THE SLIDER - A SPECIAL LURE AND A SPECIAL MAN
by Jim Porter
(Author's note: Each of us, sometime in our lives, meets someone who we totally admire. Charlie Brewer is one of those type people. When you and I are long gone from this world, they may speak of him as one who was far ahead of his time. He wrote a book sometime back titled simply `Charlie Brewer On Slider Fishing'. Forget the Slider and forget what you THINK you know about fishing. Read that book. Then, re-read it. If you think you know something about fishing now, just wait. The book costs about the price of a good crank plug. You deserve to
read this book.)
It is mid-August in North Alabama. The temperature has been over 100 degrees for a week and the water surface temperature is in the low 90's. Fishing, as well as fishermen, appear to be at a standstill.
Yet, I watch Charlie Brewer catch 10-15 bass an hour for four hours.
In the next instance, the thermometer is hovering around 40 degrees. The time is late January in that same section of Alabama and it is the absolute middle of Winter.
Brewer takes 35 bass in a three hour period.
During the Fall and Spring, he performs similar bass-catching feats. Even immediately after strong Spring cold fronts, the man continues to defy all bass fishing `rules' and seemingly catches bass at will.
Whether the locations are the gin clear lakes of Tennessee or the stained waters and thick grasses of the shallow Florida lakes, Brewer continuously out-fishes everyone five or ten to one.
Charlie Brewer is not a magician (though there have been times when I sure thought he might be), nor does he have a `magic' lure. But, Brewer does have a bass fishing system which is so close to fool-proof that the experienced angler can virtually predict and guarantee her success.
This article is going to tell you about a method and a specific lure for catching bass; things which can vastly improve their catch rates. That would appear to really be nothing new, in that many magazine features have promised to do the same thing. However, this bass-catching system is actually a total fishing `philosophy' and the angler plays just as important a part, if not more so, as the lure. And, most importantly, Charlie Brewer's method of catching bass is no gimmick or come-on. It simply works. And, without even having to send any box-tops in to Battle Creek, Michigan, it can work for you.
I have to be honest and advise you up front that only a few readers of this article are going to totally grasp the potential of its contents; but, that small number will find that they can triple or quadruple their bass fishing success.
For many years, Charlie Brewer was a dedicated heavy tackle angler and one of the better bass fishermen around. However, too much of a good thing can eventually lead to boredom in any endeavor, and so it eventually came about that Charlie Brewer needed new challenges and new worlds to conquer.
To make the long story a bit shorter, Brewer decided to fish with only extremely light tackle and give the bass more of a chance. Plus, he undertook the tasks of solving the problems of the usual poor fishing experienced in both mid-Summer and mid-Winter.
The end results of Brewer's efforts and experiments were successful beyond anything he had hoped for. Not only did he discover a nearly perfect method for successful year-round bass fishing, Brewer gradually evolved a fishing 'philosophy' which has (and will continue to do so in the future) been of benefit to millions of fellow fishermen.
Brewer's fishing system is very simply based on two things: common sense and simplicity. It our often-frenzied world of tournament competition, too-short weekend excursions, complex electronic gadgetry, and wild lure shapes and colors, we frequently lose sight of both of these factors. But, if your desire is to catch bass, you can be as successful as you like by following Brewer's methods. It is a bit like making money-- the harder one applies oneself, the more dollars she can gain.
The following three items form the core of the `Slider" fishing philosophy:
We are quick to note that these `goals' could well fit our everyday lives rather well. So, it is obvious that they should have some merit in our fishing.
- Enjoy fishing
- Keep it simple
- Slow down
Charlie Brewer told this writer that we tend to get so caught up in the competitiveness of fishing, whether in contests and just us against the bass, that we start to lose the initial goals of relaxation and enjoyment.
"If you go fishing simply to go fishing and enjoy a day on the water," Brewer stated, "then chances are very good that you will succeed in those goals and catch fish, too. But, if you go fishing just with the intention of just catching fish, chances are very good you will wind up frustrated. I reached that latter position and, somehow, recognized that the ability to `enjoy fishing' had slipped away. That's what made me return to the basics."
The `basics', as Brewer calls them, were light tackle, small lures and less boat running/more fishing. And, in applying these elements of his new fishing philosophy, Brewer discovered that the slower he fished, the better his success rate. He found that a simple, common sense approach, coupled with these basic items, allowed him to catch more fish than he had every dreamed possible. And, it was easy and a LOT more fun.
The Brewer `not-quite-magic' lure is called a Slider. However, he is the first to admit that it is the attitude of the angler and the method of fishing, and not the lure, which generates the success.
