Simple Slip Bobbers for Summer Walleye
Bobber fishing is probably one of the most simple ways to fish, period. That said on these dog days of summer it can also be a deadly tactic for getting lazy walleyes to eat on the Madison Chain. Slip bobbering deep structure and weeds is one of my favorite ways to keep a bite going when another dies, especially when a trolling or casting bite slows down. Your choice of live bait, a jig head, and a bobber is all it takes.
This Lake Mendota walleye couldn't resist half a night crawler on a jig
For fishing deep water (20 plus feet) a slip bobber is an absolute essential. I prefer to go with the smallest size bobber possible that is still easy to see on a medium distance cast. Color of bobber is certainly a personal preference however I prefer a blue or pink topped bobber for bright, sunny days as it stands out against the glare on the surface of the water, while a bright yellow or orange bobber stands out very well in overcast and low-light conditions.
A Thill unweighted balsa slip bobber is my go-to for summer walleye
On the business end of the rig I like to use a 1/16 oz jig head with a medium sized split shot about a foot above it. The jig head compared to a single bare hook drops down much faster and maintains a tight line while the rig floats. The split shot is two fold. First it obviously aids in casting weight and helps the jig sink more quickly. At the same time it helps the bobber sit lower in the water resulting in less weight needed to sink it when a fish bites. The split shot also prevents the bobber from riding against the eye of the jig. On lots of occasions the eye of the jig will get stuck inside of the tube on the slip bobber upon casting and the jig won't make it to the bottom, much less under the surface.
Color doesn't seem to make much difference with this technique. Pick your favorite and send it down!
The rod/reel/line can vary and most combinations will work just fine, however in a perfect world a long 7-8 foot medium power spinning rod with 8 to 10lb monofilament or flourocarbon line is ideal. My favorite is the Cabela's Fish Eagle 7' medium light, which doubles as my drop shot rods. The longer rod provides extra leverage for getting a strong hook set on deep fish. On plenty of occasions I will end up slip bobbering when I wasn't planning on it, leaving me with limited choices for rods. You can certainly use braided line on jigging rods to do this, however a flourocarbon leader can make a big difference on some days.
When the trolling bite dies, it's time to break out the bobbers!
As far as bait choices go the sky is the limit, however this article is all about keeping it simple. Half a night crawler hooked once through one end, a nose hooked leech, or even a nose hooked minnow are great choices. It doesn't look great, especially with a jig head, ESPECIALLY knowing that it's just sitting down there not really doing anything, but the walleyes love it! Set it 1 to 2 feet above bottom over rocks or weeds and you are ready to rock.
The real key to being successful with deep water slip bobbering is the hook set, or lack there of. The majority of people tend to set the hook as soon as the bobber goes down. Sure, you might hook a few fish doing that but you will miss far more. I have found that reeling up and and all slack up as fast as you can until you feel the weight of the fish, then setting the hook. By reeling until you feel the fish you take all of the slack line out of the equation, resulting in a much stronger hook set and a higher hook up rate.
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