The fishing float is often called a bob or a bobber by fishermen. Its function is twofold. It keeps the bait suspended at a specific depth in the water. This allows an angler to target a species such as crappies or bluegills. She can adjust the float on the line to keep the bait a in a place where those fish look for food. Floats also let an angler see if the fish is biting. The float will "bob" up and down in the water as a fish is nibbling. A strong bite will pull the float right under the surface. A fish taking the bait will cause the float to move in different directions.
The first time float fisherman should use a simple round bobber. These are red and white with a small "button" on the top. The bottom half and the top button are red. The upper half is white. These bobbers are spring loaded and have a small catch on the top and bottom. By pushing down on the top button the bottom catch is revealed and the line attached. By pressing the top button just on its edges the top catch pops up and the line can be secured to it. Another popular float for a beginner is a balsa float. It will have various bright colors on the upper half to be easily visible in the water.
An angler will normally use a float when she is fishing from shore. Floats work well in small ponds and in lakes. Floats aren't typically used where the water has a strong current, such as in a river. The current will carry the float and the line parallel to the shore. Only in backwaters, bays and places where the current is very light in a river are floats used.
Most anglers will use live bait with a fishing float. A favorite is an earthworm or a night crawler. An anglers threads them on a hook beneath a fishing float. Minnows, shiners and other small types of baitfish can be used with a fishing float. Grubs, grasshoppers, crickets, waxworms, mealworms, leeches, and crayfish can all be fished with a float above them. The float keeps the bait off the bottom and makes it visible. Bait fish are hooked behind their back fin. This allows them to continue to swim on the hook and appear natural.
The species most often taken by anglers using floats include crappies, bluegills, pumpkinseeds and bullheads. These fish are found close to shore, in most instances, and will take the types of baits that can be offered under a fishing float. When the fisherman observes his float going under the surface or moving in the water he will jerk back on his fishing pole. This is an attempt to set the hook in the jaw of the fish. Once the hook is set the fish can be played and eventually reeled in.