Catfishing with Slip Bobbers

Discussion in 'Outdoor Articles' started by Katmaster Jr., Sep 5, 2006.

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  1. Katmaster Jr.

    Katmaster Jr. New Member

    Wilmington, NC
    Catfishing with Slip Bobbers

    I think I speak for us all when I say, we all can get into habits when it comes to fishing. We get use to doing something, one way, and just don't even think of doing it another way. Then there are some of us that want to try something new, and just don't know how to do it. Well, sit back, and jump in the boat with me, I want to take you on an adventure that I hope will help you understand a very successful technique for catching Catfish.


    #1 - What exactly is a "Slip Bobber Rig"?

    A Slip Bobber Rig is mainly used to target catfish that are suspended. I'm sure we all know about the regular bobber rigs, most commonly used for Bream, and other similar fish. Well, imagine this, the water you're fishing in is mostly 20 or more feet deep. Yet, the fish are concentrated in a certain depth range, and they are not on the bottom. Lets say they are 10ft down, in 20ft of water, imagine using a regular bobber, the kind that clips on to your line, you would have to slide it up 10ft from your hook, obviously that is near impossible to cast. So here's the beauty of the slip bobber rig, you are basically casting it just as you would with a regular bottom rig. You tie a bobber stop, piece of fishing line, or as "Big George" here on the BOC said "Teflon Tape" as far up from your hook as you want your bait to be, when you cast out the bobber stop will hit the top of your slip bobber and your bait will be however deep you set it to be.

    #2 - Supplies needed to use a Slip Bobber Rig

    1- A Slip Bobber of some sort. They can be purchased at nearly any tackle shop, and also many other places that carry fishing equipment. I prefer a very large Slip Bobber for Catfishing, a good size Catfish has no trouble at all pulling down a huge bobber. One of our sponsors here on the BOC carries bobbers that are very large and designed for catfish, "Maine Wolf Products".

    2- Slip Sinkers work best with Slip Bobbers, what size you need depends on your fishing scenario, if you're fishing with a small bobber you will most likely need a small weight, again though, I really recommend a large bobber for catfish. With a large bobber normally you will use a 2 or 3 ounce sinker, maybe larger! A lot of it also depends on the current where you are fishing, a lot of current will of course require a larger weight, while with a slow or moderate current the size of the weight will not make much of a difference.


    3- Leader material of some sort. It can be Florocaurbon, or Monofilament, but it needs to be thick, meaning at least 30lb test, I recommend 50lb. I usually get a cheap Wal-Mart brand 50lb Mono for my leader material and I have not had any problems yet, been using it for several years.

    4- Hooks, you need hooks no matter what kind of rig you're using. I personally use Kahle Hooks mostly, but the choice is up to you, use whatever you are most comfortable with, or have the most success with.

    5- Swivels, you need good strong swivels no matter what kind of rig you're using in my opinion. For the slip bobber rig, One-Way swivels are usually best. They don't have to be fancy at all, as long as thier good size Swivels, and not snap swivels, you should be fine. I actually buy large Gold Swivels made by the brand "Laker" from Wal-Mart, normally you get about 25 per pack and the cost is around $2.50 or so.

    6- This is what makes the whole idea of the slip bobber work, The BOBBER STOP. You need something to tie to your line that will control how deep your bait goes. As I listed previously in this article, a few things you can use are, Teflon Tape, A piece of fishing line, or you can buy what is actually a official "bobber stop" in a package at most places that carry fishing tackle.


    #3- How to rig a Slip Bobber.

    1- Get the end of your fishing line, that comes off your rod and reel.

    2- Put line thru hole on top of slip bobber and guide it thru until it comes out of the bottom of the bobber. This can be just a little tricky sometimes, and may require some turning of the bobber while you're pushing the line thru, which helps the line get thru without bending up inside the bobber.

    3- Slide Sinker on to your line, it should be under the slip bobber.

    4- Tie Swivel to your line which should also contain your leader with hook attached.

    5- And again, here is what makes it all come together at the end, decide how deep you want your bait to be, and tie whatever you're using as a bobber stop on to your line at that spot. Here is one way to do this if you're on the bank or at home, let out your line making the slip bobber rig lay on the ground, then let out approximately how ever much line is going to make your bobber the depth you want it, meaning, if you want your bobber to be 5ft deep, let out 5 feet of line. Then just tie your bobber stop on to that part of your line, if you want to get it at an exact depth, you can use a tape measure or something of that nature to measure it out.

