Best Fishing Bobbers and Floats

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Video best crappie bobbers

If you learned to fish as a child, your earliest memories, much like ours, were watching a bobber with great anticipation waiting for it to abruptly disappear under the slick calm waters on an early morning fishing trip with a loved one. I’m 51 years old now, and watching a fishing bobber go under still gives me a childlike thrill. Nostalgia not withstanding, a fishing float is a great way to present not only live baits but also small artificials to fish in a natural way.

Fly anglers use small floats and indicators to let them know when a trout has sucked in a nymph in current runs that you won’t see or feel. Crappie anglers will slip float a jig in timber to catch fish that are reluctant to move much. Whatever your preferred method of fishing, knowing the best fishing bobbers and where to use each one will help you present your baits better and catch more fish.

OUR LIST OF BEST FISHING BOBBERS

  • Best Weighted Spring Bobber: Thill Premium Weighted Float
  • Best Slip Floats: Thill Pro Series Slip Float
  • Best Rattling Float: Bett’s Mr. Crappie Rattlin Pear
  • Best Weighted Clip Bobber: Bett’s Mr. Crappie Weighted Bobber
  • Best Crappie Bobber: Thill Crappie Cork
  • Best Catfish Float: CJ’s Catfish Float
  • Best Panfish Quick Floats: Leland’s Lures Trout Magnet E-Z Floats

thill premium weighted float

Best Weighted Spring Bobber: Thill Premium Weighted Float

The Thill name and premium fishing floats are synonymous. Regardless of the species you chase, you’ve likely found yourself looking at one of the many versions of Thill floats to float your offering. Arguably their most popular model because it’s simple, effective and well designed, the Thill Premium Weighted Float features the spring or slip versions but we think the spring bobber is the best no-nonsense float for a variety of species of fish.

Pull the spring down, run the line into the notch and let the spring loose and you’re good to go. We often use this bobber in the spring when casting to crappie in shallow water with jigs we want to work ultra slow around shallow cover that might be spooky (like when they are moving up to spawn). These high quality bobbers come 2 to a pack for $3.99.

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betts mr crappie rattlin pear

Best Rattling Float: Bett’s Mr. Crappie Rattlin Pear

We got into using a rattling bobber with tungsten bluegill bugs this spring to chase some of our personal best bluegills and shellcrackers. The Mr. Crappie Rattlin Pear is a small bobber that attaches quickly to help make casting very light jigs a little easier and letting you slow down your retrieve and add pauses you can’t do otherwise.

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I took some of my biggest bluegills and panfish on this bobber this year because I felt the rattle called fish in that were curious and then they found the bug. This was especially productive for me in laydown trees in the spring and early summer.

The Rattlin Pear comes in a three sizes from 7/8 inch to 1 1/4 inch for bluegills and crappie alike and would probably work for trout and wallyes as well.

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thill pro series slip floats

Best Slip Floats: Thill Pro Series Slip Float

Another staple in the slip float arena, the Thill Pro Series Slip Float comes in many different sizes and diameters as well as weighted and unweighted. These floats work really well when you want to cast to fish that are in deeper water and you need the rig to be compact on the cast but then sink down to the fish and sit in one place over deeper water. From 1/2 inch diameter up to 1 inch in diameter. These floats work for a ton of species and applications where you want to float fish a little deeper. They are made of premium balsa to ensure a long last bobber that always floats well and is easily pulled under by the right size prey.

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betts mr crappie clip bobber

Best Weighted Clip Bobber: Bett’s Mr. Crappie Snappers Float

There is something to be said for having a bobber that works quick and easy when you suddenly need to change your presentation or need to improve your casting distance because of the wind without having to upsize your lure and speed up your retrieves. A clip on bobber is very handy to have. I keep several in my travel bags and boat because I’ve had lots of times panfishing where I wished I could add a float to a jig to slow my presentation, get a little more distance or make a bait present more naturally in current and wind.

