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Lure Selection Secrets: How to Choose the Right Crappie Fishing Bait Profile

Understanding the purpose behind various crappie bait profiles and how designs affect bait movement can help you choose the best crappie fishing bait for every situation.

The sea of crappie baits available today can make lure selection a daunting task. Aside from all the brands, shapes and body styles, there are the colors … lots and lots of colors.

Having been responsible for the Bobby Garland Crappie Baits lineup for the past 16 years, I’ve seen countless blank stares and fielded scores of frustrated questions from tackle show attendees across the country, with many asking, “Where do I start?”

Although I don’t know the background for every crappie lure out there, I do for the development of every Bobby Garland product. Perhaps you’ll find some of the insight shared here helpful in making bait selections for your style of crappie fishing.

Early Innovation

Mr. Bobby Garland with crappieMr. Bobby Garland with crappie
Mr. Bobby Garland, 1967


The late Mr. Bobby Garland was a pioneer of soft-plastic lure innovation. Some fellow baby boomers likely remember Mr. Garland for his Gitzit, which revolutionized bass fishing in the 70s, but you might not have known then that he loved crappie fishing, too. It was later in life that he turned his focus to creating crappie lures.

As with the Gitzit, Mr. Garland was ahead of market trends when he designed and introduced the original Baby Shad more than two decades back. At the time, little tube jigs were the dominant soft-plastic crappie lures.

The Baby Shad, at 2 inches, was nearly twice as long as the popular tiny tube jigs, and that concerned some anglers. At first, anyway! However, Mr. Garland let his new creation and fishing prowess do all the talking as he proved again and again that the Baby Shad was a legitimate game changer for catching crappie.

The fact that so many Baby Shad imitations crowd the current market tell “the rest of the story.” Even at its age today, Bobby Garland’s flexible, straight-tailed Baby Shad is arguably the top selling soft-plastic crappie bait of all.

Innovation remains our inspirational focus driving development of all Garland products. Sometimes it’s a new shape spawning a family addition. Other times, it’s a technique responsible for a creation. Nevertheless, every Garland series is birthed with a specific fish-catching purpose in mind.

PROFILE … the HOT buzzword

Bobby Garland Crappie Bait ProfilesBobby Garland Crappie Bait Profiles

Shape, action and size have long been the defining characteristics used by crappie anglers to pick their baits, but today’s forward-facing sonar has made “profile” the hot new buzzword for such. That’s because the sonar technology has allowed us to literally “watch” in real time to how crappie react – or fail to react – to lure presentations.

By definition, profile is “a side view, outline, or representation of an object.” We’ve known for a long time that crappie generally watch and feed up, so for them to relate to bait profiles in certain feeding situations makes perfect sense.

We’ve learned that it’s often a bait change to a different profile that triggers strikes from fish that have been snubbing previous offerings or extends more catches from a spot after the initial action has cooled.

With that knowledge in place, we’re proud to say that our Bobby Garland product lineup reads like a dining menu from the finest restaurant of top profile choices. Here’s an overview of some of our models, which we hope will be helpful in future bait selections for your preferred style of crappie fishing.    


Bobby Garland Baby ShadBobby Garland Baby Shad

Profile: Sleek and slender shad/minnow

Length: 2 inches                    Body: Solid                Tail: Straight and flexible

Description: Realistic baitfish shape with a lively, straight tail that literally can’t be held still

Designed for: Tightlining, but has evolved into an all-around crappie lure used for every crappie fishing technique, from dead sticking to dock shooting.


Bobby Garland Baby Shad Swim'RBobby Garland Baby Shad Swim'R

Profile: Sleek and slender shad/minnow

Length: 2.25 inches               Body: Solid, jointed               Tail: Straight with swim foot on tip

Description: Realistic baitfish shape with the same tail of the Original Baby Shad, except the tip of the tail has a tiny swim foot that affords a subtle, tight swimming action. Body is jointed. Belly has a scent channel for holding optionally applied scents.

Designed for: Casting, but its versatility has been proven for every crappie fishing technique.

Itty Bit Swim’R

Bobby Garland Itty Bit Swim'RBobby Garland Itty Bit Swim'R

Profile: Fry/insect

Length: 1.25 inches               Body: Solid, jointed               Tail: Straight with swim foot on tip

Description: Downsized version of the Baby Shad Swim’R with all the same attributes, including swim foot, jointed body and scent channel.

