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Float Basics aka Bobbers - Out In Michigan

If you have ever gone into a great tackle shop looking for floats (aka bobbers) you may have been over whelmed with the plethora of choices.Or maybe you have very few choices at your local shop and you don’t fish floats enough because you haven’t been happy with the choices you are being given?

In the world of floats, there are many shapes and styles. There are fat ones, round ones long ones, short ones, some that the line slips through ,others that clip to the line and some that can do both.They all have a time and place in fishing. Learning how to properly use a float can, often mean more success.

Notice the lines and the different colors. Weighting the float to the changes and lines can change how easy or hard it is for the fish to take a float under.

There are a few key things about every float you should know. On every float there is either a line painted on them or a place where two colors come together, and a select few have multiple lines. It is critical when fishing with a float that you pay attention to these color changes and lines. These transitions will tell you where the water line must hit the float, in order for the float to properly detect a strike. Now that we have (that) very important fact out of the way, we can get into the different styles of floats.

Floats can be made out all kinds of materials; wood, plastic, carbon….
No matter what the float is made of, the float’s performance will depend on it’s size, shape, weight, and how it is attached to the line. For most people fishing floats means fishing off a dock or a few yards off the side of a boat. In these cases, having a float that can cast well isn’t important,  so we can stick to fairly basic shapes. Since you are also generally fishing in shallower waters. The shapes most commonly used for this are round, pear, and stick floats.Most people put little thought into the size and shape of there float when doing this form of fishing.This means most of the time they are using a float that has two much resistance for the condition and the fish they are fishing for.

If you are fishing panfish such has crappies, sunfish or perch, you want to use a float that can handle the current water conditions.   But the float must still be small enough to easily slip under the surface when you get a strike. Some great choices for this are:

Photo from

When choosing between a slip and fixed float for shallow water keep in mind just how deep you are wanting to present your bait. If you are wanting to present it a foot or two below the surface a fixed float is a good choice most of the time. If your wanting to get down a little deeper you will want to look at slip floats. Slip floats will allow for easier and more accurate casting, also if your throwing into timber this is something to really think about so you don’t make it look like a x-mas tree and leave behind a few ornaments.

When longer casts are required or fishing weed beds in exposed areas of a lake, we need to start looking at different shapes.  These specialized shapes will aid us in the accurate, stealthy presentation of our bait, yet still allow us to detect the strike when it occurs.

There is many great choices out there these days for doing everything I talked about above.Below are some of my favorites and how I use them:

As you can see, there are tons of choices out there and they all preform a specified task.  When used correctly,  they mean more fish in the boat.  Sometimes,  it also means some large fish going home with you.

So next time your in your local shop, take a look at all those funny looking floats and give one a try.