Catching Spring Slabs: Best Crappie Corks, Floats, and Bobbers Reviewed

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For many anglers, spring means the start of crappie season. And while there are many ways to catch them, the best technique for early crappie involves a cork, float, or bobber. Whatever you call them, they’re ideal for suspending a jig at just the right depth or dropping a kicking cricket into a stationary school.

As experienced anglers know, spring crappie demand slow, vertical presentations. But if your familiarity with bobbers doesn’t run deeper than the standard red and white ball, you’re missing out!

We’d like to help, and if you’re confused about what to buy, or just want to try something new, keep reading! We’ll explain what makes an ideal cork for crappie and review a few of our favorites.

Here’s a quick glance at the best crappie corks, floats and bobbers on the market today:

What Makes an Ideal Cork, Float, or Bobber for Crappie?

When most people think cork, float, or bobber, the plastic red and white models spring to mind. Unfortunately, that style has plenty of problems, and it’s not going to be the best choice for crappie.

Why We Don’t Recommend a Fixed Bobber for Crappie

Fixed bobbers are fine for what they are. They’ll keep your hook from resting on the bottom, and they’ll signal a strike just fine. We’ve all used them, and generations of fishermen have watched them from banks and boats.

But they have two related problems.

  • Depth – By design, they’re intended for very shallow fishing. If you’re not familiar with them at all, they use a spring to grip the line above and below the bobber, staying put pretty well. They can be repositioned, but if you want to fish deeper than a foot or two, that leads to problems with casting
  • Casting – If you want to fish deeper with a fixed bobber, the only way to accomplish that is to position it at the depth you want. Then, you’ll need to reel the bobber up near the tip of your rod–and try to cast all that line and terminal tackle–with a wobbly bobber imparting all kinds of craziness to your line in the air.

Real casting is nearly impossible with this rig, as anyone who has tried can tell you!

What We Look for in a Crappie Float

Floats are pretty simple affairs. But when we’re putting our money down to get a few, here’s what we look for.

  • Slip designs – A ‘slip’ float does exactly that: it slips along the line, allowing you to cast normally and still suspend your terminal tackle at just the right depth. They’re easy to rig, easy to use, and startlingly effective.\
  • High visibility – Especially in the cold water of early spring, crappie aren’t going to drag your float under–at least not often! Instead, they’ll often sit just below a stationary lure and gently suck the hook into their mouths.

To see these gentle strikes, you need a high-vis color and a longer float that exaggerates every motion of the lure suspended beneath it.

How We Fish a Slip Bobber, Float, or Cork for Crappie

Once you rig your first slip float, you’ll be hooked. But if you’ve never done it before, don’t worry–it’s really pretty simple.

Float or Bobber Stops

To set the depth of your terminal tackle and thus the point on your line where the float will sit, you need to use a float or bobber stop. There are several different styles.

On one hand, you can find string stops like Rod N Bobbs Float Stops with Glow Beads or Eagle Claw Bobber Stops. These use a small, pre-tied knot to arrest the float, often in conjunction with a bead. But some float designs, like Thill, have a very narrow aperture for the line, meaning that you don’t need the bead–just the knot will do.

On the other hand, you have rubber stops like the excellent Tinksky Fishing Rubber Float Stopper. These are easy to apply to your line, too.

Both systems are designed to ride the line through your guides for effortless casting.

Rigging

Rigging a slip float is pretty easy. Check out these videos for a quick tutorial:

Weighted to match split shot or lure

The ideal cork is weighted to match the lure or split shot suspended below it. That keeps the float vertical, allowing it to reveal even the lightest of nibbles.

Some float models, like Thill, come marked with the appropriate weight of shot and jig head or terminal tackle. But for most others, you’ll need to experiment a bit. We use split shot to balance the buoyancy of the float, getting it to sit as close as we can to vertical, with the waterline centered on the color divide.

Reviews

Thill Crappie CorkOur Pick!

Color: pink /yellow

Size: 1/16, ⅜, ¼, ⅛ ounces; 3 ¾” and 4” length

Thill’s crappie corks are an excellent, high-quality choice for the spring angler.

Available in four marked weights, these are the easiest of our favorites to weight properly, as they remove the guesswork from the process.

The high-vis pink and yellow combination is easy to see, and the relative length of these corks is excellent for revealing strikes.

They also feature a spring that allows fixed rigging for shallow water, and they come with a string stop pre-attached. Because the aperture is very small on this float, there’s no need for bead.

That’s a feature we like a lot, making the Thill cork a great all-around choice.

Pros:

  • Surprisingly inexpensive
  • Slip or fixed design
  • No need for beads
  • Comes with string stop pre-tied and ready to go
  • Marked with weights for easy rigging
  • High-vis colors and good length

Eagle Claw Balsa Style Oval Fixed Float with 6-Inch Stem

Eagle Claw Balsa Style Oval Fixed Float with 6-Inch Stem, 2 Piece
Amazon 

Color: wood/white/yellow/red

Size: 1” and ⅞” on a 6” stem

Eagle Claw is a trusted name in fishing, and their hooks are rightly legendary. Their balsa-style float is no slouch either, and it’s an awesome choice from spring crappie.

Painted in high-vis yellow, white, and red, these six-inch stem floats are easy to see. And like the Thill and Thkfish alternatives, they offer a spring system that lets you choose between fixed and slip modes.

Pros:

  • Slip or fixed design
  • High-vis colors
  • Excellent length
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Not marked with weights for rigging

Mr. Crappie by Betts Slippers

Color: yellow/green

Size: 1 ½”, 2”, and 2 ½”

Mr. Crappie’s foam float is a simple design that just plain works.

Available in three sizes that offer increasing buoyancy as you move up, Mr. Crappie’s floats are made from long-lasting, tough foam. They feature a high-vis combo of bright yellow and green, and they’re simple to rig.

If there’s something we don’t like about this design, it’s that the floats themselves are relatively short, and longer models will reveal lighter strikes.

Pros:

  • High-vis colors
  • Inexpensive
  • Basic design–not much can go wrong

Cons:

  • Not marked with weights for rigging
  • Not very long

Thkfish 15g EVA Floats

5 Piece 15g EVA Floats +10pcs Glow Stick Fishing Floats Luminous Lighting EVA Foam Floats
Amazon 

Color: White/red/black plus glow stick

Size: Roughly ½ ounce

If you’re an angler who chases crappie at night, you already know how important fluorescent visibility is. In addition to line that glows in blacklight like Stren Original, you need a float that’s equipped with a glowstick.

Thkfish has you covered with its excellent 15g foam floats. They’re available in a pack of five with 10 glow sticks that fit neatly into their tops. The chemicals that cause these to fluoresce are bright and long-lasting, and one stick should last most of the night while remaining visible at distance.

You will need to ensure that the glow stick is pressed firmly into the top between casts. If they get loose, you’ll lose them as they fly through the air.

Thkfish’s foam floats use a single bottom eye through which you run your line, and of course, you’ll need the usual float stop to rig these properly.

Pros:

  • High-vis colors
  • Awesome for night fishing

Cons:

  • Not marked with weights for rigging
  • Glow sticks can come loose between casts

Thkfish 6” Oval Stick Float

thkfish Fishing Floats and Bobbers Balsa Wood Floats Spring Bobbers Oval Stick Floats Slip Bobbers for Crappie Panfish Walleyes 1.25'X0.75'X6' 5pcs
Amazon 

Color: red/yellow/pink/white (fluorescent)

Size: 1″ x 0.7″ x 6″ or 1.25″ x 0.75″ x 6″

Thkfish’s stick floats are a great addition to any crappie angler’s arsenal.

Available in two sizes, both of which are fully six inches long, these floats are as easy to see as they are to rig. Painted in a mix of high-vis, fluorescent colors, you’ll have no trouble detecting light strikes and nibbles, no matter how far you cast.

And like the Thill, these come with a spring system that lets you fix them in place for shallow water.

We recommend that you go lighter than 1/8 ounces with your terminal tackle and weight, as these are no more buoyant in our experience than the Thills.

Pros:

  • Slip or fixed design
  • High-vis colors
  • Excellent length

Cons:

  • Not marked with weights for rigging
  • A touch expensive

Our Pick – The Thill Crappie Cork!

A good crappie float features a slip design, high-vis colors, plenty of length, and clearly marked weights for rigging. The Thill delivers all these characteristics at a very reasonable price-point, making it an easy choice for our top pick.

That said, the Thkfish and Eagle Claw stick floats are also excellent, especially once you work out their relative buoyancy. Like the Thill, they’re well-designed to help you keep your tackle where it needs to be, and get it there, too, with long, smooth casts. Indeed, any of these three will deliver fantastic performance, and we’d be comfortable recommending any of our favorites without hesitation.

For night fishing, Thkfish’s EVA floats are simply awesome, as long as you make sure the glowstick is firmly attached between casts. And since its fluorescent sticks will last all night, they’re a pretty good buy, too.

Do you have experience with any of these floats? Have we forgotten any of your favorites? Is there something you’d like to add?

Let us know, and please leave a comment below!

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