What is a Fishing Bobber? 

Updated on November 18, 2022 by
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Fishing bobbers are floating tackle that are used to suspend your bait at a target height while also giving a visual indication of a fish strike as they drop below the surface.

Fishing bobbers have been in use for hundreds of years. They were first introduced in Europe for anglers who were trying to catch anything from trout to carp and many other species. Instead of allowing their baited hooks to fall down into the depths of lakes and rivers, these anglers used fishing bobbers to keep them at a certain depth and prevent the hooks from getting snagged in the thick brush and trees that are often found in the bottom of waterways. 

Since then, using a fishing bobber has become very popular in some areas, especially for certain species of fish that feed on prey mostly at or near the surface. You can also have decent success catching bottom-feeders through using a fishing bobber with the right kind of bait. 

Bobbers are very useful when fishing around heavy cover or in shallow waters where you want to keep the bait you’re using off the bottom. Suppose you are very familiar with the feeding pattern of a specific type of fish. In that case, you can target that fish with greater efficiency than you would by using topwater or a simple baited hook that sits on the bottom of the lake or river. 

Fishing bobbers are also used extensively in trotline fishing.

Fishing Bobber on the water

Different Types of Fishing Bobber

There are countless different types of fishing bobbers on the market today and it can seem tough to know if you’re choosing the right one or not. With so many different advances in the fishing industry, there are now a huge number of fishing bobbers specially designed for different purposes. Some are made to hold your lure in place and give you a reference point that indicates when you’re getting a bite while others might even light up at night so you won’t have any problem seeing them in the dark. 

When it comes to fishing for smaller species of game fish, it’s usually recommended that you go with a more narrow style of float that will more easily indicate when a fish is nibbling at the bait you’ve set out. As you might expect, it’s best to use a larger bobber if you are trying to catch bigger species of fish. 

For beginners and novice anglers, it’s recommended that you go with a simple round bobber that can either be a solid color or white with a colored stripe along the center. These colored stripes are made to help alert you when a fish might be slightly pulling on the hook and causing the fishing bobber to wag back and forth. It’s much easier to spot movement in this colored stripe than it is with a solid orange or red-colored float. 

Fishing bobbers in today’s market can be made out of anything from plastic to balsa wood and might come with a variety of different features that give you distinct advantages on the water. 

When to Use a Fishing Bobber

The question of whether or not you should use a fishing bobber really comes down to what kind of fish you’re planning to catch and whether or not a bobber will help increase your chances of landing the fish you’re targeting. You can use fishing bobbers in both saltwater and freshwater fishing environments and many are specially-made for certain purposes or for specific fish species. 

Depending on the type of fish you’re trying to catch and the specific depth you expect these fish to be at, there are a wide range of different depths you can fish using a bobber. If you have a thorough understanding of the different ways that fishing bobbers are used in certain rigs or for specific types of fish, you will be able to tie them on and use them in the right way to increase your chances for success on the water. 

Having a rod that’s already pre-rigged with a fishing bobber and hook is a great backup plan for when fish might not be biting certain presentations, or if the fish you’re after might prefer a more stationary bait before they’ll bite. This is especially true for things like crappie fishing when you should always have a backup plan that involves being able to throw a minnow that’s hooked just a couple feet below a fishing bobber of your choice. 

Using a bobber is an excellent strategy for introducing kids into the sport of fishing. Having a fishing bobber gives the young angler a reference point to stay focused on, alerting them when a fish is playing with or biting their lure. However, fishing bobbers can be absolutely essential as in the case of competitive catfish anglers who rely on large bobbers to indicate when they are getting the first bite from what might turn out to be a trophy-sized catfish. 

Regardless of the level at which you consider yourself to be at when it comes to fishing, having a good quality bobber and knowing how to use it with different rigs and lure presentations can go a long way in your overall success. You can use fishing bobbers for various species from steelhead salmon, walleye, crappie and even small panfish like bluegill and even trout. 

The key to properly using your fishing bobber to catch the kind of fish you’re after is placing it at the right location on the line so that your bait is at the right level underwater. This can be tricky as some species might bite certain bait presentations right below the surface while others might want one that’s multiple feet below the water surface. 

Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.