Do Fishing Bobbers Work for Trout?

Trout has always been your favorite species of fish to catch. At about 16 inches long on average, trout make for a filling dinner or at least a rewarding photo opp. Will adding bobbers to your fishing arsenal help you catch trout?

Bobbers can be an effective means of catching trout, ideally in the winter and early into spring when the bottom-feeding trout linger at higher depths. Pencil bobbers and slip bobbers are your top options, with the latter recommended when you want to gain depth with your bobber.

This guide to bobber fishing for trout will be full of great information. We’ll talk about the most preferred types of bobbers for catching trout that anglers don’t want to be without. Also, we’ll discuss trout fishing setups with bobbers that you can emulate the next time you go fishing. Keep reading!  

Related Reading: The Best Trout Lures

Can You Use Fishing Bobbers to Catch Trout?

If you read our post on bobber fishing for bass, then you may recall how we mentioned that some anglers don’t have much regard for bobbers as a fishing accessory. They think bobbers are nothing more than something that kids use to catch fish.

As we said in that article, bobbers have their pros and cons. 

In very deep water, most bobbers cannot maintain enough depth to make them a viable fishing option. However, for surface-level fishing or fishing several feet under the surface, a bobber is a verifiable fishing accessory to consider.

In the wintertime especially, if you’re still fishing then, you’ll want to pull out your best bobbers and go trout fishing. During the cold snap and shortly thereafter, trout linger maybe 10 feet below the surface.

They get progressively deeper as the seasons progress. By the middle of the spring, the fish linger in the depths at 35 to 45 feet. Then, as spring gives way to summer, the trout get deeper still, anywhere from 50 to 65 feet. 

It’s for that reason that we wouldn’t recommend bobber fishing for trout any later than the middle of spring. You might struggle to get deep enough with your bobber to find any actively biting trout. 

Using live bait with your bobber is an exceptional idea. Trout eats worms, leeches, crustaceans, and small fish like minnows, so any of those are options. Artificial lures, if you can mimic live bait accurately enough, are useable as well, but we’d recommend live bait more.  

Which Fishing Bobbers Are Best for Trout?

Bobbers all basically serve the same function, but they’re not to be used interchangeably. If they were, then there wouldn’t exist so many unique kinds. To ensure you have a better chance at catching any trout with bobbers, you should use the following types.

Related Reading: 7 Best Fishing Bobbers

Pencil Bobber

Pencil bobbers are even thinner than cigar bobbers, aka stick bobbers. 

That makes a pencil bobber among the most sensitive bobber you can add to your fishing line. This can be beneficial, especially if you’re eager to sense whether you’re getting a bite. 

Outside of trout, a pencil bobber is also a viable pick if you’re trying to catch walleye, bluegill, perch, and crappies. You’d use one end of the bobber for attaching a jig, particle bait, spike, leech, wax worm, or small minnow. 

Pencil bobbers are especially adept in cold waters, and the shallower the body of water, the better. 

Strike Indicator

Okay, so a strike indicator technically is not a bobber, but you use it in much the same way you would a bobber, so we thought we’d include it here. 

Strike indicators float in the water. When connected to the leader, you can sense when a fish like trout pulls on your line even very subtly. We’d say a strike indicator is more sensitive than a pencil bobber.

Using a fly with a strike indicator is imperative. Trout will often go up to a fly, put it in their mouth, spit it out, and then repeat that a few times. Then, if they feel it’s safe to, they’ll try consuming the fly.

Those are a lot of biting moments that, with another type of bobber, you wouldn’t even notice. A strike indicator lets you know when a bite is happening to maximize your chances of catching trout. 

Slip Bobber

You can also use a slip bobber as part of your trout fishing setup. 

A slip bobber is a must if you want to fish deeper in the water, such as later in the spring when trout begin to sink further below the water’s surface. 

Slip bobbers, also known as slide bobbers, can move or slide along your fishing line. If the bobber slides its way down to your bait, then that’s where it stops on that end of the line. 

On the opposite end of the line, a bobber stop prevents the slip bobber from slipping right off.

Bobber stops, which we discussed in our article about bobber fishing for bass, is an accessory you tie on your fishing line to literally stop the bobber from going to unintended locations. 

A bobber stop might be made of plastic, rubber, or string, and it can include beads or knots to preclude the bobber from traveling. 

Some anglers have had success with slip bobbers at water depths of up to 40 feet. That won’t be deep enough to catch trout in the summer, but in the early to mid-spring and even late spring in some instances, this kind of depth should suffice.

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

The world of trout is a vast one with many species available for you to catch with bobbers if you know where to find the fish and you target them before they’re too deep in the water. Here’s an overview.  

Lake Trout

The first trout species to be on the lookout for when fishing with a bobber is lake trout.  This North American trout species is known as the grey trout, togue, touladi, lake charr, namaycush, and mackinaw. 

