I'm a bass fisherman at heart, but I've taken to crappie fishing the last few years because it's fun when they are ganged up on a piece of cover and there is a lot of carry over from bass fishing tactics to crappie fishing with artificials. I've had fun through the process of learning when and where to find crappie and equally which lures really work for me when jigging. One of my mainstays has been the Bobby Garland Baby Shad. It's one of the most popular crappie plastics on the market even with one of the most basic designs.
The Baby Shad is basically a miniature 2-inch shad body with a straight tail appendage. While it looks like a do-nothing type of plastic, the tail has incredible action on everything from a cast and retrieve to vertical jigging and dead sticking it on light line.
The biggest draw for most crappie anglers with the Baby Shad is that it comes in a plethora of colors – 81 in fact. That's a color to fit every situation, water clarity and mood of a crappie. And I've found that having an array of colors is actually very beneficial in crappie fishing.
The Baby Shad body has a flat back and more rounded belly and then tapering tail. This design gives it a natural gliding action on the fall and imparting a slight twitch of the line on the fall or while vertical jigged causes the tail to vibrate like a real baitfish.
The body looks like a minnow in the water and I've found I don't even throw curl tail baits for crappie any more as the Baby Shad has been so effective casting, tight lining, dock shooting and vertical jigging. I actually shared how I switched to this one style of tapering straight tail baits for all of my crappie fishing in a previous article and the Bobby Garland Baby Shad was probably the bait responsible for my switch.
I do the same thing with bass fishing. When I find a bait I know they like, I don't deviate too much from lure choice. That allows me to hop from spot to spot and know I'm making an effective presentation without worrying about if the lure is the right one or not. I do experiment with color but that's usually when I get fish biting and want to see if when the bite slows a color change makes a difference or sometimes just cycling through colors will get a bite going a little faster for you.
I have definitely developed some favorites with the Baby Shad for colors. My staples have been Monkey Milk and Shimmer Shad for sure. But recently I've also added Midge, Mayfly, Ice Out and a few other brighter colors to the mix as well.
The Baby Shad is made of a good plastic that is the right balance of softness to give the tail good action but durable enough that you can catch several crappie on one bait. Sometimes I will take and slide the Baby Shad off of a jig head and flip it over and rethread it on the jighead upside down for a few more fish on one plastic. A drop of super glue does seem to give you a few more fish on each tail if you want to really save a few pennies.