"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Casting-Bobber Fishing for Crappies
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

Crappies (black and white) are March favorites of Hoosier anglers, but many of the army of anglers who pursue the species spend more time waiting than catching.

Sure, it is nice to bask in the sun with small minnows suspended below bobbers at a well-known crappie hole. And this kind of fishing will take Ol' Papermouth in both good size and numbers.

But the real crappie action comes for those who turn this lazy, lackadaisical angling into work by going after the fish, rather than waiting for the fish to find the angler.

I can’t remember the name of the angler who taught me this important lesson in crappie fishing, but it was administered on a small bay of Geist Reservoir when this manmade lake was more a mecca for anglers than it now is for suburbanites who loll around million-dollar homes without a fishing pole to their names. 

With a small stringer of crappies in hand, I toted my minnow bucket and poles back to my car where this young fellow was putting away his lone spinning outfit and a huge string of big crappies. The so-called expert was no match for this young guy.

“How’d you catch all those fish?,” I asked, throwing in “Minnows?” in an attempt to answer my own question.

“Nope!,” he said emphatically. “I don’t wait for the crappies to come to me . . . I go to them.”

I am, of course, all ears at this juncture, and got real nosy. The reporter instinct told me this kid had a story.

My youthful informant was very cordial, but said he had to get to work, adding that if I would be there early the next morning (prepared to get wet) he would demonstrate the system.

From the roadside parking place the next morning, we walked to a point at the mouth of the little bay (must have been no more than two acres of water) and he introduced me to casting-bobber fishing.

He used his own casting bobbers--made from elongated (wine bottle) corks with extra weight of molten lead (rifle bullets, he said) poured into holes drilled lengthwise in the corks around twists of copper wire that protruded as loops at both ends. 

There were, of course, commercially produced casting bobbers even then, but this young fellow preferred to make his own. He, and the performance of his bobbers, made a believer of me.

My teacher tied four feet of light monofilament to the loop atone end of his casting bobber and to the other end of the light line he tied a very small jig. Then he tied the tag end of his stronger spinning reel line to the other end of  his casting bobber.

Rigged in this manner, he could cast the light jig great distances, and retrieve it slowly to give the lure time to sink two or three feet. Soon he was hauling in crappies.

With one of his casting bobbers, I rigged my seven-foot spinning outfit in the same manner and soon was enjoying the same kind of success.

Over the years I have refined this method of fishing for crappies in several ways, but the casting bobber still is a star in my tackle kit. I use it in many ways, and with many types of lures, because it simplifies casting light and small lures great distances when I am looking for fish.

When I find fish I often use live minnows. But a small minnow on the hook of a mall jig below a casting bobber is a pretty good way to go.


Turning a wine bottle cork--or any cork--into a casting bobber is a simple job (and usually painless . . . if you don’t touch the molten lead). Just drill a 1/8-inch hole lengthwise through the center of the cork and fashion a wire with loops that protrude slightly from both ends of the bobber. Stop up the hole on one end of the bobber with some putty (thick mud will work), and pour the molten lead in the hole at the other end of the bobber. The lead adds weight to the bobber and secures the wire loops at both ends. Once the bobber is finished, it can be styled with sharp knife and sandpaper, leaving ample cork to float the lead.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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