Stickbaits, glidebaits, or whatever you call them, the underwater walk-the-dog lures have been some of the hottest lures in the surf in recent years.
Stickbaits, glidebaits, or whatever you call them, the underwater walk-the-dog lures have been some of the hottest lures in the surf in recent years. The fast direction changes and realistic profile of these lures have tempted big bass from Jersey to the Cape, and if you haven’t been packing along a couple of them on your daytime sessions, you’ve been missing out.
Glidebaits have made a migration to the surf from the tackle boxes of pike and muskie fishermen—much like metal-lip plugs did nearly a century ago. While a few surfcasters had undoubtedly kept their glidebait success under wraps for decades, the cat got out of the bag when Cape Cod Canal fishermen began catching big stripers on the Sebile Stick Shadd around 2010.
The Stick Shadd is hardly the only effective lure in this category. The Loki Sea Slider is another example of a made-for-stripers glidebait, and any offering used with success while muskie fishing will surely pass muster with the less-discerning striped bass.
The magic of the glidebait is its ability to fool stripers into biting, even when they aren’t visibly feeding. I saw this first-hand on the Canal once while biking back to my truck after the morning bite was—or at least appeared to be—over. With the sun high overhead and no visible baitfish or striper activity, I stopped in my tracks when I saw a small group of fishermen hooking big stripers in seemingly dead water. I, of course, parked the bike, scampered down the rocks and cast all the standbys—poppers, swimmers and jigs—and caught nothing, while the fishermen using Stick Shadds and Sea Sliders cleaned up.
This is because the glidebait takes advantage of the striper’s instincts. A bass might let a loping swimming plug or a bouncing jig go past because it isn’t hungry, but when a glidebait goes frantically zig-zagging overhead, like a baitfish that’s lost its school, the bass can’t help but give chase.
VIDEO: Modifying the Sebile Stick Shadd
While the lure is a fish-catcher right out of the package, modifying the hardware and removing the tail hook can make for fewer lost fish.
How to get that movement during the retrieve depends on the plug. With the Loki Sea Slider, reeling straight in will cause the lure to swim in a wide “S,” and twitching the rod during the retrieve will cause the lure to move even farther to the side. With the Stick Shadd, sweeping the rod to the side will make the plug dodge, dive, dip and dart. The more exaggerated the rod movement, the more frantic the action. One of the keys to getting the most movement out of a glidebait is giving the lure slack after twitching the rod. This will allow the lure to dart freely to the side without any line resistance. Experimenting with different retrieve speeds and cadences will give you a feel for what retrieves work best.
Even though glidebaits only dive a foot or two during the retrieve, they seem to work best over deeper water in inlets, off the tips of jetties, or in the Cape Cod Canal.
Drawing reaction strikes from stripers works best during the daytime, but glidebaits also work at night, usually with a more subdued retrieve. Under these circumstances, the plug fishes similar to a darter.
Make some room in your plug bag for a couple glidebaits and give them a try this fall when the sun is up and the fishing is slow. You might be surprised how many bass you trick into biting even when they aren’t feeding.