    #4 - What type of Rod and Reel to use

    Personally I sort of like to use Spinning outfits for Bobbers, but that is mostly a preference thing I believe. I use Baitcast outfits also with Slip bobbers and don't have much trouble, the only thing about using a baitcaster for Slip bobbers is the fact that a lot of them have the "Level Wind" feature. Meaning when you cast your bobber stop has to go thru the "Level Wind" which can snap your line sometimes, or cause other problems.

    #5- Fishing the Thermocline

    Here is where the Slip bobbers have come in handy most for me. I mostly fish a large Reservoir, in the summer it's not unusual for the surface water temperature to reach 90 degrees. The fish get very suspended when this happens, usually concentrating around the Thermocline. Those of you that don't know what a Thermocline is, simply put it is a layer/depth of the water that has the most oxygen and cooler water. The fish can be so concentrated to that layer of the water that you can't even get a bite on the bottom, I say this because I have expierenced it for the past couple years. For me here in Northeastern, North Carolina, it has always started around Mid-June and lasted all the way thru late August, or early September. The Reservoir that I fish is mostly deep (30 or more feet, with the max depth around 90ft) and it is very large, and has many creeks that feed into it. I set my bobbers anywhere from 10-15ft deep, and will fish in anywhere from 20-75ft deep. I have good success doing this, if nothing else I will usually catch at least a few Blue Cats or Channel Cats around 5-10lbs in a trip, and sometimes will get a bigger Blue Cat, 20 or more pounds. I landed my biggest Blue Catfish of 43 pounds on a Slip Bobber also. While at the same time I fish with bottom rigs and normally don't even get a bite from a decent fish when the thermocline is present! The thermocline normally dissapears in the Fall, but even then Slip bobbers will catch a lot of fish usually.


    #6 - Anchoring and fishing with Slip Bobbers

    If you are anchoring up and fishing with slip bobbers there are a couple things you need to be aware of. If you're fishing in current, you need to position your boat to where the bobbers are going straight out from where you are setting your pole down, this will prevent them from getting tangled. If there is a wind, you need to try to anchor where your bobbers are going out with the direction of the wind, this also helps prevent tangles, and helps stop your bobbers from floating right up against your boat. Sometimes things can get tricky, the wind can be changing directions a lot, and stuff like that. When that happens you just have to use your head and figure out something different to do that works for the situation.

    #7 - Drift Fishing with Slip Bobbers

    This is by far one of the most productive methods I have used so far. As I said previously, I mainly fish a large Reservoir, that means there is a lot of water out there to cover, the fish have a lot of different places to hang out, and a lot of times they can get very spread out also. Of course for Drifting you really need some sort of Wind or good Current, otherwise it is usually pretty hard. A drift sock is a very good investment to make, it will help you catch more fish drift fishing. Get your boat positioned to the wind the way you want it to drift, the way we do it is, face the boat sideways to the wind and we put a drift sock off the back and off of the front, the two drift socks keep the boat straight and can help make a slower drift which seems to do best for us.

    #8 - Slip Bobber fishing from the Bank

    Slip Bobbers can work great from the bank if you have the right situation for them. Whether it be fishing a Dam from the bank, or Floating a bobber over submerged timber. The main thing about using them from the bank is, if you're fishing in current you're probably going to have to reel up often. A couple of ways Slip Bobbers can come in handy while Bank fishing are,

    1- At a dam, you can float your bait out into a area of slack current where catfish will usually hold. I have done very good for Blue Cats using this technique.

    2- You can stand directly upstream from a good spot downstream, like Submerged Timber, a deep hole, etc. And float your bobber down right over the spot, this can be an extremely effective tactic. I have had great success for Channel Cats doing it.

    #9 - Get out there and have a good time!

    I sincerely hope that this has helped you understand the benefits of a slip bobber, and how to use a slip bobber properly, while at the same time I hope it has been entertaining. The fish are out there, it's up to you to get out there and catch them! Take a kid, friend, or family member fishing with you. Let them enjoy the thrill of a fish pulling the end of thier line, spend some quality time with them, make memories that will last forever.

    Zakk Royce
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