What Is a Slip Bobber? (A Helpful Beginner’s Guide)


what is a slip bobber

Bobber fishing is really exciting and you can catch a lot of different species with this fishing method. I have been using slip bobbers for many years now and have improved my fishing a lot thanks to them.

A slip bobber is a bobber, or float, that is not fixed or clipped on, but instead can slide freely up and down your fishing line. You can decide the depth you want to fish with your slip bobber by putting a bobber stop onto your line, which you can adjust according to your desired fishing depth. This makes the slip bobber a highly versatile float.

If you want to know everything about the slip bobber and all the advantages that come with it, continue reading this article.

What Type of Bobber Are Slip Bobbers?

what is a slip bobber
Courtesy of Kevin Berry

Slip bobbers are floats that can move freely up and down your fishing line, thanks to their open bottom and top endings. All you have to do is to thread the bobber onto your line.

Unlike the conventional fixed clip-on bobbers, they do not have to be attached to the line in any fashion. Instead, they slide or slip up and down it, hence the name slip bobber.

They are commonly made from materials such as foam, plastic, cork or balsa wood and come in all different shapes and sizes.

Some of the most popular slip bobber types are made by Thill, a company that offers an entire range of slip bobbers for all types of fishing and species. On average, a slip bobber costs between two and 4 dollars and virtually every bait and tackle shop in America sells them.

Despite being that widely available, a majority of the U.S. anglers are either not familiar, or simply not using this type of bobber, even though awareness has risen over the last couple of years and more and more fishermen are using them. In Europe, on the other hand, the slip bobber is used by many more anglers and has been around for a very long time.

If you want to take a closer look at a classic Thill slip bobber, you can find it at Bass Pro Shops: here

How Does a Slip Bobber Work?

how does a slip bobber work

Quite often, the slip bobber’s open endings are rather thin and have a small diameter, thus, the bobber can be stopped from running up your line too far by a small bobber stop, which simply has to have a slightly larger diameter than the bobber’s openings.

So, once the bobber is on your mainline and you have set the depth you want to target, via sliding the bobber stop up or down the line, the slip bobber can now slide freely within that set depth on the line.

As can be seen in the picture above, in practical terms, that means that the higher you slide your bobber stop, the deeper your rig will sink once it’s under water.

Say that you are fishing in a lake that has a maximum depth of 10 feet and you know that your target fish are feeding at a depth of 6 feet. In order to be able to present your bait at the exact same depth, all you would have to do is to slide your bobber stop 6 feet up the line, measuring from the end of your rig, which would be the hook, or lure.

As your bobber will slide up your line until it hits the stop first when it hits the water, you will have no problem casting out your rig. No matter how deep you might be fishing, when you cast out, the bobber will always stay close to the end of your line, near the hook and leader. This is the slip bobbers greatest advantages!

The same principle applies when you are reeling in a fish, by the way, as the bobber will slide back down your line and will hence not be in the way when you are landing your catch.

If you want to learn how you to rig your slip bobber, make sure to also read this article I wrote: How to Rig a Slip Bobber (An Illustrative Guide)

Are There Different Types of Slip Bobbers?

different types of slip bobbers
Courtesy of Greg Pipes

Yes, there are many different types of slip bobber,s in terms of size and shape. They can be ball shaped or oval, they can look more like a classic stick float, or simply be made of a thinner main body.

The size mainly depends on the type of fish you are targeting, as well as the weight of the bait or lure you want to fish with your bobber. Larger and heavier baits, which usually target larger fish, will have to be coupled with a bigger, heavier slip bobber. Smaller baits and lures, such as jigs, that are meant for smaller fish, work best with smaller and lighter bobbers.

How Deep Can You Fish With a Slip Bobber?

The correct answer to this question would be as deep as you wish. It really depends on the depth of the water you are fishing in. If you have a 20 feet deep lake and you want to present your bait near the bottom, the slip bobber is the right float for you.

Similarly, if you would want to fish in saltwater and reach a depth of a 100 feet, or more, a slip bobber would be the perfect choice. As you can slide the bobber stop as far up the line as you want, fishing depth is of no real concern! The only question is: how far up the line do you want to slide that bobber, before getting bored or tired?

If you want to know what situations and settings are the best for fishing with slip bobbers, make sure to also read this article I wrote: When to Use a Slip Bobber? (A Practical Guide)

Can You Use Slip Bobbers in Shallow Water?

Can You Use Slip Bobbers in Shallow Water

Similarly to fishing in deep water, slip bobbers are also perfectly suited for shallow water areas.

This is another great advantage of the slip bobber, as you can adjust the stop so that you can fish in real shallow areas, or simply present your bait shallowly over deep water. The feeding behavior of fish can change very suddenly and a being able to adjust the depth based on their preferences can be a huge advantage.

The only issue in extremely shallow water is the length of your leader. Obviously, you cannot fish shallower than your leader is long, which then means that that length determines the minimum depth that you can fish with a slip bobber.

So, if your leader has a length of 1 foot, you could not possibly fish any shallower than that, as your hook would otherwise be touching bottom.

What Types of Fish Can You Catch With a Slip Bobber?

You can catch as many fish species with a slip bobber as you could with a conventional clip-on bobber. Fishing with bobbers is a highly effective method that can enable you to catch most types of fish.

Once again, the size of your target species, as well as the respective bait or lure, will determine the size of your slip bobber. Fishing with live baitfish for northern pike or muskie will naturally demand a larger bobber than fishing for shiners with a worm or a piece of bread.

Some of the most common species that are frequently caught with slip bobbers include:

  • crappie (live bait or jigs)
  • bluegill (small live bait or jigs)
  • bass (live baitfish, jigs or crankbaits)
  • walleye (live baitfish, jigs or crankbaits)
  • pike (live or dead baitfish)
  • catfish (night crawlers, live or dead baitfish)

If you are unsure about how to use bobber stops when fishing with a slip bobber, make sure to check out this article as well: How to Use Bobber Stops (All Types Explained)

Max Loesche

Hi, I'm Max, the founder and head author of Strike&Catch. I have been a passionate fisherman since 1997 and spend as much time as possible on the bank. Click on my name to read my full biography.

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