The new Bobby Garland Slab Dockt’R, a large profile soft plastic crappie lure designed especially for dock shooting, is available and already catching on and catching fish. None of this should come as news to anglers familiar with Garland; the brand has a reputation for introducing artificial crappie baits that serve a purpose and deliver results.
Dock shooting is a process in which the lure is held in the hand and used to pull the rod back, much like pulling the string on a bow, before releasing the bait near the water’s surface so it skips under docks or other low-hanging obstacles to reach hard-to-cast-to spots where fish take cover. Up until now, dock shooters have mostly relied on using traditional crappie baits, but the Slab Dockt’R offers specific features conducive to the technique.
The Slab Dockt’R measures 2.5 inches in length and has a bulked-up body to provide the mass for skipping, since the optimal jighead is a lightweight 1/24 ounce. The new bait’s back is flat and half an inch wide, making it almost twice the width of Garland’s popular Baby Shad.
From its broad shoulders, the sides roll under to form a boat-like hull for the belly. The shape keeps the bait running true during free fall and all retrieve speeds, plus allows use of a Garland crappie rattle.
Extending from the bait’s body are parallel twin tails with tiny kick-feet. The design delivers a tight swimming action that vibrates the entire bait during vertical and horizontal presentations. That means the Slab Dockt’R is also a good trolling and jigging bait.
Expert dock shooters Terry Blankenship and Lee Pitts were instrumental in testing early prototypes of the new lure. Both men guide on well-known crappie lakes where dock shooting is a proven technique, Blankenship on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks and Pitts on Alabama’s Weiss Lake. And both were among a group that had the first opportunity to fish the first production models of the Slab Dockt’R in early October on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake, a good crappie lake but not a place where dock shooting is popular, or at least it hasn’t been.
“I couldn’t have been happier to find what I did on Grand,” Blankenship said. “Big black crappie were suspending just under the dock floats at about 4 feet, and they were positioned perfectly for dock shooting. I’m looking forward to a return trip to Grand and its gorgeous fish sometime soon.”
Longtime Grand Lake guide Ivan Martin was also on the trip, and although not a shooter before, he said he’s now a believer and has been sharing news of the technique on his radio show.
“I saw how effective dock shooting can be, and besides that, it’s fun to do, so I’m definitely going to be practicing and adding it to my skill set,” Martin said. “This is something every avid crappie fishermen needs to know about.”
Since public availability of the lure, several anglers have already had success with the bait.
Indiana’s Doug Sikora reported it was effective for him while dock shooting during the recent Crappie USA championship on Kentucky Lake. Several others, including the Oklahoma team of George Foster and Gary Rowe, said they caught good numbers and good fish on the bait while jigging it during the Bobby Garland / Crappie Pro Monster Fest the last weekend of October.
“Without a doubt, the Slab Dockt’R has its place,” said Chris Lindenberg, owner of the Gene Larew Lures family that includes Bobby Garland crappie baits. “It’s easier for companies to copy a bait than design one, but that’s not Garland’s way. It costs us more, but we prefer to invent new creations that help anglers catch more crappie with something different or improve upon a technique. The Slab Dockt’R joins a growing list of Garland innovations beyond just the Baby Shad and Slab Slay’R, including the Stroll’R, Minnow Mind’R and Scent Wiggl’R.”
The Slab Dockt’R is available in 11 colors, solids and laminates. A package of 12 baits sells for around $3.69.
For more information on Garland crappie baits, visit www.GeneLarew.com.
Images courtesy Dollahon PR/Bobby Garland