The traditional bobber rig is probably one of the most well known fishing rigs but it’s often overlooked when it comes to rigging for catfish.
For many people the traditional bobber rig is the fishing rig that they think of when they start to think of rigging a fishing rod. Images of a lazy stream or river with a large red and white plastic bobber and a big bucket of worms come to mind for many anglers.
An experienced angler has an entirely different view of the traditional bobber rig and it shouldn’t be discounted as a “beginners” or “basic” fishing rig as it can be deadly when it comes to catching catfish in some scenarios.
Most catfish anglers are aware of the effectiveness of slip bobbers or slip bobber rigs. They’re much better adapted for many catfishing techniques, much more versatile and also easier to fish with. If you don’t need a bobber or float you’re likely to find other catfish rigs like the Santee Cooper rig or slip sinker rig more effective but there’s are certainly instances where a bobber is the best option and even times where the traditional bobber rig will outperform all others.
Why Use The Traditional Bobber Rig
The slip bobber has an advantage of being easily adjustable. You can quickly and easily adjust the depth you’re fishing by moving the bobber stop. They also have the benefit of working in really deep water since the bobber stop can be rolled up on the fishing line within the reel.
There’s situations though that having a larger more bulky float is desired and that’s where the traditional bobber rig is used.
Anytime you need to fish shallower depths less than a few feet and also need the added benefit of a larger bulkier float that makes a good “splash” when it hits the water.
It’s common knowledge that catfish feed by smell but they feed by sight and sound also, that’s one of the top catfishing tips we pass along to others.
There’s instances where a big load splash of a round weighted foam float can actually help you catch more fish because it allows the catfish to hone in on the sight and sound of the food they’re feeding on.
Often times, in the right area, making a loud “plop” on the water will draw the fish in to strike.
There’s countless examples of this but cormorant catfishing is probably the best. When catfishing with these techniques the sound of the float hitting the water helps draw in fish and gets them to strike.
Using a streamlined float that doesn’t make a good “splash” in the water would actually work against you so the traditional bobber rig is preferred.
Items Need For The Traditional Bobber Rig
I like to pass the traditional red and white plastic floats though and use a weighted round foam float.
The weighted round foam floats are significantly more durable than the traditional plastic bobbers. The added weight makes them much easier to cast and allow for much longer and more accurate casts as well.
Split Shot Sinker:
Make sure you have a good selection of small split shot sinkers for this rig. You don’t have to add much weight but you’ll need to add a small weight a few inches above the hook to help with casting, eliminating tangles also.
This rig can be used with any of your preferred catfishing hooks. For my suggestions check out the Ultimate Guide To Catfishing Gear.
When fishing with the traditional bobber rig I’m typically using “punch bait” a form of prepared bait or “stink bait” so my preferred hook is a Size #4 or Size #6 4X Strong Treble Hook.
Your preferred barrel swivel, ball bearing swivel or crane swivel will work with this rig. I generally use a #6 barrel swivel or a #4 ball bearing swivel.
You’ll need a short piece of clear monofilament or fluorocarbon leader line in forty to fifty pound test. This helps with additional abrasion resistance and helps serve as a “shock absorber” when larger catfish strike.
Rigging The Traditional Bobber Rig For Catfish
This catfish rig is about as simple as it gets.
- Cut a piece of leader line about twelve inches long.
- Attach your preferred catfish hook to one end of the leader line and a swivel to the opposite end using a Palomar knot.
- The open end of the barrel swivel is then attached to the main line using a trilene knot.
- Affix a split shot weight to the leader line 2 to 3 inches above the hook.
- Attach the weighted round foam float to the main line, adjusting the float based on where you want your bait to be in the water column. This can range anywhere from ten to twelve inches all the way to a few feet.
The fishing knots used in this and all of the other catfish rigs are covered here.
Fishing With The Traditional Bobber Rig
The disadvantage of this is rig is you’re limited to how deep you can fish.
If you needed to fish with a traditional bobber in deep water you wouldn’t be able to retrieve the fishing line on your reel beyond the float.
This rig is ideal for water that’s is a few feet deep or less or when you want to keep your catfish baits in the upper portion of the water column in deeper water.
This is best suited for anchored fishing or finesse fishing and can be used for blue, channel and flathead catfish if desired.
Due to the fixed nature of the rig the applications are limited but if you find yourself needing to make a “splash” to get a strike the traditional bobber rig is often your best choice.
To get more in depth details on how I use the traditional bobber rig to load the boat with blue catfish and even catch trophy class blue catfish as well check out the Splat Fishing Techniques book, one of the Catfish Edge products.
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 at the catfish rigs page.