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How to Rig a Slip Bobber (An Illustrative Guide)

How to Rig a Slip Bobber (An Illustrative Guide)

When I first started fishing, I used a conventional clip-on bobber. But I quickly realized that those types of bobbers are not very practical.

Instead, I started using slip bobbers. You should, too, as they will significantly improve your fishing!

Rigging a slip bobber is really simple. All you need is a hook, a leader, a swivel, a sinker, a bobber stop with a stop bead, and your slip bobber. Fishing with a slip bobber rig will allow you to vary and adapt your fishing depth, which can increase your catch rate immensely.

If you want to improve your fishing skills and catch more fish on the bobber, this article is a perfect fit for you. Continue reading and find out how to rig a slip bobber.

Here is a list of the essential tackle you’ll need. All of it can be found on Amazon:

How Do You Rig a Slip Bobber?

an angler putting a slip bobber on the fishing line

Slip bobbers have many advantages and let you fish virtually any depth in any given body of water. No matter how deep you are fishing, your basic rig setup will always have the same length, which makes the slip bobber rig super easy to cast out.

It is first in the water that the rig is running down to the set depth, as the slip bobber allows the line to run through it. But let’s start at the beginning!

Once you have purchased your first slip bobber, it’s time to set it up and get it ready for action. You can actually prepare your slip bobber rig at home by following the steps in this article.

This way, your rod and rig will be ready when you arrive at the water, and you can start fishing immediately.

Step #1: Bobber Stop

an image of a piece of fishing line with a bobber stop on it

The first thing to put onto your mainline is a bobber stop. As the line runs freely through a slip bobber, you will have to have some type of stop on the line to set the appropriate depth for your rig.

Without a bobber stop, the line would simply continue to run downwards through the float until the sinker and hook hit the bottom.

If you are fishing greater depths, your stop will most likely end up on your reel spool, as there will be several feet between the stop and the rig at the end of the line.

This is why you should use smaller rubber stops. They are much gentler towards your line guides and will also fit through them better.

Grab your bobber stops on Amazon here

Step #2: Stop Bead

an image of a piece of fishing line with a bobber stop and a stop bead on it

The next thing to put on your mainline is a stop bead. It is not always necessary to use a bead, but it entirely depends on your slip bobber’s insert diameter.

If the diameter is very small, the bobber stop will be totally enough to actually stop the bobber. However, if it is too big, then the bobber will simply slide right past the stop, as the stop will be too small. That’s when you install a bigger stop bead!

Step #3: Slip Bobber

an image of a piece of fishing line with a bobber stop, a stop bead, and a slip bobber  on it

Now, you reach the point where you take your line and run it through your slip bobber. The main work is done, and you are almost set now!

If you try and slide your slip bobber up your mainline a little bit, you will notice how smoothly and easily it runs up that line!

That is thanks to the bobber’s grommet insert, which prevents the line from getting tangled up. It is precisely that grommeted opening that makes the slip bobber such an effective fishing float.

You can find Thill’s classic slip bobbers on Amazon here

Step #4: Sinker

an image of a piece of fishing line with a bobber stop, a stop bead, , a sinker, and a slip bobber on it
An egg sinker

Now, put a sinker onto your line. The sinker will place your hook and bait at the right depth and cause your bobber to stand up straight.

I recommend using ball or egg-shaped sinkers, as they have a more compact weight to them and will get your bait down faster, especially in greater depths.

If you are using a smaller slip bobber, a couple of split shots can be used instead of the somewhat heavier egg sinker.

You can buy a set of egg sinkers on Amazon by clicking here

Step #5: Swivel

putting a swivel for a slip bobber rig setup
A small barrel swivel

Beneath your bobber comes a swivel. A swivel is a connection between your mainline and your leader line, which will absorb a lot of the pressure coming from a hooked fish. You will have to tie your mainline to one end of the swivel and your leader on the other.

