Bobby Garland Crappie Baits has created a new bait that has caught the attention of several Midwest finesse anglers. It is the 1.5-inch Crappie Shooter.
It is part of the dock-shooting system, which we wrote about in a Midwest Finesse column entitled "Three days with Gene Larew Lures and Bill Lewis Outdoors," and it was published on Nov. 20, 2015. This tactic allows anglers to present a jig affixed to a soft-plastic lure around hard to reach spots around docks and overhanging objects by using a spinning rod and reel to shoot it, and the shooting is somewhat similar to the way an archer shoots an arrow.
The soft-plastic torso of the Crappie Shooter is similar to a shad, and a spear-shaped tail is attached to the torso. In the eyes of some Midwest finesse anglers, it reminds them of the vintage stingray-style grub that they used to wield back in the early 1970s. But the Crappie Shooter is shorter, wider, and flatter than the old-fashioned stingray.
The folks at Garland recommend affixing the 1.5-inch Crappie Shooter to either Crappie Pro's Head Dockt'R Shooter Jighead or an Overbite Sickle Head. The Head Dockt'R Shooter Jighead is manufactured in two sizes: 1/24-ounce and 1/32-ounce, and they sport a No. 4 hook. The Overbite Sickle Head is manufactured in three sizes: 1/16-ounce 1/32-ounce and 1/48-ounce, and they sport a No. 6 Sickle hook.
An integral part of the system is Garland's innovative Dock Shoot'R Pull Tabs, which is seven-eighths of an inch long. After the Crappie Shooter is affixed to the jig, the Pull Tab is attached to the hook by inserting the point of the hook through the hole at the end of the tab.
Once the jig, Crappie Shooter, and Pull Tab are correctly assembled, it is ready to be shot. To shoot it under a dock, an angler needs to keep his rod low and parallel to the water's surface. The angler has to be standing in the correct position and aiming the rod and Crappie Shooter so that when it is released it can negotiate the space or gap between the water and the dock or overhanging object. If an angler is using a six-foot, seven-inch spinning rod, the Crappie Shooter will hang about 46 inches from the tip of the rod or even with the first guide above the reel. When it is 46 inches from the tip, the angler grasps the Pull Tab between his thumb and index finger, and he pulls it towards the reel, which causes the rod to bend like an archer draws a bow. The distance of the shot determines how far the angler pulls the rig. For a short cast, he might pull it until it is a few inches in front of the reel or parallel to the spinning reel, and for a longer cast, he might pull it as much as 24 inches behind the reel. Once the rod is flexed and properly aimed at the spot the angler wants to hit under the dock, he releases the Pull Tab, and the Crappie Shooter is jettisoned to the target.
Besides helping an angler to accurately shoot the Crappie Shooter, the Pull Tab adds some stability to the Crappie Shooter during the retrieve.
The Crappie Shooter has a flat back and a"boat-hull belly," which allows it to move realistically during the retrieve. What's more, its spear-shaped tail accentuates a subtle gliding motif during the retrieve.
The Crappie Shooter is designed to be rigged "flat" or horizontal; as this rigging direction affords the best overall action and most realistic baitfish appeal. When it is rigged horizontally, it can be skipped like a flat rock, making it the recommended way for shooting it.
The lure's diminutive size also allows it to be rigged upright or vertically. The vertical motif allows it to exhibit a bigger profile when it is retrieved with a straight swimming presentation rather than the gliding and darting retrieve of the horizontal rig.
Although it was created for crappie anglers, Midwest finesse anglers think it has the potential to become a potent tool for them at times to inveigle largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. It also will be an effective rig for alluring temperate bass.
The Crappie Shooter is manufactured in the following colors: Black/Hot Pink, Blue Ice, Cajun Cricket, Electric Chicken, Glacier, Lights Out, Live Minnow, Monkey Milk, Tadpole, and Threadfin Shad.
Anglers can purchase a package of 15 Crappie Shooters for around $3.49. The folks at Garland say that the Crappie Shooters are now available at many tackle retailers across the country that specialize in crappie fishing, including Bass Pro Shops.
There are two styles of the Pull Tab: Natural Fin and Holographic. A box of 24 costs $5.79.
Crappie Pro's Head Dockt'R Jig is manufactured in four colors: pink, red, blue and chartreuse, and also unpainted. A package of 10 cost $5.59.
Crappie Pro's Overbite Sickle Jig is made in four hues: pink, white, orange, and chartreuse. A package of 10 costs around $5.49.
As the months unfold, we hope to publish some updates about the 1.5-inch Crappie Shooter's effectiveness in the world of black bass fishing with Midwest finesse tactics, as well as its many attributes for inveigling crappie.
(1) Unfortunately, scores of black bass anglers tend to pooh-pooh the effectiveness of little baits, but Guido Hibdon of Sunrise Beach, Missouri, who is one of the pioneers of Midwest finesse fishing, says "many people don't believe that little baits will catch big fish, but they do. Gosh, we've proven it for years." Of course, Midwest finesse anglers have also found that soft-plastic baits affixed to a jig -- like the 1.5-inch Crappie Shooter -- will catch vast numbers of black bass.
(2) Here is the link to the Nov. 20, 2015, column that we wrote about dock shooting: https://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/three-days-with-gene-larew-lures-and-bill-lewis-outfitters/.
(3) Here are the links to Bobby Garland Crappie Baits and Crappie Pro: http://www.bobbygarlandcrappie.com/index.php and http://www.crappiepro.com/.
(4) In the near future, we publish a gear guide about Gene Larew Lures' Bass Shooter System. It is similar to the Crappie Shooter.