The slip bobber rig is a staple catfish rig for many anglers for a variety of different species of catfish.
They’re especially popular for those who target channel catfish. Slip bobbers can be effective for blue catfish and flathead catfish also in some applications but for channel catfish, they’re the “go-to” catfish rig for many anglers.
I’ve used slip bobbers extensively off and on over my career as a catfish guide but I rely on the Secret Catfish Rig almost exclusively for channel catfish. The increased sensitivity helps my clients catch more fish and it outperforms slip bobbers every time.
You need to know how to rig and fish with a slip bobber if you’re going to fish for channel catfish. You might also find situations when fishing for blues and flatheads where you’ll want to fish with slip bobbers as well.
They’re a very flexible and effective tool to have in your catfishing gear.
The Slip Bobber Advantage For Catfish
When you think of fishing with bobbers you may think of someone fishing lazily on the side of the shore with one of those big red and white plastic bobbers that clips on your fishing line, similar to the traditional bobber rig,
The slip bobber rig is very different from traditional round fishing floats that are fixed on the line:
- They’re traditionally much more sensitive than the traditional round fixed bobbers.
- They’re usually much easier to cast.
- The depth is adjustable regardless of how shallow or deep you’re fishing.
- They’re the only bobber that can be easily used in deep water.
Choosing The Right Slip Bobbers
There are many options available when it comes to slip bobbers. I’ve used just about every style over the years and the keys to choosing the best slip bobbers are simple.
I’ve paid as little as a couple of dollars (or less) for slip bobbers and as much as ten dollars each. My experience has always been that the worst performing and least sensitive slip bobbers are usually the more expensive models. The cheaper slip bobbers typically outperform all others for channel catfish and are usually much more sensitive as well.
You’re looking for a few key features when choosing slip bobbers:
- They need to be light
- They need to be streamlined
- They need to be inexpensive
- They need to be sensitive
I’ve found the Comal Tackle Slip Stick float to be the top-performing slip bobber for catching channel catfish. Not only does it work better than anything else I’ve used but it’s the cheapest option I’ve found as well.
The Comal Tackle Slip Stick Float typically costs around fifty cents each and they’re readily available in most sporting goods stores and fishing tackle shops. They’re available in both 2“ and 3” options (both sizes work fine). In the absence of fishing with the Secret Channel Catfish Rig I’d suggest picking up a big bag of the Comal Tackle Slip Stick Floats for targeting channel catfish with prepared baits.
Items Needed To Rig The Slip Bobber Rig
Here’s what you need to get started rigging and fishing with this rig.
- Comal Tackle 2” Slip Stick float or your preferred slip bobbers
- Bobber Stops and Beads
- Split Shot Sinkers
- Preferred catfish hooks. For channel catfish use a size #6, 4x strong treble hook.
You can get more information on the tackle and gear used in The Ultimate Guide To Catfishing Gear. If you plan on using slip bobbers and finesse fishing catfishing techniques you should also check out our guides on catfish rods and reels also to make sure you have the right tools for the job and they’re set up correctly.
Bobber Stops – The Critical Device
Bobber stops are critical when it comes to the slip bobber rig and fishing with slip bobbers. They’re also typically the piece of tackle that confuses everyone the most.
The bobber stop slides on the fishing line before the float or any tackle and then the small bead follows. The bobber stop and bead are what sets the depth of the float and allows you to adjust how deep you’re fishing.
The bobber stop can be reeled onto the fishing reel so you can fish the slip bobber rig as deep or as shallow as you need.
My experience has always been that traditional bobber stops like these traditionally outperform the new style bobber stops
How to Rig the Slip Bobber Rig
Rigging the slip bobber rig is very simple:
- Slide the bobber stop on the fishing line.
- Slide the fishing line through the plastic tube of the bobber stop and then carefully slide the bobber stop off the plastic tube.
- Slowly pull the two strings so the knot tightens and cut the excess line from the strings with a pair of scissors.
- Slide the bead (included with the bobber stops) onto the fishing line.
- Slide the slip bobber onto the fishing line.
- Attach your preferred catfish hook to the fishing line using a Palomar knot.
- Add a split shot sinker 2–3 inches above your hook.
The amount of weight you’ll use will vary depending on the type of slip bobber you use. You only need to use enough weight to make float stand up in the water, adding too much weight will cause problems.
Once you’ve finished the slip bobber rig adjust the location of the bobber stop on the fishing line based on how deep you’ll be fishing. Simply slide the bobber stop up or down the fishing line.
The bobber stop will have little impact on casting and it can be reeled onto your fishing reel so you can fish the slip bobber rig as deep or as shallow as you’d like.
If you’re targeting channel catfish load your hook up with some good prepared catfish bait (like punch bait) or your preferred catfish bait (just make sure it’s one of the good ones)and start catching fish.
For an even better option for targeting channel catfish with prepared baits check out the Secret Channel Catfish Rig. Many anglers report catching as much as 500 to 600 percent more channel catfish using this rig.
If you’re putting your baits in the right area it’s easy to catch 100 fish or more in a few hours.
Want More On Catfish Rigs?
Check out all of our tutorials on catfish rigs covering everything you need to know and more. You’ll learn the essentials of rigging for different species of catfish and different catfishing techniques here on the catfishing rigs page.