Bobber Fishing for Trout

bobber fishing for trout

Bobber fishing for trout can be highly productive, and is a great option for those looking to keep things simple and catch fish in a way that isn’t too complicated.

Bobbers have been used for hundreds of years and are thought to have first originated in Norway when anglers would use them on a single fishing line, or to hold up a net.

When one mentions trout fishing, people likely imagine a picturesque scene in which an angler—clad in waders and the proverbial fly-fishing hat—casts his fly rod gracefully above the rolling river, hoping for a bite.

It may come as a surprise to some anglers, but trout can actually be caught using one of the most basic and commonly-used fishing rigs known by fishermen across the world: a bobber, sinker and hook.

Bobber Fishing for Trout

Using a bobber is widely considered to be the least complicated way to catch just about any kind of fish species across the world.

It’s easy enough that a child can understand and learn to rig their own bobber-style fishing setup.

Using a bobber to catch trout is a great way for beginner anglers to learn where to find trout and observe their behavior without having to focus too much of their attention on what kind of tackle they are using.

​Anyone who has done much trout fishing knows that this particular species has incredibly good vision and can be spooked by the slightest mistake on the part of the fisherman.

Using a line that’s too thick, or a lure that does not appear to be natural is almost certainly going to make it tough to catch trout.

However, by carefully setting up your bobber-rig and knowing just how and where to use it, you can catch a limit with a bobber setup with very little difficulty. 

Bobber Setup 

One of the most important keys to having a successful bobber-style rig for trout revolves around properly setting up your bobber, sinker and hook. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Light rod and spinning reel (ultralight combos work best)

  • A ¾” or 1” size bobber (make sure your bobber is large enough to hold the weight of your sinker, hook and bait)

  • 4 or 6 pound test monofilament line

  • Hooks (6 and smaller are ideal for trout)

  • Small, split-shot sinkers (anything too large will be seen by trout)

  • Bait (this can vary based the type of trout you’re fishing for or the area) 

Most fishing for trout with floats will be done on light tackle. So that means a good spinning rod with an ultralight power rating and a high quality spinning reel in a size 2000 or 2500.

How to Rig your Bobber Setup for Trout Fishing

​After properly setting up your rod and reel with the fishing line you’ve chosen, you’ll then want to tie on your hook using a simple Fisherman’s knot or Palomar knot.

Most of the commonly-used fishing knots will work for a bobber setup. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the knot is small and tight.

​Next, you’ll want to place a split shot sinker roughly one foot above your hook. The distance between your hook and sinker might vary is you’re fishing a particularly shallow stream or pond.

If you plan to fish in water less than 2 feet deep, it’s a good idea to place your sinker about 8 inches above the hook. Pay attention to your sinker before every cast because it can sometimes slide or move up and down the line.

​Finally, place your bobber an equal distance away from your sinker from your hook. For instance, if you have your sinker one foot above your hook, you’ll want to place your bobber one foot above the sinker.

​It’s important that you don’t have your sinker too close to the hook as this could spook any trout that notices a small ball of lead dangling in the water above their next meal.

​What’s the Best Bait to Use when Bobber Fishing for Trout in Small Streams and Ponds?

​Trout are not quite as picky as you might expect when it comes to what they’ll bite. However, you might need to try a variety of different baits in order to determine just what the trout in your local stream or pond are after. 

Natural Baits

​Trout love to feast on natural food like crickets, worms, salmon eggs, and other things they usually find floating around their habitat. Natural baits are often preferred by anglers who target trout with bobber setups because these kinds of baits will appeal to their natural predatory senses.

  • Worms - be sure to hook your worm directly in the middle of its body and let the current wave the worm’s upper and lower end in a way that looks natural. Curling the worm around your hook might work, but trout are exceptionally good at noticing something that doesn’t look right. Any type of mealworms and grubs should also be hooked in the same manner.

  • Crickets or grasshoppers - trout will not hesitate to feast on any cricket or grasshopper that is unfortunate enough to find its way into ponds or streams. Hook your crickets through the back in order to help camouflage the hook and entice any hungry trout.

  • Salmon eggs, corn kernels, etc. - for any kind of bait like this, you’ll simply want to cover the end of your hook with them. Don’t run the hook completely through your bait as trout will notice this and likely be turned away.

  • Shrimp or crawfish - These work wonders for trout located in streams and rivers because a live crawfish floating in the current is a hearty meal that might as well have a neon sign above it. Pay attention to properly hook the shrimp or crawfish in a way that hides your hook. 

Artificial Lures

​Despite their keen senses of sight and smell, trout will actually fall for an artificial bait at times. Companies like Berkley make a very popular “trout worm” that can be rigged (wacky) the same way you’d hook a real worm for trout fishing.

​Other lures that anglers have reported as being successful are grubs, jigs, flies and small minnow-like plastic lures. 

How and Where to Fish a Bobber for Trout

Bobber fishing for trout in small ponds and streams requires an understanding of how trout behave in each type of habitat. The techniques that work in a small stream likely won’t produce fish in a lake or pond.

Do your research and become familiar with where to find trout in the particular spot you plan to fish.

​Small Rivers and Streams

​Trout can be found in rivers and streams in many different parts of the world. They tend to prefer colder water, so you’re more likely to find trout in streams that are located in high-elevation areas.

​Trout will typically face upstream and wait for their prey to float down toward them. They will often hide behind structures or rocks in an effort to stay hidden and ambush anything they plan to eat.

​When using a bobber setup to fish for trout in streams and rivers, you’ll want to carefully sneak in and cast your lure above the area where you expect the trout to be staging.

Let it slowly float downstream and then hold steady while waiting for trout to come investigate, and hopefully bite your hook. Try not to move your line too much as this will spook any trout who are within sight of the bait or bobber.

​Lakes and Ponds

​Using a bobber to fish for trout in lakes and ponds is a lot like the techniques you’ll use for rivers and streams, but you won’t have to worry about fighting the current as much.

Remember, trout prefer colder water, so they’ll typically hang out in deeper water and temporarily make a trip to the shallows in search of a meal.

​Try to find an area where shallow water is in close proximity to deep water. Look for a spot with plenty of small baitfish and cast your lure into the water.

You might have to try a number of different spots and angles at the particular lake or pond you’re fishing at in order to find the best location for hooking a trout.

​Catch and Release

​If you stick to these tips, you’ll be catching trout in no time using a simple bobber-style rig. Just be sure to check your hook, sinker and bobber each time you cast in order to make sure they are the proper distance apart and that your bait is hooked in the right way. We hope you enjoyed this article and find it useful!