The Bett’s Mr. Crappie Weighted Bobber casts like a rock, attaches quickly and easily and won’t crack or fill up with water. It’s a foam style bobber that comes in a few different sizes for bluegill and crappies alike. I’ve even used the larger ones on other species like catfish. They come two to a pack for $2.29.

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thill crappie cork

Best Crappie Bobber: Thill Crappie Cork

The Thill Crappie Cork is the do-it-all bobber for crappie fishermen. It’s made to be the only float you need for crappie. It comes in multiple sizes, offers both spring clip and slip cork design with a bobber stop already built into the stem. It’s the ultimate float for versatility and convenience for serious anglers. Always good to have a couple in your bag. Weight is printed on the float for convenience. These floats start at $2.49.

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CJ's Stick bobber for catfish

Best Catfish Float: CJ’s Catfish Float

We’ve talked about these floats before in our Kayak Catfishing feature as these are a dynamite way to present bait to channel catfish and blue catfish alike. Check out our feature to see how these are employed. But these unique floats feature a long 14-inch stem and a rigging mechanism that makes them a slip float but your line runs on the outside. This float is designed to let you know a cat is biting without them feeling any resistance so you have the drop on them everytime. These floats excel for drift fishing and that’s why they have become the staple among serious catfishermen. They come 2 to a pack for $8.99.

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leland lures trout magnet E-Z Float

Best Quick Float Indicators: Leland’s Lures Trout Magnet E-Z Floats

Sometimes you just want to throw quick small float on an ultralight setup to float your jig or slow your presentation and without having to completely rerig, it’s nice when you can use something like the Trout Magnet E-Z Floats, that use a slit style bobber with a peg to pinch your line in place on the bobber. You can add them quickly to your ultralight offerings to keep your bait up and out of cover and off the bottom as you fish through shallow areas with tiny lures. They are made of a high-float foam, come 4 to a pack in high viz colors for $1.87.

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TYPES OF FISHING BOBBERS AND FLOATS

Fishing bobbers and floats vary in size, materials and how you connect them to your line. There are basically three ways to connect a bobber to your line that include the following:

  • Clip on
  • Pinch/peg
  • Slip on with a stopper
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As you’ve seen going through this list, bobbers can ether be clipped on with spring loaded clips or external springs or rubber sleeves. Floats can also be pinched on with a peg where you either run the line through the bobber or put it through a slit in the side of the bobber and then use a peg to pinch the bobber onto your line. Or you can use a slip style bobber where your line runs through the bobber after your slide or tie a bobber stop onto your line above it. Each of the three ways to connect have a time and place and often convenience and depth are the determining factors.

BEST BOBBER BRANDS

With bobbers, you can get by with a cheaper bobber in a pinch but their are a few brands that are the best at making specific application floats. Brands like Thill, Betts and Eagle Claw have some of the widest selections of bobbers to fit all types of fish and fishing applications. There are a lot of other good brands that don’t have as diverse a selection but also offer great bobbers like Rod-N-Bob, Raven, Sheffield, Northland, and Lunkerhunt. You can find a very good selection of floats at FishUSA.com

BOBBER FISHING SETUPS

When fishing with bobbers, anglers often like to use lighter lines and either spinning or spin casting setups. I spent a lot of time fishing small bobbers on tungsten jigs for panfish this year on spinning rod and reels with 4-pound line as well as BFS baitcasting gear with the same light lines like 4-pound mono and 8-pound braid. With the bigger bobbers you can go up in size and weighted bobbers also allow you to use larger line sizes without sacrificing castability.

BEST BOBBER AND FLOAT MATERIALS

Balsa and foam are probably the two most common types of fishing bobbers along with plastic. The first two will hold up a lot better than the latter. Plastic tends to eventually crack or wear out and let water in which makes it stop floating. Balsa will still float if it breaks, splinters or loses pieces.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>