June 05, 2023
It can be a tricky time for catching bass. Spring has mostly come and gone and it's not yet summer. Bass aren't hanging around the spawning grounds anymore, but they're not settled into their deep-water summertime haunts yet either.
True, there's often a morning topwater bite—and that's a blast—but once the sun gets up that bite tends to disappear, and the bass often disappear with it. Many fish will suspend off main-lake and secondary points, hold in the shade of deep boat docks and marinas or wait listlessly next to bluff walls or other sharp drops. Now is the time to do nothing.
ENTER THE SLIDER
The "slider" or "do-nothing" technique was developed by a Tennessee light-tackle specialist named Charlie Brewer in the 1960s. Though Charlie passed in 2000, his son and granddaughter still operate Charlie Brewer's Slider Co. (sliderfishing.com) in Lawrenceburg, and still manufacture and sell the baits, rods and reels Charlie designed. The technique is a family legacy that works all year long, but especially right now.
The tools and techniques could hardly be simpler, and they all start with Brewer's do-nothing philosophy. As he put it in his 1978 book, Charlie Brewer on Slider Fishin', it's a back-to-nature method—a way of making your artificial lure "act like something real and lifelike, not something phony, unreal or unlifelike."
Brewer believed the best lure for such a system is a small soft-plastic worm fished on a lead jig head and light line. He wanted something that would glide through the water with a minimum of unnecessary action, just like a real baitfish. Contrary to the action of most hard baits, actual minnows don't wobble when they swim. They "slide" with barely a wiggle of their tails.
To accomplish the most natural action possible, Brewer settled on a 4-inch, straight-tailed worm. His lead jig heads are soft enough that you can clip or shave them to achieve any desired weight or shape. Adjusting the weight of the lure and the speed of the retrieve is a key to success.
You must fish at the right depth for these bass that are often suspended under shady cover or along precipitous structure. Fish over or under them, and you likely won't draw a strike. Fish too fast through them and you won't catch as many as you could. But dial-in and slide that little worm through them at almost a snail's pace, and you're going to get bit. Charlie Brewer would just about guarantee it.
To be as unobtrusive as possible, the slider technique requires light line—usually 6- to 10-pound-test fluorocarbon—and light gear to throw it on. In Brewer's time, spinning equipment was the only option, and his namesake company still offers some extremely affordable rod and reel options that are ideally suited to the technique. If you want to step things up a bit, consider the Cashion Icon IDS7MLFs. It's a 7-foot, fast-action, medium-light spinning rod that's terrific for any light-line method and perfect for the slider technique.
But today's anglers aren't confined to spinning gear in order to "do nothing." The new bait finesse system (BFS) outfits are made for anglers who want to use light lines but prefer casting gear. Daiwa, Dobyns and Shimano are among the first to offer this equipment, though more will follow.
Fishing the slider technique couldn't be easier. Just rig up and make a cast to the area you believe to be holding fish (good electronics can help). Count the bait down to the depth you believe they're at and, with your rod at the 10 o'clock position, start cranking slowly. Do not manipulate the rod tip to add action.
When a bass hits, your line will feel heavy; Strikes are rarely violent. Instead, the fish often just intercepts the worm and swims along with it. Keep light but steady pressure as you take in any slack, point the rod tip toward the fish and "sweep" the hook rather than set it with a hard snap. This will protect your light line and firmly embed the fine jig hook.
You've just done "nothing," and you'll be eager to do it again and again.
- A look at some of the best slider-style worms on the market.
The tried-and-true 4-inch Slider Worm from Charlie Brewer Slider Co. is a veteran do-nothing bait with an impressive track record. It was built for the technique by the man who refined the philosophy. These worms come in a multitude of colors, and there are even 3- and 5-inch versions for times when bass are either extra finicky or want a bigger meal. Nevertheless, the 4-inch worm is the standard.
And while few other companies market baits specifically for the slider technique, lots of other worms are effective, including the Zoom Finesse Worm (zoombait.com) and the Roboworm 4 1/2-inch Straight Tail (roboworm.com). By expanding your selection of baits, you can bring in lots of color options and even a few different body types. Small paddle-tail swimbaits like the 3-inch Keitech Easy Shiner (keitechusa.com) can be dynamite when the water's dingy and a little tail action is needed to help bass find the lure.