Sure, plastic clip-on bobbers are easy to use, and they are certainly an economical option considering the number that will get stepped on or lost, but are they the best way to introduce a youngster to angling? Considering the frustration many experience using them -I think not.
The attraction to using plastic bobbers is simplicity. The youngster can easily clip them on and off. Problem is, the line is usually kinked by the wire clasp. The line will often break at that kink when a large fish is hooked, especially if the line is old. The other problem comes when the fishing depth is more than a few feet below the surface. With a lot of extra line between the bobber and the hook, this rig becomes an unwieldy task to cast. In deeper water the youngster winds the bobber up to the tip of their rod, and still has too much line out to retrieve the fish without losing it.
Most youngsters start out fishing with a bobber and a worm for bait. Ninety-nine percent of the kids I see fishing are using the old stand-by plastic bobber. Dad or Grandpa started them out that way, because that's the way they started fishing. Nostalgia is great for campfire stories after the fishing is done, but don't give your youngsters a handicap that is going to frustrate them from the very beginning. Walleye anglers have perfected a better technique that applies well to any type of live-bait fishing that involves presenting bait at a specific depth. Why not share this fantastic innovation with your kids? If you haven't tried the slip bobber technique yourself, here's all you need to do.
First you'll need the fixin's.
Slip bobber, bobber stop, and beads are available both in kits and separate packaging. Slip bobbers are available in pencil thin designs made from wood as well as foam; however, some of the originals were made from porcupine quills. Fatter floats are available, depending upon the bait and weight involved in your presentation. Ideally, you want the bobber to barely support your bait, so that when a fish takes the bait, it won't feel the resistance.
The concept is simple. Starting with a bare line, you slide on the "bobber stop" first. There are several types of stops. Rubber stops look like a grain of rice. They don't need to be tied but can be a challenge if your eyesight is poor like mine. Gizzmo and Dogbone stops are two other popular styles. The method that I prefer utilizes a simple knot. If you elect to use the traditional "knot stop", remove the knot from the straw by sliding the straw off of the line. Pull the knot tight and snip off the tag ends so that it will not become tangled when wound up all the way through the rod eyes to the reel. Once you've got the knot secure, thread a small bead and the bobber onto the line. The bead serves to keep the knot from being drawn down into the bobber when a fish takes it down. Once you've completed this process, tie on your choice of hook and add the appropriate weight to reach the depth you are working. The weight and bait should hold the bobber upright, just above the surface.
When you want to fish at a depth of 10 feet, just slide the knot further up the line to the desired depth and cast it out. When the bobber hits the water, the line will slide through the bobber tube and come to rest at your preset depth where the knot is tied. When you have a fish on, you can reel the fish all the way up to the dock or boat without having to deal with a bobber that is clipped at 10 feet. If you do much fishing at night, you might want to check out the illuminated bobbers that glow brightly and are easy to spot without any ambient light.
If you want to switch to a different presentation, just snip the line at the hook and slide the bobber and bead off. You can leave the stop on your line and be ready to switch back at a moments notice.
Not only will slip bobbers work better for youngsters and Grandpa as well, they will eliminate a lot of frustration for you, and make a more pleasant day for all concerned. More importantly, the more time you spend with your bait in the water (instead of untangling junior's line) the more fish you will catch.
Click here to view Bobbers / Stops / Floats
Frank Ross grew up on a lake in Florida, where fishing and hunting were second nature. He has pursued his passion from the jungles of South America to the northern reaches of the Arctic Circle and most points in between. With a background in newspapers, the wire services and magazines that began in 1970, Frank brings a unique perspective to his work with Cabela's. He is an award-winning photographer with a flair for getting to the bottom line of every story.
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