There is no disputing that the home of Landbased Shark Fishing is on the East Coast. Places like the Florida Keys, Miami, and the Outer Banks dominate the scene undisputedly with heavy tackle and kayak-deployed baits being the norm.
However, there is another type of Landbased sharking taking place on the West Coast, one very different that centers on distance casting and a unique style of fishing that has roots abroad in the Hawiian Islands, South Africa, and Australia. This kind of fishing is referred to as "Slide Baiting".
How does it work?
The backbone of "Slide Baiting" is the concept of an "anchor" and a "slide" or "trolley". In this tactic, a heavy lead, with or without grip wires, is cast as far away from the angler as possible. Once the "anchor" is set firmly to the seafloor a "slide" leader, complete with hook and bait is clipped onto the main line and allowed to slide down the line toward the sinker. The hope is that the bait travels our away from the structure and angler and toward the distant sinker, at some point in its travel intersecting with a fish and leading to a hook up. Once bit, the "slide" travels down to the "anchor" and the fish is fought as normal. This tactic allows large, fragile, live, or uncastable baits to be slid down the line gently and reach distances greater than by any other non-kayak method of fishing.
Contrary to the relatively shallow waters found off the coast of the East Coast, the California Coast has a steep drop off found close to shore. This coupled with the multitude of public fishing piers providing an extended and elevated platform from which to cast, the conditions are prime for adapting the Slide Baiting tactic to the sharking fishery.
Here in California pelagic shark species such as Thresher Sharks, Makos, Blue Sharks, and even Great Whites are all accessible via this "Slide Baiting" tactic. There are also opportunities to catch non-shark species via this method including tuna, yellowtail and even in are cases billfish.
What Do You Need?
Tackle for slide-baiting can be as simple or complex as the angler desires. For the interest of this article only the basic tackle requirements will be addressed, leaving the more advanced techniques for a later publication.
Rod and Reel:
Rods for slide baiting should be fairly long, at least 8 feet in length is preferred. For most applications 6 ounces of weight is optimum, so the rod should be able to cast this weight comfortably. A faster action rod with a flexible tip is also preferred to help “anchor” the sinker without pulling it free. Line ratings can vary based on target species but 30 or 40lb line is generally the best choice for most mid-sized sharks up to about 9 feet in length. We build a rod specifically for this style of fishing, available here: https://terrafirmatackle.com/collections/pier-fishing-slidebaiting/products/pier-fishing-slidebaiting-rods
As far as reels go, cast-ability is a key component, but not the only consideration. Lever drag reels are the best choice, providing enough high quality, smooth drag pressure to slow down the lightning fast runs of the pelagic species being targeted. Two speed functions provide an advantage in torque when utilizing the low gear, allowing the angler to keep a “straight wind” on the fish instead of an aggressive “pump and wind” technique. This avoids angler fatigue as well as reducing the likelihood that a hook will pull during the fight.
Line and Terminal Tackle:
Reels used for this kind of fishing should be backed with at least 300 yards of a high quality braided line for capacity, but need to be topped off with 100+ yards of a high quality, abrasion resistant mainline to allow proper sliding of the “Slider” or “Trolley” leader. The best mono for the job is a high abrasion resistant product that is inexpensive but high-quality.
Sinkers should be from 4-10 ounces depending on sea and bottom conditions and should not be tied directly to the mainline. Instead a “Surgeons Loop” or “Bimini Twist” should be used to create a 6” length of doubled line at the end of the mainline that is then tied with a “Palomar Knot” to a high quality snap swivel. This provides a little extra chafe proofing for the “Slider” when it is at the end of the mainline.
Sliding leaders should be made of a high quality stainless steel cable or fluorocarbon line. We personally use Fluorocarbon in the 100lb size for our live bait sliders when targeting Thresher Sharks and a high quality coated steel product when targeting more aggressive feeders such as Makos and Soupfin sharks. A good rule of thumb for slider length is that the shorter the leader, the farther away and faster it will travel to the end of the cast. However, do remember that when targeting sharks or other abrasive species that the mainline will be rubbing on the body and tail of the animal if the slider is too short. In most cases we recommend a 2 foot length slider for dead bait presentations to smaller fish, and 12 foot leaders for live bait presentations to larger pelagic species.
The leaders should be built using a high quality snap swivel as the clip and remember to go up at least two sizes from the size used to attach the weight to the mainline, that way the slider will ride on the metal of the snap swivel rather than the weaker monofilament. We highly recommend the use of a high quality circle hook on all leaders, and we offer our production leaders with circles hooks. Pre-made leaders for this style of fishing can be found here: https://terrafirmatackle.com/collections/pier-fishing-slidebaiting
By using the methods outlined above a great many species can be conquered from land not only in California, but also worldwide. While not a typical way to fish in most places, and a little more technical than most are used to, this slidebaiting tactic has been enormously successful for numerous fishermen worldwide.
Is That All?
This article is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unique fishery that is slidebaiting. A later article will address several additional modifications to the slidebaiting system that allow the angler more distance, better presentations, and more targeted fishing opportunities!