When bass are eating spawning shad super shallow on hard-bottom areas, don’t hesitate to target them with a crankbait built to dive much deeper. Ott DeFoe did just that in Florida this week, winning his second Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour tournament of the year with a Rapala OG Slim 6, a bait he designed.
“That’s a six-foot-diving bait, but I was fishing it in a lot of places that were only two- and three-feet deep,” explained DeFoe, a longtime Rapala Pro. “But I’m making a little, short cast with it, so I’m able to get that bait down quick to two or three feet, bump the bottom with it, and trigger reaction bites with it.”
A non-rattling, easy-casting crankbait that swims with a medium wobble and tight side-to-side action, the Rapala OG Slim 6 sports a lightweight, circuit-board lip. It dives to six feet when fished on 12-pound-test line – hence the “6” in its name.
Some the biggest bass DeFoe caught this week on Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes – including a 5-plus pounder in the championship round – came on a reaction bite created by bumping an OG Slim 6 “on some shell and harder stuff” in shallow water close to shore. With the bank so close, he could not hit those hard-bottom spots quickly enough with a bait designed to dive to two or three feet. Such baits would need to be cast further than was possible – due to the proximity of the bank – to achieve the requisite turns of the reel handle to get into the strike-zone. But with OG Slim, DeFoe could hit paydirt with just a few cranks.
“You look at how deep I was fishing, you might say ‘This bait dives too deep,’” DeFoe said. “Well, I’m only making a 20 to 30-foot cast. You gotta get the bait down, and I was able to do that with Slim.”
Although the OG Slim’s name derives, in part, from its thin, flat-sided profile, its balsa-wood construction gives it a live-minnow action that similar-looking flat-sided plastic crankbaits can’t imitate. Its ultra-thin circuit-board lip delivers the right action and attitude no matter how you fish it, triggering bites from big bass and other gamefish.
“That Rapala OG Slim was the key bait for me today,” DeFoe said after the championship round. He added that it “did a lot of the heavy lifting” in the qualifying and knock-out rounds also, because bass were eating shad spawning in very shallow water all week.
“Definitely that super-shallow stuff was good all the time,” he said. “And when I say ‘super shallow,’ my trolling motor’s on the bottom and then I’m throwing towards the bank.”
DeFoe was often fishing so shallow that when he snagged an OG Slim, he could hop out of his boat and wade to retrieve it. He did so more often than he usually would, he said, because the Slims he was catching fish on were painted in prototype color patterns not yet available in stores.
“The problem is it’s a new color — it’s coming out at ICAST this year — but I’ve only got, like, six of them … [three of which] are at the house, in Tennessee,” he said.
The new OG Slim 6 color patterns he caught bass on were Bream, Copper Green Shad and Hot Copper Green Shad. Bream was the best pattern in the championship round. “It seemed like the water cleared just a little bit today, and I went to the one that was more white, versus the chartreuse, like I had been fishing [in earlier rounds],” DeFoe said. “That was a key deal for me.”
DeFoe caught fish also on a prototype Terminator swim jig not yet available for sale. With that bait, he targeted the outside edges of Kissimmee grass. Terminator is a Rapala Respected Brand.
But the bass DeFoe caught on an OG Slim 6, a bait he dreamed up, designed and partnered with Rapala to produce, meant the most to him.
“It’s really cool to me to be able win one of these on a bait I designed,” he said. “To be able to get a win, largely on a bait I designed, that’s something that’s the first time it’s happened for me, and a really cool deal.”
OG stands for “Ott’s Garage,” which is where DeFoe has long tinkered at his workbench, designing baits, carving and sanding balsa and dreaming of catching big bass and winning big tournaments. He credited Rapala with helping him do both and thanked the company for its faith in him.
“For them to trust me to put my name on a bait they produce is something that I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid,” he said. “So this win’s for them.”
DeFoe credited his win also to faith of another kind. “I’ve never been fishing like this before in my life, I’m just so thankful,” he said. “But none of that is mine, I give God all the credit for that.”
DeFoe ended the championship round having caught 30 bass weighing a combined 73 pounds, 14 ounces. His win was his third on the Bass Pro Tour, and his fourth with MLF. He is the only angler to win two BPT tournaments in the same season.
In 2020 in Texas, DeFoe won a BPT tournament contested on lakes Fork and Palestine. This year, he kicked off the season with a BPT win on Sam Rayburn, also in Texas. Additionally, DeFoe won MLF’s 2021 Heritage Cup, an event contested in October 2020 near Waco, Texas, and broadcast on TV in 2021.