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National Walleye Tournament pros and partners Joe Bricko and Dylan Maki rely on a particularly long rod, the JT Outdoors 9’ 2” Snare Rod, for nearly every tournament and consider it critical for their approach when bobber fishing. Bricko explains that this rod does a lot of things other rods don’t and describes his long-rodding bobber fishing setup in this video. Forward facing sonar has really changed the game since you can now identify almost exactly where to drop your line, but this comes with its own set of nuances with bobber rigging that are important to understand.

Starting with the line, Bricko likes to use an 8 lb monofilament with a small diameter. When using live bait, his go-to lure is a 1/32nd oz tungsten which is light enough for the bait to move and swim with it as naturally as possible. Above the jig, this is paired with a line of small bead sinkers which helps prevent the line from twisting around the bobber on the cast. This goes to a small swivel to reduce twist. Then, to a small tungsten weight (surrounded by beads to protect the knot) which will send the line down faster and also show up clearer on forward facing sonar. The boat and the fish are always moving, so the real key to bobber fishing with forward facing sonar is getting the bait down in front of the fish as quickly as possible. A common mistake anglers make in this scenario is using a weighted bobber which will stand up straight right away and slow the speed of the line sinking the bait. A non-weighted bobber will float sideways and allow the line to flow through more smoothly and sink faster.

Why use such a long rod? Bricko explains that the extra-long 9’2” length combined with the rod’s particular moderate action has several benefits. First, it allows you to cast the bait longer distances without pitching your bait off. When bobber fishing and in clear water especially, you’ll often need to cast 50-60 feet or even out to 80 feet in some cases to avoid spooking fish. With this long length, you also get a lot of line pick-up. If you’re fishing in windy conditions, you need to be able to pick up a lot of line quickly to get a hook set into the fish. The length of this rod can also excel when pitching jigs, the slow action allows the fish to inhale the bait before it can feel the backbone of the rod. 

Another benefit to using a longer rod is that you get an extra margin for error as you are fighting fish – they can make massive head swings and runs but you won’t lose the bend in the rod, so you won’t lose the load and drop the fish. What most people don’t realize is that with an extra fast action rod, just the tip might be bending and holding the load. When you’re fighting a fish on a fast action rod, it can then come out of the load easily and drop your hold on the fish. Having the entire rod bend (as with a fast or moderate action) allows it to hold a load the entire time and absorb those massive head shakes.

Long-rodding with a bobber takes a little getting used to but Bricko asserts that the advantages for casting distance, your margin for error, line pickup, and being able to cast into the wind without splitting your bait off is unmatched and well worth it.

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2 Comments

  1. I really liked the article on bobber set up and I’m purchasing a JT snare rod. When putting the split shot on down by the jig to help with casting , how many and how far apart for say 13 ft of water?

    • Here’s an answer directly from Joe’s tournament partner Dylan Maki – “Try to stay about 18” from the jig with your split shot, more or less depending on water clarity. Meaning in clearer water, move the split shot farther away from the jig and can go closer when in dirty water. 13 feet is fairly shallow, 1 or 2 weights would be enough.”

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