Slip-Bobber Kayak Panfishing

A Gudes Life

Winnipesaukee White Perch
by Tim Moore
Contributing Writer

Warm water fish such as crappie, perch, bluegill, largemouth, and smallmouth bass all head for shallow water in the spring to spawn. Length of daylight is a driving force, but water temperature is the real driving force. The shallow waters that many panfish use to spawn are often too shallow to reach in a boat, making kayaks the perfect way to target spring panfish. This time of year I can often be found drifting around the shallows, and my favorite way to catch spring panfish is with a slip-bobber setup.
A slip bobber is a bobber that you thread your line through. A bead and a knotted piece of line tied in a knot called a bobber stop-knot are used to set and adjust the depth of your lure. The idea is to be able to vertically jig over shallow water, but to do it from a distance. Nothing takes me back to my days as a kid catching sunfish with a worm and bobber.
DSC_0011Old pieces of braided line make great slip-bobber stop-knots. Stop-knots can be tied by first cutting 6” pieces of braided line. You can tie stop-knots one at a time by laying the stop-knot line against the main line of your fishing rod. Tie a single uni-knot around the main line and pull the tag ends tight. Trim the tag ends of your stop-knots leaving them ½” to 1” long so you can re-tighten it throughout your fishing trip. If you wish to have extra stop-knots on hand you can tie several individual stop-knots around a drinking straw. Then you simply slide a pre-tied knot over the end of your line. Once you have a stop-knot in place, thread a small bead onto your line, followed by your slip-bobber. The bead protetcts the knot from rubbing against the bottom of the bobber and becoming frayed. Finally, tie on your chosen jig and slide the stop-knot up or down your line to set your depth.
Slip-bobber fishing from a kayak in early spring is a fun and effective way to fish the shallows for panfish. It offers anglers the chance to dust off the cobwebs with some relaxing, low-pressure fishing. You can begin fishing as soon as there is enough water to float your kayak. I can assure you that you’ll be the envy of many boat-owning anglers who are chomping at the bit to get out and fish.

Tim Moore is a professional fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC, offering NH kayak fishing charters and Lake Winnipesaukee ice fishing charters. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and the producer of Tim Moore Outdoors TV. Visit for more information.