g. loomis, powerpro, shimano fishing

Fishwire.net- Salmon- Leader Length=Turbidity+Hydraulics=Bobber Size

Everybody knows that you need to fish the conditions, but as I bobber fish for Salmon the great rivers of Tillamook County, I’m amazed at how few fishermen actually pay attention to the water they’re fishing.  You only know what you know, but observing the conditions is a freebie and if you react correctly to the conditions, you’re going to always be more productive.

Leader Length=Turbidity+Hydraulics=Bobber Size is a simple way of taking a look at your presentation.

Turbidity, or water clarity is an obvious variable that is often over looked by bobber fishermen.  I don’t believe that your swivel and lead in your set up need to be beyond the visibility of the water, but your bait does need to be separated from this gear enough not to intrude.   In tide water, 6′ of visibility is a fairly common scenario.  I’m not advocating for 6’+ leaders by any means, but a 4 to 5 foot leader would be about right.

Hydraulics pertains to the movement of water.  On one extreme you have tidewater with it’s mild currents.  On the other hand you have a boily seam in the river.  Long, four foot leaders are fine in the mild currents that you’d find in tidewater.  The boils of the river might only allow for 18″-2′ leaders as the boils are powerful enough to lift your bait up and out of the strike zone completely.

The size of the bobber you use will be primarily dictated by the hydraulics of the water you’re fishing.  While fishing the river, 3-6 oz. corks are often desired.  In tidewater, 1-2 oz. bobbers are nearly always enough.  The only time you might want to increase size in tidewater is if you’re fighting the wind.

To bring it all together let’s through out a real life possibility

The Wilson is at 4.5 feet and you’re fishing the boil behind the old Guide Shop.  The hole ranges from 10-13 feet and during low water, Salmon will keg up in it at times.  You’re looking at 6 feet of visibility, but plenty of hydraulics.

In this case, I’m probably running a 4-5 foot leader with a 3-4 oz. cork.  And I know you’re looking back through the article saying, “wait a minute, you just said a few paragraphs ago to go with shorter leaders with lots of hydraulics and longer leaders in clearer water.  But the truth is, reality isn’t a text book and sacrifices will need to be made.  In this case I’m going to run the longer leader because I figure I can make a few more casts to ensure that my bait will eventually get into the strike zone.  If the Wilson is at 5-5.5, I’m shortening up to a 2-3 foot leader without a problem.

This is one example of many that a bobber fisherman might find in a river system.  The scenarios are many and often very greatly from hole to hole.  But keeping in mind Leader Length=Turbidity+Hydraulics=Bobber Size is a quick check to make sure you’re in the game.  Taking the time to react to your conditions with logic and awareness will be the difference between catching nothing and landing 2-3 fish.


Lance Fisher is a Tillamook Bay Fishing Guide and host of NW Outdoor Adventures in Portland, OR.  You can join Lance at Facebook and Twitter at lancefisherpdx.