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DeFoe’s Spring Crankbait Tactics for Shallow Bass

We thought this shallow water cranking video was fitting given the prevalence of the tactic at the 2024 Bass Master Classic on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees. The warming water of spring draws bass to the bank, where they start feeding up for the spawn. A shallow-diving crankbait is one of the best tools to locate and trigger these fish. Crankbait designer and whizkid Ott DeFoe shares his expertise on leveraging flat-sided crankbaits for maximum impact in the spring. 

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DeFoe stresses the utility of crankbaits when targeting bass spread out over expanses of rocky shorelines. He looks for dynamic banks with features like kick-outs, dips, isolated wood cover, and varied rock formations. Complex structure and cover like this hold crawfish and attract baitfish while providing ample ambush points for bass. 


While an aggressive squarebill crankbait excels in warmer water and around cover, DeFoe prefers smaller flat-sided crankbaits with minimal noise when the water is cold. He notes that the first good push of shallow fish aren’t typically active, so a less aggressive presentation tends to get bit more. Running depth is the next key consideration. DeFoe designed the Rapala OG (Ott’s Garage) crankbait lineup with this in mind. The OG Tiny Series comes in 4- and 7-foot running depth models. With the same action and profile, Ott selects based on where the fish are holding and often switches between the two.


Spring bass location can be heavily influenced by water temperature. Ott always has an eye on the temperature gauge, noting even small changes of 1- to 2 degrees. The backs of pockets and creeks, especially those with run-ins (small tributary streams), are often a few degrees warmer and draw the highest concentrations of bass and other fish species. A small flat-sided crankbait is an excellent shad and crawfish imitator, allowing DeFoe to find where the fish are holding quickly.