Slipbobbers have many applications in the walleye world, and it’s often an overlooked option when it comes to catching river walleyes in springtime. Fishing with slipbobbers under certain conditions in rivers can be the most productive method used.
The conditions that call for slipbobbers in rivers are low current combined high sunny skies. When these conditions arise it’s mostly a shallow water technique. Feeding walleyes often remain up in eddies (even with low currents, eddies still exist) and on shallow feeding shelves. Walleyes might not be quite as aggressive as when there are strong currents, winds, and cloud cover, which is why a subtle presentation with a slipbobber can work so well.
Fishing with slipbobbers is a simple technique. They’re most effectively fished in eddies and along day-old mud lines. The key to this technique is to have the slipbobber rig set at the correct depth so that it can easily float through the target area. Set the slipbobber so the bait stays at least 6 inches off the bottom throughout the drift.
Start drifting the rig across the deepest sections of shallow water areas or mud lines — this might be about 4 to 6 feet of water. Once you have covered that depth zone, present the next drift shallower. Continue this process until you reach super-shallow water — depths as shallow as 1 foot. Walleyes often inhabit this shallowest zone on calm, sunny days in spring. This is especially true when it comes to mud lines. Left over mud lines (from the big blow the day before) can be key areas in these conditions. The water stays murky and active walleyes remain shallow.
Two bait options are key this time of year: Minnows and leeches. I suggest fishing with smaller minnows. A minnow that’s too big often swims too aggressively to be attractive to walleyes now.
The hardest part about slipbobbering is actually convincing yourself to try it because it can be difficult pass up the old jig-and-minnow. But when conditions are right, get the slipbobber out and start fishing. It might be the most enjoyable step you take for spring walleyes.