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SLIDER GRUB, WORM, OR LIZARD

From top: slider head, 3" Slider watermelon bass grub, 4" Slider lizard, 3" Berkley Power Grub

    What a wonderful world it would be if bass were active all the time. Anglers could simply tie on a buzzbait and catch Ďem all day. Unfortunately, bass are inactive most of the time, especially, it seems, when I am trying to catch them. When inactive, river bass hold near the bottom, normally nestling behind some type of structure that shields them from the current. Yet the bass is nothing if not an opportunist, and will rarely pass up small, tasty morsels that drift through itís lair. To river bass, the Slider grub, worm, or lizard is often too easy to pass up.

    Charlie Brewer invented Slider fishing in the 1970ís when he noticed that forage minnows swim nothing like the lures he had been trying to fool bass with. The next time you see a school of minnows, notice that the only thing that ever moves is the tail. Brewer poured a four-inch worm with a straight tail, stuck it on a jig head, and began catching bass with nothing more than a slow, steady retrieve.

    A few years ago, I was looking for a way to catch inactive bass in the spot and redeye-laden Tallapoosa River in western Georgia when I stumbled onto the Slider grub. Having established the fact that the bass were a little off their feed, we began bottom-bumping Texas-rigged plastic worms with no luck. Out of desperation, I tied on a 1/4 ounce Charlie Brewer Spider Slider head and strung on a three-inch watermelon bass grub, also produced by Charlie Brewer. Crawling the diminutive soft plastic lure along the bottom produced a few nice spots that day, but more importantly, I learned a great way to catch bass when they are being finicky.

BEST SEASONS AND SITUATIONS

    Any river where the main bass species are spots, redeyes, or shoal bass is a great place to use Slider grubs, worms, or lizards. I prefer traditional Texas-rigged plastic worms and lizards in largemouth water simply because they tend to be larger fish and may require stouter tackle than the finesse approach of Slider fishing. Most rivers and streams north of Atlanta fit this description, and are ideal locations for Slider fishing. These waters also tend to run a little clearer and the fish can be put off by less subtle approaches.

While Slider grubs may not be my first choice for largemouth bass, they are deadly during the winter months. This Ocmulgee River bucketmouth was caught in January on a three inch Berkley Power Grub bounced on the bottom through woody cover.

    Unlike most lures, Sliders are effective every month of the year. During cooler months, bass normally will not chase down a fast-moving lure. They will, however, nail a Slider worm that drifts across their nose. With the proper presentation, Sliders are effective in still water, fast water, and every other type of water. Fished directly upstream in fast shoal water, no other lure is better at enticing inactive shoal bass than the Slider grub, which bears a strong resemblance to the hellgrammite, a staple of the shoalie.

    The only time we donít recommend Slider fishing is any time the bass will bite something else. Slider fishing is a relatively slow, meticulous way to fish, requiring a great deal of concentration. If the fish are really turned on, Iíd rather fish something else. To learn how to fish a slider, read on.

 

TIPS AND TECHNIQUES

    Slider heads come in a few different weights and sizes. I use the 1/4 ounce Spider Slider almost exclusively. The Spider Slider basically is a worm hook with a bullet weight molded to the front end. Plastic grubs, worms, and lizards can (and should) be rigged weedless with the hook point embedded into the body of the bait. The Spider Slider can be swam, hopped, or crawled in the thickest cover without fear of hanging up, which is a prerequisite for a good river lure.

    I use three-inch Slider bass grubs for about half of my Slider fishing. One GRF member prefers curly-tail grubs for a little more action. Whatever your preference, these tiny morsels catch tons of fish. Using these smaller baits will often produce bonus catches of rock bass (the upper Etowah is loaded with these!), crappie, white bass, and even trout and walleye in certain Georgia rivers.

    While grubs normally catch more fish, four-inch plastic worms threaded onto a Spider Slider will help keep the smaller fish off your line. When targeting larger spots or shoal bass, pick out your favorite worm color in a four-inch model and give it a try. Plastic lizards of the same size are equally effective, even more so when water temperatures are around 65 degrees and spotted bass are spawning. They will attack lizards with a vengeance!

    While Charlie Brewerís slow, no-action reeling retrieve is effective in many situations, I prefer to fish Sliders exactly like I would fish a plastic worm for largemouth: slowly hopping or crawling it along the bottom in, through, and around rocks and woody cover. Every now and then you can catch fish with a slow, steady retrieve, but bass normally strike on the initial fall or after the first hop or two. When you get a strike, quickly reel up any slack and set the hook firmly. Remember, the hook has to penetrate the soft plastic lure and the fishís mouth. 

    Sliders are best fished directly upstream, or slightly upstream and across the current. These are relatively light lures, and fishing them in this manner enables you to keep the lure where it needs to be- in contact with the bottom. When fishing across the current, try to present the Slider so the current will sweep it to the location you suspect fish are holding. If the current is a little too swift, put a small bullet weight on your line ahead of the Slider head to help keep it down.

    The Slider is a finesse lure, and GRF recommends using relatively light tackle. Light tackle makes it easier to cast these light baits, and also makes catching the smaller black bass species a lot of fun. I normally use a 5 1/2 foot medium-light spinning outfit rigged with Fireline. Fireline can withstand hard hook sets and itís limpness really helps the angler feel exactly what the lure is doing underwater.

    Since most of our Slider fishing takes place in the clearer streams of North Georgia, GRF prefers soft plastics in subtle, natural hues such as watermelon, brown, black, and sometimes grape flake.

    Sliders represent a lot of what bass like to eat: minnows, small eels, crawfish, and hellgrammites. Sliders catch fish during all seasons of the year and rarely hang up. The next time those spots or redeyes get a case of lockjaw, throw them a Slider grub, worm, or lizard. They catch fish that donít want to be caught!

 
 

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