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Complete Guide to Summer Crappie Fishing with Tiny Jigs

Learn the advantages of downsizing offerings for crappie during the summer and how to select the best baits and fish them effectively.

summer crappie on small crappie baitsummer crappie on small crappie bait

Summer conditions can make crappie and other gamefish fussier, which undeniably adds challenges for anglers. If you’ve spent much time fishing, you’ve probably experienced this first-hand. Among the best ways to counter those challenges and tap into great summer fishing action is to downsize and offer morsels that even tentative fish cannot resist.

When crappie are the target species, downsizing often means turning to micro jigs. We’ll look at a few specific diminutive crappie baits that works extremely well for summer fishing, digging into what makes each distinctive and how to present them effectively for different situations and crappie fishing techniques.

Bobby Garland Itty Bit Series

big crappie on small baitbig crappie on small bait

The Bobby Garland Itty Bit Series includes three baits, all in an “Itty Bit” size of 1.25 inches. All are downscaled versions of popular and effective Bobby Garland baits, complete with every feature of the originals. Although similar in size, each bait in the series is distinctive in its shape and action and consequently in the best applications.

The Itty Bit Swim’R, which was the original Itty Bit, was developed about a decade ago, largely in response to requests from ice fishermen. After it came out, though, it quickly became apparent that this was much more than an ice-fishing bait. In fact, while it is indeed highly effective through the ice, the Itty Bit Swim’R quickly emerged as a highly favored bait for targeting open water crappie anytime forage is small or the crappie are fussy.

The popularity and effectiveness of the Itty Bit Swim’R led Bobby Garland to develop the Itty Bit Slab Slay’R and, most recently, the Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R.

All three Itty Bit baits excel during summer. Young shad and aquatic insects are prevalent at this time, causing crappie to relate to small food items and respond to small baits. At the same time, summer’s progression leads to warmer water temperature and often clearer water – factors that make crappie fussier.

Itty Bit Styles

Bobby Garland Itty Bit SeriesBobby Garland Itty Bit Series
  • Itty Bit Swim’R – Bobby Garland’ first Itty Bit bait is a tiny version of the Baby Shad Swim’R, with subtle Baby Shad shaping but modified with a jointed body and with a tiny swim foot on the tail for added kick. It also has a scent pocket to hold attractant that seeps out as the bait comes through the water. The Itty Bit Swim’R bridges subtle movement and swimming action, making it a solid option for moving presentations like trolling and casting/retrieving, and for more stationary presentations, like jigging and dipping.
  • Itty Bit Slab Slay’R – Like its 2- and 3-inch big brothers, the Itty Bit Slab Slay’R features a short, solid body and a thin spear tail that wavers as the bait falls and even when it’s held in place. Although it works well for a broad range of applications, the Itty Bit Slab Slay’R excels for techniques that involve the bait falling through the water column, including pitching, dock shooting and vertical jigging.
  • Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R – The Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R is a tiny swimbait, with a ribbed body, minnow-like shape and double-lobed tail that moves like crazy whenever the bait is dropping or moving horizontally. Because of the strong tail action, the Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R excels for casting and trolling and other techniques that involve more horizontal bait movement and for pitching over brush, so the drop is accentuated.

Jig Head Options

When you want to go truly tiny, Bobby Garland Itty Bits Jigheads are designed to match with the Itty Bit series. This ball head jig has a small down-facing keeper that holds tiny baits in place without poking through or inhibiting action and is built with a light-wire No. 8 hook. It comes in 1/48- and 1/60-ounce sizes.

When you want a little more hook, the sickle-style hook in Overbite Sickle Jigheads allows these heads to match with tiny baits, but with a No. 6 hook in the 1/32- and 1/48-ounce sizes. These come in four Mo’ Glo colors, and they are balanced to hang horizontally on a loop knot.

Head Dockt’R Shooter Heads are designed for dock shooting, with keeper barbs that keep baits in place with the extra stress that comes with shooting. The design also distributed weight so baits fall horizontally. The smaller of two Hed Dockt’R sizes, which weighs 1/32 ounce, has only two barbs and fits nicely in the solid body portion of an Itty Bit Slab Slay’R for shooting.

4 Great Itty Bit Rigs

crappie jigs tandem riggedcrappie jigs tandem rigged

Split Shot Rig – As effective as they are for prompting strikes from crappie of all sizes, Itty Bits and matching jigheads can be a bit light for effective casting and for getting down to deeper brush that commonly holds the most fish this time of year. That’s especially true if the wind is blowing. A simple solution that provides far more control for casting and presenting your jig is to add a split shot 12 to18 inches in front of the bait.

Tandem Rig – If the cover isn’t too snaggy, an alternative way to add weight that also gives the fish another option is to rig two jigs, a foot and a half or so apart. A pair of Itty Bits doubles the weight and allows you to mix body styles and colors to help pattern the fish. Often, though, an even better approach is to use a traditional-sized crappie bait like a Baby Shad or a Mayfly on a 1/16-ounce jighead in front and to trail it with an Itty Bit. The standard jig provides control of the rig and gets the crappie’s attention, and then they are unable to resist the trailing Itty Bit.

Float Rig – For slowing presentations and suspending a tiny offering in a key zone, there’s no substitute for a float rig. If the fish are shallow – less than about 3 feet from the surface – clipping a set float to the line is the simplest solution. For deeper fish, rigging a slip float works better, with a bobber stop used to control the depth. Because jigheads are sometimes too light to pull line through slip floats for proper positioning, adding a split shot is often helpful.

Crankbait Trolling Rig – Beaver Lake guide Greg Robinson uses an innovative rig to get Itty Bit baits into the prime zone, cover water and add action. He trolls with crankbaits and ties a light leader to the back hook with an Itty Bit on a small jighead at the end of the leader. Some days the crankbaits produce most of his catch. Some days, most come on the jig. Usually, though, he gets a good mix that often includes at least one double!