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Slider Fishing

By Russ Bassdozer

Chapter 1
A Tribute to Charlie Brewer

I would like to introduce you to products from Charlie Brewer's Slider Company, located in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.

Background. Charlie Brewer is a nationally-known fishing celebrity and lure inventor. In 1998, Charlie was inducted into the "Fresh Water Hall of Fame." You can read a bit more about Charlie Brewer by clicking here. Charlie Brewer passed away in early 2000. Thanks, Charlie, for inventing an important part of our sport and for becoming an important person in our bass fishing history.

Slider Fishing. Charlie's most famous invention is the soft plastic Slider worm and Slider method of fishing it, plus weighted jig heads custom-designed for them. The Slider "method" and Slider lures were introduced in the late seventies. Sliders are still highly popular and productive lures in lightweight bass sizes.

It's an entire philosophy. I think that every ten years or so, a new generation of bass fishermen joins the ranks. If you started bass fishing during the nineties, then you may not have seen or heard much about Slider fishing. Charlie Brewer not only invented a line of light tackle baits and jigs, but he invented a whole method and he articulated an entire philosophy of "finesse fishing" long before anyone else ever uttered a word about finesse. His original philosophy still exists in book form, plus a beefy addendum written to supplement the book, and a video. It is still "required reading" for anyone who wants to understand and master bass fishing!

Where slider fishing excels. The Brewer line of baits and jigs are designed for light tackle fishing. The baits are small, the hooks are needle-sharp fine wire. It is an area of fishing that is not covered robustly by other vendors' soft plastics and weighted hooks/jigs. Most other vendor's offerings are heavier-made baits and jigs than Slider items. Therefore, Slider items fill a very important niche that few other vendor fills at the light tackle end of the bass fishing spectrum. 

What I don't use often. First and foremost, let me say that I do not use the Slider Lizards, Crawfish, Spider Web Jigs, or Slider Rods. That says nothing either for or against them - they have all caught bass for me - just that I don't use them often.

What I do use often.  I use the following Slider plastics and jigheads quite often:

3" Slider Bass Grub.This has the typical round grub body, but it has a "shad tail" or "boottail" rather than a curly tail. It is deadly on light tackle for large numbers of average-sized smallmouth. Available in 19 colors including solids, glitters, 5 firetails, and 1 core shot. The top three colors that Charlie Brewer sells are black/chartreuse tail, watermelon seed, and pearl white. In addition, I like the smoke/silver flake.

4" Slider Worm. Available in 52 colors including solids, firetails, core shots, glitters, and two-tone laminates. The top three colors that Charlie Brewer sells includes black/chartreuse tail,  watermelon green, sour grape.

5" Slider Worm. This worm has more bulk all around than the 4" Slider worm. You WILL catch a larger grade of fish on this worm. Availaible in 8 colors including solids, glitters, and 2 firetails. Again, you cannot go wrong with black/chartreuse tail.

Slider Heads. There are six styles of Slider jig heads in the full line-up. All have thin wire diameter hooks that work best with light tackle.

