The Creature wasn’t from the Black Lagoon – or any other company

It’s been shown a few times here in the Bass Fishing Archives, and will be shown even more in the future, that what one person believes is new is just a rekindled thought of something old. Take for example the article posted on 4/20/2012 about the Whopper Stopper Dirty Bird. Well, here’s another example of something developed way-back-when that was reborn in the mid-90s not only with the same concept, but the same name for a genre of baits.

Scanning through the 1981 Jan/Feb issue of Western Bass Magazine I came across something that really jogged my memory – an article by soft-plastic jig inventor Bobby Garland. The piece was written by Garland in order to help readers learn more about his jig-fishing techniques and also show some of the secrets he employed while on the water.

For those of you who don’t know Garland’s history with bait innovation, let me shed some light on it. Bobby Garland (and his brother Gary) started out as makers of crappie jigs – the hollow kind with the cut tails – much like today’s Tube. He then went one step further and invented the Mini-Jig, an oversized crappie jig about 3-inches long that was killer when rigged with one of his insert heads (another invention he had) and fished on 6-pound line.

From here he invented the Skinny Squid, which was a 5-inch Mini Jig and looked more like a hollow worm than anything else. He then invented the Spider Jig, which would become one of the most knocked-off lures in the industry, known mostly today as a Hula Grub. (He also invented a planning head for the jig that had a flat surface on the bottom that made the jig fall slower than the standard football and ball heads of the time).

Garland didn’t stop there, though. His next invention, unbeknownst to him, would change the world of bass fishing. This was the Fat Gitzit – or what we call a Tube today. Starting in the west, the bait won numerous tournaments and by the late 80s had taken the eastern circuits by storm. Bobby Garland may have invented the bait but it was Denny Brauer and other national anglers who put it on the U.S. map as the number-one bait to flip.

But this article isn’t about the tube or any of Garland’s previously mentioned bait inventions. This article is about a lure genre totally different – the Creature bait.

I vividly remember when this abomination of plastic, made from pieces of this worm,  that trailer and that tube, swept the west. It was around the 1980 timeframe and Garland had used the concoction to win one of the early western events. Although there was no internet in those days, news travelled fast amongst the circles of bass fishing and within a week of his win, we were at the tackle shop welding pieces of plastic together to make varying forms of The Creature. It wouldn’t be until the mid or late 90s when companies like ZOOM would reveal their Brush Hog and the creature bait phenomenon would take hold.

Here’s a snippet from that article and a picture of the Original Creature Bait.

Garland Creature bait circa 1981. Image from Western Bass magazine Jan/Feb issue 1981.

  • In the early Late 70s and early 80s, we called any soft plastic that was modified by the addition of additional appendages a creature. First one I recall being mentioned in a national mag was a Fliptail Lizard with MarLynn Reaper for a tail, that the late Tony Portincasso did up for muskies. That was in the old Fishing Facts, and he called it a creature. A year or so later, he was using a Fliptail Flirt for a tail on the same lizard, to add more movement while also increasing the size to appeal to muskies. On the east coast, we were welding spider skirts and small twister “legs” to Larew’s Salt Craws and Hale’s Craw Worms in the early to mid 80s, and I recall one guy who was wacky rigging (before anyone else did it with anything other than a pink floating worm) with two salt craws welded tail-to-tail. I even welded up a few mating pairs of plastic lizards once, after being given the idea by a salamander that wrapped it itself around my plastic lizard!

    For a while, it seemed like anyone who came out with anything in the genre of the hula grub called it a creature, but then the name fell out of use for a few years until the popularization of the Brush Hog. For the first few years of the brush hog’s popularity, we called it ‘mud flaps and chicken wings’ and almost never fished it without first removing the twister tails.

    • Rich, do you happen to have that old publication? That would be cool to put up here – or at least the important parts. There were so many versions of Garland’s Creature, which was revealed in the late 70s and finally made print in 81.

  • cc

    I remember a version of the creature jig that Bobby Graland was touting in the ealy 80’s that consisted of a Gitzit with a spider skirt welded to the nose – a particularly good winter bait.

    Guido Hibdon was the first eastern fisherman that I remember doing really well with a tube bait and I believe that it was Bobby Graland who initially showed him how to fish it.

    Thanks for shining a light on Bobby Garland – a great great fisherman and innovator.

    • Yeah CC, there were tons of ways to weld plastic together. lol. One of my favorites was a spider skirt, Gitzit and Mr. Twister Sensation jammed up the tube. 🙂