Fishing with Spring Bobbers

February 9, 2009 by  

Our Outdoors
Nick Simonson


The author with a pair of 10 inch perch that were caught recently, thanks to the bite detecting abilities of a spring bobber.

The author with a pair of 10 inch perch that were caught recently, thanks to the bite detecting abilities of a spring bobber.

I  cannot recall how many times I have watched fish rise up on the Vexilar as I work my lure in the water column only to have the fish pause at my offering then head back to the bottom. Be it a small jig with a wax worm or a spoon with a minnow head, it is frustrating to have fish attracted to a lure, but not hit it.

A few weeks ago, while fishing near Park Rapids, Minn., I watched several crappies rise and disappear on my sonar readout. A few committed early in the evening, but most would turn their noses up at my offering, or so I thought. That’s when I decided to investigate how to better close the deal with fish that inspect my baits, but turn away.

What I learned was surprising. Many times, especially in the case of finicky panfish like perch and crappie, the fish will hit without even sending a vibration up the line. A quick inhale and exhale of the bait and the fish moves on, knowing something isn’t quite right with the glowing blue hook or the funny-acting minnow. This action doesn’t budge a bobber and rarely moves a rod, leaving anglers in the frustrating situation of asking themselves why the fish didn’t hit when in reality, it did.

Nothing new

St. Croixs new Legend series of spring bobber rods come with light (pictured), medium, and heavy spring bobbers for all types of fishing

St. Croix's new Legend series of spring bobber rods come with light (pictured), medium, and heavy spring bobbers for all types of fishing

Looking to cure my panfishing predicament, I investigated deeper into the growing realm of finesse ice fishing and read some more on a simple invention – the spring bobber. I never had the need for one before this time because I had never been overly-frustrated by uncatchable blips on the Vexilar. I figured I would give it a shot and acquired, through a well-placed Valentine’s Day hint to my girlfriend, a 24-inch light action St. Croix Legend spring-bobber rod.

Coming equipped with a three-inch spring bobber and a solid carbon blank and cork handle, I knew the name alone meant the rod would be high quality. Designed by renowned panfish angler Greg Wilczynski specifically for St. Croix, the rod looked to be the answer to that mysterious question as to why the fish weren’t hitting.

A new perspective

As we set up on the ice that weekend, I tied on the smallest thing I had in my tacklebox – a size 12 nymph I had crafted out of orange dubbing and peacock herl – and the tiniest split shot I had available. The fish rolled through and several passed on the traditional opening-hour offerings such as Genz worms and rattle spoons. As day broke over the frozen feeder creek, I prepared to try the spring bobber rod for the first time. I tipped the nymph with a wax worm and lowered my offering down the hole. Watching the fly and weight on the Vexilar, I held them a few inches off of the bottom. Tapping the spring bobber with my index finger, I saw a faint orange line rise from the creek bed. I held the rod steady. The spring bobber moved downward just slightly, less than an eight of an inch, once…then twice. I snapped a hookset and felt the resistance of what would turn out to be a fat 9-inch perch.

The day would be cool and unstable, and the fishing would be tough. With my tiny flies and jigs and the spring bobber rod, I could detect more hits than my fishing buddies. And by giving the fish a smaller snack, instead of a bigger meal, I would land about two dozen perch, with seven keepers.

A majority of the success that day – and in my perch fishing trips since – came from having the spring bobber to detect the tiniest of bites in a winter that has produced a less-than-aggressive angling environment.

Spring bobber options

In addition to the springs that come built in to St. Croix’s Legend series of rods, the company offers a variety of sizes and sensitivities that can be ordered from their website ( or purchased at many sporting goods stores. Other companies such as HT Tackle ( offer free-standing spring bobbers for sale that can be attached to the end of your favorite ice rod to help with hit detection. They also carry a smaller price tag than purchasing a new rod.

Whatever you choose to help with finicky panfish as winter wears on, a spring bobber is a simple and effective way to downsize your baits, take the questions out of angling, and help you ice more fish…in our outdoors.


2 Comments on "Fishing with Spring Bobbers"

  1. Ron Olson on Fri, 15th Jan 2010 4:26 pm 

    I am looking for the schooley spring bobbers. The one used for walleyes. I found the ones for panfish.
    Could you tell me where i could find them.

  2. admin on Mon, 18th Jan 2010 12:01 pm 

    See here:

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