Slip-bobbering the Wood for Walleyes

By Rob Manthei
Everyone knows that using slip bobbers is a deadly technique for walleyes. It is also widely known that walleyes use wood for cover much like other species. It is very common to used a weedless style jig to work in and around the timber, but many people don’t realize that the simple slip bobber can be an even more effective presentation.I like to use this system mainly in the spring on natural lakes or flowages. It basically works anywhere walleyes inhabit some type of wood cover. It seems that walleyes use wood more often in the spring than any other time. The trees act like solar collectors and warm the surrounding water which attracts baitfish and therefore, attracts predators.

I first like to find an area of fallen trees or logs than have some type of wind blowing into the cover. Wind is always your friend, and it also makes this presentation easier as you=ll see in a minute. I like to anchor my boat upwind of the structures and let out rope as needed to adjust my position while working the trees. One anchor will make due most of the time, however on real windy days, 2 anchors are needed to hold position and avoid slipping and/or dragging the single anchor along the bottom.

With this technique, actually casting the float into the wood cover isn’t the ideal situation. This will just spell disaster. This is where the wind factor comes into play. It is pretty simple. I prefer to cast slightly upwind and just short of the trees or logs. With the bail open on the reel, I will let line out until the offering is as close the structure as possibly. My slip bobber becomes a sail which I control via my rod and reel to steer it into position. Once the strike indicator is in position, I make sure nothing gets tangled around the branches or the float gets behind the logs or trees. If this happens and a fish strikes, you will usually get hung up and broken off.

Using this technique allows for the maximization of the presentation into the cover. The wind also doubles as your jigger. The waves move the bobber up and down which keeps your offering active and attractive.

As for livebait choices, I’ve done equally well with this method using both leeches and minnows. I prefer to use minnows when the water is below 60 degrees and leeches when the water is above 60 degrees.

Any standard spinning rod will work for this approach, however I like to use a little longer rod when using slip bobbers. I believe the longer rods allow for more control of the float once it is in position, and also give a lot better hookset. Sometimes I will get my boat really close to wood cover that is very complex, and almost use my spinning rod like a cane pole and poke and prod my floats around the dense logs. This is really where the a longer spinning rod comes into play. I prefer to use monofilament here, and something really abrasion resistant. I like Berkley Sensation here in 8lb test. The new Fenwick Elite Tech 7’7″ slip bobber rod is a great stick for this application. Pair it up with a ABU Garcia Soron or 700 LX spinning reel and you are all set.

My simple terminal end is pretty basic. I really like to use small jigs instead of just a plain hook. Below my slip I tie on a Berkley ball bearing swivel. I like to use as small as possible. Just below it I pinch on a split shot or two(depending upon strength of wind) and then leave about 2′ of leader to my jig. In real clear water, I prefer to use Berkley Vanish as my 2′ leader for a very natural presentation. My jig is some type of jig that has a larger than normal hook for the corresponding weight. I never like to use anything heavier than 1/16 oz. The jig provides color and also keeps the bait more horizontal which I think is very important with this approach.


Rob offers many types of fishing adventures for all season’s targeting Walleyes, Muskies and Bass in Vilas, Iron and Oneida Counties in Northern Wisconsin. During the summer Rob is a guest instructor at Andy Myer’s Lodge in Ontario, Canada and appears on John Gillespie’s Waters and Woods 4-6 times per year. Rob and his staff are all accredited, professional, fully licensed and insured fishing guides with the latest fish finding, navigation and safety equipment on board. Have fun and catch fish is what we are all about….We have the tools and knowledge to show you a great time on the water. Catering to all skill levels.Rob owns and operates Fibbers Resort & Restaurant and Rob Manthei Guide Service in St Germain WI. For more information or to contact Rob please visit RobManthei.com and FibbersResort.com