Fishing & Boating News

Charlie Brewer, A Living Legend

Inducted into the Freshwater Hall of Fame in 1998

by: Charlie Brewer, Jr.,

(Tuesday, May 12,1998 - Lawrenceburg, TN) Charlie Brewer grew up in the small southern middle Tennessee town of Lawrenceburg. He was born May 16, 1920. He spent most of his youth around Lawrence County and neighboring Wayne County, were his father was raised. This area has a plentiful supply of creeks, small lakes, and ponds. Charlie learn to fish with his father, Lon Brewer in the streams of Wayne County. Later he walked or road a bicycle to local fishing streams. He developed a desire to fish at an early age. His family lived part of the year in Florida during his early years, but mostly in Tennessee. While in Florida Charlie would ride his bicycle with fishing gear attached to near by lakes and to the Ocean.

Other interest during his youth was a paper route that allowed him to earn a little money for buying a $5 car with wood spoked wheels and a rumble seat. This car allowed a little more extended range in the 1930s. A trip was measured by the number of flat tires so the fishing area was mostly confined to Lawrence and Wayne Counties. Charlie also had a lot of interest in ham radio. He built his own set, mostly from items found in junk yards, and talked to the whole world using Morse code from his home. This hobby would later take him to distant fishing grounds.

Charlie's great uncle, Mr. Thomas Heyer, lived across the street. He had a woodworking shop where he made a wooden boat and paddle as a present. This was Charlie's first boat and it allowed him to reach areas that were once difficult to approach. High School graduation came in 1941 and Charlie Brewer joined the US Navy during the summer months. His ham radio experience lead him to the Navy classification of RadioMan. Here he taught others what he had learned as a teenager. WWII (the second world war) came in December of 1941 and Charlie Brewer was sent to Pearl Harbor shortly after the attack.

One of his jobs was to dive down into sunken ships and retrieve radio equipment. His next assignment was to Palmyra Island in the South Pacific. The first thing he did before leaving Hawaii was to purchase a heavy duty rod and reel for fishing. He was transferred to the small island were he was attached to the crew of sea planes as a RadioMan. The island paradise was not too exciting when not flying. Extra activities for the men were extremely limited and plan "ole" boredom was a problem. Except for fishing. Charlie noticed many times that schooling fish where just off shore and trashing the surface. He talked with the captain about obtaining a boat to reach the schooling fish. Charlie and the coxswain were granted permission to take the boat to the schooling area. The new heavy duty rod and reel purchased in Honolulu was rigged with a trolling lure of bright colored cloth trailers. A strike was made and the fight was on. However the fish won. The new rod and reel was no match for whatever fish was in the school. But Charlie Brewer was not to give up. He had the machine shop make a very large hook and he obtained some rope. Another trip was made to the schooling area and a jig was trolled until another strike started the battle. This time it took both Charlie Brewer and the person driving the boat to handle the rope and fight the fish. They succeeded after a long fight and pulled in a 100 pound tuna. They trolled again and had their second fight with another 100 pound tuna. This was enough. They returned to the island and the tunas were prepared for a feast.

Charlie Brewer returned to his home in Lawrenceburg after the war and he became a radio repair man. In the late 1940s he started his own business as a Radio/Television sales and repair. His business was the first to sale televisions in this southern town. By now all of his friends had returned home and started families. The men would talk fishing and plan fishing trips, as this seem to be the main activity for this time period. Many neighborhood families would get together on a fairly regular bases for back yard fish frys. The men and boys gathered to hear tales about the "big one" that got away along with many other real and exaggerate fishing tales.

Charlie Brewer was probably the most active fisherman. He studied fishing, went fishing, experimented with all the lures of the day, and tried everything to increase his friends and his own fishing enjoyment. Charlie purchased a wooden fishing boat with wooden ribs and a small Mercury motor. The boat had long oars attached. Each night before a fishing trip, water was put into the boat and this would swell the wood and reduce leaks while on the lake.

Many fish and many fishing stories came from this time period during the late 1940s and the 1950s. Wilson Lake, Wheeler Lake, and Picwick Lake in north Alabama plus many other areas along Kentucky Lake in Tennessee were favorite places also. No boat ramps were at these lakes in the 1950s,only gravel roads that lead to the waters edge. The number of sport fishermen on the lakes were very small compared to today, but a lot of commercial fishermen were dragging for mussels and laying lines for catfish on these lakes. Fishing was good.

Charlie used Heddon lures like the river runt. Also other large lures like the Dalton Special, Nippi Dee Dee, Chub Minnow, Hell Benders, and spoons with pork were used. The rods were stiff casting outfits with black nylon line.

Charlie progressed up to an alumi craft boat in the late 1950s with a little larger motor, this helped extend the distance that he could travel on the lakes as he searched for bass.

