Fishing Chronicle: The Timeless Fun and Thrill of Bobber Fishing | Outside


“Has that bobber moved?”

These four little words will put any angler on edge. Old or young, novice or expert, there’s something about a dancing bobber that elicits an instinctive adrenaline rush.

What kind of fish is thinking of taking the bait? What is his size? And, more importantly, will he engage and give your bobber a coveted dunk?

Some of my earliest fishing memories include a worm, bobber, and blue and white Snoopy perch. We didn’t always catch much back then, but I was still a happy camper if I had a line in the water and a bobber to watch.

As I got a little older, I started experimenting with lures. But when the chips were down, I never hesitated to put on a bobber.

One year at scout camp, there was a prize for the biggest fish of the week. On the last morning of the trip, I snuck out early and threw a worm and a bobber among some water lilies. The bobber shook once. Then he started running sideways before finally taking the plunge. Moments later, I landed a nice bass and the prize with it. Jord, 12, had never been so excited!

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These days I don’t reach for the bobber as often as I used to, but they are still a useful tool in any angler’s tackle box. Here are a few excuses to chase that one-of-a-kind bobber rush on your next fishing trip:

Keep the kids hooked: Bobbers are perfect for fishing with children. My daughter, Quinn, loves to go fishing with dad, and she’s starting to get used to staring at her bobber and waiting for a bite. For the little ones, the combination of the visual cue and fewer casts/rolls is usually a winning formula, especially if you can get on a school of hungry sunfish.

Get Jiggy with it: Bobbers are often associated with live bait, but they also work very well for catching sunfish on jigs. The key is to set your lures to the correct depth. Experiment to see where the fish are in the water column and adjust your bobber accordingly. To fish in deeper water, you can use a slip bobber and detect bites from 20 feet or more!

Go far : One of the advantages of fishing with bobbers is that they allow you to cast far. A transparent bubble float can be partially filled with water, allowing you to cast the lightest of lures and baits – even a fly – with a traditional spinning rod. The bubble-and-fly rig is one of my favorites for fishing high mountain lakes this time of year.

Hard to reach places: Every once in a while a bobber provides a way to attack a seemingly unworkable spot. On a recent trip to Snake River with my buddy Skyler, the floating foam foiled most of our attempts to catch fish on spinners, spoons and Rapalas. But we cast a bobber, keeping our bait just above the slimy green mats. We ransacked a nice limit of trout, including a giant five-pounder that soaked my bobber like no other.

Whether you’re using a bobber to simplify your fishing trip or as a tactical way to showcase your lures and bait, there’s nothing quite like watching one wiggle, wobble and (hopefully) sink. Tight lines!

Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teenager. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks with him at [email protected] or visit

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