  Head Hook
Weight Usage
A. Spider Slider
2/0 short 1/16, 1/8, 3/16, 1/4 Streamlined bullet head and offset hook. Best for thin profile baits (worms, reapers, etc.) from 3" or 4". The 1/8 oz. is the bestseller of all Charlie Brewer Slider jigs.
Regular Slider
2, 2/0, 4/0 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 This is a traditional leadhead jig with the unique Slider flat plate bottom. I rarely use it because I almost always fish in weeds or cover where I will get hung up or glopped up in weeds. However, in weed-free and coverless areas often, this is a deadly jig head for the 4" and 5" Slider worms, and a tube bait killer (superglue the tube onto the collar.
C. Super Slider
2/0 long 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 This is a compromise between the SH and the WSH. Think of it as the SH with a longer offset Texas hook that makes it more snagless and allows you to "texpose" longer baits. Because the SSH hook's eye position is center-balanced, it has a better wavering action on the retrieve than the WSH, but it will get glopped up more in weedy spots than the streamlined WSH. So you see, it truly is a compromise that has the best features of the SH (center balance, wavering action) and the WSH (Texas-style hook to make it more snagless).
D. Snagless Slider
3/0 long 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 Streamlined, flattened plate head and offset hook with the longest, largest (3/0) hook of all Slider heads. It is EXTREMELY weedless and snagless. The 1/8 oz. is the second best seller of all Charlie Brewer Slider jigs. Excels for  ripping 4" to 6" soft jerkbaits. For 5" curly tail grubs, 6" to 7" ribbontail worms, the entire lure body and jig hook (not just the tail) will wobble back and forth. You have to reel slowly so it does not twist your line.
E. Crappie Slider
#1 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 Too small for all but the most extreme ultra-finesse bass fishing. Although the CSH is good for this, I prefer the Bobby Garland Crappie TR Leadhead - but I am talking about fishing lighter than most have probably ever done for bass!
F. Classic Spider
3/0 med. 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 This is simply the SPH with a larger 3/0 hook with heavier wire. Best for worms and thin profile baits from 5" to 6".

Slider heads are far from standard. They have a custom-bent offset in the shank. They belong to a family of weighted hooks called "Texas jigs" which are a hybrid of lead jigs with offset shank Texas rigging hooks. All have thin wire diameter hooks that work best with light tackle.

Is it ultralight tackle for small bass? If you really want to fish Sliders in their "pure form", Charlie Brewer offers several models of their Ultra-Lite Rods with genuine "Tennessee reel seats" whereby you tape an ultralight reel right onto the cork handle! It's the ultimate with 4-6 lb. test, which is how most anglers think of Slider Fishing - skinny wisps of worms on miniature rods, reels and line. It's such a fun way to fish, isn't it?  You just reel in slow, steady, keep it just above bottom, and basically DO NOTHING. But SOMETHING is always tapping and nipping at those sliders, whether small bass or panfish. If you want tons of attention, slip on a Slider! Sure, you get some big bass on sliders too. But, I think it is fair too say that there are better ways to target big bass - better than ultralight tackle with the slider head and slider worm.

Bulk up your Slider fishing. What I want to tell you next is that you can continue to work within the "slider system" by bulking up a bit. In the remainder of this article, I'll tell you how you can use my favorite three out of the six different styles of slider jig heads to present progressively bigger baits, thereby attracting progressively bigger bass.

The hook dimensions dictate the size of bait, rod, reel and line. The hook in the SPH jig always works best with small, thin baits on 6-8 lb. tackle. The hook in the SPC is much better suited for 5-6" worms on 10 lb. test, and the WSH jig hook is ideal for fatter worms and grubs on tackle in the 12 lb. range! So, select a hook to match the size of your bait, the tackle you will use to deliver the bait, and the size of bass you expect to catch!

A good soft rod. You may be noticing now that I am a little more heavy-handed than Charlie Brewer in my slider applications. Therefore, I recommend a rod such as the 7" Shimano Convergence (CV70PMB). It's a moderately-priced choice of rod for fishing bigger Slider tactics. Seven foot with a sensitive tip, softish feel, and it's under fifty dollars. Such a rod is a general purpose "soft" set-up that handles smaller-sized spinnerbaits and crankbaits too. Keep the line within the 8-10 range, and you'll have a ball using this light tackle with some of the "bigger" Slider tactics mentioned below.

Depth and Weight Control. As far as selecting different weights, the actual weight of the jig head has little bearing on the tackle or bait I use. Rather, I use the 1/16, 1/8 or 1/4 oz weights simply to achieve more depth. I prefer to keep sliders moving slowly, essentially doing nothing close to the bottom.