A lake fish that’s edible and favored as a game species, lake trout has a brownish color with lighter-hued speckles across its body. 

Throughout North America, you can only track down this trout species in limited areas, including the northeastern parts of North America as well as Alaska and Canada.

Most lake trout are between 24 and 36 inches long, with record-breakers achieving sizes of 50+ inches and weighing more than 70 pounds! 

Brook Trout

In the Salmonidae family is the brook trout, which is common in Canada, the United States, and parts of Eastern North America. Depending on where you find it, this fish species is called the mud trout, brookie, squaretail, brook charr, or speckled trout.

Nine of the states across the US have named the brook trout as their respective official state fish. The states include West Virginia, Virginia, Vermont, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Michigan. 

In Canada’s Nova Scotia, the brook trout is the Provincial Fish. 

The brook trout is brown and marbled, which is technically known as vermiculation. The back and flanks are noticeably lighter than the rest of the body. 

Cutthroat Trout

Preferring the cold temperatures of tributaries in parts of North America, the cutthroat trout is another fish you could reel in with a bobber on your line. Look for this species in the Great Basin, Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean.

Anglers love the cutthroat trout, as it’s a popular game fish. The cutthroat prefers shallower waters with great oxygenation and gravel floors. 

Since they live in shallow seas, you have a much better chance of catching cutthroat trout than you do bottom-feeding trout species.  

Golden Trout

You’ll have to be a California native if you ever hope to use a bobber to catch golden trout. The fish species known primarily as the Brigit is a Cali exclusive. 

It’s named the golden trout not because California is the Golden State, but due to the Golden Trout Creek tributary that is this fish species’ natural home. 

Despite the name, the golden trout has red bands across its lateral lines as well as darker-colored oval-shaped patches referred to as parr marks. The fish is smaller than other trout species, as the golden trout reaches sizes six to 12 inches in length. 

Bull Trout

You can use a bobber to collect more bull trout in your tacklebox. The bull trout is freshwater fish found in the northwestern parts of North America. 

Before you start fishing for them, double-check with your local parks and rec association, as bull trout are regarded as threatened or vulnerable in many parts of the country. 

If you are granted permission to go fishing, head to northern Nevada’s Jarbidge River, western Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alberta, Canada’s Continental Divide. 

Bigger bull trout are up to 41 inches long and weigh more than 30 pounds, but those are exceptional fish and not the norm. 

Trout Fishing Setups with Bobbers 

To set you up on the road to success, we’re sharing two trout fishing setups in this section that both use bobbers. Try them both and see what you reel in!

Slip Bobber Fishing Rig with Barrel Swivels, Monofilament, and Short-Shank Hooks

This first bobber fishing setup for catching trout requires a rolling barrel swivel (or several), a split-shot weight set, a monofilament fishing line, a bobber stopper, a slider bobber, and a short-shank hook.

First, you should first select your desired depth for the fishing rig to sink. Keep in mind the time of year you’re fishing and the species of trout that are in the local body of water to help with this decision-making.

Add the bobber stop to the recommended depth so your bobber can’t go deeper in the water than that. 

Next, thread your monofilament fishing line through the slip bobber. Trim excess fishing line so there’s six inches more line when the bobber hits the bobber stop. 

Using that end of your fishing line, secure your barrel swivel to the fishing line. Then, measure out a foot away from where the end of the fishing line is. This is where you want to tie the split-shot weight. 

Using a cinch knot, attach your short-shank fishing hook. Include your live bait or artificial lure as well, with live bait the better option for this rig. 

Slip Bobber Fishing Rig with Split-Shot Weights, Fluorocarbon, and Bait Hooks 

Here’s another rig you can use when bobber fishing for trout. You’ll need split-shot weights again, a bobber stopper, a fluorocarbon fishing line rated at six to 12 pounds (monofilament line works in a pinch), a plastic fishing bead, a mid-sized sliding bobber, and a #8 or #12 fishing hook. 

Take your fishing line and feed it through the bobber stopper’s tube, inching the stopper up several feet on the fishing line. Knot this part of your fishing line, tugging both tag ends to keep the bobber stopper secure.

The second accessory to thread on your fishing line is the plastic fishing bead. Then take your slip bobber and secure it to the line via its tube. Slide a split-shot weight under the slip bobber to keep it in place.

Now take a #8 or #12 fishing hook and tie that to your line. We’d recommend a fishermen’s knot. 

Depending on how deep you want to go with this rig, you’ll need to adjust the bobber stopper while it’s on the line. You could add extra split-shot weights as well but keep them at least one foot from the fishing hook. 

Final Thoughts 

Bobber fishing can be just what you need to catch more trout, be that cutthroat trout, brook trout, lake trout, or other species. A slip bobber will produce the best results, especially if you follow one of the two rig setups we recommended above. 

The next time one of your angling buddies tells you that bobber fishing is just for kids, pull out your rig and show them what you can catch! They’ll certainly be impressed.

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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