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Do You Need a Float for Fishing? If So, When and Why?

A floater in the middle of lotus leaves.

The majority of fishermen believe a bobber is a beneficial tool for suspending bait off the bottom of the lake. This is true when fishing with live bait for bullheads, panfish, or trout. However, if I am fishing for fish at the bottom, or slightly larger fish, then bobbers can produce adverse results.

What is a Bobber?

Easy Catch 10pcs 1" Fishing Floats Bobbers

A bobber is part of an angler’s important tackle. It is a sort of tackle that floats and is often utilized as an indicator of a strike. They also behave in a buoyant manner. In a way permitting the angler is assured their fishing hook and bait can be seen over the fish.

Typically constructed from any materials that are light. Such as wood, plastic, foam or cork, and available in a number of colors, shapes, and weights. The type of rig and fishing conditions is usually the deciding factor with the type used.

Two of the elementary bobber types that most anglers use are slip and fixed.

Why Would I Use a Float When Fishing?

A fishing floaters in the middle the water with ripples.

When I fish from a boat or along the shoreline a float allows me to cast my line and know where it is. Unlike leger or bottom fishing, the bobber or float gives me a point of reference. Therefore, avoiding missing a fish that might like my bait.

In addition, the use of a float when fishing helps prevent my line from becoming snagged. However, it is mostly in areas that snag easily where the majority of fish are. The use of a float will also permit me to maintain the bait just a little above the bottom of the water. When I am using a float, my chances are greater to catch that fish, as the float maintains a snag-free line.

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What are the Advantages to Using a Fishing Float?

Two man fishing near a dock at the sunset.

The prime advantages to using a fishing float is that my line and bait stays suspended in the column of water. This is imperative as a means of surveying the appearance of any fish that might be passing by. As well as any fish that hang out near the bottom in search of food. A bobber maintains the bait in a central location, only slightly suspended, this makes it tempting for a fish out for an easy meal.

Fishing at the bottom of a river can be so annoying. There are so many things at the bottom of a river that will snag a fishing line. Have you ever been fishing and feel your pole start to pull? Only to reel in something from the bottom of the lake (not a fish)? Such an annoyance!!

Another problem anglers often face when fishing with a float is that it creates line litter in the water. This is not only bad for the fish, but also other animals that live in the water. For instance, ducks have been observed diving under and stealing bait off fishing lines.

If there is any sort of breeze, the float will slowly drift along the surface of the water. This is an excellent way of attracting fish as the bait is gradually moved over the water.

The best part about using a float is knowing when a fish bites (or slightly bumps) the line. A bobber will move at the slightest indication of being nudged. It takes practice, but with time I have learned how to tell the difference between an actual bite or just a brushing.

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Will I Scare Off the Fish With a Float?

A man fishing on his boats with a floaters.

Fishing with a float affords anglers numerous benefits and aid in the detection of even the slightest bite. A floating bobber permits anglers a discipline on how deep in water the bait is suspended. In addition to aiding and advancing the distance a cast will go.

Yet, as with anything good, there are always some negative drawbacks. One such is whether the use of bobbers will scare the fish, making them steer clear and avoid the bait.

Therefore, the question remains– If I use a bobber am I scaring away potential catches? The answer is no. There should be a two to three foot distance from the line to the hook. Also, I ensure that I am not using a bobber that is really big. Although it has been recognized that fish may startle when a bobber is initially cast, they will not be completely scared away.

Is it necessary for me to use fishing floats?

Most people who fish for the sport of it have basic needs that are minimal when they go out. They require a simple rod, reel, hooks, lures, flies, and of course line. Bobbers are not typically on the list of must-haves, however, they should be.

Will I have better luck fishing with or without a bobber?

The answer to this question depends upon where you plan to be fishing. When fishing in a pond, I always use a bobber to keep my bait floating. On the other hand, in order to weigh down my bait, I will use a sinker when fishing in the river. I find the bait gets sent back into the bank when fishing with a bobber in a strong river current.

Although Not Fundamental–floats Enhance the Fishing Experience!

A fishing rod with a reel and fish bait.

Any angler will tell you that you don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to catch a fish. In fact, many are quite successful catching fish by hand–also known as “noodling”. Not too long ago, I witnessed a man as he was fishing sans reel and rod.

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His only equipment was a can, he had wound some line around it, and attached a weight and a baited hook. This man then cast his bait into the water and I watched as he caught fish, after fish!

Although it is possible to catch fish successfully in this manner, most sport fishermen agree the sport is more exciting when you have lots of shiny equipment. The minimal requirements are a rod and reel, some line and hooks, and a variety of lures, flies, and yes–floating bobbers!

The majority of anglers might not place bobbers at the high end of the fishing essential list, yet it should be. I think it sounds better to call them floats instead of bobbers. When I hear the term “bobber” what comes to mind are those white and red plastic floats we used as kids. I think almost everyone started out fishing with a work baited to a hook under one of these bobbers!

Using a float certainly is not mandatory, however, it does enhance the entire experience! With the combination of the bobber’s weight, a hook with bait, as well as a split shot one can simply cast using a spin or spinning cast rig. After the cast is sent, bait remains suspended under the bobber, snag-free, and off the lake’s bottom.

I like the excitement of observing a bobber as a fish takes the bait. As the fish nibbles, when it finally commits to taking the bait, the bobber disappears beneath the water’s surface. It is all really exciting to watch, which is why kids learning to fish should start off with worms and bobbers!