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Basic Tackle Review

ESB designs the everlasting slip bobber, and it works!

Date: 11/13/02
Tackle type: Basic
Manufacturer: HL Outdoors
Reviewer: MP/Zander

Total Score: 8.50

Introduction: Fishing with slip bobbers is among the most flexible fishing techniques and continues to be popular among anglers of all ages. HL outdoors has developed the ESB, a bobber that not only lasts longer but also will help you land that trophy fish the next time it takes your suspended bait.

HL Outdoors ESB Specifications

Bobber Material Synthetic
Stop Bead Polished Glass Bead
Colors Green, Hot Pink, Orange, Yellow
Band colors 7 available
Sizes available 6 ranging from small to large
Stopper Slip Knot included
MSRP $.75-1.20

Impressions: Bobber fishing, while not often the most glamorous fishing technique, can be exciting, fun, and very productive. When we were first introduced to the ESB we were not exactly sure what to expect...a bobber is a bobber right? ESB doesn't think so, and when they started pointing out flaws with current bobber design we found ourselves saying "that really has happened to me." 


The ESB comes bagged with a bobber stop

About ESB: ESB stands for "Everlasting Slip Bobber," and the product is designed by an avid fisherman named Leroy. Leroy invented the ESB after fishing with traditional bobbers and finding that they would not allow the line to flow properly through the slip bobber after extended use. The reason, Leroy discovered was that line would cut into the top of the stop bead on top of the bobber, so even though it was set for a 8 foot depth it was stopping at one foot! (To see examples of common damage to slip bobbers from line contact visit Leroy's Museum of Dysfunctional Slip bobbers) Upon closer examination Leroy found all of his bobbers exhibiting similar damage. Knowing there had to be a better way Leroy set out to create the ESB.


One of the first things we did after talking to Leroy was examine bobbers in our lab collection, sure enough about 60-70% of the bobbers made with traditional balsa and plastic had deep cuts or scratch marks.


The terminal end of the ESB features a brass outlet


Problems with bobbers: Leroy discovered that current slip bobbers are not perfect in design and under traditional mass production techniques there are slight density differences found within each bobber. As a result your line will always travel along the same path over the bead as your bait sinks...even more so once a groove has been formed. Once this groove is deep enough it can either pinch your line and prevent it from sinking to your set depth, or start damaging your line. If your line becomes pinched then you will not target the right strike zones where the fish are, and if the line becomes damaged it can actually break when you hook into that big fish.

ESB design: The key to the ESB is the integration of a durable glass stop bead into the bobber tip. The glass bead is rounded so that it has no edges and will never be cut by line, or sever line. In addition the rounded polish makes the bead much smoother then plastic so that as the line travels through the bobber less friction is built up allowing your bait to quickly drop to the intended target zone. The bottom of the bobber (terminal end) has a brass guard which also is much more durable then plastic. The body of the ESB is made out of synthetic material similar to very dense Styrofoam. This material was chosen because it does not swell, split, or rot when exposed to salt and fresh water. Reaction speed and proper timing is important when fishing a bobber and to increase the visibility of the ESB is decorated with DAYGLO bright fluorescent paint.


The ESB core is synthetic, and painted with DAYGLO fluorescent paint


Field Tests: In the lab we stress tested the ESB innovations, after running lines through the ESB at high speed (with the help of a line winder) we were amazed to see no damage to the glass bead or brass terminal end at all. We also noted that the ESB's tube has some flex and can bend more then traditional balsa bobbers which snap under the same exerted pressure.


It was time to put the ESB to a real field test so we went shad and largemouth bass fishing with the most traditional bait of all time....worms. Slip bobbers are our favorite bobbers simply because they allow you to fish at any depth with ease. Each ESB comes bagged with a easy to tie slip knot. The slip knot is full proof and comes already tied on a small disposable plastic tube which your main line threads through, after it is over your line simply pull the slip knot back and off the tube and tighten. With many other bobbers the slip knot is too small and you need to add an extra bead stopper on top of the bobber, this is not the case with the ESB since the glass stop bead is integrated into the bobber itself.


The true innovation, the top of the bobber features the integrated glass stopper bead

When we targeted bass and shad we would first cast to determine depth. This can be done by simply adjusting your slip knot and watching the ESB. When first cast the ESB will rest horizontally until the lure is fully suspended pulling the knot in contact with the glass bead and pulling the ESB upright. If the ESB never rights itself then you have found the bottom, if the ESB sinks into the water then you have too much weight rigged up.


Make sure to pick a ESB that is just big enough to float the lure you plan on using. This will minimize resistance once the fish snatches up your lure. Targeting different species of fish will take practice...and one of the best things about fishing the ESB is that is sometimes very surprising what you finally hook into. During our test we unknowingly hooked and landed a carp and a small catfish all on nightcrawlers!


ESB bobber fishing can be a fun way to land fish of all species, like this Shad


While fishing for Shad with the ESB we found a more subtle presentation worked better. We found the initial strike zones and simply waited for the fish to hit the worms. It is quite stirring to watch your ESB bob up and down then suddenly drop below the surface as the Shad takes the worm. In a swift motion you can set the hook and reel him in. You will have to find a balance in terms of when to time your sets. Setting too quickly will sometimes pull the hook right out of the fish's mouth, but waiting too long simply allows the Shad to escape with a free meal.


Fishing for Bass with the ESB can be a enormously exciting experience. Depending on conditions you can drift or even jig the ESB. One thing that worked very well was setting the ESB very shallow (around 2-4 feet) and placing the ESB right over very thick structure that would normally be snag paradise. Big bass would rise up and hit the worm hard, giving us less then a second to set the hook.


After 4 months of use we took all the ESB's back to lab for inspection. Out of 7 bobbers, 3 of them had sustained minor damage to the synthetic float, mostly just dents and scratches to the paint. None of the seven bobbers had cuts in the glass bead, and all performed as good as new.

How to get the ESB: Purchasing ESB's from local stores is possible in the Eastern States, but very difficult on the West Coast. Anglers are better off buying them directly from HL Outdoors using Leroy's "U Pick em" custom float selector e-commerce page. At times there are specials if anglers purchase a certain number of floats.



HL Outdoors ESB Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality While some may not view the materials used in the float as premium, they work. The glass bead and brass terminator go a long way to preserve your line 8
Performance Performs better then brand name bobbers, and can take a real beating and still function as good as new 9
Price The price of these bobbers is excellent. If you buy 6 they are only 75 cents a piece 9
Features The glass bead is a great addition, and each bobber comes packed with a easy to tie slip knot 9
Design (Ergonomics) A great design that improves on a traditional piece of tackle. Easy to use 9
Application Bobber fishing has its limits, and while many advanced lure anglers may shy away from them...you can't deny that fishing the ESB will land a ton of fish 7

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Durable L Hard to get on the west coast
J Protects Line L Paint can chip off
J Includes bobber stops  
J High Visibility  
J Great Price  

Conclusion: HL Outdoors has designed a product that has integrated features like the durable glass bead, which simply can't be found on any other bobber currently. We were very impressed with the durability of the ESB, and how well they stood up to hours of fishing with even the toughest braided lines. Leroy is so confident that the ESB is a true step up from your current solution he will send anglers an ESB for any two damaged traditional slip bobbers. We highly recommend that any angler who enjoys fishing with slip bobbers give the ESB a try, unlike many other bobbers, you can count on the ESB not to fail when you need them to perfectly suspend bait for that next trophy fish.

Until next time....Tight Lines!









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