Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

Okay, so maybe I usually call em' floats, not bobbers. Whichever you prefer, chances are there are a handful in your tackle box. Many of us cut our angling teeth drifting a worm below a float, and indeed that is surely a fine way to catch a Bluegill. I still reach for a float of some sort on many occasions, although these days I'm more more apt to suspend an artificial jig beneath it than I am a hapless garden worm.

But no matter the bait, the float still has to do it's part to put fish on the bank. I prefer a slip float, due to it's versatility. I can fish it fixed or slip, and the range of depth it allows me is usually suitable for any situation I may find myself in.

The issue I have had in the past with slip floats concerns the manner in which they slide on the line. Early on, I purchased commonly available balsa or foam slip floats,  and they performed well......for awhile. Inevitably however, I would find myself adding more and more weight, or constantly twitching my rod tip to get my line to pass through the float. It seemed to get stuck, and in fact, that's exactly what was happening.

Those cheaper floats used a plastic bead molded into the stem of the float, and over time the line would cut a groove into this plastic bead as it slid through. My line would then drop into this groove, and become "pinched", restricting it's travel. There had to be a better way.

Then I discovered slip floats with metal inserts, or grommets, instead of plastic beads. These worked great, far better than the cheaper versions. The problem, at least back then, was availability.... none of my local shops carried them, which meant that I had to order them from one of the bigger tackle suppliers.... the shipping fees alone made the cost of the floats rather exorbitant.

So, necessity being the mother of invention, I decided to try making my own. What I eventually came up with has served me well for some time now. If you have need of a better slip float, perhaps you may get an idea or two from my design.

Two kinds of slip floats, foam w/plastic bead on left, and balsa with metal grommet on right:

Here's what I use to convert that plastic bead float over to a higher performance version: Glass jewelry beads, 5mm flat washers, and a rubber o-ring that is a tight fit on the float's stem.

First step is to remove the plastic bead. I use a drill with a 1/8" bit. CAREFULLY!

Then I remove the plastic tube from the foam body. It slides right out. I then take a 5/32" drill bit, and carefully enlarge the hole in each end of the tube... use the drill bit like a reamer, by hand, and enlarge the tube for a shallow depth... say 1/8".

Using a tiny dab of super glue, insert a glass bead into each end of the tube. Note: the beads are not exactly the same size...experiment without the glue until you find a couple that fit just right. BE SURE not to get glue into the holes in the beads themselves!

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Comment by Slip Sinker on November 26, 2015 at 4:45pm

excellent read Tony... every year that goes by I find myself getting deeper and deeper into float fishing... there is a science behind it.

Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on January 2, 2013 at 11:07am

They work great as platforms for long distance jigging, Larry. Cast them over deep water and let the jig fall to the desired depth. Then jig the bait by pulling on the line.....

Comment by dick tabbert on August 23, 2012 at 4:24pm

Come on David.

Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on August 23, 2012 at 1:44pm

I make my own too. I use the tiniest foam floats, bamboo skewers and copper wire.

I end up with what I call "finesse floats." They only take .25 gr of weight to balance and will react if a brim even farts near them.

Comment by dick tabbert on August 22, 2012 at 5:58pm

Federico don't get him started.

Comment by federico del toro on August 22, 2012 at 1:08pm

ok now I curious , what about the o-ring and the washers?

Comment by jim cosgrove on August 22, 2012 at 1:07pm

good job tony,ceramic guides for a slip float.

Comment by Jim Gronaw on August 22, 2012 at 12:58pm

That is way cool! I might just have to give it a go real soon with the cool fall bite coming up and deeper fish!

Thanks, Tony!

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