Out of all the bass fishing tactics, East Tennessee native Ott DeFoe loves fishing crankbaits more than anything else, and it’s helped him win at the highest levels, from the Bassmaster Classic to the Bass Pro Tour. DeFoe dives deep into when and how to fish squarebill crankbaits for bass throughout the year, why squarebills are his go-to lure for heavy, shallow cover, and what attributes to look for in a quality squarebill.
FEATURED PRODUCT (retail links)
- SQUAREBILL CRANKBAIT – Rapala Ott’s Garage (OG) Rocco Squarebill Crankbait Buy at Omnia Fishing Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- ALL SQUAREBILLS Buy at Omnia Fishing Buy at Bass Pro Shops
Bottom line up front: don’t pigeonhole a squarebill crankbait to a specific season, water temperature, or cover type. DeFoe relies on them to fish fast and generate reaction strikes anytime bass relate to heavy cover in shallow water. Sure, they excel around hard cover like wood, but they perform well around grass and rock, too, with mixed cover areas being prime. Fish squarebills in the same places you’d fish a lipless crankbait or ChatterBaits.
When covering grass flats, DoFoe will hold his rod tip up and worm the bait to minimize fowling, but generally speaking, squarebills perform best around hard cover that you can contact and careen the lure off. The unique square lip design of a squarebill crankbait causes it to deflect hard to one side or the other, which triggers bass while reducing snagging.
DeFoe discusses what he looks for in a quality squarebill. First, a balsa wood bait is his preferred material, as it’s more buoyant than plastic and, being a natural material, has more lifelike action. Contact the cover, pause the bait, and the balsa rises quickly to clear the cover. Ott personally designed the entire Rapala OG line of crankbaits to fill specific shallow cranking needs, but balsa is the commonality between all the baits due to its natural action. Also, quality hooks are essential. They must be sharp and strong for wrenching bass from the cover.
Regarding springtime fishing, lure selection is driven by water temperature. Squarebill crankbaits come into their own from water temps in the mid-50 degree range and up. Still, regardless of water temperature, if the bass are in heavy cover, you need a squarebill just because you can fish it clean.
In summary, squarebill crankbaits are about fishing shallow water cover fast and generating reaction strikes. They’re essential for tournament anglers and anyone looking to have a blast fishing in shallow water.
ROD SETUP (retail links)
- ROD – Bass Pro Shops Crankin’ Stick Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- REEL – Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Platinum Signature Casting Reel, 6.8:1 Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- LINE – Bass Pro Shops XPS KVD Signature Series 100% Fluorocarbon Buy at Bass Pro Shops
FISH FINDERS & BOAT CONTROL
- FISH FINDER – Humminbird HELIX 12 CHIRP MEGA SI+ GPS G4N Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- 360 SONAR – Humminbird MEGA 360 Imaging Buy at Omnia Fishing Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- LIVE SONAR – Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging Buy at Omnia Fishing Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- TROLLING MOTOR – Minn Kota Ultrex Buy at Bass Pro Shops