Slide it rich

Ian Meaps admits that the slider has always been around but lays claim to the development of the loaded slider. Here he tells you how to make one and how to fish it.

How do you floatfish a bait at the bottom of, or close to the bottom of, water where the depth is more than double the length of your rod? One answer — the wrong one — is to use a fixed float. It’s wrong because if, for example, the water is 24ft (7.3m) deep and your rod is 12ft (3.65m) long you couldn’t possibly cast a float or net a fish with 24ft (7.3m) of line beneath it. Even with a mere 8ft (2.4m) of line below the float, casting can still be tricky if there is a high bank behind or a lot of vegetation about. The solution is to use a slider.

Slider mechanics

Some people are frightened to try the slider because they don’t understand how it works. In fact the principle behind it is quite simple.

If you thread some line through the eye of a chunky – buoyant – bodied waggler and put some fairly heavy shot on the line below the float, the shot is able to pull the line through the eye of the float as it falls through the water. If you have enough line to allow the shot to keep on falling, then it eventually hits the bottom – however far down that is.

In order to cock a float though, you have to have some way of stopping the line running through the eye of the float so that the shot is suspended at a pre-determined depth. This is done by tying a short length of line to the main line above the float to form a stop knot .

The knot is small enough to pass on and off the reel and through the rings of the rod unhindered – but it will not pass through the small eye at the float’s base. Under slight pressure the knot can be moved up or down the line so that you can alter the depth at which you are fishing without going to too much trouble.

The loaded slider float

The float is a balsa-bodied waggler with a peacock stem, peacock insert and a cane base with lead wire wrapped around it. The line runs through a small swivel at the base of the float and the swivel is attached to the float by 15lb (6.8kg) b.s. line which has been whipped firmly on to the cane base. The thick line attachment allows the swivel to move about and this, combined with a swivel’s in-built mobility, helps your main line to slide easily through it.

Loading is essential in a slider because it effectively ‘locks’ the float on to the line during the cast. If you try to cast a slider that is not loaded, then 50% of the time the float and shot separate in mid-air — the shot flying out over the water leaving the float behind. By loading the float with slightly more weight than the bulk shot you are making the float 13088’.

Shotting the slider

Some anglers get into a real mess when it comes to shotting sliders, but with a bit of thought about what you want the shot to do problems can be avoided. Bulk shot If you want the line to run quickly through the eye of the swivel you need to group a fair bit of shot at a single point. In most cases a bulk of 2-3AAA is about right. If the fish are feeding on the drop then you may wish to string your shot out instead. Because the fine runs so freely through the swivel you could get away with asfewas5no.4.

Rest shot If the float is allowed to rest on top of the bulk just before casting this can result in tangles during the cast. A tangle occurring when fishing a sliding float has far worse consequences than it does when fishing a fixed waggler.

If the line tangles round the bottom of a fixed waggler it means that although you may have problems when you come to alter the depth at which you are fishing, for the time being at least the bait is still roughly where you want it. But if a slider tangles then the technique just doesn’t work. As before, the bait ends up a few feet below the float – which can be very frustrating.

Keep tangles to a minimum by putting a small shot above the bulk for the float to rest on. The shot should be large enough to resist the pressure put on it by the float during the cast. But it shouldn’t be too large or else it may cause tangles – a no. 4 is usually about right. If it starts to slip , you could try replacing it with a new no.4 before going for a larger size.

Dropper shot A shot below the bulk is necessary for registering on-the-drop or lift bites. The shot must be big enough to make a significant difference to the trimming of the insert if a fish moves it.

This is particularly important with these types of floats because the inserts are often slightly thicker than on conventional wag-glers – this helps visibility. So it is no use using a no. 8 as a dropper if the float barely moves when a fish holds up the shot.

Some people might consider a BB dropper as crude but it is surprising how often even small roach lift it, and you can be sure that if they do, you’ll notice the difference on the insert!

The half-way rule Position the shot correctly and you are already 90% of the way there when it comes to beating tangles. There is a simple rule that you can use to get it right.

Position the rest shot so that the float is at a comfortable casting distance from the hook – 2.4-2.7m (8-9ft), say. Find the half way point between the rest shot and the hook and put the bulk below this. So if, for example, the distance between hook and shot is 2.4m (8ft) put the bulk at about lm (3ft) from the hook.

Put the dropper just below half way between the bulk and the hook – say at 35cm (14in).

Finding the depth

The first thing to do after you’ve tackled up is to find the depth. If you’ve opted to use a slider then you know that the water is going to be deep, but you need to find the exact depth. Because of the heavy dropper you don’t need to use a plummet.

With the float carrying its full shotting -the insert trimmed to where you want it -and the stop knot set so the float is under depth, cast out and leave the bail off.

As soon as the float has landed it should cock due to the loading—leaving most of the stem standing confidently out of the water. If the technique works properly the line should spill from the reel — or at least tighten slightly between the rod tip and the float – as the bulk shot pulls the line through the float.

After a few seconds the bulk shot should register. This is shown by the stem of the float sinking fairly suddenly down to somewhere just below the insert. A couple of seconds later the dropper should register — shown by the insert sinking steadily until there is only the required amount visible. This means that the dropper is off the bottom. If the dropper does not register and the insert is sticking farther out than it should, the dropper must be on the bottom – in which case you’ve over-estimated the depth of the swim. In this case, wind in and shallow-off – move the stop knot closer to the hook by 30cm (1ft) – and repeat the process until the dropper registers on the insert. If the dropper is off the bottom initially – as you’d predicted – wind in, deepen off and repeat the process until the dropper rests on the bottom.

Aim to set the stop knot so that the hook is on the bottom and the shot is about 8cm (3in) off- a good starting depth which you can then adjust according to how the fish are feeding.

The amount by which you alter the depth each time depends simply on how accurate you feel that your initial estimate was. If you reckon that the dropper is more than 1.2m (4ft) off, then try increments of 30cm (lft). If you think that the dropper is closer then try smaller increments.

Reading the float

Bites on a slider are shown — as they are for a fixed waggler — in one of three ways. On the drop It is unlikely that fish intercept the bait as the bulk shot is falling because the bait is moving too fast (though this can happen) – but once the bulk has settled watch out! Bites may come as the dropper falls. If this is the case they are signalled by a delay in the time taken for the dropper to register on the insert. Become familiar with the time it should take for the insert to settle – and strike at any deviations. (Making sure that you know how long it takes for the bulk and the dropper to settle can also help in detecting tangles.) The pull under Once the float settles many bites come in the usual way – the float sinking as a fish swims away with the bait. The lift Particularly on waters where there are large bottom-feeding fish such as bream, tench and carp – which feed by dipping their heads down and sucking a bait up off the bottom – bites are signalled by a lift of the insert. This happens as the fish lifts the dropper shot, taking weight off the float and causing the insert to rise. With a correctly painted insert these bites are usually quite dramatic.