How to bobber dog for steelhead on the clearwater river
Bobber Doggin for Steelhead
Bobber Doggin! What is that? Some think it might be a fancy name for the popular phrase “float fishing”. We know what it is and the effectiveness of the technique. Bobber doggin is for real, and becoming more and more popular throughout the Pacific Northwest. Follow along and we’ll guide you to some simple fish catching principles.
Defining Bobber Doggin
Let’s take a look at this fancy name for this technique that is becoming super effective on our Clearwater river. Just imagine a hybrid cross between traditional float fishing and old school drift fishing. The angler still has contact with the bottom and fishes his presentation of choice. Add a small float that acts as a strike indicator and ding, ding.
Why Bobber Dog?
Our fishing guides on the Clearwater like to think of ourselves as experts. Being an expert requires knowing all the variables that goes into being really good at what you do. Equipping your tool belt with a full arsenal is crucial. We’ve all added bobber dogging to our tool belt so come along and let us elaborate.
When, Why and Where to Bobber Dog
Here’s the perfect scenario, you have a snaggy bottom, slow water flow, 5-10 ft of pocket water. Visualize this, your line lays on the surface, keep rod tip at 90 degree angle, weight is ticking the bottom, and your float is creating a perfect presentation. Essentially, you are walking your bait down the river with a snag proof presentation. Who likes to tie knots all day.
Dropping Water Temps – Perfect Timing
Dropping water temperatures create perfect conditions to bobber dog. Steelhead function at a much slower pace and become super shy. Presentations that move at or near the speed of the current become wasted drifts. The bobber dog presentation is so much slicker along the drift and can actually use more weight. This technique gives those ‘cold’ water fish a much longer look. The end result, hook-up and outlandish sounds yelling “fish on”
Gaining Popularity on the Clearwater
Bobber dogging is fast becoming our favorite way to fish the Clearwater. Reason why, we don’t lose gear and we can reach resting fish. We do love to side drift, but certain spots on the river we can’t get our baits to the fish. Clients seem to stay engaged and they actually like watching the float disappear and water erupt.
Tough Conditions for Bobber Doggin
Every method has some limitations, reason why we preach versatility. Deep water is no good. What do I refer to as deep water? As we said before, we like 5-10 ft so our definition of deep water is 15 ft and more. From my personal experience I look for water in the 5-8 depth range. We fish that water with confidence but shallower and a tick deeper works too.
Avoid Freezing Air Temperatures
Freezing air temperatures play havoc on the technique. Line freezes, floats freeze, and bobber dogging comes to a screeching halt. Go to your tool belt and find another weapon.
Our fishing guides prefer the following gear and components. There are other reliable options but we are partial to these items
Edge Rod 1002, Diawa Ballistic 2500 Spinning Reel, Power Pro Super Slick 30 lb hi vis main line, Izorline 20 lb fluorocarbon bumper, Aerofloat Lil Chubby bobber, Bobber Stops & Beads, Pucchi 3 Way Swivel, Pencil lead or slinky, Izorline Leader, Gamakatsu Hooks
One of the coolest things about bobber doggin is the versatility and freedom of choosing what goes into the business end of the rig. I prefer to fish beads, eggs, shrimp or yarn balls of my bobber. Don’t stop there, pink worms, spoons and spinners work too. Be creative and start a new craze!
Ideally, set your bobber stop 2 ft deeper than the deepest part of the run. We really prefer to drag hard than not tick at all. Hold your rod tip straight up and there should be about 6 ft of line on the surface. Keep a downriver tip to the bobber and DON’T over mend. Keep in mind, we aren’t float fishing a jig under a float, we are dragging the bottom.
You will get more bobber downs than bites, these are false positives. Treat every one like a bite by reeling down to the hook set position. The reeling picks the line up and weight off the bottom if it is a snag. once you feel the weight release from the bottom, stop, feed your float more line and let it keep drifting. And if the float stays down, set the hook and hold on!