AZ Lakes, AZ Pros
The Garlands Gave Us Gitzit
By Margie Anderson
The names Bobby and Garry Garland will be enshrined in the fishing hall of fame for all time because of the Gitzit, the original tube bait. The brothers invented the lure to help them catch the finicky fish on Mead, and it is still one of the best finesse baits ever designed. There are tons of knock-offs, but a lot of anglers insist that the original Gitzit is the best. We met up with Garry many years ago and fished Roosevelt with him.
When Conditions Are Tough
When conditions are tough, a tube is one of the best go-to baits. Anytime you’re moving a tube, whether it’s fast or slow, the tail is moving and creating action. Basically, a tube is going to mimic either a crawdad or a bait fish, and there are plenty of colors to help you match the forage on your home lake.
Garry says that when he’s pre-fishing he likes to put the first fish he catches into the livewell. After an hour or so he takes a peek. “Usually the bass has spit up a little something, and that’s how I decide what color I’m going to use. If the bass spit up a shad, I’ll use a shad color. If he was feeding on craws, I’ll choose a darker color.”
There are tons of ways to fish tubes. The key to fishing a Gitzit is the rigging, says Garry. Match the rigging and the tube to the conditions and you’ll catch fish. He prefers the 3-inch tube for deep fish or shallow fish that are really spooky. The bigger tubes are the ones he uses the most, and he rigs them on a variety of lead heads.
For Shallow Fishing
For really shallow fishing, a very light 1/16-ounce dart head is ideal. The head can be rigged inside the bait or outside. Garry says if you rig it with the head outside it makes the bait fall faster. A Gitzit is always thought of as strictly a drop bait, and it performs magnificently for that. If you fish it on light line and give it some controlled slack, it spirals down with an action unmatched by any other style of lure. But you can also fish Gitzits down deep on the bottom, use them to probe structure, and even flip the big ones into heavy cover.
When Garry wants to mimic a crawdad, he rigs a dark Gitzit on a rocker-head jig. This lets the tube sit straight up on the bottom. When you pull on the line it crawls along a bit, then when you stop it stands up and waves its tentacles around enticingly, like a craw waving its arms.
‘Sometimes Slower Is Better’
This bottom-rigged tube can be fished down a bluff, dragged down a point, or even pumped through a school of suspended fish. When he wants a very slow fall, Garland chooses a 4 ½-inch tube and rigs it on a 1/32-ounce jig head. The bulk of the tube combined with the tiny jig head makes the bait fall very slowly. “Sometimes slower is better,” Garland says.
Canyon Plastics (www.canyon-plastics.com) also makes 5-inch and 6-inch Gitzits, and they’re dynamite for flippin’, especially rigged with a pegged sinker. A hook with a wide gap is a must, or you can use a big shiner hook and rig it so that the hook is inside the bait with just the tip of the point Tex-posed.
Into The Thick Of Things
When you cast a tube to brush, cast past your target and bring the tube up to it before letting it fall on a slack line. To fish a tube properly you have to be a line watcher. Most of the bites will just be pressure, or you’ll see your line twitch or move to the side. Make sure you leave slack in the line or the lure will pendulum away from the brush. You want the tube to spiral down right into the thick of things.
On cold windy days, fishing a bluff is often your best bet. On bluffs or steep banks, cast the tube out on a ¼-ounce head and let it bounce down the wall. You can fish it almost like a Westy, letting it settle until the line goes slack, then moving it just a little with the rod tip. This will let it fall to the next ledge.
When fish are suspended, they aren’t always inactive. Stripers and white bass are almost always suspended, and sometimes largemouth and smallmouth bass are away from structure but still on the feed. When this is the case, like if you see boils, cast a tube past the boil, then fish it back through with a pumping action. If you see fish on the graph, count the lure down to the right depth before pumping it back.
Split- And Drop- Shot Baits
People often forget that Gitzits make dynamite split-shot and drop-shot baits. The hollow design means that the tube floats beautifully. Thing is, once the air escapes the tube starts its unique spiral fall. If you want the tube to stay floating, you can use a piece of a Styrofoam peanut to plug the hole.
A “plugged” tube will stay buoyant – that’s why they make such great drop-shot and split-shot baits. When you tug a Gitzit around on a split-shot rig, it dips and darts while you’re moving the line, then when you stop it suspends there above the bottom with those tentacles waving around. Hard to resist!
The larger Gitzits can even be fished like a rip bait. A hook with a weight on the shaft near the bend works really well for this technique, or you can simply squeeze a small split-shot a Water Gremlin Bull Shot or Pinch Grip onto the hook. Use the cotton ball with scent idea to add even more attraction to the lure. Just cast it to shore, let it fall to about a count of five, then start twitching it back. Pause when it gets next to good-looking cover, and hang on.
Keep Your Eye On The Line
Garry says that the main thing to remember when you’re fishing a Gitzit is to be patient and let it do its thing. “Don’t move the rod much when the tube is falling,” he says, “and be patient. Also, keep an eye on your line or you’ll miss most of the bites.”