Brewer explained, "The Slider is just a little four inch worm which, along with a special lead-head I dreamed up, allows me to fish the way I wanted. The lure was designed to do a specific thing and that was to catch bass. The plastic worm is a bit stiff, in that I did not want it to have any action, except what I give it while fishing. The lead-head deliberately looks as though a steamroller ran over it, but
there are good reasons. First, the flat, protruding edges of the lead allow me to take my side-cutters and trim some off. This means that I can `tailor' the weight of the lure. Secondly, unlike most jig heads, mine is NOT meant to be hopped along the lake or river bottom. It is intended to be retrieved at a constant rate and, consequently, the head is flat to allow it to plane through the water in a stable and controlled manner."
"My intent," our teacher continued, "is to present a small lure as naturally and as effortlessly as possible. It will catch the bass, if the angler will slow down and apply herself."
Brewer's fishing method, as we said earlier, is about as simple as it gets. He uses a short, light graphite spinning rod, about 5 1/2 feet in length and a bit on the stiff side. Next, Brewer attaches an ultra-light spinning reel and fills it with four to eight pound-test line. (As with any light tackle angling, line-watching is a `must', so a fluorescent line mono is recommended.) The actual size of the line is generally a function of water clarity, with the lightest line used in the more clear waters.
The basic Slider lure is rigged as per the accompanying illustrations. The hook is a fine wire Aberdeen-type and, exposed the way it is, setting hook is very easy and you will rarely miss the bass. Never use the weedless rigging unless absolutely necessary, in that it makes the hook-set more of a task. If this rigging is required, be sure to drive the hook all the way through the worm body a couple of times to ream out a passage for the hook and allow it to pass through easier on the strike.
The presentation of the Slider lures is really the easy part. All we do is cast it out and reel it back. There is absolutely NO action imparted to the lure by the angler. And, if you read back a few lines, you will find that Brewer said that he designed the lure to have no action, either. As strange as it might seem, especially in this age of `gadget' lures (those which go rattle, bang, clang, pop, whiz or whir), the Slider really does do nothing-- no sound, no wiggles, no bumps and grinds. It simply `slides' through the water.
"The intent is to imitate, as closely as possible, a small minnow," Charlie Brewer told us. "I know you have seen the way they seem to effortlessly swim along and, even when he is scared and fleeing, the minnow appears to show no body motion at all. This lack of noticeable motion is the goal of the Slider lure. That is why I dubbed it the `do-nothing' method of fishing. The angler tries to do nothing, except bring the lure back to the boat as smoothly and quietly as possible."
As we said, the Slider is cast out and retrieved back. Well, there is a little more to it than that, but very little. Just as is the case with any lure, DEPTH is the number one factor in Slider lure presentation success. Generally, the desired depth is attained by allowing the lure to sink a selected amount and then keeping it there with a combination of retrieve speed and raising/lower of the rod tip. The initial weight of the Slider head, the amount of lead that might be trimmed off, and line size are also ways to fine tune the necessary relationship between depth and speed when using this lure and fishing method. The key ingredients are to, first, determine the depth of the bass that day or in the area where you have chosen to fish and, then, find the correct speed which will trigger a strike.
With the Slider, there are three speeds which work well: slow, very slow, and darn near stopped.
The newcomer to the Slider method, whether using the Slider lure, a jig, or something similar, will find that strike detection can be very easy or very difficult, depending on the mood of the bass. The vast majority of strikes will come as a gradual, steady tightening of the line, or a swim-off to one side or the other. Since the lure is small and moving slowly, it has a great appeal to all fish, both large and small. Bluegills, crappies and anything else that swims will nibble at the Slider. Consequently, we find that we are constantly getting `bumps' and `taps' on the lure. This good, in that it shows we are in an area of fish life and are probably retrieving at the correct speed. But, don't let this continual nibbling action cause you to set the hook prematurely. ONLY, and we repeat ONLY, set the hook on a steady tightening of the line or a swim-off. Both of these indicate that a fish (most probably a bass) has a firm lip-lock on the lure. The size and speed of the little lure do not, with the exception of an occasional greedy Smallmouth bass, provoke savage, line-wrenching strikes.
Since we are using light line and tackle, a word on setting the hook is in order. That word is `gentle'. The sharp little hook will grab the bass and actually hold him better than a larger one. Its size and sharpness allow it to penetrate easily and deeply. Accordingly, a tight line is really all that is necessary, in that the pull of the bass will usually drive the hook home. However, for those few
times that the bass may not have the lure deeply within his mouth or when using the weedless rigging method, the method for setting the hook is too `sweep' the hook home. This is done by letting the line come tight with the movement of the bass and then sweeping the rod tip back across the left shoulder (right shoulder, if you hold the rod with the left hand). Do not yank or jerk; be gentle and smooth.
Charlie Brewer's Slider fishing method is easy, non-tiring and produces one heck of a lot of bass. If that were not enough, it also puts the FUN back into fishing. And, that is what it is supposed to be all about.
Catalogs and other data on the Slider can be obtained from Brewer's Slider Company, PO Box 130, Lawrenceburg, Tenn. 38464.
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