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Traditional Bobber Rig: Make A Big Splash To Catch More Catfish

traditional bobber rig

The traditional bobber rig is probably one of the most well known fishing rigs but often is not considered when it comes to catfish rigs.

For many people the traditional bobber rig is the fishing rig that they think of when they think of they start to think of rigging a fishing rod.  Images of a lazy stream or river with a large red and white plastic bobber and a big bucket of worms come to mind for many anglers but an experienced angler has an entirely different view of the traditional bobber rig.

When fishing with a bobber, in most instances you’ll find a slip bobber rig more effective for catfish and much easier to fish with as well. If you don’t truly need a bobber or float you’re likely to find more advanced rigs like the santee rig or slip sinker rig more effective, but there are certainly instances where a traditional bobber rig will outperform all others.

Why Use A Traditional Bobber Rig

The slip bobber has an advantage of having an easily adjustable depth. This gives you the ability to fish in shallow or deep water, plus it has the added advantage of sensitivity.

There are situations though that have a large bulk float is desired.

It’s common knowledge that catfish feed by smell but they will feed by sight and sound also. There are instances where a big load splash of a round weighted foam float can actually help you catch more fish.

Often times, in the right area, making a loud “plop” on the water will draw the fish in to strike. There are countless examples of this but cormorant catfishing is probably the best example. When fishing with these techniques the sound of the float hitting the water helps draw in fish and get them to strike so using a streamlined float that didn’t make that “splash” in the water would actually work against you.

You can learn more about this in the Splat Fishing Techniques program if you want to get all the details.

I like to pass the traditional red and white plastic floats though and use a weighted round foam float.

Items Need For The Traditional Bobber Rig

Weighted Round Foam Float

Split Shot Sinker

Preferred Hook

Barrel Swivel

Rigging The Traditional Bobber Rig For Catfish

This catfish rig is about as simple as it gets.

Cut a piece of leader line (I use clear 40 Lb test Offshore Angler Tight Line). Generally about twelve inches of leader line is a good starting point.

Attach your preferred catfish hooks to one end of the leader line and a swivel to the opposite end using a Palomar knot.

The open end of the barrel swivel is then attached to the main line using a trilene knot.

Affix a split shot weight to the leader line 2 to 3 inches above the hook.

Attach the weighted round foam float to the main line, adjusting the float based on where you want your bait to be in the water column.

Fishing With The Traditional Bobber Rig

The disadvantage of this is due to the nature of the rig you are limited in how deep you can fish. If you needed to fish with a traditional bobber in 10 feet of water you would not be able to retrieve the fishing line on your reel beyond the float.

Because of this, this rig is ideal for water that is a few feet deep or less or when you want to maintain your catfish rig in the upper portion of the water column.

This is best suited for anchored fishing and can be used for blue, channel and flathead catfish if desired.

Due to the fixed nature of the rig the applications are limited but if you find yourself needing to make a “splash” to get a strike the traditional bobber rig is your best choice.

To get more information and in depth tutorials on other catfish rigs check out the catfishing rigs page for more information.

If you would like more in depth information on how catfish respond to sight and sound and how it can trigger bites check out the Splat Fishing Techniques ebook.

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About Chad

Chad Ferguson is a professional catfish guide and founder of Learn To Catch Catfish. Click here to subscribe for more exclusive catfish fishing tips by email and then follow on Twitter or Google


  1. O.K. I give up what is that hanging under the float(bobber) .Is it a snap swival? What function does it serve. Ronnie

  2. Yes, swivel

  3. Jimmy Stephens says:

    What purpose does the swivel serve? Also how do you get close enough to fish under the roosting birds? Every time I try to get close they all take off.

  4. Bob Mueller says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE ULTIMATE CATFISHING SITE!! THANKS CHAD FOR HELPING FISHERMEN/WOMEN BECOME CATFISHERMEN/WOMEN, you see my wife insists on being called a catfisherwoman, which she is! Thanks, Bob

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