Bobber Fishing for Fall Salmon 8

Oct 12, 2011 by Rob Endsley

Ray's bobber went down for the umpty-umph time that morning and he reeled hard into a chrome king salmon that quickly headed for the tangled mess of lumber immediately downstream of where we were anchored. After some finaggling and coaxing Ray co-erced the chrome king salmon boatside and I slid the basket of my Frabill net under it's snout. This one was going in the box!

Catching king salmon in the river on eggs can be a total blast, mostly because you're holding the rod, directing your float down the slot, and feeling the initial throbbing head shakes of the mighty king salmon the second they're hooked up. It pegs my fun-omemeter every time I do it!

Like anything in fishing there are some things you can do to be more successful when you're bobber fishing for salmon.

I know for certain that there are several different ways to skin this cat, but here's how I rig up for bobber fishing and it's worked for me for years.

For starters, I use a ten and a half foot rod to keep as much line off the water as possible. The more direct line you have to your float the more control you'll have over it. This makes it much easier to work your float around downed trees, brush, root wads, and other salmon holding hide-aways in the river.

I use a levelwind loaded with 30 pound Big Game super braid. The braid has much less drag on the waters surface, it makes for a longer drift, and when you're hung up you can get everything back but the leader more often than not.  It's much easier to pay out line evenly with a levelwind, but if you're new to this gig don't be afraid to use a spinning reel. Most of the coastal salmon guides use spinning reels with their guests. It's just a little more difficult to control the line is all. 

Slide a bobber stop onto the mainline followed by a bead, and then a sliding float rated for 1 ounce of lead goes on next. A sliding float is almost mandatory, as fall salmon almost always lie in the deepest holes on the river. 

Below the float add either a 1 ounce egg sinker or two 1/2 ounce egg sinkers. I like to use the 1/2 sinkers because I have a large supply of them for steelhead fishing in the winter months. Regardless of which sinker you use you want about two-thirds of your bobber to be under water when you're fishing. The key with the additional lead here is to get down in a hurry so you're bait gets in front of fish that may be holding in the head of the runs. You'll want to get your bait down to them fast.

Below the egg sinkers I add a bead or two to protect my knot and then attach a barrell swivel to the end of the mainline.

To the barrell swivel I'll run two to three feet of 20 pound monofilament leader and finish it off with a 2/0 or 3/0 Mustad Ultrapoint hook. I'll reserve the smaller hook for low water conditions when a smaller bait might be needed.

Egg cures are like belly buttons…everybody has one! It's no secret that I use Pautzke's Firecure when I'm fishing salmon in the fall because it flat out works. It was specifically designed for fall salmon by Oregon guide Mark Yano years ago and the results are amazing. It's a sulfite based cure that's jacked up with krill, two tastey goodies that both silvers and kings like to eat.

The best thing with this stuff is that I can use it straight out of the bucket and I don't need to mess around with mixing up my own egg cure recipe. I say "bucket" because I have a 5 gallon bucket of Firecure!  


Here's another look at how to rig up for bobber fishing in last weeks "Last Cast" video posted on the Outdoor Line video page.

What do you do when you're float goes down? In most salmon or steelhead fisheries you'd set the hook like a banshee and reel like mad until the fish is on. When you're bobber fishing for salmon with eggs that type of hook set is no bueno…no good.

You want them to eat the eggs, so all you're going to do is reel when the bobber goes down and then give them a little "POP" once they are on just to set the hook. It's the river equivelent of mooching in the saltwater. You hold the rod, feel the bite, and reel to set the hook!

We had a banner day fishing king salmon on one of the Washington coastal rivers last week just as it dropped back into shape. Guess what…the coastal rivers are once again dropping back into primo shape after yesterdays monsoon and the fishing this weekend should be lights out. Get out there and enjoy some of the amazing fall salmon fishing while it lasts! 

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle


Fernando on Aug 17, 2018 at 12:27 am said:

What’s the hook size?

Michael McCauslin on Dec 06, 2017 at 7:50 am said:

Awesome Article, very informative! I live in Colorado but I'm going to try your bobber and egg setup on Kokanee Salmon and on Brown Trout next fall. I think it should work fairly well! I will definitely let you know the results. Again thank you for the awesome article and the valuable info it contained! TWO THUMBS UP!

Frank Carman on Sep 11, 2017 at 2:49 am said:

Thank you for illustrating so well how to set up the bobber system for Salmon and Steelhead. All my life I have fished but never caught a salmon or steelhead. At 57 I am learning, and hopefully with your help I will finally live a dream!!! Thank you very much, Frank

Steve on Oct 13, 2014 at 1:06 pm said:

Very nice article, easy to read and understand. I fish the rivers and bay around Bay City Oregon. Tillamook bay for the most part. Have not really ever gotten into bobber and egg fishing before this and am looking forward to it. This article will certainly help. Will be fishing Memaloops point in Tillamook bay this week. Thanks again, Steve

Kody Kellom on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:29 pm said:

Looks like you boys tore it up! Nice article Robbo!

Ray Gombiski on Oct 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm said:

Robbo has that thing nailed! Good read Rob.

Rob Endsley on Oct 10, 2011 at 8:18 pm said:

Yes...yes we did! So much fun

Nelly on Oct 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm said:

I'm still kicking myself in the arse for not tagging along on that trip,...You guys schwacked 'em!!!


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