Slip Bobber Rig

A slip bobber rig—also known as a slip float rig—is a simple, yet effective fishing rig that consists of a slip bobber, bobber stop, sinker weight, hook, and optional plastic bead. For decades the slip bobber was the rig of choice among beginners and seasoned anglers alike, and for decades more it was overlooked for more complex “cutting edge” rigs and presentations. Notwithstanding, the slip bobber is still one of the all-time most popular fishing rigs ever created.

Slip Bobber Rig

The popularity of the rig lies in it simplicity and ease of use, as well as its ability to target a variety of fish species at different depths in the water column. Slip bobber rigs are best known for targeting panfish in fresh water environements, but they can be just as effective for saltwater fishing. They are used for targeting catfish, crappie, bluegill, walleye, mackerel, snook, tarpon, trout, sheepshead, and redfish, among others.

The slip bobber rig allows the bobber to slide up and down the line freely between the bobber stop and the sinker weight. To adjust the depth of the bait simply move the bobber stop up or down the line to adjust the position of the bobber. Move the bobber stop up the line to increase fishing depth. Move the bobber stop down the line toward the hook to decrease fishing depth. Easy adjustment of the bobber location along the line makes the slip bobber rig an ideal when changing fishing depth quickly is critical.

Similar to a traditional fixed location bobber rig, the slip bobber rig is sensitive to strikes. This rig allows you to sense the fish bite right away so you can get a solid hookset. Keep your eye on the bobber. When you see it wiggle, begin bobbing, or disappear under the surface, a quick jerk of the rod tip will set the hook.

Anglers will often fish a slip bobber rig in tandem with a bottom fishing rig to cover more water than can be accomplished with bottom rig alone. Having a slip bobber rig in the water targeting the middle water column, while fishing a bottom rig, allows an angler to target the entire water column at once.

What makes the slip bobber rig so great?

  • It’s easy to use
  • Allows you to make distance casts
  • Has great sensitivity to fish bites
  • Works in both shallow and deep water
  • Can easily be adjusted to change depths quickly
  • Takes less than two minutes to make

Materials needed to make a slip bobber rig:

  • A good slip bobber
  • Bobber stop (made of string or rubber)
  • Plastic beads (optional)
  • Hook
  • Egg sinker (1/8- 1/4-ounce) or split shot weight
  • Main line
  • Swivell (optional)

Steps to Rigging a Slip Bobber

Use the following six steps to rig a slip bobber to your line in just two minutes flat.

  1. Thread the bobber stop onto the main line. The stop should be able to slide up and down the line, but remain in place when not being adjusted. A good bobber stop is made from pre-tied nylon (that you can pick from any tackle shop.)
  2. Thread a small plastic bead onto the line. The bead acts as a buffer between the stop and the bobber. The bead prevents the bobber from sliding over the stop.
  3. Thread the bobber onto the line. The bobber may be various designs, some permitting water to enter to adjust buoyancy. A slightly heavier bobber rides low in the water, easily slides under the water without spooking fish, and isn’t as readily caught by the wind.
  4. Thread your egg sinker onto the line. Alternatively, you can pinch a split-shot or two onto the line about 12 inches above your hook. The egg sinker help maintain a vertical presentation, aid in casting, and keep the bobber riding low in the water.
  5. Attach your swivel. Some angler will attach a small barrel swivel between the egg sinkers and hook to provide free, more natural movement.
  6. Attach your hook to the tag end of the line. Hook type and size is determined by the target fish species.

Targeting Different Fish Species With a Slip Bobber

The beauty of fishing the slip bobber rig is that you can quickly and easily adjust the depth of bait by moving the bobber stop up and down the line. This allows you to target and test specific depths within the water column. When you identify the depth of schooling fish using a fish finder, you can literally drop your bait right on top using your slip bobber rig.

A slip bobber rig is one of the most effective presentations for targeting crappie. When fishing the shallows during spawn, set you hook or jig about 1 to 2 feet below the bobber. Male crappie protecting their nests will hit your bait all day long. A slip bobber is also ideal for suspending over brush and structure in deeper water where crappie frequently hold. Once you find where the crappie are, you can position your bait at the perfect depth using the slip bobber rig.

Rigging a fish bobber with a few fresh jumbo leeches can be incredibly effective for catching walleye. Some anglers will tell you that you need to have a finesse presentation that uses a small hook and bait, light line, light bobber and no sinker; but just as many anglers will tell you to go with a heavier sinker and sturdy bobber so you can get your bait down as quickly as possible. I tend to agree with the later school of thought.

Targeting walleye using a slip bobber is best done from an anchored position. Achor yourself with about 100 to 150 feet of rope. Locate pockets of walleye and fish until you’ve cleared the area. Let out some rope to move to a new position and start casting again. When the action dwindles, pull the anchor and move our boat to a new spot before anchoring again. Target locations upwind from the crest of reefs and at the edge of spawning grounds.