Ice fishing is a delicate game that requires you to pay close attention to your rod. The problem is, fish tend to strike a little softer when it’s cold out because their metabolism slows down. As a result, anglers use spring bobbers to help them get a better idea of when a fish is nibbling their bait.
Using a spring bobber is simple: you’ll clip it to the end of your rod and run the fishing line through the loop. When a fish bites, the spring bobber will bend, indicating that you have a bite. Spring bobbers don’t require any additional gear or rigging.
- What is a Spring Bobber?
- How Does a Spring Bobber Work?
- Can You Always Use a Spring Bobber?
- How to Rig a Spring Bobber to an Ice Fishing Rod?
- How to Use Ice Fishing Spring Bobbers?
- Best Spring Bobbers for Ice Fishing
- Final Thoughts
What is a Spring Bobber?
A spring bobber is a strike indicator used to alert anglers of a bite. In ice fishing, being able to identify small bites is the name of the game. If you’re not paying attention, or if your rod isn’t sensitive enough for you to feel even the smallest of bites, you’re missing out on a lot of fish.
Experts estimate that most ice fishermen miss approximately 80 percent of the fish that take their bait. Why is that?
It’s because no matter how sensitive or high-quality your rod is, you’re going to miss fish. This becomes especially true in ice fishing when you add in factors such as cold hands and less attention on the rod tip.
A spring bobber rigs directly to your current setup and acts as a traditional warm weather bobber would.
How Does a Spring Bobber Work?
You rig your line directly through the spring bobber, which extends from the end of your rod tip. As a result, when there is a strike, the spring bobber will flex and bend, indicating that you have a fish.
How is this any different from looking at the tip of your rod?
The spring bobber is much thinner and more sensitive than your rod tip. They can’t make rod tips as sensitive as spring bobbers because they’ll snap too easily. The bobber adds sensitivity because it will flex immediately once any stress is put on it. You’ll instantly pick up on a lot more bites and notice how active your bait is once you attach the spring bobber.
Can You Always Use a Spring Bobber?
That begs the question, when should you use a spring bobber and when shouldn’t you? In reality, there’s no wrong time to use it, but there are right times to use it.
Some fish are more finicky than others. Using a spring bobber to catch these fish will improve your catch rate.
For example, panfish such as Crappie and Bluegill don’t strike very hard. They’ll nibble around the bait, pick at it, and think hard before actually striking it. You’ll never even know this is happening without a spring bobber.
Harder striking fish such as Walleye and Muskie aren’t as careful about what they bite, but that doesn’t mean the bobber will hurt your chances of catching them.
Whether or not you use a spring bobber is your choice. Keep in mind that these are only used in ice fishing applications. It’s unnecessary to use a spring bobber during warm weather fishing.
How to Rig a Spring Bobber to an Ice Fishing Rod?
Rigging a spring bobber is a no-brainer. It attaches to the end of your rod typically between the first and second eyelets. The type of bobber you use will determine how it adheres to the rod. Some attach to the first eyelet, others clip onto the rod blank.
From there you’ll simply run your line through the spring and out the end. Doing so doesn’t really change your rod in any way, it just adds another element of indication on the end.
The reason why these work for ice fishing and not for other methods of fishing is because of the vertical jigging. Since, with most fishing methods, you’re operating vertically in the water column, fish are typically pulling the lure straight down as you jig it.
When the fish do this, the spring will bend.
Another reason this works so well for ice fishing is because there isn’t any casting involved. Having the spring on the end would dramatically impact your ability to cast because the line wouldn’t flow smoothly through the spring. It would obstruct your ability to cast and likely result in a tangled mess at the end of your rod.
How to Use Ice Fishing Spring Bobbers?
Using the spring bobber won’t change your fishing at all. You’ll fish exactly as you would without it, but now you have an extra indicator to help you see all the small nibbles.
To really take advantage of it, keep a close eye on the tip at all times and don’t jig too actively. If you’re jigging too quickly, the motion of your presentation may impact your ability to pick up on small bites. Jig slowly, give your lure or bait a chance to work itself down the column, and then work it again.
Best Spring Bobbers for Ice Fishing
Now that you understand what a spring bobber is and how to use it, let’s look at some examples.
1/ Rapala Titanium Spring Bobber
These spring bobbers are made of narrow and tightly woven titanium. They use a locking system that attaches directly to the rod blank and you run the line through the loop at the end. When a fish bites, the line pulls the spring bobber down, indicating the strike.
They come in medium-light and ultralight sizes but I recommend going with the ultralight because more sensitive is better in this case.
2/ Frabill Titanium Spring Bobber
- Frabill | Trusted By Anglers Since 1938
- Unmatched durability for worry-free storage | Titanium wire will not kink
- Extremely lightweight design won't dampen rod tip action | Fits onto any existing combo
This spring bobber functions in a very similar fashion. The only thing I don’t like about this one is that it doesn’t clip onto the rod blank. Instead, it sits on it and moves around with the motion of the rod. A lot of anglers will use electrical tape to secure it in place.
As for the bobber itself, the function is exactly the same. You’ll run the line through the loop and it will bend to indicate a strike. Beware of fishing in temperatures dipping down to the single digits because the titanium can actually freeze in the bent position.
3/ HT Enterprise Slab Stopper
- Micro sized
- Ultra-light spring action
- detects the slightest bite
These bobbers have a different appearance and setup compared to the previous two. For these, you’ll wedge the soft screw into the first eyelet and run the line right through the spring.
The screw design ensures that it will fit in eyelets of various sizes, but it’s likely too big for micro-rods.
Learning how to fish with a spring bobber is simple; in fact, it’s much better than ice fishing without one. Simply rig it to the end of your ice fishing rod and you’re good to go. You’ll quickly realize that you’ve been missing out on a lot of fish. Expect to hit your catch limits a lot faster once you start implementing this strategy. Good luck out there!