Back in the good old days, a crappie-size jig affixed to a finesse-size soft-plastic worm was what some early devotees of Midwest finesse fishing regularly used. In fact, several crappie-fishing tactics and tools -- such as a curly-tailed grub, a soft-plastic shad with a boot tail, and a marabou jig -- lie at the heart of Midwest finesse fishing.
Nowadays, however, most of those tools and tactics have virtually disappeared from the repertoire of most black bass anglers. The change began back in the 1980s when William Davis of Davis Industries and Davis Bait Company in Sylacauga, Alabama, and Fred "Taco" Bland of Birmingham, Alabama, created early versions of the shaky-head jig.
Midwest finesse anglers are recreational anglers. In essence, our focus is aimed at catching vast numbers of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass per hour, and there are spells when we have to use some of those old-fashioned crappie tactics in order to catch those vast numbers of black bass.
The day before the opening of the 2018 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show on July 11, Gary Dollahon of Dollahon PR of Tulsa, Oklahoma, sent us a press release about Gene Larew Lures' Bobby Garland Slab Hunt'R Minnow. It is a 2.25-inch soft-plastic crappie bait. As we looked at it and several other crappie baits in Larew's catalog, we thought that it would be a good idea to publish a gear guide that would remind old-time Midwest finesse anglers and alert newcomers to Midwest finesse fishing that some crappie baits can be a great asset at times in our pursuit of catching vast numbers of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass an hour.
Here are some details about the Slab Hunt'R Minnow.
It abstractly exhibits the profile of a small gizzard shad and threadfin shad. According to Dollahon's press release, it has a bulkier profile than typical minnow-style baits.
Below its lateral line, part of its ventral area is encompassed with eight pronounced ribs or segments. The ribs are said to provoke the torso and tail to vibrate. And when anglers apply a scent, such as Larew's Biffle Juice, to the Slab Hunt'R Minnow's torso, the ribs' cavities will hold the scent. The size of the ribs decrease as it approaches its anal area. Its breast area is smooth and devoid of ribs.
Its head is smooth-skinned and endowed with a pair of eyes. The skin or surface that surrounds the predorsal and dorsal areas is also smooth.
The diameter and circumference of the back portion of its torso, which extends from the end of the eighth rib to the junction of its tail, is considerably smaller than the front portion of its torso. The skin or surface of this area is smooth.
Dollahon describes it as possessing a unique semi-V-shaped tail with ears, and it is like a two-bladed propeller. He says it "is the easiest swimming" soft-plastic crappie bait that has ever been made in Larew's and Garland's grand history in the lure business.
When a significant number of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass are foraging on various kinds of small fish, Midwest finesse anglers can affix a Slab Hunt'R Minnow on a 1/16- or 3/32-ounce jig and present to those black bass with a straight swimming retrieve, which some folks call a do-nothing retrieve and others call it polishing the rocks and a few others call it gracing the weeds.
It is manufactured in the following colors: Bluegill Fire, Bluegrass, Blue Ice, Bone White/Chartreuse, Bright White, Cajun Cricket, Electric Chicken, Glacier, Grenada Gold, Green Lantern, Horsefly, Junebug/Chartreuse, Lights Out, Live Minnow, Monkey Milk, Pearl Chartreuse, and Threadfin Shad.
The suggested retail price for a package of 10 is $3.79.
In addition to the Slab Hunt'R Minnow, a veteran Midwest finesse angler suggested that we should also feature Larew's Bobby Garland Pile Diver, which was introduced to the angling world at the 2017 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades.
In this angler's eyes, it is creature bait, and he notes that Midwest finesse anglers are always search for a new creature to affix to a small jig with an expose hook. He reminded us that Larew's three-inch HooDaddy, which is a creature bait, has played an important role in the repertoire of some Midwest finesse anglers for a number of years, and the Pile Diver is a half of an inch shorter and a touch subtler than the three-inch HooDaddy. He also remarked that in some ways, the Pile Diver is a miniaturized version or a crappie-bait version of Larew's Wheeler Hammer Craw and their Biffle Bug. Of course, many professional tournament anglers, such as Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Oklahoma, and Jason Wheeler of Indianapolis, Indiana, would cast a disparaging word or two about the thought of using a creature bait, which is designed to catch crappie, to catch black bass.
The tip of the Pile Diver's head is flat and cylinder shaped, and its skin is smooth.
Its torso is encircled with seven significant ribs.
An appendage radiates from each side of its head and from each side of the front two ribs of its torso. The ends or tips of these two appendages are adorned with a paddle or a boot. These appendages, which the folks at Larew call arms, are similar to the tail of a paddle-tail or boot-tail grub.
Two more appendages extend or unfold from the end of the torso and its seventh rib. The tips of these appendages are adorned with the same kind of paddle or boot that the two front appendages possess.
The skin of the appendages and paddles or boots is smooth.
The folks at Larew report that the two front appendages exhibit "a subtle quivering action" when an angler is employing a swimming-style retrieve, and they even continue to quiver when angler employs a deadstick presentation. Its ribbed torso vibrates, and at times, it radiates air bubbles. The rear appendages move like the tail section of a boot-tail grub.
When vast numbers of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass are foraging upon larvae, nymphs, and tiny crayfish, Midwest finesse anglers can affix a Pile Diver to a 1/16-ounce jig, such as Larew's Bobby Garland Head Dockt'R Shooter jig, with an exposed hook, and present it to the black bass by employing all six of the standard Midwest finesse retrieves or slight variations of those retrieves.
The Pile Diver is available in the following colors: Black/Hot Pink, Bluegrass, Blue Ice, Cajun Cricket, Chartreuse Red Glitter, Electric Chicken, Glacier, Lights Out, Live Minnow, Monkey Milk, Pearl White, and Threadfin Shad.
A package of 10 Pile Divers can be purchased for $3.69
(1) Here is a link to Larew's website: http://www.genelarew.com.
(2) Here are links to past Midwest Finesse columns about Gene Larew Lures' soft-plastic baits:
(3) Here is a link to the Midwest Finesse column that explains how to Midwest finesse anglers will retrieve the Pile Diver and Slab Hunt'R Minnow: https://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/six-midwest-finesse-retrieves/.
(4) Here is a link to a Midwest Finesse column about the history of the jigworm: https://www.in-fisherman.com/bass/skworm-n-jig-wacky-jig-history-jigworm-many-modern-day-manifestations/#ixzz5KxVHro00.