Fixed Bobber Rig 101 (Setup Guide With Pictures)


by Robert Ceran

The fixed bobber rig is one of the easiest fishing rigs to set up, and is thus perfectly suited for beginners looking for the right setup to start with.

And if you learn how to rig a fixed bobber, you can use it to catch a wide variety of freshwater fish, ranging from panfish to trout, both in streams, ponds, and the shallow areas of larger lakes.

In this guide I’ll show you through fundamentals of how to tie a fixed bobber rig, what types of fish you can catch with it, and how to use it for the best results.

Fixed Bobber Rig 101 (Setup Guide With Pictures)

What is a fixed bobber (and what is it good for)?

A fixed bobber is a floating device that is fixed to a fishing line at a specific position. When cast into the water, it floats on the surface, and suspends a baited hook underneath it in the water column. 

The depth at which the hook is suspended in the water is determined by where the bobber is fastened to the line. And while a fixed bobber doesn’t slide freely up and down the line, it can be slowly moved along the line by pulling off the rubber rings that fasten it to the line. 

Photo of a fixed bobber floating at the water's surface

Using a fixed bobber is great for targeting fish that are feeding in shallow water, or close to the surface of deeper water.

And the fact that this is one of the easiest bobber rigs to set up also makes it an ideal choice for novice anglers, or anybody who wants to try out fishing for the first time.

Now let’s dive into the details and cover how to rig a fixed bobber, and how to fish it most for maximum effect. 

How to rig a fixed bobber

Image showing fixed bobber rig

Next I’ll show you how to set up a fixed bobber rig. You need to get the following tackle components for this fishing rig:

  • Fishing bobber
  • Spinning rod and reel
  • Monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line (spooled onto the reel)
  • Split shot weights
  • Bait hook

How to set it up: The first step is to slide the rubber rings off the top and bottom of your bobber. Some bobbers have rubber bands at both ends, while some only have one rubber band around the bottom end (such as in the image above).

Next, thread your fishing line through the rubber band(s), and then slide the rubber band back onto the bobber. This effectively attaches the bobber to the fishing line, but if you loosen the rubber band, you’ll be able to gently slide the bobber up or down to adjust its height.

And while you can use either fluorocarbon or monofilament fishing line for this setup, I prefer mono, as it floats on the water. 

After attaching the bobber to your fishing line, add one or more split shot sinkers to the line below it, before tying the end of the line to an octopus hook (or any other type of bait hook).

The number of split shots you’ll need depends on the size of your bobber, and you can easily test that by checking how many weights make the bobber stand up straight in the water, but without causing it to sink.

If you’re using mono or fluoro as your main fishing line, there’s no need to tie a leader, and you can simply tie your main line directly to the hook. 

When you’re done with this setup, you can go ahead and bait your hook, and you’re ready to start fishing.

How deep can you fish with a fixed bobber?

A fixed bobber rig can only be used in shallow water that’s less than 5 to 6 feet deep.

The reason for this is due to the fact that the bobber is fixed to the line, and because the length of line underneath the bobber can’t exceed the length of your fishing rod (as it becomes impossible to cast with if you try to exceed this length).

If you want to target fish in deeper water than about 6 feet, it’s better to rig a slip bobber instead, which can freely slide up and down the line, and this rig can be set to greater depths without affecting your ability to cast it. 

What kind of fish can you catch with a fixed bobber rig?

Since a fixed bobber setup is only effective in shallow water, it is best suited for catching fish in ponds and streams, as well as fish found in the shallows of larger lakes and rivers

The most commonly caught fish with fixed bobbers are:

  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Yellow perch
  • Sunfish
  • Other panfish species
  • Small largemouth bass
  • Trout (both stocked and wild trout)

Most of these fish are on the small side, and that’s what you should expect when fishing in the shallows.

However, you can occasionally encounter larger fish feeding in shallow water, especially during the spawning season.

For example, salmon and steelhead run up rivers to spawn, and can be targeted with a simple fixed bobber rig and a hook baited with salmon eggs at this time. 

Similarly, walleye and northern pike can be found in shallow water just before and after spawning (though you may not be allowed to catch them at this time, depending on the regulations of your fishery).

How to fish with a fixed bobber rig

The best way to fish with a fixed bobber setup is to find spots where fish are feeding close to shore, such as shallow weedy bays, or the edges of grass beds. Then cast your rig out to a promising spot, and wait and watch the float to detect any bites.

If you don’t get a bite, cast out to a different spot, or move your bobber up or down the line a bit to change the depth setting. If you do start getting bites from bluegills, perch or other panfish, you can be fairly certain there’s a whole school of them in the area, and it’s worth concentrating on that spot.

If you’re fishing in a river or stream, cast your rig out into the current, and let it drift into the feeding lanes of trout and other fish. Again, you may have to change the depth by moving the bobber up or down the line. 

Finally, if you’re partial to inshore fishing, a fixed bobber rig can work wonders when fishing over shellfish beds or along the edges of creeks, especially if there are puppy red drum feeding in the area. For this purpose, it’s best to use a popping cork setup, which is a specialized version of a fixed bobber rig.

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