In the 1960s many more sport fishermen had joined the ranks. The commercial fishing was decreasing as sport fishing grew. Fishing became tougher, but Charlie Brewer was always ready to experiment and try new methods to stay on top of the sport. Charlie along with other fishing buddies would sit in the back yard on long summer nights talking about fishing and whittling lures to try on the lakes and rivers.

Charlie saw an advertisement in a magazine for one of the first rubber worms, he was intrigued enough to order some and a new direction of experimentation started. Charlie found that these rubber worms which were 10" and 12" worked very good in local waters, but his friends had to be convinced that this type approach would work at all. They were shown with success. Charlie then experiment by cutting the worms and melting them back together to various different sizes. Always looking for a better way to catch more fish and have fun.

One day Charlie saw some boys walking down the road with their fishing gear and a string of fish. He stop them and ask how they caught those. It was a nice string. The boys had light rods, line, and small lures. This was not the way men fished but there must be something to it. Charlie decide to take what the boys had told him and try experimenting with light tackle. His first light tackle rod was a fly fishing rod cut down in size. Charlie watched minnows, in clear water, move through the water in a smooth way with no action. They were just sliding through the water with ease. Then an idea came to him. He knew that live bait was usually best. He needed to imitate live bait as close as possible. Watching the minnows, the rubber worms, and the methods the boys were using lead to a new method of fishing.

Charlie cut the worms down to the size bait that most fish seem to eat. Then he worked with hook and head designs to fit this new way of fishing. He wanted a method that would imitate nature, he wanted the lure to slide through the water with very little action like the minnows. He needed to vary the depth and speed of retrieval. He designed and experimented until everything was in balance. Charlie designed, made, and modified a jig head to work with this type fishing. The head was flat with the hook exposed. This design kept the hook turned upward and allowed the rubber worm to slide through the water. The size of the rubber worm was adjusted downward to 4". This seem to be the right size.

This method of fishing was called "Slider Fishing", it was completely different from conventional methods at the time, but it proved to be a way to increase fish catches, especially during tough conditions. Also, this method was easy to fish. It was a "Do Nothing Method". No extra action was necessary. Just fish this lure in a way to imitate nature.

Charlie Brewer had proven to himself that this method was a true means to catch more fish. He decided to start a lure company which he called the "CRAZY HEAD LURE COMPANY" because of the unique and crazy looking head design. The company was literally started on the kitchen table.

Now Charlie had to educate and promote this new technique. Education, demonstrations, and talking about HOW TO Slider Fish became an obsession. Charlie traveled away from his home talking to anyone who would listen. He sent samples with instructions to many people.

The first bit of luck came when Billy Westmoreland was fishing with Jerry Mckinnis on Dale Hollow lake. They had fished with almost no results when Billy decided to use the Slider Lure samples Charlie had sent to him. Their fishing trip became a success and they asked Charlie to joined them. He showed them the technique and then operated the camera while the two produced a TV show. This exposure opened more opportunities to promote the new Slider Lures. Fishing Facts magazine also provided an opportunity for Charlie Brewer, when George Pazik responded to a letter Charlie had sent to him and ask if he would write an article about a 7 pound 2 ounce smallmouth that was caught on a southern lake.

Even though Charlie Brewer had no experience writing he sat down and wrote the story in his own words; just like he was talking to a fishing buddy. The methods and techniques used were describe in detail teaching other fisherman how to do the same thing. Slider Fishing does not require that you use the lures his company manufactured, as he mentioned many times in the articles. Any small light tackle system could be used with the same results. Charlie always said that there is no magic lure, its the technique or method used. The size, weight, and the way the lure is presented is what makes the difference.

With Charlie Brewers continued promotion and education, the "Slider Fishing" technique for catching more fish became an established method of fishing.

Charlie Brewer wrote many more articles for Fishing Facts and a large number of other fishing magazine during the 1970s and on into the 1980s. He traveled across the country doing seminars, TV shows, store promotions, and field testing. His "Slider Technique" proved itself throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Mexico, Italy, and many other places.

Charlie was chosen as one of the "Living Legends of American Sportfishing" in 1986. Slider worms, heads, products, books, pamphlets, and videos have been sent all over the world. Friends from Japan have visited several times just to go fishing and talk about the Slider Fishing. The name of the company was changed to "Charlie Brewer's Slider Company Inc." in 1984 due to a higher recognition of Charlie Brewer and Slider.

The company has continued to grow while staying with its approach to fishing. Small soft plastic lures, light lines, and easy "Do Nothing" methods which describe Slider Fishing and Charlie Brewer's Slider Company. In 1984 Charlie went into retirement. However, his life time of fishing has continued, experimenting, promoting, educating, and enjoying fishing are still his passion. In 1998 Charlie was inducted into the "Fresh Water Hall of Fame".

The "Charlie Brewer's Slider Company, Inc", remains a family business and continues to innovate through the efforts of Charlie Brewer and the experience he has passed on to others.