Making the Bobber Better

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

If you’re going to fish a bobber, you should make your bobber better.

I’ve written a little lately about my growing discontent towards bobber fishing. I’m going to say again, on the record, that there is a time and a place for a big gaudy bobber and when it’s time to fish one, you want it to work at its absolute best. Right?

There are two common problems with the way a bobber functions. They are both a matter of drift. On the one hand, a bobber can negatively impact the drift of your fly, pulling it up in the water column and causing an unnatural drift. On the other hand, there can be too much slack between the bobber and the fly, causing your bobber to react slowly when a fish eats.

I was talking about this with my friend Whitney Gould the other day and she showed me a cool trick that solves both problems. This is ironic because Whitney is a renowned Spey caster who will not fish a bobber under threat of death and openly makes fun of anyone who does, including me. I don’t mind, because I’m not too proud to learn something and this trick is so simple I’m shocked I’ve never seen it before.

Simply place a piece of split shot or tungsten puddly about six inches below the Thingamabobber.

This takes the heavy end of the leader straight down under the bobber and accomplishes two things. It gets your fly down in the water column, where the fish are, and by taking the butt of the leader with it, minimizes the effect of drag from the faster surface water. It also takes the slack out of the system and turns the bobber right side up, making it far more sensitive.

I tried it and the difference was obvious. A more responsive indicator and a better drift meant more fish. There are still a lot of times when a different style of indicator or no indicator at all is a better choice but for the times when the bobber is the ticket, this trick makes the bobber better. Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll like the results.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Making the Bobber Better

    • No, the trick is to put it below the bobber. It’s helps “set” the bobber right away, and takes away some of the power of the very top of the water column to jostle the bobber as readily. Quite a nice trick. Quite a pain in the ass to cast, even relative to a normal bobber setup.

  1. Better still a heavy nymph/dropper to dredge the bottom. Could use a dry as a bobber and then there aren’t any emotional hangups (this I know). Or forget the bobber and figure out a better approach to the water you are fishing. High stick it, swing it, strip it, whatever… Bobbers are good for bait and even then freelining it often is better. But bobbers are best for lazy fishing which is bad if you are trying to catch fish and good if you are trying to drink a few beverages.

    But I think I would always choose to tie a heavy nymph onto the line (an in-line set up) rather than pinch on some lead. Don’t know if that would actually be better, but it would feel better.

  2. Louis,
    Great idea! I will be trying this the next time out. When you get a chance, write about your criteria for going with no indicator nymphing. Love Mondays! Thanks, Danny

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