Published May 21, 2008, 12:00 AM

Slip bobbers — how to rig them and a great way to use them

I have no desire to tell you how to fish; I only want to tell you what works for me. I had heard of slip bobbers, but I never paid much attention to them until my son-in-law, Tom, stocked the live well while I contributed nothing.

By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic

I have no desire to tell you how to fish; I only want to tell you what works for me. I had heard of slip bobbers, but I never paid much attention to them until my son-in-law, Tom, stocked the live well while I contributed nothing.

Simply stated, slip bobbers permit you to fish with a bobber at any depth you wish while allowing you to reel in right up to the end of your line. Ask your favorite tackle shop about slip bobbers and they’ll know what you are talking about.

Slip bobber knots are tied around a short piece of hollow tubing. Put the end of your line through the hole in the tubing, and slide it a few feet down the line. Now, slide the knot off the tubing, pull the knot tight, trim the ends and disregard the tubing. Thread the tiny bead that comes with the slip knots through the end of your line and slide it up to the knot.

Take a slip knot bobber in the size of your choice — a small bobber is used in the technique I later describe — and thread your line through the top of the bobber and out the bottom. Now you are ready to tie a snap swivel or leader to the end of your line. You are ready to go.

If you are lucky enough to have access to a boat with a bow-mounted swivel seat and foot-controlled electric trolling motor, you are ready to slay the fish. Otherwise, improvise — even if you are fishing from the bank. For walleyes; smallmouth, largemouth, white or rock bass; bluegills or crappies, use a light-weight spinning rod.

Use live minnows for bait. Attach a snelled hook to the snap swivel of your slip bobber rig, pinch on a small split-shot sinker if necessary, and get ready to work the water right up to the edge of the bank. Slide the knot so that your bobber is only one- to-three feet above the hook and get ready to flip with a little wrist action we’ll call finesse.

Work the line where the bottom is no longer visible. The fish hang on this line!

Because I mentioned snelled hooks, we should probably discuss hook color. With regard to snelled hooks and minnows, I used gold Eagle Claws all of my life until I started reading about red-colored hooks.

The red color supposedly suggests blood to the fish and triggers an attack mode. Based on a few years experience, the red hooks work as well as any, and are, perhaps, slightly more effective. I’d like to know your thoughts.

Where are my favorite haunts? With the current high water in Francis Case Reservoir, I like to work the rip rap along the east bank at Chamberlain — especially at dusk and dawn. The rip rap beneath the Big Bend Dam at Fort Thompson, the rip rap above the Fort Randall Dam on the north side of Hwy 18 and the rip rap beneath the Fort Randall Dam are also hot in late May and June. All of these structures offer large submerged rocks or “fish magnets.”

For a complete change of pace, drift along the rip rap beneath the Randall Dam for rock bass. Those half-submerged boulders are crawling with rock bass. They will dart out of those rocks right now for a well-placed minnow. By using a shallow slip bobber rig, you’ll avoid getting hung up.

Many readers are probably grumbling right now, “I don’t care about bass! I only want walleyes!”

Tell you what. I’ve caught more limits of walleyes while working the rip rap for bass than I can begin to remember. Look at the bass as a bonus.

When all else seems to fail, I like to still-fish out of the boat with slip bobbers. LCR’s or depth-finders will indicate at what depth the fish are. If they are suspended at 12 feet, slide your knot so that your bait hangs in the 12-feet zone. If the fish are on the bottom, set your bobber accordingly.


After hundreds — if not thousands — of expeditions out on the water, I suppose it was inevitable. Last week, we encountered one of the big-name anglers out on the water with a camera crew. The action was slow until mid-afternoon, and they were milking the very occasional fish for all it was worth in an attempt to fill a half-hour segment of video tape.

I don’t know if their microphones were malfunctioning, but they talked loud enough to be clearly heard a half-mile away. One fish prompted a long discourse between the show host and the guide. They went from jig color on dark days to bright day colors. One fish received a lot of camera time.

We quit before they did, and yielded plenty of room when we motored around them. Although they called us over and asked how we did, I noted that the cameras weren’t running. Don’t look for me anytime soon on the Outdoor Channel.

Hey! South Dakota elk applications are due Friday!

See you next week.