Designed for: Finesse tactics, including light-line jigging and ice fishing. It’s a great choice for insect-minded black crappie

Slab Slay’R

Bobby Garland Slab Slay'RBobby Garland Slab Slay'R

Profile: Symmetrical body – shad/minnow/bug

Length: 2 inches, 3 inches     Body: Solid, round     Tail: Thin and flexible; cupped and pointed 

Description: The perfect combination of a round, solid body with a highly flexible cupped tail. Rig the cupped-tail up or down for differing actions: darting or gliding.

Designed for: Tightlining and brush pile fishing. The 3-inch size stands out when fished among bait balls, or to match large forage from winter through spring.

Itty Bit Slab Slay’R

Bobby Garland Itty Bit Slay Slay'RBobby Garland Itty Bit Slay Slay'R

Profile: Fry/insect/larva

Length: 1.25 inches               Body: Solid, round     Tail: Thin; cupped and pointed    

Description: Tiny morsel that fits naturally into most every aquatic environment. It imitates a wide range of crappie food preferences through all seasons.

Designed for: Finesse tactics, including ice fishing, dock fishing and early summer/summer match-the-hatch applications.


Bobby Garland Minnow Mind'RBobby Garland Minnow Mind'R

Profile: Symmetrical body – shad/minnow/bug

Length: 2.25 inches               Body: Solid, round     Tail: Cupped twin-tail, thin and flexible     

Description: Slimmer and slightly longer than the 2-inch Slab Slay’R, the Minnow Mind’R offers tantalizing twin-tail action.

Designed for: Holding, or “minding,” a minnow in place for live-bait use, whether still fishing or spider rigging. Adding color and life to a minnow-tipped hook or jighead.


Bobby Garland Crappie ShooterBobby Garland Crappie Shooter

Profile: Horizontal dying or dead shad

Length: 1.5 inches                 Body: Solid                 Tail: Flat, compact and pointed  

Description: Streamlined and aerodynamic, this bait imitates a dying or dead shad.

Designed for: Dock shooting. Shape is the perfect skipping stone, with a slightly convex belly and a flat back so it can be shot and skipped underneath docks. The bait is rigged flat to facilitate skipping and look like a fluttering shad.


Bobby Garland Pile DiverBobby Garland Pile Diver

Profile: Wide-bodied twin-tail swimmer – bug/fish/crawfish/amphibian

Length: 2.5 inches                 Body: Solid, ribbed, with appendages             Tail: Twin tails

Description: The ribbed body provides vibrating action when it comes in contact with limbs and other cover. Stubby side arms add to the profile and action. Twin tails kick for attention and slow the descent.

Designed for: Brush pile fishing. Every feature on this bait adds enticement as it slips in and around brush. 


Bobby Garland Stroll'RBobby Garland Stroll'R

Profile: Swimming shad

Length: 2.5 inches                 Body: Solid                 Tail: Oversized, heavy-thumping action          

Description: A Baby Shad body is fitted with a heavy-thumping action tail that creates vibration and attracts attention in muddy and clear water.

Designed for: Long-line trolling/casting. The Stroll’R was designed especially for trolling. Long liners love it because the tail works through a range of speeds.


Bobby Garland Slab Hunt'RBobby Garland Slab Hunt'R

Profile: Bulky shad/minnow

Length: 2.25 inches               Body: Solid, ribbed                Tail: Unique two lobed, easy swim

Description: A large profile bait that stands out from the crowd, yet remains within the 2-inch size range to appeal to a crappie’s palate.

Designed for: Casting/trolling. The tail on the Slab Hunt’R is the easiest-start swim tail on the market, making it ideal for casting and all crappie trolling applications, including spider rigging and long lining.

Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R

Bobby Garland Itty Bit Slab Hunt'RBobby Garland Itty Bit Slab Hunt'R

Profile: Chunky morsel – fry/insect/larva

Length: 1.25 inches               Body: Solid, ribbed                Tail: Unique two lobed, easy swim

Description: The problem with tiny baits is … they’re tiny. This bait’s bulkier profile makes it attract attention but remains a diminutive size and too lifelike and tempting for crappie to pass up.

Designed for: Finesse tactics, including ice fishing, drop shotting, split shotting and double rigging. The bait is also fast becoming a top choice for use in combination as a trailer when pulled behind a Bandit 300 crankbait trolled for crappie in summer.

That’s Not All

crappie baits selectioncrappie baits selection

We do have more Garland series in addition to these, and all have their features and places, just like the ones mentioned. You can see the full lineup, including colors, at

Regarding colors, from Monkey Milk to Cajun Cricket, that’s a whole ’nother topic for which we take great pride in being an innovation leader. We’ll address that subject soon with the announcement of some exciting new colors to come.

Stay tuned!