For those of you bass anglers that were west of Las Vegas, NV during the ‘70s, the name Bobby Garland will definitely bring back some memories. Garland’s Bass’N Man Lure Company was probably best known at the time as the company that developed the Spider Jig – the forerunner of what other companies would call Hula Jigs. But Garland didn’t only make the Spider Jig.
Garland, and his brother Gary, started out as crappie anglers and made the first dipped crappie jigs that I know of in the 1960s. They then bridged into making Mini Jigs, just bigger crappie jigs, and the Skinny Squid for bass. In fact, the Skinny Squid, a 5-inch long hollow worm, predated the Knight Tube Worm by at least five years.
Then came the Spider Jig. The skirt was a 3-inch piece of hollow plastic cut with razor blades to form the tentacles. This was then slipped on the Garland Spider Head along with a double tail trailer that Garland bought OEM from Mister Twister. The jig was developed as a swimming jig and was made primarily in shad-based hues in order to mimic baitfish – although he did offer the skirts and trailers in other colors.
With a stellar lineup of baits such as mentioned above, you’d think that Garland wouldn’t have to think about developing new baits and tactics. But since he was a major competitor on the western bass circuits, he was always thinking of new novel ways to be competitive.
His next invention would put him on the international map.
I first heard of the Gitzit shortly after the Fall 1980 Western Bass tournament at Lake Havasu. We didn’t have the internet back then but news traveled fast via phone. We received a call shortly after weigh-in that Saturday that Garland had won the event up the river in Topock Slough on a new bait he would be releasing soon. The caller wanted to know when we would be getting them.
Having no clue what the caller was talking about, Bob, the owner of the shop, waited until early the next week and called Don Iovino. Iovino was the Garland rep at the time, and asked him what all the noise was about. Don came in and brought the samples and Bob placed a hefty order of the new Fat Gitzit.
Like any new hot bait we got in the pegs were empty in less than a week.
Soon after articles were written about Garland and his new creation. Garland had designed the bait as a “fall” bait that would mimic a dying shad or even a crawdad. Rigged with a 1/16-ounce Garland head, the bait would spiral until it hit the bottom. After the bait hit the bottom, you’d twitch it once or twice and then reel it in and make another cast.
Another unique attribute of the Gitzit was you could (still can with the thin-walled models) make the bait sit and jump in one spot – making it great for bed fishing. By letting the bait hit the bottom, if you pulled up on the rod until the line was nearly tight and then pushed the rod forward, the minute backwards jerk of the rod tip would move the bait vertically up and it would then spiral back down in the same spot it started.
It would be three or four years later, when Western Bass Fishing Association would head east, that the Gitzit would make national noise. At that time, I believe it was an event at Table Rock in 1984, Garland would introduce Guido Hibdon to the Gitzit and the rest is proverbial history. Soon after Denny Brauer and Tommy Biffle would be winning events on the fat tube lure.
I know we’ve talked about Bobby Garland here before but after seeing this early 1982 Gitzit ad, I felt it important to mention again his contributions to the sport of bass fishing. Plus it’s the earliest ad I’ve seen that actually talks about how the bait was designed to be fished.