Many fisherman are more comfortable with using a bobber rather than fishing on the bottom. Fishing on the bottom does require feel or line watching, where as a bobber going down in the water is a clear sign that you have a fish on the other end.
However, the issue with using a bobber with powerbait is that both of them float. Using power bait while fishing on the bottom works more naturally. Your weight lays on the bottom, your powerbait sits a foot or two off the bottom right in the trout’s eyesight. After all, trout are not bottom feeders like catfish. They naturally eat bait that is in the middle of the water.
Do the same technique with a bobber and both will be floating. Trout want their bait in the water, not on top of it. So you’ll be doing a lot of sitting and not a lot of catching.
To correct this, we simply need to add weight to the equation and remember that our bait in the water will make more of a triangle than a straight line. The bobber will be on top of the water. The weight will be sticking straight down. But the powerbait will be above the weight, but below the bobber. Sounds confusing, but look at the diagram below. It’s actually very simple.
The right setup for a powerbait with a bobber
To set up this technique you will need a bobber of your choice, split shot weights, and a trout hook (size 8 to 14 preferably). Begin by pulling some line off your reel, you’ll want a good deal to work with. Approximately 6 feet up the line, attach your bobber to the line. Depending on your bobber, this may vary, but generally there is a “button” to push down the top and bottom which will reveal metal hooks which can be wrapped around the fishing line. Simply wrap the line in both loops, and your bobber is set.
Next, we will tie on the hook to the end of the line. Choose a knot you are most comfortable with, for me it’s an improved clinch knot. If you don’t know how to do this, check out the link here for a great tutorial!
Now we have a hook and a bobber approximately 6 feet above it. Decision time – what depth do you want to be fishing at? Again, you need to remember where your powerbait will actually set when you throw it in the water. If you put your weight 2 feet above the hook, your powerbait will be sitting in about 2 feet of water – there will be 4 feet between the bobber and weight. And two feet between the weight and hook. 4 minus 2 equals 2. Put the weight 1 foot in front of the hook, and now you’re 4 feet deep. 5 minus 1 equals 4.
Simply choose your depth with the math above and cinch your split shot onto the line at that position. There should be two ends of the split shot weight which you can open with pliers. When cinching down, simply use pliers on the other end and press hard, but not so hard you break your line. If you’re trout fishing, you should be using a light, low diameter line. So this will take some pressure to cinch fully.
The hookset for powerbait
While you’re completely setup to go fishing, I do want to bring your attention to how the hookset will vary with a bobber and powerbait. If you’re used to bobber fishing, you probably have already learned how to set a hook. But again, picture what the bait will look like in the water. Normally with something like, say a worm, the worm sits below the weight because it doesn’t naturally float. So when a fish bites, and you see the bobber sink, you immediately pull up and there is direct line of tension from your pull to the fish’s mouth, resulting in a good hookset.
Now think of it again with the powerbait example. You see the bobber go down so you pull up on the rod quickly. But now there is not a direct line with the fish underneath. So when you pull, all you are pulling at first is the hook straight up in the air. In fact, you have to pull the weight double the distance of the length from your weight to your bait, just to move the bait at all!
So the hookset for fishing with powerbait is different. You don’t want a quick, jerky motion. This will result in the weight immediately rising up quickly, likely scaring the fish, and not giving you the strong hookset you are imagining. All you did was make a weight bounce. Instead, you want a long, drawn out hookset. Because you need to pull the distance that will make the weight move up, and then bring the bait with it behind it and into the fish’s jaw. Walking backwards with hookset to pull excess line and then really cinching it with a big lawn drawn out pull is the best way to accomplish this.
Now that you know how to fish for trout using bobbers and powerbait, go to your local lake and give it a try. If trout are further up in the water, it’s absolutely one way to get an advantage over those fishing on the bottom. You can push your powerbait up as far as 6 inches if needed, which is an area many bottom fisherman just won’t be able to get too. Just keep in mind if you have to go further than five feet or so in the water, you will have a lot of extra line in the water that will become difficult to manage and often get wrapped. So it’s best to stick to bottom fishing if you need to be deeper than 5 feet or so.