Okay, the SPH goes great with the straight 4" Slider Worm in black with a blue or chartreuse tail tip. Relative to other thin 4" worms, the Slider Worm is a slightly fatter, softer worm that exhibits a floating sort of action. I also like Kalin's straight 4" Western Worm, which is thinner, harder, and more pointed on both ends. It sinks and darts a little more sharply than other worms, especially when you flick the rod tip. I like the one with a black/red flake back, clear belly, and chartreuse fire tip. At times, I also use Kalin's curly-tailed 4" Salty Lunker Worm in black/red, white, or smoke/metal flake. For a small worm, the curly tail generates good vibration, and does not get ripped off that easily by short striking fish.

The Slider SPC model is a better choice for 5" to 6" worms, either straight or ribbontails. Some curly tail plastics exhibit incredible wobbling action on this head! I also like to use some of the zipper-style worms, such as Mister Twister's Exude Fry. Try some of the fry styles or ringworm styles often used for Carolina rigging.   Don't forget Zoom Trick Worms and other floating worms work well. The more buoyant plastic formulation makes these floating worms rise and fall on the SPC head. There are so many baits in this size range. Try 'em all! Just make sure the baits are not too bulky for the hook dimensions, okay?

The WSH model of Slider head is my favorite! Use it with the fat-bodied 5" Kalin's Salty Lunker Grub in black, white, smoke, chartreuse - or any color. You must rig the curly tail pointing up, otherwise the grub spins. But if you retrieve it slow and steady, it creates a wide, side-to-side rolling, wobbling waddle. Stick a glass rattle or two into the fat body! I love to hold the rod tip way up to make this one bulge just under the surface near cover on glassy calm days. Also the WSH is a great way to use soft plastic stickbaits like the 6" Slug-go or the slinky 7" Slug-go SS in the black/red flash (113) or Golden Shiner (45) colors. Just rip it through weeds or on flats in 4 to 6 depths. Because of the jig head (superglue it on), this rig holds up better than an unweighted Slug-go, and you can more easily control it at mid-depths or work it just above weedtops or the bottom. Best of all, you can "rip" it viciously, like you would a hard plastic jerkbait! Just develop a cadence of reeling in a few turns, then jerking or "ripping" the lure with the rod tip, and then pausing. You get bit during the pause. Occasionally, just let it drop dead to the bottom. Bass will follow it down and suck it up as it lies motionless! If not, just let it lie still for a while, then rip it good - and brace your feet for what happens next! Sounds easy, but there are infinite variations on this technique -- how fast to reel, how hard to jerk, how long to pause, and how to mend SLACK in the line right after you rip -- that makes it a true art! Try it. Parallel cast along bare banks, or rocky rip-rap banks with a few feet of water up close, and a drop to 4-6 feet nearby. Rip both up close and along the drop. Stick a few glass rattles sideways into the thickest part of your Slug-go's body too! Just pass 'em all the way through, then put the smallest bit of superglue on it, and reinsert the rattle. It's okay if the ends of the rattles protrude out the sides.

Say, what's happened here? I thought we were talking about Charlie Brewer's Slider fishing? Yes, we are. We just "slid" into some bigger baits and tactics that most people don't think of when someone mentions Slidin'!

Enough already. Go throw 'em a Slider!

Slider Fishing

Chapter 2
Is a Worm A Minnow?

Does infinity ever end? We'll attempt to answer the first one of these two questions here. The one about the worm. Even though I think the other question (the infinity ending one) is easier to answer. But since the name of this site is Bassdozer instead of TheExpandingUniversedozer, let's stick to the worm as minnow theory, okay? The solar system will just have to wait.

Besides, I never read any books by any famous cosmicologists, but I did read one by Charlie Brewer, a famous worm fisherman. Even though I think it may have been 20 years ago when I read it.

Charlie Brewer said so. He wrote a short book about dragging around his invention on the end of a string, the 4 inch straight-tailed Slider Worm. I believe I am correct in summarizing it that Charlie Brewer felt that a 4 inch straight-tailed worm gave bass the notion that it was eating a live minnow. Charlie Brewer further expounded that a 4 inch straight-tailed worm imitated a minnow better than most other lures. Most minnows are about 4 inches long, skinny, and essentially "do nothing" most of the day but float and slowly move along rather uneventfully. Unless bothered by a predator, of course. Then they hide. Charlie Brewer believed that the exaggerated wiggling motion on most other lures was excessive and unnatural in terms of imitating minnows, which essentially glide along on hardly-noticeable flicks of their tails that propel them forward in a rather straight direction.

