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Basic Slip-Bobber Techniques: Best Bet for Walleyes

Over the years many different techniques have evolved for catching the rather elusive walleyes. But none as formidable as the slip bobber. Many fisherfolks have an aversion to "bobber fishing" due to childhood memories but slip bobber fishing is a whole 'nother ballgame. A slip bobber set-up with a lively leech hanging from it is deadly ... simply deadly.

If you're not familiar with a slip bobber rig I'll try to explain it. With the old fashioned bobber if you wanted to fish at 12 feet you had to try to cast the entire 12 feet of line with your bobber and bait attached. This was not fun.

With a slip bobber rig you have a moveable dacron knot, which comes pre-tied by the way, that you put on your line as a stop mechanism. The bobber itself is hollow so it can slide up and down to your bait, as you cast, and to your stop, as it settles into the water.

The sequence, in case you're not following this is (1) the line from your rod and reel, (2) the slip bobber knot firmly tightened on your line (with long ends snipped short), the small bead that comes with the rig which keeps the knot from going through the bobber, the hollow bobber, a small barrel sinker, then a swivel of some sort, and then a 2 foot piece of 6 pound test line tied to the bottom of the swivel, with a small (#6 or #8) hook tied at the very end. Hook your fresh leech near the sucker end and away you go. A long, whippy rod (my slip bobber rod is 9' long!) allows you to cast further, without losing your bait, and to get a good arc when you set the hook.

Again ... stop knot, bead, bobber, barrel sinker, swivel, piece of light line, small hook, and leech.

If your bobber doesn't sit upright in the water then your bait is on the bottom or your weight is too light. If you switch to another technique leave the stop knot on your line as it won't interfere with anything and you can easily go back to bobber fishing later. As always, retie that hook periodically as it can become frayed and weak. Also, try to remember to wet your stop knot before you move it as the heat you generate can weaken your line significantly.

What you want to do, and this is IMPORTANT, is to fish where the wind is hitting the structure (shoreline, rockpike, or submerged reef) or where it WAS hitting the structure ... this is where the walleyes, and other species, are! The more wind the better! Start out in the 8-10' range and go from there ... I seldom get out of that range even though I might see the fish deeper on my locator screen. Because I know, from experience, that this is the range walleyes tend to feed in.

If you want to become an advocate of slip bobber fishing get yourself set up on your favorite reef about two hours before sundown on your next trip. Try to position your canoe or boat so you are casting straight downwind to the reef. This eliminates any unnecessary slack in your line so you get a good hook set! Be patient because those walleyes will come ... and before dark you'll have walleyes in the boat! I promise...

Roger Hahn, Editor

P.S. This technique works great on smallmouth bass, too. From your campsite, from your canoe, or from your boat. Bear in mind that the smallies are usually a little shallower than your walleyes ... so if you're catching walleyes, and want to catch bass (hey, it could happen?), then move your slip knot up a couple of feet. Or vice-versa to find the walleyes.

A depth finder is a very handy tool for later in the summer as those walleyes, and bass, head to humps (submerged reefs not visible to the naked eye or connected directly to shore). If you can find those humps, and there are thousands in this country, you'll find the fish. Have an anchor to hold your position and a couple of small marker buoys to mark the top of the reef and you're in business. Reel in the slack and set that hook hard!

The Editor

       --article courtesy of BoundaryWatersMagazine
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