I caught my first walleye slip bobber fishing when I was a kid. That was many moons ago, but I can still remember it well. My dad tossed out a slip bobber for me and I stared at that thing for what felt like forever (for a 5-year-old it was probably 10 minutes). It was tipped with a minnow off a weed break in a small Minnesota lake.
I don’t remember the length, but it was around 3.5 lbs. We brought it to the local bait shop in Detroit Lakes, MN and my picture went on the wall. That sparked what has been a long passion for fishing walleyes.
Fishing with bobbers is easy, in a basic sense. You can clip on the old red and white bobber at the desired depth and let it fly. But is that really the best bobber technique for fishing walleyes? Of course not, but of course…..it’ll still work if fished right.
Slip bobber fishing for walleyes is kind of a science. There are so many little things to it that can make a big difference.
So to ensure I covered all the in’s and out’s of slip bobber fishing, I asked a friend and fellow angler, Ray Welle, for some advice. Ray spends A LOT of time fishing slip bobbers on Minnesota lakes from spring to fall. While he’s very humble about it, he knows slip bobber fishing for walleyes as much as anyone.
What is a Typical Setup for Slip Bobber Fishing?
Ray uses a unique approach to fishing slip bobbers. Here is the gear he uses:
- 8 lb. Berkely Trilene Monofilament Fishing Line
- ⅛ oz. Barrel Slip Weight above a Barrel Swivel
- 2’ Mono Leader with a ⅛ oz. jig
- Weighted Thill Bobbers (with brass grommets on top and bottom of the bobber)
What Bait to Use When Slip Bobber Fishing?
This isn’t an exact answer since each fishery is different. Plus, there are different times of the year where you’ll want to transition baits depending on the forage.
For me personally, I do the majority of my slip bobber fishing on Devils Lake, in North Dakota. And on Devils Lake, it’s typically all about leeches. But in many lakes, minnows will outshine leeches if the forage base is heavy with them. And of course, crawlers have their place in the late spring and summer too. Just keep an open mind and come prepared with options.
What is the Best Equipment for Slip Bobber Fishing?
Again, I wanted Ray’s advice and here’s how he answered.
The best bobber fishing tip that I can give is to use a long rod ( 7 – 8’ ) with a fast or extra fast fishing rod tip. I particularly like the 7’ JT Outdoors products Panhandler and the 7’3” JTX Light. I like the longer rod so I can cast further and when it’s windy it helps take up of slack on the hook set. Also, keep in mind the weighted bobber helps for casting distance. This is also where these rods shine.
What to Look for When Fishing Slip Bobbers?
I asked Ray this question, and he’s what works for him in Minnesota.
“I look for flats, points, saddles, and inside turns. I also will make sure I am graphing fish on my electronics before I anchor up or spot lock. Depths vary of course but I mainly fish walleyes from 9’-23’ throughout the year.”
For me, when fishing Devils Lake, I like when the trees are thick and close to deep water. Fish hang up in the shadows of the thick cover, and a slip bobber is often the only way to pull those walleyes out. If there is wind coming in…even better, as that always seems to concentrate the walleyes. I typically only fish a spot for 10 – 15 minutes if there’s no action. Don’t be afraid to move up and down the tree rows in search of active fish.
So there you have it, a simple guide to fishing slip bobbers all year. There are so many options on the market for slip bobbers, but you typically get what you pay for with the higher end, weighted bobbers. So like Ray mentioned, using the Thill Series of bobbers is probably the best way to go and avoid the cheap imitations. I hope you feel confident enough to hit the water and start experimenting with what works for you. It never hurts to have another tactic in your arsenal for fishing finicky walleyes throughout the year.