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Slide bait basics
  |  First Published: June 2016



Over the last few years, slide baiting has become a popular technique for anglers targeting large game from the beaches and rocks. This technique basically allows you to deploy a large bait further from shore than previously possible. You don’t cast the bait, only the sinker. After you have cast the sinker, you attach the slide bait rig with bait attached and float it out using the current, or a gentle lifting of the rod tip. After numerous large Spanish mackerel to over 40kg were caught with this technique at Fraser Island, more anglers have been keen to try this exciting form of fishing.

The sinker commonly used is a grapnel (sometimes referred to as an anchor sinker) which has forward facing wire arms which help it bed down and hold into the sand or debris on the bottom. Many of these sinkers have the arms fixed in place but some have a release system where the arms fold back when extra pressure is applied. This is usually when the angler lifts the rod abruptly to wind in or a fish grabs the bait and goes for a run. Once the sinker has hit the bottom you need to do small lifts with the rod tip (without retrieving line), tightening and relaxing the line to get the sinker to bed into the sand.

Once your slide bait rig is set up with the bait, you attach it to this taut main line and put it into the water where the wave action and decline of the line angle will coax it to gradually make its way out to the sinker. This approach allows you to cover a broad area of water and permits you to deploy a large (often live) bait out as far as you can cast the grapnel sinker.

For large baits, live bait sliders are ideal. Casting only the sinker and not the weight of the bait will greatly increase the distance out that the bait can be fished. Additionally, live offerings will be a lot healthier as they aren’t subjected to the forces involved during the cast, or from plummeting into the water. Slide bait rigs have accounted for some pretty spectacular fish in the few years that they have been fished in Australian waters and are fast becoming an essential piece of any serious beach or rock fisher’s arsenal.

There are numerous types of slide bait rigs on the market, some locally-made and others imported. They can be made with hi-tensile wire ranging from 1.2mm to 2.2mm in diameter. Locally, anglers fishing the surf and rocks commonly use the 1.6mm and 1.8mm rigs. If larger sharks are your target, 2.0mm and 2.2mm would be your best choice. The smaller rigs are used for lighter lines or where the target species is not likely to be large.

Most slide bait rigs are of the non-return variety, which means they are shaped so that a bait can only go down the line. If a live bait turns and swims towards shore, the rig slightly kinks the line and limits the bait’s transit shorewards.

Slide baiting is very popular in New Zealand and South Africa, and there are specific rods made for this form of fishing, with tapers designed to increase casting distances with large sinkers. Their length increases the angle in relation to the water which aids in getting baits out more efficiently. Many hard-core anglers use overhead reels for this type of fishing but large spinning reels and Alveys will suffice.

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