While originally designed to position corks, they're good items to have to limit the travel of sinkers, king skirts and a variety of other paraphernalia that slide along a fishing line or leader.
They can also be used to peg any of these items in place.
My introduction to bobber stoppers came while crappie fishing as a youngster. It was early in the spring; the crappies were holding deep but off the bottom; and we needed to cast to reach them.
With this two-fold problem, we needed to cast but keep the bait suspended under a float; the depth was too much to be able to cast a float clipped in position.
The bobber stopper allowed the float to slide down the line to near the hook and enabled us to cast, then stop the float (or bobber) at the correct depth when the line slid back through it. I thought it was neat, but didn't foresee much use for it while salt water fishing.
Boy, was I wrong.
In the past few years, I've used bobber stoppers to adjust the depths of suspended baits along much of the southeast and gulf coasts. Trout and drum are the usual quarry while bobber stopper fishing, but it has also produced various inshore snappers, snook, flounder, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and cobia. There are incidental catches I don't remember.
Those initial bobber stoppers basically were just knots tied around fishing line; they're available at many stores and come pre-tied on a piece of straw or other tubing and with a small bead.
For installation, you simply run the fishing line through the tubing and bead (with the bead below the knot, slide the knot off and cinch it down on the line and remove the tube).
The bead will slide up to the knot and the bobber will slide up to the bead. Because the bobber stopper knot is tied around the fishing line, rather than to it, it can be moved up and down the line to adjust the depth of the bobber.
A variety of other bobber stoppers have been made and some work better than others. One of the principles of the bobber stopper is it needs to be small enough to easily slide through rod guides and not hang up on the reel.
Not all bobber stoppers work well with reels and those that do, generally work better with spinning reels.
Bobber stoppers may be used with conventional (baitcasting) reels, but tend to hang up badly on the levelwind guides of reels with levelwind. They don't work well at all with spin-cast reels.
The variety of bobber stoppers is wide. In addition to the knot and bead setups, there have been small strips of plastic with multiple holes the line threads through, small pinch fittings, rubber bands tied around the line - and more.
Just over a year ago, I was introduced to what I consider to be the ultimate bobber stopper. It's a small soft-plastic or hard-rubber (I can't remember) football-shaped bead that's threaded onto the line and grips the line to secure its position.
The only place I can find these bobber stoppers is at Bass Pro Shops and they are the Bass Pro brand. They are sold as Bobber Stops in packs of 12 and come with a bead, or as Sinker Stops, in packs of 45, and don't include the bead.
The package holds several tabs that resemble key chains with the bobber stoppers hanging on small pieces of doubled wire.
In the 2007 Fishing Master Catalog, both packages sell for $1.59. I buy the 45-pack and use Sea Striker beads.
To put one on a line, just run the line through the loop at the end of the wire and slide the bobber stopper off the wire and onto the line. They're tight enough they'll even grip the smaller-diameter braided lines.
The bead goes on the line below the bobber stopper.
Perhaps someone can find other sources for these bobber and sinker stoppers. If someone does, I'd like to know.
I "Googled" them and came up with Compac and Wahoo Bobber Stops making similar products for the Midwest, but with no local distributors. Someone at one of the chat boards referred to them as Olin Tangy Bobber Stops, but I didn't have any luck following that.
There are an abundance of bobber stops for sale on E-Bay, but hopefully your favorite local tackle dealer can find a source for these. I prefer the simplicity and ease of use they offer.
I use these bobber stops to create a number of rigs. There are two I really like and find the ease of adjustment a real asset.
One is for inshore and smaller fish, such as trout and red drum, while the other is for larger fish, such as cobia and king mackerel. There are probably a variety of ways to use them.
My inshore rig uses the bobber stops to create a sliding float for casting and also to position a popping and/or rattling cork anywhere on a line. This rig begins by sliding a bobber stopper on the fishing line coming from the reel.
Below the bobber stopper and above the float are two Sea Striker octagon glass beads. Next comes a 5-inch, non-weighted, Shur-Strike Glo-Top Popping Float with the cupped end facing up.
Immediately below the float is a 1-ounce egg sinker. Below this there are two more Sea Striker octagon glass beads and another bobber stopper is slid onto the line below the beads. This is the part of the rig that uses the bobber stoppers.
When a bait (natural or artificial) is fished below this on a hook, a Billfisher size 12 stainless steel swivel is tied to then end of the line below the last bobber stopper. A leader made of 15 to 18 inches of 12- to 20-pound mono or fluorocarbon is tied to the swivel and an Eagle Claw Series 42 hook in size 4 or 1 is tied to the other end (see diagram).
When fishing artificial baits with a jig head with this rig, the egg sinker may be lightened to 1/2 ounce and the jighead is tied in place of the hook.
One of my favorite jigheads for such fishing is the Gitzem by Fishing Barefoot. Its unique shape creates a darting action.
I also occasionally use butterbean bucktails as the jighead with this rig. I generally use 1/4-ounce jigheads and butterbean jigs but step up to the 3/8-ounce versions if the current is running hard or the wind is gusting and pushing the float where I don't want it to go.
By adjusting the bobber stoppers, this rig may be used as a slip float, rattling float and popping cork. The question I often hear when someone sees this rig for the first time is why I use the second bobber stopper below the float? It first started as a way to slide it up and limit the travel of the popping cork so it could be made to pop.
Working in reverse, the Shur-Strike float has metal eyes in the ends and any time the float slides down the line, the top beads rattle when the float slides back up against them.
I've begun adding the lower bobber stopper to the larger fish rig to prevent the sinker from sliding down too far and chafing the knot that attaches the swivel.
My big fish rig is much the same but uses a different float and rig. The float is switched to a 12-inch Billy Boy Float with the primary objective being better visibility from any distance and especially with swells in the ocean. Below the float I typically use a basic king mackerel live-bait rig.
If only cobia are in the area and bite-offs are not expected, the rig can be switched to 6-feet of 80-pound mono or fluorocarbon and a single hook substituted for the trebles on the king rig.
My favorite is an 8/0 Eagle Claw Series 84, but I've been experimenting with several circle hooks and probably will switch to them. My best success to date has been with the Eagle Claw Circle Sea Series 2004 circle hooks in size 7/0 and 8/0.
These bobber stoppers/sinker stoppers are versatile and easy to use. Some of my bass fishing friends use them to peg the sinker on Texas rigs and to limit the movement of a sinker with a Carolina rig.
Among other things, I've used them to position skirts on a line or rig. I'm sure they'll do much more and most likely will have another report in the not-too-distant future.