g. loomis, powerpro, shimano fishing

Bobber Fishing for Trout

The process of learning to fish has taken many twists and turns since my days of fishing for trout on Central Oregon’s Ochoco Reservoir.  Often times some of the simplest technique revelations are only extensions of another type of fishing.  I can’t tell you how many techniques I’ve brought from fly fishing to the gear side and visa versa.  These revelations and adaptations have molded much of what I know as a fisherman today and bobber fishing for trout has been apart of that process.  Where the red and white bobber pushed me away from the technique as a younger fisherman, my experience with coastal tidewater Chinook brought me back.

For those of you that Salmon and Steelhead fish, this method is going to look real familiar.  Bobber fishing for all types of species is common place, but in the trout world adjustable floats are more the norm and with smaller rod lengths at the disposal of trout fishermen depths of 6-7 feet are usually all that a bobber will accomplish.  The natural progression is if there aren’t any opportunities on the surface, trout fishermen will often times go right to fishing the bottom and the 3-5 feet of water off the bottom that a floating bait will afford them to fish.

But what about all the water in between?  In a 10 foot deep piece of water, I think you can cover the water column with these two options, but oftentimes, whether on the bank, or in a boat, there is a lot more water to cover than 10 feet.

A slip bobber affords trout fishermen the opportunity to fish a huge range of depths.  Although most trout fishing is done in the upper 20 feet of the water column, I’ve successfully used this setup to fish as deep as 30 feet.

Check it out, it’s simple and may open up a whole new aspect to your trout fishing game.

Bobber fishing for Trout

Start with a good all around trout rod and reel.  Shimano makes what I think is a fabulous “do everything” trout rod.  The Shimano Convergence, CVS-66UL2B paired with a Shimano Sienna 100FD is a combination that will last a lifetime.  Spool the reel with a 6 pound line that is designed to come off a spinning reel.  It needs to be supple or you’re asking for trouble.

Slide a bobber knot up the mainline.  You can buy them, or even make them with a fly fishermen’s knot tool.  Next slide up a small hole diameter 4mm bead or #14 corky.  The bead or corky  should have just a slightly larger outside diameter than the inside diameter of the first guide on your rod.  Next slide up your sliding bobber.  You can use whatever size you’d like, but an 1/8- 1/4 ounce float should work fine.  Wind and/or casting requirements may cause you to use a slightly larger float, but I try to use the smallest float necessary.  Follow your float with the appropriate sized egg sinker.  I then like to add another small, 3-4mm bead to protect the knot that I’m about to tie to the swivel.  I don’t want the lead egg sinker repeatedly hitting against my knot as there will come a point where the repeated hitting will cause the line around the knot to fail.  Connect your mainline to a small #10 barrel swivel and you’re on to the business end.


Depending on turbidity levels a 2-5 foot leader will work.  You could go longer, but the ability to cast starts to become an issue after a while.  There’s a wide variety of bait options of which you’d probably know best for your particular body of water.  One thing I will say though is don’t ignore fly patterns under this setup.  Emerging nymph imitations can be deadly.


Lance Fisher is a Salmon and Steelhead guide in the Northwest.  You can also catch him on the NW Outdoor Show which is broadcast in Oregon and Washington.  For more from Lance connect with him on his facebook homepage.