Big-fish Sliders and Boastful Women

Well, she did it again. Betty hasn’t been bass fishing very long, and usually she’s not very good at it. But she’s sure been catching a lot of big fish lately.

Last night she caught another largemouth bass from the bank, about 7 pounds—one of those bucketmouths you could stick a fist into and still have some room. Not long ago she landed one over 8 pounds, and she has lipped a bunch of “good” fish up to 5 pounds from Lake Barkley, all this at a time when everyone else has been complaining that the fishing is slow.

The reason I’m telling you this is not so much to brag about Betty; she’s doing fine on her own. The story here is how a certain bait has been producing in the hands of an amateur. When one of the top pros wins the Classic with a certain bait, it’s a story because he’s considered the top fisherman in the country. But that doesn’t mean that the average angler can do the same thing with that lure.

Betty, however, is just a beginner.

Because she has only been bass fishing for a couple of years, I tie baits that I figure anyone can catch fish with. Big fish, and certainly not big bags of fish, are not the goal. So when someone who isn’t supposed to catch a lot of big fish does so with a bait that isn’t known for catching big fish, that’s a story.

Most bass fishermen have known for years that 4-inch Sliders will catch bass when nothing else works. But the little worm’s reputation is for small fish. During my years of guiding, I’ve discovered that when the worm bite is on, even people who don’t know how to fish a worm can catch fish on a Slider because fish hold onto them so well you don’t need the finesse skills it takes to fish a Texas rig or even a Carolina rig.

The only problem was that the hooks on the Sliders I’ve fished for well over a decade were a little too small and far too thin to hold the big fish. I’ve lost most of the fish over 5 pounds that I’ve hooked.

I complained about this to Charlie Brewer, Jr., owner of the Charlie Brewer’s Slider Company, some years ago and he sent me some samples of their new Premium Hook Pro Series along with some of their new 5-inch Bass Worms.

Problem solved—these hooks penetrated very well. And they not only hold the big fish, you sometimes need pliers and a strong twist to get the barb back out of them.

The Pro Series comes in six different lead head shapes, but my favorite is the “Snagless” model in 1/4 ounce. The head is wider and it glides or slides over and through brush and it rocks better. These are great baits to fish in those tangled and jagged rocky places where you usually lose many other worms and jigs. Because it slides rather effortlessly over things, the line doesn’t abrade as badly either, so you can use them on 10-pound-test line with no problem.

The sliding or gliding presentation built into the heads I believe is the reason this works so well. I love the ribbed 5-inch worms Charlie sent, but I’m convinced that all the productivity of this bait and hook is built into the shape of the head. No other worm rig can match this patented presentation.

Another part of the reason Betty has been catching fish like a pro with these hooks is in the way she’s retrieving them.

Sliders will catch fish just about any way you retrieve them, so I showed Betty a few different techniques and let her develop her own style. Her way has worked so well I’m inclined to imitate it. To tell you the truth, I’m a little amazed by the whole thing and I’m certainly tired of hearing about the times she has outfished me and my big, old “fancy worms.”

After she casts it out and lets it settle on the bottom, she keeps her rod at about the 10 o’clock position and simply cranks the reel one revolution or so. She doesn’t lift the rod tip or make any dramatic pose. If she didn’t have a rod protruding from her fist, you’d probably guess she was knitting.

After each crank, she lets the Slider settle back to the bottom and patiently leaves it to sit for a couple of seconds. Then she takes another patient crank so she’s in constant contact with the bait. And when a fish picks it up, her line is tight enough and the rod is low enough to set the hook without hesitation.

Unlike bigger worms, bass take all of the 4- and 5-inch worms into their mouths on the first pop, so there’s no reason to wait. And these hooks penetrate so easily you don’t miss or lose many of them.

In fact, I suspect that a lot of the fish she’s catching are almost hooking themselves. I’m still trying to get Betty to snap the rod tip back with great authority like the rest of us do, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to convince her to change her ways and fish like a pro when she’s already catching fish like one. I set out to teach her something, but I believe the tables have turned.

For more information…
Charlie Brewer’s Slider Company is a small, family owned business. Their Pro Series heads are not widely distributed. If you can’t find them at your local sporting goods shop, log onto sliderfishing.com or call 800-763-4700.