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When thinking of professional anglers who specialize in the crankbait bite, for many, Ott Defoe quickly comes to mind. Defoe has made quite the name for himself, putting together a prestigious resume of wins and high ranking finishes across all three of bass fishing’s most renowned competitive platforms, B.A.S.S., FLW, and MLF.
During Defoe’s storied career, one constant has remained, his penchant for throwing a crankbait. Defoe’s crankbait fishing prowess is well documented, even being cited as one of the most heavily leaned upon of all strategies in his efforts during the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, where he took home first-place honors.
For those inquiring minds that would love nothing more than to refine their own approach to fishing diving baits, Defoe is quick to be of assistance, offering advice stemming from his own experiences on the water.
The following are some of Ott Defoe’s quick tips for more efficient crankbait use.
Fast Retrieves Draw Reaction Strikes
Defoe is quick to express his perception of the varying speeds at which a crankbait can be retrieved. In many cases, he feels that a fast retrieve is key to drawing strikes that might otherwise not come to fruition. Defoe also feels that his definition of a “fast retrieve” might differ slightly from that of other anglers.
“I think it would surprise people just how fast I reel a crankbait in most scenarios, especially when water temperatures are above 50 degrees. Burning a crankbait really, really fast can absolutely trigger bites that you otherwise would not get, or from fish that are hard to catch,” Defoe said.
Compensate For Lower Water Temperatures
When temperatures fall below a particular threshold, Defoe adjusts his retrieve to better suit the conditions at hand. In water of 50 degrees or less, he chooses to forgo his signature, blistering fast retrieval, in favor of a slower, more methodical presentation. In doing so, he hopes to replicate a dying baitfish, and entice bass to take advantage of a situation that they perceive as being too easy to pass up.
“I still fish a crankbait a lot in the cold. The big thing that I do with a crankbait in those situations is to use a stop-and-go retrieve. I tend to aim for a lift-and drop presentation, as opposed to steady winding. I just wind it, lift the rod, and let the bait back down. I’m not dragging it, but just fishing the bait along at a little bit of a different clip,” said Defoe.
Keep Fresh Hooks At The Ready
Defoe also reiterates the importance of hooking up to as many strikes as possible. He says that the bulk of this begins and ends with keeping our bait’s treble hooks in the best shape possible. This often includes switching out bent, dull, or otherwise less than perfect hooks, in a proactive manner.
“It is important to make sure that you always keep the best hooks on your crankbaits, and to keep them as fresh as you can. That is something that I always keep on the boat, and change out on a regular basis.”
Cranking Your Way To Success
Just like Ott Defoe, many anglers find favor in regular crankbait use due to the tactic’s high rate of angler interaction. When casting and retrieving a plug, time after time, in rapid succession, it is easy to remain optimistic that the next strike lies just beyond every piling and stick-up. By applying any or all of the prior tips to your own fishing strategy, you will likely find yourself boating more bass and harboring a greater respect for crankbait use as a whole.