Do Fishing Bobbers Work for Bass?

Is there any fish species more rewarding to reel in than bass? Many would say the answer is a definite no. Although some anglers swear that foregoing bait is the key to catching bass, you’re not so sure. You’d like to try a fishing bobber, but are any bass going to bite?

You can use fishing bobbers to catch bass, including bubble, cigar, waggler, inline, or slip bobbers. You should also use a bobber stop and a strong fishing line!

This guide to bobber fishing for bass will tell you everything you need to know. We’ll recommend bobbers and rigs for catching bass, describe the type of bass that bite for bobbers, and share our best bobber fishing tips. Keep reading!  

Can You Use Fishing Bobbers to Catch Bass?

When visiting any lake, river, pond, or ocean, we always recommend researching the species of fish that live there. From there, you should determine which species you’d like to catch and what your plan of attack will be.

Are bobbers the most common option for catching bass? No, of course not. Some anglers swear up and down that bobbers are a kids’ accessory and that experienced anglers shouldn’t ever use bobbers. 

Others keep a more open mind, and perhaps you’re in that latter camp. 

If you do want to catch bass using a bobber, we recommend not adding the bobber to your fishing rig alone. It’s best to combine the bobber with live bait such as minnows, which is the colloquial term for small live fish. Shad and shiners are okay in lieu of minnows.

Anglers have debated whether using a bobber with an artificial lure is really going to bring in the bass, and we’d agree that it might not. 

The largemouth bass is carnivorous, so you want to give them something that will whet their appetites. Live bait will do that, but an artificial lure likely won’t.

Bobbers are not a child’s fishing accessory. They’re a viable means of catching fish. The anglers who downplay bobber fishing might not understand how it works, which could explain their negative opinions.

That said, we won’t treat bobber fishing as the end-all, be-all because it isn’t. Deep-water fishing is very difficult and sometimes impossible with a bobber. 

Since bass will typically linger no deeper than 15 feet below the waterline, fishing for them with a bobber setup is very much doable. 

Related Reading: 7 Best Fishing Bobbers!

Which Fishing Bobbers Are Best for Bass?

With at least 10 types of fishing bobbers, you have your pick for any given species of fish you’re trying to reel in. For bass fishing especially, here are the bobbers we’d recommend you have in your tacklebox.

Bubble Bobbers

The bubble bobber (try saying that five times fast) is a translucent, round bobber that’s smaller than a rugby ball but roughly the same shape. The bobber features a series of tapered tubes that trace down the center.

Hollow, the point of a bubble bobber is to fill it with water to give it some heft. Then casting with a bubble bobber becomes far simpler than it would when using it hollow.

When a bass comes up to the bubble bobber, the water goes through the tubes and allows the bobber to tilt at an angle. 

Now is when you want to set your hook. If your bobber goes underwater, then you’ve already waited too long.

We recommend live bait such as minnows as well as plastic lifelike artificial lures and even jigs when attempting to catch bass with a bubble bobber. 

Cigar Bobbers

The cigar bobber is also referred to as the stick bobber due to its long, lean shape. Especially recommended when your bait is on the bigger side, cigar bobbers are useable with artificial lures and live bait alike. 

Bigger bass will likely go for cigar bobbers than smaller ones, so plan accordingly. A cigar bobber also performs best when the water is quiet and still. 

That said, if you’re fishing a body of water with waves (i.e., a slight current, not so much the ocean) or on a windy day, a cigar bobber is still a viable option. 

Waggler Bobbers

If you’re still comparing your bobber options for bass fishing, the waggler is another good one. 

It’s a bottom-attached bobber that you cast on the line and rod instead of your pole. The waggler used to be the go-to fishing bobber among anglers for a long time, but that’s no longer the case today.

That said, the waggler still comes in all sorts of handy. It’s more bulbous at the bottom so the waggler stays buoyant there and isn’t subject to much wind resistance. 

The water resistance of a waggler is lower as well so that when a bass bites onto your bait, they’re less likely to drop it.

Use the external hole on the waggler’s bottom tip to thread your fishing line through. You’ll have less of a line angle, so you’ll feel closer to the fish! 

Inline Bobbers

The inline bobber resembles a cigar bobber but has a hole in the middle. This allows you to establish a more acute angle between yourself and the fish. 

You might struggle to set your hook until you get used to how this bobber works, admittedly, but practice makes perfect! 

We’d suggest skipping the long hook sets when using an inline bobber. The closer the bass is to you when fishing, the more successful this bobber is. 

Slip Bobbers

We saved what is arguably the most used bass fishing bobber for last, the slip bobber. 

This bobber slips along your fishing line, hence the name slip bobber. The slipping mechanic allows the bobber to achieve more depth than your average bobber.

Slip bobbers feature a central line channel through which you put your line. However, when casting, your hook will be closer to the end of the fishing line. The ease of casting is one of the top benefits of a slip bobber for bass fishing.