Without any other good alternative theories to latch onto, I am personally inclined to agree with Charlie Brewer that a 4 inch straight-tailed worm may very well represent a minnow. Who knows? The universe is full of mysteries, many of which we can't comprehend. Besides, as far as lures goes, bass often only need the barest impression or suggestion of their food, not an ultra-realistic copy of it. To bass, the skinny shape (often tapered at the head and tail too) and gliding motion of a 4 inch worm may just be all the recognition that's needed to trigger a "minnow" impression. Oh yeah, I think Charlie Brewer also wrote that many minnows' undersides are either clear like glass and/or reflective like mirrors, thereby letting bass glimpse the full length but not necessarily the full girth and shape of a minnow. Sounds like a smoke/sparkle plastic worm to me.

Don't know if Charlie Brewer is right or wrong on this, but I try to imitate a minnow whenever I use a 4 inch worm, and whenever I use a 4 inch tubebait too. Also, 3 to 5 inch single tail grubs.

Heck, I treat 'em all like minnows, shads or shiners. But the 4 inch worms I treat particularly like skinny native minnows, which often have more subdued, natural hues than the more pelagic shiners and shads which are more metallic, and the perch, sunnies and other panfish fry, which have warmer colors (chartreuses, oranges, etc.) in their color patterns.

Personally, I don't think bass are dumb. They have good instincts, and their entire sensory systems are better than ours (eyesight/lateral line to detect motion better than us, highly advanced smell/taste chemoreception comparable to dogs, and ears for hearing). But I don't know that they pause and think at all. I am sure they know a worm/tube/grub is not a live minnow/shiner/shad. Otherwise, it would always be as easy to catch bass on a worm/tube/grub as it is to catch them on a live minnow/shiner/shad. But it's usually never that easy with a lure as with live bait, is it?

However, most lures make at least a few impressions that trigger a bass to think it is food - size, shape, motion, water displacement - that semi-fit the patterns of a preyfish or crayfish which are the predominant food items. By the way, I think a 4 inch worm in a translucent smoke sparkle color makes an impression of a native minnow better than even the best-painted, most expensive crankbait. Most of us will look at it and automatically assume a fish-colored crankbait looks like a fish. But to me, even the best crank paint job can't come as close as a slightly smoke-tinged see-through 4 inch worm, tube, or single tail grub with sparkle flakes looks (and acts) like a native minnow.

Still not convinced a worm's a minnow?  I was afraid you might say that, so I have prepared an experiment you can try. What you should do is go to a prestigious flytying shop. Ask to speak with the head flytyer and tell him what you want is the world's best 4 inch minnow imitation fly. He'll probably stroke his chin, contemplate this deeply and then tell you what you need is a bucktail "streamer" with all kinds of red chin, gill cheeks, eyes, pupils in the eyes, fins, dark back, tinsel and plenty of other snooty stuff tied into it. All very good so far. Then he'll sit down at the flytying bench, light up a sweet-smelling pipe, and tie you up his best minnow imitation. Now, compare what he made you to a 4 inch straight-tailed worm. Kind of the same size and shape, ain't it? Long, thin, tapered on both ends? How do you think the world's best minnow fly will act when you double haul it out into the water? Betcha it will come in slow and straight, basically "do nothing" but glide forward in a straight line with no wiggle or woggle. Betcha bass will belt it too. Betcha they'll think it's a minnow too. Only I'll catch way more bass on my 4 inch smoke sparkle worm, cause it imitates the coloration of a native minnow better than the world's best flytyer can imitate one. Heavy stuff, ain't it?

Okay, ready for the answer to the second question? It's "Yes".

So catch bass while you still can.

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