Slider, or Kabura style fishing lures are growing in popularity around the world because of their consistent catch rate and ease of use. They have a reputation for putting food on the table and there is no bait required!

Sliders are designed to imitate a small fish or octopus moving slowly along just above the sea floor. They are comprised of a painted lead “head”, a brightly coloured rubber lure tail and one or more small hooks that are connected via assist chord and designed to stay as close to the lure tail as possible.  The fishing line is passed through the lure head and then through the lure tail before tying off on the hooks. The lure head is free to slide up and down the fishing line because it has a tube running through it. The advantage of this set up is that when a fish is hooked and fighting, the lead head slides away up the line so that it cannot be used by the fish to dislodge the hooks.

Glowbite Slider lure, showing lead head, rubber tails and hooks that stay close to the lure tail

Technology in slider lures is continually advancing to further improve their effectiveness. In this blog we will focus particularly on the Glowbite “Grumpy Fish” sliders which have a flashing light and fish scent dispenser built into the lure head. For more information on how these, and other, features tick off all five senses for fish and scream dinner, check (link to “what is the best lure to attract fish”).

So, what is the best way to catch fish with a slider lure?

The first thing to remember is that you want the lure to imitate a small squid or octopus; the kind of prey that wafts along slowly and does not make sudden movements unless attacked. To achieve this, you’re best to use a light, flexible rod that will act as a giant shock absorber. A 6 - 7 foot rod of the kind that you use for soft bait fishing or baitcasting is ideal. This style of rod will also be very useful when it comes to landing the fish because it will help reduce pressure on the small hooks in the lure.

Use a light, flexible rod that will act as a shock absorber and reduce pressure on the hooks

Covering ground is also a key to successful fishing with sliders. Squid don’t tend to stay in one place for long, so the idea is to set your boat up for a slow drift over the area that is holding your target species. A drift speed of between 0.5 and 1.5 knots is ideal.

When we developed the Glowbite Grumpy Fish sliders, we filmed a lot of fish interacting with prototype lures. What we saw was that each fish would approach the lure, run its’ mouth gently along the lure tail once or twice and then, once it had determined that the lure was not actually dinner, the fish would leave (we did not use hooks during the filming process). The process would repeat again and again, but each time it was a different fish. This is evidence that sliders, and many other lure styles, work best if you are drifting and continually putting the lure in front of new fish.

Understanding the way that fish run their mouth along the tail of a slider lure is critical to understanding why these lures work so well and how to use them best. Often the fish that we filmed would approach the lure so gently that the lead head would not even move as the fish mouthed at the rubber tails. This illustrates why it is so important for the lure to have very small, very sharp hooks that are located up in the lure tail as it drifts along. These hooks will catch the fish in the lip or corner of the jaw without the need for the angler to strike. In fact, striking is often counter-productive because it pulls the lure away from the fish and makes it move unnaturally.  

Snapper running its’ mouth along the tail of a slider lure – taken from videos of Glowbite protypes and fish

What action do we use when fishing slider lures?

It is true, there are days when you can put your rod in a holder and catch plenty of fish on it using a slider, but on other days, imparting some gentle movement can greatly improve your catch rate. We find it useful to run through the sequence outlined below when using slider lures.

Drop the lure straight to the bottom. Sliders are not designed as a casting lure although it can be useful to lob them slightly ahead in the direction that the boat is drifting at times.
As soon as the lure contacts the bottom, engage the reel and move it very gently. We find this is particularly important with the Grumpy Fish lures because they contain a flashing light. Fish will often see the light as it falls past them and follow it down to the bottom, then they come in for the kill as soon as you give it the slightest movement.

It is worth noting here that a fish may also attack the lure as it is falling, so it is a good idea to watch your line as the line is running out and engage gear if you detect any sudden change in the rate of descent. Sometimes a strike on the dropping lure causes the line to suddenly accelerate, other times the fish holds the lure, stopping it’s fall so that the line does not run out at all. Either way, the answer is the same, engage gear and set the hooks.

If a fish does not strike as the lure is dropping or immediately after it contacts the bottom, then we tend to spend a few minutes bouncing the lure off the bottom. This creates vibrations and sends up puffs of sand or silt that get the attention of fish in the area. Of course, this technique is only suitable when there are no rocks or weed present that could result in a snagged lure.

The next action is to slowly raise your rod while simultaneously putting a quarter or half turn on the lure handle, let the lure waft at the new depth for 5 or 10 seconds and then repeat the process again. This causes the lure to slowly raise up through the water column and will give predator fish the impression that it is getting away. Slow and steady is usually best but there are some days when fish are attracted to slightly faster movements and shorter pauses, so it pays to mix it up until you start getting bites and then stick with the action that gets results for that particular day.

Once you have raised the lure well up off the bottom, then you can quickly retrieve it to the surface. If you are using a Glowbite Grumpy Fish lure, then this is the time to add more fish scent into the dispenser cavity. Next, repeat the process of dropping the lure to the bottom and following the steps outlined above.

Fish are often hooked in the lip or corner or the jaw so they can be released without harm

When you do fell bites, the important thing to remember is; do not strike hard! This will just pull the lure away from the fish. You are much better to just keep winding the lure up very slowly and let the fish hang himself on your hooks.

As soon as you feel the weight of a fish on the other end of your rod, lift it with about as much pressure as you would use to pick up a two-litre bottle of liquid. This is not a vicious strike, but it is enough pressure to set the hooks in place and the fight is on. Now take your time, bring the fish in slowly so that the hooks do not pull out and have a landing net or gaff ready. Your dinner is about to arrive, or alternatively you can enjoy releasing a prime fish to fight again on another day.