Wintertime perfect to go ‘bobber fishin’ for smallmouths

Published 4:30 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rob MComas goes winter fishing. (photo submitted)

Bobbers, floats, corks—whatever you call them—most of us associate them with summertime bluegill fishing with the kids in a local farm pond. Or maybe you are a catfish or carp fisherman who uses them as a strike indicator for nighttime use. Either way you probably put them on the shelf for at least eight months out of the year. I usually don’t get my bobbers out of the box till late December or early January: that’s when the “float and fly” bite just starts to get in swing.
The Rig
Developed in Tennessee and made popular by the late Charlie Nuckols, the float and fly system is a very simple rig involving a small pear-shaped float and a small jig. Its intent was to catch smallmouths in clear mountain reservoirs during the dead of winter.
The rig varies some from angler to angler, but for the most part the float, which for me is a 7/8” pear shaped float, is attached anywhere from 8 feet – 20 feet above a small hair jig in the 1/16 or 1/8 size.
To an extent, the smaller the float the better. Most float and fly fishermen, or “bobber fisherman” as I like to call them, feel that a small bobber will pick up the lighter bites that are often associated with lethargic wintertime smallmouths. I personally like the combination of a 7/8” two tone float with a 1/8 oz. jig. The slightly bigger float allows me to cast a little farther, and see it better in a slight chop or on a bright day with a lot of surface glare. I also have noticed that a smaller float rides very low in the water, and in a light wind gives the appearance that you are getting a subtle bite.
The two-tone color makes it easy to tell when your jig has settled to a completely vertical position, and on the chance that the fish comes up after a strike, it is easier for me to notice the float lie over on its side.

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