The slip bobber rig is one of the best rigs an angler can use as it allows you to adjust your fishing depth to virtually any depth setting and it can be used to catch a huge range of different species.
I don’t think there is a species of fish you can fish for with the slip bobber rig but it’s generally used to target freshwater fish species like catfish, panfish, walleyes, trout, pike and more.
When I first used the slip bobber rig, I was astounded at how quickly I could change and find the right depth the fish were feeding at. I caught more fish than ever before slip bobber fishing than regular bobber fishing.
Join me as we run through everything you need to know about the slip bobber rig from how it works, to how to make it, and fish it.
What Is A Slip Bobber?
It’s important for many anglers to understand what slip bobbers are as they are the key to the entire slip bobber rig.
Slip bobbers are a float that slides or slips up and down your main line and is adjustable while you are fishing. The float comes with a hollow tube in the middle which you thread your main line through so the float can then slip and slide up and down the line as it pleases.
What Is The Purpose Of A Slip Bobber?
Since the slip bobber float can slide up and down your fishing line, it means you can set the float to any fishing depth you like.
This allows you to fish your prepared bait at different depths quickly and easily without having to re-rig anything, which is highly convenient when trying to work out where the fish are feeding. You can also switch from deep water to shallow water with the same tackle in an instant.
What Is A Slip Bobber Fishing Rig Made Up Of?
Slip bobber rigs consist of a bobber stop on the main fishing line you have on your reel spool. Either braid or mono is great to use in this instance as it floats and will not pull your bobber down.
Below the bobber stop is a bead and then your slip bobber. The bobber stop grips the line and ensures the bobber stops as it slides up your fishing line, and thus the slip bobber depends on it. The bobber stop is also movable and is the key component that allows you to fish different depths in an instant.
Underneath your bobber comes an egg sinker or some split shot and a snap or barrel swivel. The swivel keeps everything on the line and the weights drag the float down so that it sits vertically in the water.
Attached to the other end of the snap or barrel swivel is your leader and a hook. The hook size you use should match the bait and the fish species you want to catch and you should use fluorocarbon as your leader as it sinks and is invisible to fish.
How Does The Slip Bobber Rig Work?
The bobber stop is the key to the entire rig, as I mentioned above. The bobber stop is where the sloop bobber stops and therefore sets the depth of the rig. To adjust the rig’s depth, simply slide the bobber stop up or down the main fishing line.
The weights are also important as they hold your bait underwater, drag your slip bobbers down so they sit upright, plus make the rig tight and thus sensitive to any bites from fish.
TIPAdding just one or two small to medium split shot weights to your float is better.
How Do You Rig A Slip Bobber?
Rigging a slip bobber setup is quick and easy and we will run through the simple steps below. Before we get started though, let’s make sure you have all the tackle you need to create a slip bobber rig.
Things You’ll Need To Make The Rig
- Fishing rod
- Fishing reel
- Reel spool with fishing line (braid or mono)
- Fluorocarbon leader line
- Barrel swivel and or snap swivel
- Slip bobber (sliding slip float)
- Egg sinker or split shot sinkers to match size of float (more on this later)
- Glass or plastic bead
- Egg bobber stops
Rigging A Slip Bobber Rig
Here are the steps to follow in order to make your slip bobbers into an effective rig that will catch a ton of fish for you.
- Attach the reel to the rod securely
- Pull fishing line of the reel through all the guides and out the tip
- Make sure there is about 10 feet of fishing line out of the tip
- Take your bobber stop and add it to the main line about 5 feet from the end of the fishing line
- Slide the glass or plastic beads onto the line
- Slide the slip bobber float onto the line
- Add the egg sinker or split shot
- Make sure the weight of the sinkers matches the float
- Tie the barrel swivel onto the end
- Take your fluorocarbon line and cut a leader length of 2-3 feet
- Tie one end of your leader to the barrel swivel using an improved clinch knot
- Tie a hook on to the other end of the leader using an improved clinch knot
- Make sure each knot tightens correctly and is strong
- Trim the knots neatly with your scissors so there is no line sticking out
You are now ready to add your preferred bait and start fishing.
How Much Weight Should You Put On Slip Bobber Rigs?
The general rule is to add enough weight under the slip bobber to ensure your bait sinks and that the float sits upright. You do not want to load up too much weight or the float will sink and you’ll never know if you have gotten a bite or not.
All slip bobbers on the market will come with a weight rating and state the amount of weight required for the slip bobber to perform currently. It might say use a 1/4 oz sinker if it’s a big float or simply 3 x AAA split shots, for example.
