fishing in shallow waters where bass usually resides. "Lob cast" is the method that should be used. Setup for shallow water bobber bass fishing:

  • If using bait fish attach your bobber few feet above the hook.
  • Put a split shot about 10 inches (25.4 cm) above the hook.

When you set everything up and if the water is still just let the bobber float. If necessary you can move it around a bit to attract the bass.

Bass is one of the fishes where size of the bobber is very important. If the bobber is too big fish can feel the resistance and it will let go the bait. When they bite the bait you will see and feel it on your bobber.

Bass usually swims in the water current direction so your bobber could be carried towards you.

If you want you can use slip bobbers too for deeper water but it is not necessary.

Trout fishing with bobber (float)

Depending on of the season, trouts can be caught using bobber.

If you try this in summer you will most likely fail because at that time of the year trouts are in deep waters so its better not to use bobbers.

Autumn, winter and spring are the seasons when bobbers are useful for trout fishing as they tend to be closer to the surface. Slip bobbers are the best ones to catch a trout. Setup for trout fishing:

  • See in the paragraph above how to set up a slip bobber,
  • tie a swivel and attach about 15 inches (38.1 cm) long fishing line below.
  • attach a hook.

As a bait you can use smaller minnows or insects or PowerBait® Power Eggs®.

Catfish fishing with bobber (float)

If going for a catfish, you should use slip bobbers. It is especially useful in deep water.

They usually reside in inaccessible areaas and holes on the water bottom and floats are crucial to catch them. There are specialized bobbers for catfish but you can use any good one you have. Setup for catfish fishing:

  • Set up a slip bobber.
  • Fix a split shot sinker 2 or 3 inches (7.62 cm) above the hook.
  • Attach the desired hook .

While researching which bobber to use and, how to use it, don't get discouraged by all the information you find. It may seem complicated but after just few times you will master your skills.

Bobber (Float) Fishing - Tackle box

Other Tips and Tricks and how to use the bobber (float):

  • When fishing do not expect the fish will bite the bait and submerge the float. Float is just an indicator.
  • When properly set it increases casting distance.
  • Fixed bobbers are harder to cast. The longer the length between a bobber and a hook the harder it will be to cast.
  • Slip bobber increases casting distance.
  • Slip bobber has one flaw, the leader distance between the bobber and the bait can not be maintained during the retrieve.
  • For still and calm water you want to use bobbers that are less buoyant.
  • Wind and waves will ask for higher buoyancy floats for the same fish (the difference is not huge but it is still noticeable).
  • Bright colored bobbers are easiest to see but classical, two colored ones are better to observe for gentle strikes as the fish will just tip over the bobber instead of pulling it.
  • Less stable bobbers which lean and rock on the waves will move the bait more and consequently lure the fish.
  • Proper setup is the key for success.


Using bobbers (floats) for fishing will open the door of new possibilities and improve your experience.

Results will come and soon you will ask yourself: "How come I did not think of this before?".

When used properly, fishing bobbers will allow you to position your bait as you desire. Natural water currents will carry it around and you will have a perfect indicator of the exact moment when the fish strikes.

From the easiest setups to more complicated ones, there is always something new to learn and try.

Whether you are a professional, or you are just discovering bobber (float) fishing there are endless options you can do and make the most of your fishing day.

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