As soon as the slip bobber lands on the water, the line goes through the bobber’s center channel using an accompanying weight. The bobber stop then makes its way up to the bobber but doesn’t pass through. 

Your rig should include the slip bobber first, then the bobber stop and the hook. Your weight goes six inches over the hook. You can then add live bait to the hook such as creek minnows or shiners. 

When using a bobber stop with a slip bobber, you have your choice between bead stops and string stops. 

A bead stop includes a series of beads on a looping wire. A string stop has  several overhand knots. The string is usually yellow or pink and includes some plastic. 

What Kinds of Bass Can You Catch with a Fishing Bobber?

Now that you’re more acquainted with the types of bobbers that are suitable for bass fishing, precisely which species of bass can you hope to catch? Any of the common North American species are on the table! Here’s an overview. 

Smallmouth Bass

The smallmouth bass is a freshwater fish that’s technically a black bass. 

Frequently spotted throughout North America, the smallmouth bass is one of the most popular species of fish for anglers to catch in lakes, rivers, and tributaries.

Common across the Hudson Bay Basin, the Saint Lawrence River-Great Lakes system, and the middle and upper Mississippi River basin, smallmouth bass are dark-colored fish with black vertical stripes across the sides of their bodies.

Considered quite strong swimmers, although smallmouth bass is a smaller bass fish, don’t get lax when trying to catch one! Otherwise, the bass will happily eat your minnow from the hook and then swim away. 

Largemouth Bass

The carnivorous game fish known as the largemouth bass is another black bass species. This one is native to northern Mexico, southeastern Canada, and the central and eastern United States. It goes by names such as the Florida bass, bigmouth bass, and widemouth bass.

As Alabama and Florida’s freshwater state fish and Mississippi and Georgia’s state fish, the largemouth bass is quite popular. 

The average length of this fish is an extraordinary 15.7 inches. Record-breaking largemouth bass has clocked in at 29.5 inches and 25 pounds! 

Spotted Bass

Yet a third bass species you can catch with a bobber is the spotted bass, a North American fish species that prefer freshwaters. As the name would allude, the spotted bass does indeed have spots under its lateral line. 

The likeliest areas across North America to find the spotted bass are the Florida panhandle, central Texas, the Gulf states, and the Mississippi River basin. The fish can reach sizes of 25 inches long and 11 pounds, so it’s by no means a small fish. 

Inexperienced anglers can get the largemouth bass and spotted bass confused, which is fair considering they’re sized about the same. They’re also often mistaken for smallmouth bass, but the two fish aren’t that identical. 

The Float and Fly Bass-Fishing Bobber Technique 

When fishing, the right technique is everything. That’s true of bobber fishing as it is for any other kind of fishing style. Thus, we wanted to dedicate this section a very renowned bobber fishing technique for bass, the float and fly.

If you’re not familiar, the float and fly is recommended to do in the wintertime, especially at the start of the season. By then, the water temperature is so cold that bass are practically inactive. Their metabolisms have slowed to help the fish conserve its energy.

The float part of the float and fly is a bobber, which is also known as a float. You don’t have to use anything complicated or fancy here; a plastic bobber will do. You also need a fly, like for fly fishing. 

The most recommended option is a leadhead jig that’s 1/16 or 1/8 ounces. The jig should have a type of shimmering, synthetic fur that’s known as craft hair. Use a four-pound monofilament line on your fishing rod as well. 

Tie the leadhead jig fly onto the end of your fishing line. Then clip your bobber to the jig, elevating it between nine and 11 feet. 

Position your fishing boat so it’s at least 20 yards from the closest bank. You can go as far as 40 yards if you’d prefer. 

Then you can cast out with your float and fly combo. The fly will sink when it hits the water. The jig weight will send the bobber upward straight.

By keeping your fishing rod parallel to the water’s surface and shaking your rod, the fly and bobber will move and wiggle. If you do this quickly enough, it looks like the fly and bobber are almost swimming. 

Do this a few times, then wait, then cast again. This motion mimics a dying fish accurately, and so even inactive bass will become curious. After all, a dying fish is easy food that the bass doesn’t have to try for, and they still need to eat even when they’re inactive. 

Then you just reel it in and voila, you should have a big bass on your line.

The pioneering anglers of the float and fly technique don’t recommend lingering in one spot for too long on the water, especially if you’re not getting any bites. You have to remember that the bass are especially inactive during early winter, so it takes a little more effort than usual to coax them out of their hiding spots. 

Don’t waste too much time on something that’s just not going to happen. Try another spot on the lake or pond and you just might have better luck there! 

Final Thoughts

Bass fishing and bobbers go together like peanut butter and jelly. Anglers who are willing to try a variety of different bobbers, especially the slip bobber, and use a weight and bobber stopper on their line might just have more luck catching smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and spotted bass.

It’s worth practicing and eventually mastering the classic float and fly technique, as it makes use of both flies and bobbers to catch more bass. Good luck!

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Striped Bass.

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