I’ve been teaching myself to catch all manners of panfish the last several years. I’ve always caught crappie and bluegill pretty much my whole life fishing, but I had never really specifically tried to learn their migrations, behaviors patterns and locations. In doing that I’ve also been testing a ton of panfish tackle and have settled on some real gems when it comes to catching crappie, bluegill, shellcracker and more on artificials. Today I’m going to give you the lowdown on the Bobby Garland Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R.
Slab Hunt’R Specifications
The original Bobby Garland Slab Hunt’R and the smaller one we’ve reviewed in this piece, the Bobby Garland Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R are a unique design for panfish plastics. While swimming soft plastic bodies are not new or even new to panfishing, this design is pretty unique. Not only is the tail design but the ribbed belly is unique as well. The belly is keeled with ribs that stabilize the plastic on the retrieve so you get the slightest shimmy while the tail wiggles subtly behind it.
The tail is flat and flanged top and bottom to catch water and force it to move. But where most swimming panfish bodies have a paddle tail this tail had more for a flutter, that allows it to move at a slow speed, which is how most of us fish panfish plastics. Where this really shines is when you have clear water, cold water and pressured fish.
The Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R is 1 1/4 inches long while the original was 2 1/4 inches long. This makes it not only a more finesse version for finicky crappie, but it’s the perfect size to use on bluegill, shell crackers and other sunfish with much smaller mouths. When they bite this bait, you’ve got them usually.
Fishing experiences with the Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R
I’ve fished this plastic a lot the last two years and it has become one of my go-tos for crappie in the colder months with clearer water as well as my spring bluegill and shellcracker fishing. Between, this and the Slider Panfish Grub, I have everything I need to catch a cooler full of sunfish in the spring and fall. And I’m learning that fishing with them deep on brush in the warmer months is also very rewarding.
I often fish this bait on a short shank 1/16 ounce jig. Usually a No. 6 or No. 8 hook is best. I pour some of my own and I’ve also used some heads like the small 1/32 ounce Z-Man Micro Finesse Mushroom HeadZ with a small split shot pinched on the line about a foot up. You can load the boat with this little setup and some 4-pound mono on a ML spinning combo or my new favorite combos of Bait Finesse System rods like the Shimano Majestic XT 5-foot, 4-inch UL rod.
I will usually cast this bait out and let it sink to the level of the suspended fish (if fishing around cover) or to the bottom if fishing sunfish in the spring, and then big a super slow, steady retrieve. A lot of bites are just added pressure. Don’t get crazy with the hook set, just a short rod pop upward is enough to stick almost any panfish that bites this plastic.
Color selection and more
Bobby Garland has always had a great soft plastic formulation and their colors are some of the best in panfishing. So you find a lot of options to match the bait to the waters you fish to get bites. Personally with sunfish especially, I like contrast. With crappie I like contrast if the water is stained or dirty. If the water is clear then I want a more translucent natural color. Some of my best colors with the Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R include bone white/chart, horsefly, Monkey Milk, bluegrass, and lights out.
The baits come in a clam shell to keep the tails perfect until you are ready to fish. I’ve found that even with my tails in a small container, I’ve had no issues with baits not swimming. And the nice thing is you get 20 to a pack.
What I really like is that the tail does not tear off as easily as some other panfish plastics. Bluegills are aggressive and will pop the tail off your soft plastic in a heartbeat, but that hasn’t been as easy for them with the Slab Hunt’R plastics.
They stay on a small jighead pretty well. I’ve been super-gluing them on heads and getting a ton of fish on one plastic.
If you’re looking for another top notch plastic that catches them, check out the Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R at FishUSA.com.