Bobber dogging is a technique that is used heavily on the west coast and is gaining in popularity in Alaska. It’s a hybrid technique between float fishing and boondogging, that combines the advantages of presenting a bait along the bottom like you would when boondogging (also known as dragging), with the added benefit of having a bobber (float) so that you can see when the bait or lure has been grabbed by a fish.
Bobber dogging doesn’t require nearly as much line mending and maintenance as standard float fishing, which makes this a good technique for beginner and intermediate anglers. Anglers cast slightly upstream and add slack to the line so that the line belly provides a straight line toward the bobber. The key to success when bobber dogging is to get the bobber tracking in a straight line downstream, which makes the presentation look natural. If there isn’t enough slack in the line, then the bobber gets dragged cross current and this makes the presentation look unnatural. It’s counterintuitive for traditional float anglers to have slack in the line, but when it comes to bobber dogging, it’s critical for the right presentation.
In this video seminar, Fish Alaska’s George Krumm shares the particulars of bobber dogging while steelhead fishing in Oregon. He shows you how to rig for the technique, then demonstrates it in action. The video also incorporates some fish-catching action.
George starts by showing you exactly how to rig for bobber dogging. He goes through each component in the rigging. He then explains the knots he uses throughout the rigging. One of the points he makes is that he wants to tie knots of various strengths so that if he gets snagged, that he loses the lower portion of the leader, rather than the entire setup. He’ll tie an Improved Clinch knot for the bottom portion of the leader, and a Trilene knot or San Diego Jam knot to the rolling drop swivel. Since the Improved Clinch is the weaker knot, the leader usually breaks there when snagged, which is the goal.
Next George goes over the basics of how to execute the technique. He shows you how to cast upstream and talks about how the boat driver needs to keep the boat moving downstream so that the gear stays just upstream of the boat. He explains that you want the float to track straight downstream and that you need a belly in your line to effectively bobber dog. George also explains that if the bobber is catching up to you, wind in some line to slow it down, and if it’s dragging, let some line out.
In the next segment, Marcus is on a different river in a drift boat with the guys from Clackacraft Drift boats. This section shows you that bobber dogging can be done from a drift boat as well as from a powerboat. Dan from Clackacraft goes over his bobber dogging rig and you will see many similarities to the rig that George showed you.
The guys get into a nice steelhead, and you get to see a good fish fight on a 14-pound chrome steelhead. These fish are strong and it takes some maneuvering by Dan to get the fish in the net. Jake rows the boat towards shore because this big fish was hard to turn in the middle of the river with heavy current. It’s a team effort to land this fish.
Bobber dogging is a productive technique that is easy to do and should be in every serious salmon and steelhead fisherman’s arsenal.