Bobby Garland Factory Tour
“The little package of crappie baits we pull off the peg at the bait shop is a more complicated process than most fishermen realize. A recent tour of the Gene Larew/Bobby Garland facilities in Tulsa, Oklahoma revealed an efficient factory with people who take pride in producing quality products, mainly for bass and crappie. The company is small-town friendly with a big-time, nation-wide impact.” Tim Huffman, editor/senior writer CrappieNow
Chris Lindenberg, owner since October 2006, says, “In the beginning it was tough having to reestablish the name, product, quality and consistency, but over the years we have solved problems, created great customers and grown. I’m finally learning to relax and enjoy the ride.
“People probably think I’m just saying this but I mean it…my number one goal since buying the business has been to make a product that helps people catch fish,” says Lindenberg. “That’s our motivator, to get people on the water, using our baits and having a good time. In the long run, the results have been return customers. A highlight for me is seeing photos and listening to people who have caught fish using our baits.”
The Baby Shad mold creates 158 baits per pour.
It takes 36 hours to go from plastic in a barrel to packaged baits.
The #1 selling color for crappie is Monkey Milk.
All Bobby Garland plastics are made in the USA.
Chris Lindenberg, owner/president
Gary Dollahon, sales/marketing
George Toalson, plant mgr/lure designer
Eli Smith, office mgr/inside sales/product traffic
Every fisherman has a favorite jig color. Gary Dollahon, sales and marketing, says colors have evolved over time and are a direct result of input from fishermen. “The philosophy of adding a new color is different for me and Chris (Lindenberg). I love to add colors but our warehouse is full of different baits and colors so inventory is a nightmare for Chris. We have 91 colors of Baby Shad. Each year we have about three colors in mind to add but by the time we print our catalog we will have six or more. The colors are suggestions from our pro staff and customers, but sometimes when creating those colors for them we will come up with something different than what we expect but it looks great so we add it, too.”
Dollahon continues, “We really haven’t dropped colors in the Bobby Garland line because they all sell and if we drop a color we know fishermen would be ringing the phone off the wall. Our dealers don’t like so many colors but they have trouble deciding which colors not to carry.”
Lindenberg says, “Crappie are so much more color sensitive than bass, it’s unbelievable. There is no doubt that crappie are more selective about which colors they’ll hit.”
The following are highlights from Lindenberg about the bait-making process.
One. Plastic arrives in drums in three grades: soft; medium and hard.
Two. Lure type is decided including whether it will be a solid color, laminate or a front-back color.
Three. For two-color baits, a gated mold is used to open the gate at the precise time to allow the two colors to run together for a front-back colored bait.
Four. The color recipe is loaded into the tank. Pressures and temperatures are checked. Plastic temperatures are set at 380 degrees.
Five. The mold is poured with plastic. Crappie molds often produce over 100 baits per pour. The mold is chilled down to where the plastic can be handled, about 30 to 50 seconds.
Six. The plastic is pulled from the mold by hand. It’s cooled and allowed to harden for 24 hours.
Seven. Each bait is individually picked (pulled off) the poured plastic.
Eight. Baits are packaged and shipped.
Other notes: Left-over plastics can be ground, re-melted and used; baits are quality controlled three times, when they come out of the mold, when picked and when packaged; the company will be going from six machines to ten by the start of 2019.
Their crappie bait lineup includes: Baby Shad; Baby Shad Swim’R; Little Bit Swim’R; Scent Wiggler; Crappie Shooter; Little Bit Slab Slay’R; 2” Slab Slay’R’; 3” Slab Slay’R; Minnow Mind’R; Slab Doct’R; Split-Tail Minnow; Pile Diver; Slab Hunt’R; Stroll’R; Swimming Minnow. Jig heads include: Crappie Pro Head Doct’R; Mo’Glo; Overbite Sickle; and Bobby Garland Itty Bit. Accessories include: Crappie Rattles; Dock Shoot’R Pull Tab; Slab Ticklers; Mo’Glow Slab Jam.
“It’s been fun watching the community of fishermen using our product,” says Dollahon. “It popularity continues to grow. We also are very supportive of kids fishing and believe in that.”
Lindenberg says, “Fisherman can see the baits in the packaging before they buy them. The baits are aligned beside each other so the sizes and colors can be seen. We want our baits to be a good value, catch fish and give the fisherman a good experience.”