Part two, using spring bobbers vs the tightlining method of catching panfish through the ice. Although I mostly tightline while fishing for these lil’ critters through the ice, spring bobbers do have their time and place. Besides that, they can actually be quite the teaching tool for newbies young and old just starting out.
Lots of folks learn visually, and other folks learn hands on better than they can by just being told what to do and expect out on the ice. You can explain the movements that the fish will take over and over again, but till they see it and feel it for the first time, it just doesn’t sink in. That can also be attributed to the confidence factor that happens to all of us while fishing at one point or another.
My favorite application of the use of spring bobbers is applied to catching crappies in deep, dark or stained waters. If a crappie takes your bait, in a lot of instances they will move up in the water column. Unless you drop your rod tip and see the line bunching up because your jig is no longer sinking to the original depth, you do not know what is going on below the surface. With a spring bobber and the tension drawing the line up with the lack of weight, the spring telegraphs the underwater scene to you. Basically meaning the spring comes up for crappie a lot of the time.
That might surprise a lot of people who would think that the spring is only there for telling you that fish has gone down deep, by the spring going down. It is a common misconception overall, but not false by a long shot. Most fish will react two ways, up or down. Then you have your darters, that come in and grab, then run horizontal one way or another. The spring will tell you that too, but you should also pay attention to your line because it will tell you first in this instance.
Buying a could spring for your rod, or getting a rod with the spring already on, was not always a sure bet. Some where to thick a wire, others too flimsy. Meaning some of them barely moved, and others moved too much. By far the best made here in the U.S., are those developed by St. Croix for their Legend series of ice rods.
These are a type of fine wire where the base is coiled like a spring with a (roughly) 2.5 inch arm. They are more specialized than others, with them being matched to fish light, med or medium heavy rods. They can be further adjusted by pushing the bobber deeper into the grommet or out further. In for heavier jigs, out for lighter offerings.
Others would tear apart old ballpoint pens or disposable lighters and canibalize the springs within to get what they needed to make their own attachments. They work, but cannot be adjusted once applied.
There you have spring bobbers in a nutshell.