TULSA, Okla. – With a name longer than its size, the Bobby Garland 1.25″ Itty Bit Swim’R has inferiority complex issues right out of the package. However, after only a few weeks on the market and the winter crappie bite just ahead, the tiny bait’s self esteem is building fast.
A recent Bobby Garland Facebook contest put packages of Itty Bit Swim’Rs and matching 1/48-ounce Itty Bits Jigheads in the hands of several fans for a virtual crappie tournament. As a result, photos came in from contestants across the county who used a variety of techniques, ranging from dock shooting to fishing bridge pillars to casting over brush piles, to make their catches.
One of the participants was Hugh Penton of Gardendale, Ala. He experienced good luck with Itty Bit baits during the contest, and has continued to use the tiny baits ever since. “I usually used 1/16 ounce jigheads with 2″ Slab Slay’Rs, but now I’m sold on the Itty Bits,” he said in a post.
When another Garland Facebook fan expressed concern to Penton online about the hook size of the matching Itty Big Jigheads and how they handle slabs, Penton replied, “They handled fine … hook sets in and digs into the upper part of mouth for me … always have a net though.”
“Crappies have big mouths and are capable of taking just about any size of bait, but they predominantly prefer smaller food choices, especially black crappies, because they have a fondness for insects and small crustaceans,” explained avid crappie angler and Itty Bit designer, George Toalson. “The Itty Bit intentionally has a super-tight swimming action for a much more subtle motion, more like that of a quivering insect or small minnow.”
Longtime guide Ivan Martin agrees that crappie can get picky for tiny morsels, saying he’s seen times when it seems like the fish have totally left a dock they caught them on just a day before, but then being able to make them bite again by going tiny.
The Itty Bit Swim’R is a downsized version of Garland’s 2.25″ Baby Shad Swim’R, a highly popular bait among scores of crappie anglers. The smaller version has the same features, including the jointed body and a swim foot on the tail. Under its belly is a scent channel should an angler wish to apply optional scents like Garland’s Mo’ Glo Slab Jam.
The Itty Bit Jigheads are available in 1/48 and 1/64 ounce sizes, both equipped with Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp size 8 hooks. The head’s bait keeper point down, providing a better grip into the meatiest part of tiny soft plastic bodies.
Toalson said having the right jighead is just as important as the right bait. “We took the guesswork out of what anglers needed for the Itty Bit series,” he explained. “Lots of anglers downsize their baits for winter fishing, whether through the ice or not. The Itty Bits are going to be ideal choices for the next few months.”
Some anglers can’t wait for winter though, and among them are Greg Robinson of Fayetteville, Ark., and Jim Neal of Broken Arrow, Okla. The fishing buddies have found the Itty Bit Swim’Rs to be ideal for how they like to fish on Arkansas’ Beaver Lake. Robinson discovered a few years back that attaching a crappie jig to a light line leader tied to the rear hook holder of a Series 300 Bandit crankbait provided a whole new dimension for targeting crappie.
The two men have refined the technique over the years, saying the ideal boat speed using the boat’s trolling motor to troll the combination is in the .8 to 1.0 MPH range. They say the lipped crankbait delivers a predictable depth of 12 – 15 feet when using 8 lb. test line, allowing them to effectively fish over and around brush piles at those depths, and to also catch suspended crappies in the channels.
“The Itty Bit on the 1/48-ounce jighead, connected to the crankbait using about 12 inches of 4 lb. test leader, is a perfect trailer for this rig,” Robinson explained. “While we do catch them often on the crankbait, more come on the trailer. I think the Bandit gets their attention and then they key in on and eat the smaller bait.”
Neal said they do have their favorite colors for both the Bandits and the Garlands. “Our crankbait preferences are for Taco Salad and Chartreuse Rootbeer. For the Itty Bits, it’s Lights Out and Monkey Milk.”
Itty Bit Swim’Rs are available in solid and laminated colors and come 25 baits per package. A bag sells for around $3.29 each. Itty Bit Jigheads are unpainted and packaged in quantities of 20 per reusable vinyl envelope. A package sells for about $4.29.
For more information on Itty Bit products and other Garland crappie baits, visit www.BobbyGarlandCrappie.com.