Bobber Fishing With Livescope

Crappie Fishing

bobber fishing with livescope

The first time I used Livescope for crappie I knew I wanted to try using a slip bobber to fish deep brush piles. Casting jigs to cover in 15-20 foot of water is a blast and what I prefer doing when it comes to catching big crappie here on Kentucky Lake. However, there are times when crappie just don’t want to bite a moving bait or a hair jig and will only bite a minnow.

Bobber-Scoping Summertime Slabs

There are those that wouldn’t put a minnow in their boat. They swear that you don’t need them. I almost exclusively use a Li’L TUFFY Swimbait or one of my handtied hair jigs to catch crappie most of the year. Catching crappie on a moving bait like the Li’L TUFFY is almost as fun as watching a bobber go under. I do prefer watching a bobber over a vertically dead-sticked hair jig. This is why when the bite slows to that point I like to bobber fish with livescope.

Rambling Angler Store

During the summer crappie tend to bury themselves in heavy brush and just ambush the baitfish as they hover over top of it. There is crappie that cruise around picking off minnows, but I haven’t quite mastered that technique enough to chase them around with forward facing sonar. It is fun and I have caught a few good crappie doing it but I feel like it’s such a consumer of time, for me at least, that I prefer locating brush and setting up on it to try and catch a crappie.

Lately I got a chance to practice bobber fishing with livescope and it has been working well for summertime crappie when they are feeling sluggish and don’t want to work too hard for a meal. Over the past year or so I have been looking for new brush piles to fish and have plenty to choose from now. So, I grabbed a few dozen minnows at the local bait shop and went straight to them.

livescope and slip bobbers
livescope and slip bobbers. Photo Ken McBroom

Bobber Fishing With Livescope And Boat Control

Boat control, when fishing a slip bobber for crappie using livescope, is vital when setting up on brush piles and other cover. With Livescope I will approach into the wind so that when I engage my trolling motor into anchor mode I am facing the cover that I want to fish. This is when I like the homemade slip-bobbers. When the wind is blowing a little it can be tough to cast a lightweight bobber even a short distance. The heavier plastic bobber will help you cast farther.

When I first tried this technique, I would anchor over the top of the cover to fish. I thought that in deep water the crappie wouldn’t notice the boat and would still bite. It took a few times to figure out that sitting back from the cover is better. I like to sit back at least 25 feet but have made casts 40 feet to get a bite. Again, this is why I like the homemade slip-bobber. Those old-school plastic bobbers can hold up that ¼ oz sinker as well.

The Livescope Bobber Fishing Setup

If you have ever used a slip bobber then you are set. If you have not, then I will explain my setup. There are several different ways to rig a slip-bobber but when fishing deep water there are a few things to consider. Getting your bait down 20 feet, and sometimes deeper, when using a slip-bobber, requires a heavier weight. If you try and fish with your normal shallow water setup with a small slit-shot your bait can drift off target before it gets to the desired depth. Also, the line will struggle to glide through the bobber the deeper you fish. With this in mind a ¼ oz sinker is the size I prefer.

bobber fishing with livescope
My setup with homemade slip bobber. Photo Ken McBroom

The SinkerWith a ¼ oz sinker you will have to use a bigger bobber or it will just pull it under when it hits the bobber stop. The heavier sinker will get the bait down quick and stay on target and will help pull your line through the bobber. There’s nothing worse than having to jiggle and jerk your line to work it through the bobber. You want the bait to get to the fish as quickly as possible.

The Bobber- I like to use your normal run of the mill slip bobbers for this technique but sometimes I like to build my own. When the wind is blowing a little, I like to use an old-school bobber, you know the one with the spring and a little hook to catch your line. You can remove the components in these bobbers and run your line through the hole where that little hook was. These homemade slip-bobbers do two things. They cast easy into the wind, and they are slick so when the wind is blowing your setup across the lake the line still slides easily through the plastic.

The Line- I prefer 6-pound test line when crappie fishing. However, when using the slip-bobber rig I move up to 8-pound test, at least for the main line. There’s a lot of abuse on the knot when casting. 8-pound test will take a little more of that abuse. I will list it in the terminal tackle list below. If you have them you should place a rubber bobber-stop above the swivel to protect the knot from getting beat up by the sinker when casting.

Here is the terminal tackle in the order that it goes on the line.

  • Bobber Stop- I use the braid type
  • Slip-Bobber- your choice
  • Sinker- I like a ¼ oz egg sinker
  • Rubber Bobber Stop- To protect your knot
  • Barrel Swivel- Helps to see your rig on Livescope
  • Leader- Same as main line but you can go lighter
  • Gold Aberdeen Hook- Light wire allows to bend when hung in brush

When the bite gets tough, and you need a way to catch those sluggish summertime slabs give Bobber-Scoping a try. If you don’t have forward facing sonar you can use this technique by marking the brush. Then backing off to cast to it. This technique can work all year long, and whether the crappie are biting good or a little slow the slip-bobber rig is a fun way to catch them.

Float And Hair Jig Presentation For Crappie

I want to add to this article that for you crappie anglers that don’t care to use minnows to catch crappie there is an alternative that I have used with success. In place of the gold Aberdeen hook tie on a hair jig like those found in our store at Rambling Angler Outdoor Products. We tie a simple squirrel tail round head hair jig and a bucktail hair jig in white on a pillhead with eyes that works great.

When using a jig for livescope bobber fishing you can either twitch it as it comes into the strike zone. Or let the ripples on the water do the work. The movement imparted on the bobber when there’s a little wind is usually enough. Oftentimes, a sudden movement of the jig, when the crappie are being picky, can actually spook the crappie into not biting. So, keep the action subtle. The movement of the hair and the vertical movement from the ripples is usually the perfect amount of action. When using the hair jig. However you choose to do it I think you will enjoy bobber fishing for crappie using livescope.

When to Use a Hair Jig for Crappie

Good Morning Ken,

I read your article on bobber fishing with livescope for crappie and look
forward to trying it on Barkley  crappie.I see your posts quite often on
Facebook and it looks like you have a good working system.  I have a
Triton 21 set up with Ultrex, spotlock and 106 lvs with 34 transducer. 
Looking forward to trying it all out next week.   Hope I can report good

Jim R.

Sounds great Jim. Have you used the 34 transducer yet? If so is it any better than the 32? I like to bobber-scope and thought of trying it the first time I used livescope. I prefer casting my Li’L TUFFY Swimbait to brush to catch them. Sometimes they want a minnow struggling in their face. It’s also a great way to relax with livescope, something I find hard to do running from one spot to the next. Good luck and let me know. 
Rambling Angler

Just got livescope this spring so I started with 34, if you want to see the difference you are welcome to ride along . we have a house in Blue Springs so  we fish Little river most. As the water drops we will have to launch the boat instead of leaving from our dock, so we may try Ky Lake this fall. Thanks for the tips and look forward to trying them out. Jim

Right on. I live on Jonathan creek and our dock is the same. Can’t get to my dock now either. Maybe we can hook up sometime. I fish over your way some and actually like it on Barkley for crappie. I think you will love slip-bobber fishing with your livescope. There’s a lot of people running it down as cheating and all that so I wrote a little story for the haters. You can check it out here. It’s called Garmin was a Drifter 

About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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