Slippery Dick Fishing Tips

What’s the name of the fish that looks like a dick?

The hilariously named slippery dick fish, of course!

Slippery dick fish fishing tips
A beautiful slippery dick fish caught by Phil. Source

Use this guide to have a bit of fun going after a fish you can laugh about later.


It’s a wrasse which is a varied group that comprises of over 500 species that are abundant in warm waters. Fish that belong to this group, such as the slippery dick, have projecting canine teeth and thick protruding lips that give them a unique profile.

The slippery dick wrasse which is the focus of this guide is shaped like a cigar. It has lateral stripes that extend from its pointed snout, the eye and down to the tail. Some may also have another stripe running from below the mouth right up to the tail.

Slippery Dick Facts

Scientific NameHalichoeres bivittatus
Common NameSlippery Dick
Identifying CharacteristicsIt’s shaped like a cigar and has lateral stripes that extend from its pointed snout, through the eye, and down the tail.
Depth Range1 to 15 meters
HabitatTypically found in the shallow reefs and seagrass beds in tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. They range from North Carolina to Brazil and into the Bahamas and Bermuda.
LimitsCheck your local regulations
Largest RecordedN/A. This fish tends to be more popular as an aquarium fish rather than for sport fishing.
StatusLeast concerned

They live in the shallow reefs and seagrass beds in tropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina to Brazil. Also, they can be found in the Bahamas and Bermuda.

What is fascinating about this fish is that it is a protogynous hermaphrodite – it is born as females but turns into a male when it matures (similar to the California Sheephead).

Plus, they can be found ‘cleaning’ other fish by removing small organisms and dead cells from their bodies. This fish is not in danger of being overfished.

Slippery Dick Fish Habitat

Also known as the ‘dick fish’, slippery dick is found in shallow and tropical waters of the western Atlantic Ocean around shallow reefs and sea beds. Their habitat ranges from rocky and coral reef areas as well as seagrass beds which provide plenty of hiding spaces.

Fish: Slippery Dick Wrasse, Halichoeres Bivittatu

What is fascinating is that the size of the slippery dick depends on their location. Smaller or juvenile ones can be found in turf algae and sand rubble while larger ones are usually found in rocky and fire coral areas.

Their diet determines their location as well. The slippery dick’s main source of food includes crabs, sea urchins, segmented worms, slugs, snails and anything else that lies buried in on the sea bed. The fish remain near the sandy bottom or follow larger fish that disturb the sand. This exposes those invertebrates which they then pounce on.

How to Catch Slippery Dick Fish

Wrasse such as the slippery dick fish can be caught with a wide range of live bait. This includes fresh pieces of fish such as pilchard, squid, and mackerel. Also, try ragworms, lugworms, prawns, shellfish, and peeler crabs.

how to catch slippery dick fish
Another great shot by Phil! Source

When fishing for this fish over reefs and rocks, use a drop shot rig. If the line gets caught among the rocks, maintain steady pressure on the line by pulling it with your gloved hands.

Be careful when straining your saltwater rod as you might end up breaking the light line that connects the weight to the mainline. Whatever you do, do not swivel the rig above your head to make an overhead cast. You may end up hitting and injuring someone!

You can also use a sliding float rig to catch slippery dick. The mainline should have a stop knot where you want the float to stop. Use a ball-shaped weight and use the smallest one you have so that you can cast at the distance you are aiming for.

Slippery Dick Fishing Tactics

  • The best time to fish for wrasse such as slippery dick is during high tide. It often brings adult dicks with it.
  • Place your baited hook as close to the rocks as you can to entice huddled slippery dick into biting.

Slippery Dick Fishing Tips

  1. Hooked slippery dick gets aggressive and can tangle your line. Prevent that from happening by reeling as fast as possible when you get a bite.
  2. Even though slippery dick fish are not hunters, they can still be lured with lures. Try soft jelly worms since these look like their normal shrimp diet.

Slippery Dick Wrasse Seasons

The best time for dick fish and other wrasse sport fishing close inshore includes the months between May and October.


Q: Why is a slippery dick fish called a ‘slippery dick?’

A: The name describes the slippery nature of the fish particularly its uncanny ability to escape from nets and from hands. This is due to their slippery skin.

Q: What does the slippery dick eat?

A: It feeds on benthic organisms such as crabs, sea urchins, slugs, snails and smaller fish. They tend to exploit disturbances such as overturned rocks which can reveal small invertebrates they feed on.

Q: Do slippery dick swim in schools?

A: Juvenile and intermediate slippery dick can be found swimming together whereas larger males swim alone. Some may even form schools with other species from different families that don’t pose a threat.

Q: How does the slippery dick spawn?

A: Slippery dick fish are born as females and turn into males when they grow older. Before spawning, the males compete to attract females for spawning. Once they attract a mate, the pair swims above the reef and release their gametes. The fertilized eggs drift through the current till they hatch and the young take care of themselves. There is no parental supervision whatsoever and several hatchlings do not survive long enough to become adults.

Q: Is slippery dick endangered?

A: Slippery dick is listed as ‘least concern’ since it does not have any known threats. While it is present in some protected marine areas, its population status has not been determined yet. The fish is usually kept in aquariums as part of the aquarium trade and is not marketed as food.

Insider Advice

The slippery dick fish may have a rude name, but you should add this to your list of fish to be caught if you want to become a serious angler. The fish is anything but gentle especially when it is caught so you will have a fight on your hands.

Will you fish slippery dick?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing and spearfishing enthusiast. He's been fishing since he was 5 years old in the backcountry of Yosemite for trout and in the surf near his home in SoCal. Over the past 4 years, he's been spearfishing up and down the coast of California. He started Cast and Spear to help inspire others to get outside and chase their dream fish. Notable catches include spearing a 65-pound white sea bass, large grouper, and yellowtail down in Baja. When he's not in the water, he's usually fishing from his Gregor Baja aluminum boat or inflatable Takacat catamaran.
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