A commonly used swivel that works for most fish is a barrel or snap swivel, size 6 to 8.

Step #6: Leader and Hook

an image of a fluorocarbon leader and a single hook on a slip bobber rig

Lastly, you will have to tie a leader onto your swivel and then a hook onto the end of your leader.

For larger fish or predators with sharp teeth, I recommend using a 10-15lb fluorocarbon leader.

Except for pike and muskie, for those species, you’ll actually need a wire leader, alternatively, a really strong fluorocarbon leader of at least 50lb test!

For those species, a leader length of 1-2 feet is recommended.

For everything else (like panfish or shiners), a 10-15” piece of your actual 8-10 lb mainline will totally suffice.

If you are planning on using smaller live bait or baitfish, put on a size 4-8 single hook (smaller hooks for common bait, bigger ones for baitfish). Otherwise, put on a jig or a lure (e.g. for trolling behind a boat).

Find the best fluorocarbon leader material on Amazon here

Why Should You Fish With a Slip Bobber?

In my opinion, slip bobbers win over clip-on bobbers every time!

For one thing, conventional clip-on bobbers only allow fishing at a set depth.

Of course, you could change the length of your leader while fishing by taking a new piece of line that is longer or shorter than your currently used leader, but that would take a lot of time away from your actual fishing.

Slip bobbers virtually allow you to fish any depth, from extremely shallow to extremely deep. Changing your depth is also very fast and simple.

For another thing, slip bobbers can be used for fishing both from shore and from a boat.

Whether you are fishing in your little local pond or out in your boat on a huge lake, trolling for walleye or pike; theoretically, one and the same slip bobber could serve your needs in those two completely different fishing environments.

When playing a strong and wild fish, a slip bobber will compromise your line much less than a clip-on bobber would.

Never forget that a clip-on bobber is literally clipped onto your mainline, and hence, it could snap your line right off if under too much pressure.

A slip bobber has no direct impact on your mainline, so you will lower your risk of losing fish significantly.

How Do You Set the Depth on a Slip Bobber?

The bobber stop sets the depth you want to fish at. You can slide it up and down your line, setting the exact depth you want to present your bait at.

The higher you slide the stop up your line, the deeper you are going to fish. And vice versa, the lower you slide it and the closer it is to your bobber, the higher up you are going to fish your bait.

So, let’s say you want to fish in shallow water of just 4 feet. If you want to present your bait just above the bottom, you would have to slide the stop appropriately 3.5 feet up your line.

Make sure you measure all the way down from the hook, not from the bobber! After all, it’s the hook that represents the end of your line, right?

If you wanted to fish in 20-foot-deep water, you would simply have to move the stop about 20 feet up your line (again, make that a couple of inches shorter if you are fishing close to the bottom). That’s really all you have to do to reach that depth!

What Baits Should You Use With a Slip Bobber?

You can fish baits such as bread, worms, maggots, or leeches, as well as live or dead baitfish (minnows/shiners). Just make sure you adjust the size of your hook accordingly.

What makes the slip bobber really versatile is its ability to also be fished with lures! Most commonly, fishermen use lighter jigs beneath their slip bobber, as well as smaller crankbaits.

Any kind of soft bait also works great under a slip bobber if you troll it slowly behind your boat or twitch it in.

The key here is to use lighter lures, as they sort of float or hover beneath your bobber, which results in a more natural bait presentation and movement.

In order to achieve that hovering effect, you will have to find the exact right weight for your sinker.

It cannot be too heavy, as your lure will then simply hang down straight underneath your bobber, and it cannot be too light because then the lure or bait might be dragged to the surface by the bobber.

Both scenarios will lead to a poorer bait presentation and, subsequently, to fewer takes.

But whether you are using live bait or lures, fishing them in combination with your slip bobber can certainly improve your fishing. Now, go out there and try it out. Tight lines!

Here are some helpful related articles on slip bobber fishing and bobber stops that you should check out as well: