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:
Table of Contents (clickable)
Looking for more crappie gear? Check out our buying guides and reviews:
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.
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.
Real casting is nearly impossible with this rig, as anyone who has tried can tell you!
Floats are pretty simple affairs. But when we’re putting our money down to get a few, here’s what we look for.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!