How To Use Slip Bobber Stops
The key piece of tackle that makes these rigs work are the bobber stops and you can either buy some like this or make your own like this.
Buying a ready made bobber stop from a tackle store is the easier option as you simply thread them onto your line and you’re good to go. But, making them is incredibly easy too and it only requires you to learn the bobber stop knot, as directed in the video.
Once the bobber stop is in place, home made or bought from a tackle shop, you can simply slide it up and down the main fishing line until you have it at the desired depth.
How Far Above The Hook Is The Bobber Supposed To Be?
There is no right answer when it comes to how far above the hook your slip bobbers (or sliding float) should be.
The whole idea is that you set the length based on the depth you want your bait to be fishing at. So if you’re in deep water of say 30 feet, you can set it to 20 feet or if in the shallows to 3 feet.
TIPIf fishing in shallow water under 6 feet, it’s better to use a fixed bobber rig.
How To Fish A Slip Bobber Rig
Here’s a fisherman using a slip bobber to catch crappie…
Fishing slip bobbers is done by adding your bait to the hook after which anglers cast the rig out from the shore or boat to where they think fish are feeding in a lake, river, or in the sea. This might be a drop off, weed line, or simply a baited up area where suspended crappie are wandering around.
Anglers then wait, watching the float on the surface, for any bites. Once the float starts being pulled beneath the surface, anglers know they have a bit and then lift the rod to hook the fish.
If you are not getting bites, you can then adjust the rig to change depths. For example, you can set the depth to be 1 ft from the bottom when targeting walleye or catfish, or you can set the depth to be just above a weed bed where panfish and trout tend to feed.
You can also use this rig to drift bait down rivers and this is a very effective way when drift fishing and targeting fish species like salmon, trout, steelhead, barbel, and carp in rivers.
What Baits Should You Use With Slip Bobbers?
You can use any dead or live bait you want with this rig, so long as it doesn’t sink the bobber underwater. Common baits used with this rig include:
- Tiny maggots
- Cut fish
You should attach different baits depending on where you’re fishing and what fish you want to catch. This rig is not made for use with lures or for lure fishing so you can’t add tackle like a spinner or a jig as they are not made to work with bobbers.
What Fish Can You Catch With A Slip Bobber Rig?
The list of species you can catch while fishing with slip bobbers is quite astounding as you can change the size of the tackle you use in the rigging process to match whatever fish you want to catch.
For example you can use a tiny sinker, hook and bait for catching crappie, or use a rod and reel combo, huge sinker, treble hook, and a big bait when fishing deep from a boat for targeting catfish.
The most common fish anglers prefer to target with a slip bobbers include:
- Other Panfish
- Plus lots more
How Deep Can You Fish With A Slip Bobber?
Technically, there are no limits as to how deep you can fish with a slip bobber as you can simply adjust the bobber stopper and bead to be as deep as the length of your line.
The great thing about the rig, is that the bobber stopper can be wound through your guides and onto your reel, while the float sits at the bottom next to the swivel. The only limit is therefore how far you can cast from the shore, as this is the amount of line that will be able to sink and thus the max depth you can fish it.
That being said, if you are fishing from a boat, you will be able to drift or drive the boat slowly until you have the full length of line you want out, which could be 10 to 300 ft, it is up to you.
Slip Bobber For Catfish & Walleye Fishing
Both catfish and walleye tend to stay near to the bottom and therefore you will need to adjust your slip bobber rig to a length of around 2 feet off the bottom. This will ensure your bait is presented in the ideal feeding zone of both of these species.
Working out how deep the water is the next bit of the puzzle. If you are fishing from a boat with a fish finder then you will know how deep it is and therefore can change your rig to match. If you don’t have a fish finder, then simply continue making your rig deeper and deeper until you hook a fish or get snagged.
If you get snagged, make it 1 -2 feet shallower, if you hook a fish, leave it as you’ve found the strike zone.
When catching channel catfish or any catfish, large chunks of cut bait like mackerel which ooze oils and have a lot of scent are best. If you’re going after walleye, then a live minnow is deadly all year round and a leech or night crawler is super effective during the summer months.
Thanks very much for reading my article. I hope you enjoyed it and are now ready and armed to catch a ton of fish with the slip bobber rig. It really is one of the most versatile rigs you can use in freshwater and the number of species you can catch with it is endless.
Please share the article around with your fishing buddies so they can learn about the rig too and check out some of our other articles. We cover everything from the best fish finders, to how to spool a baitcaster.