Fresh from the wood shavings and sawdust of Ott DeFoe’s Garage, comes another new Rapala balsa bait — the OG Rocco® 5.
A big-body, square-bill crankbait, the OG Rocco 5 is built to burn through heavy cover and trigger bites from big, burly bass and other gamefish.
“You’re able to fish it faster in those heavy-cover areas,” said DeFoe, a Rapala Pro, Bassmaster Classic Champion and winner of 11 other top-tier Bassmaster and Major League Fishing (MLF) tournaments. “You can burn it and trigger a reaction bite.”
Integrating DeFoe’s exacting design specs and Rapala’s engineering expertise, the OG Rocco 5 deflects off cover and recovers better than any other square-bill that DeFoe has ever banged off wood or rock in his storied career.
The Rocco is, in my opinion, the best square-bill crankbait ever made,” DeFoe said. “It’s got all the right ingredients. It has the best deflection.”
The OG Rocco 5’s size, balsa-wood engineering and construction all contribute to its superior, bite-triggering deflection ability.
“It’s a pretty good-size hunk of balsa, and the more you’ve got there, the more buoyancy you’re going to have,” DeFoe explains. “So, when you reel it down into a crack in a laydown, or a piece of rock, or something like that, you can stop it, and that bait has enough buoyancy to back out of a lot of those situations, so you can keep your retrieve going.”
The OG Rocco 5 is the third balsa-wood crankbait DeFoe has designed for Rapala’s celebrated OG Series. OG stands for “Ott’s Garage,” where he carves, shaves and sands on his workbench, balsa baits of all shapes and sizes. OG Slim 6 and OG Tiny 4, each a flat-sided, round-bill crankbait, preceded Rocco in the OG Series. DeFoe and others have won big bass tournaments with those baits.
And while DeFoe won’t be surprised if – when! – Rocco swims to similar tournament success, he says it’s “quite a bit different than the Slim or Tiny.” Setting it apart is both its bill shape – square vs. round – and it’s “overall shape” and profile” he explains. “It’s a fatter bait.”
Another difference: The Rocco swims with “considerable more thump” than do the Slim or Tiny, DeFoe said. That action will make it a go-to spring bait when water temps warm to the mid-50’s, and where bass welcome heavy cover to hold on – be it submerged wood, big snaggy rocks, or a combination of both.
“I’m going to have this on the deck all the time,” DeFoe said. “Where I need to bump a bait into cover to be able to trigger those fish into biting.”
Above all other lure types, DeFoe said, a balsa-wood crankbait rules as “king of getting a reaction bite from a bass” and other game fish. That’s why he’s carved three of them from the special wood grown for Rapala, which Rapala can replicate to his specs at scale, as only Rapala has the expertise and experience to do.
Scientifically unique in that it’s low in density but high in strength, balsa wood boasts a natural buoyancy that animates a bait carved from it with a live-minnow action that DeFoe said, “you just can’t get” from a bait made from another material.
Rapala namesake and founder Lauri Rapala discovered that secret decades ago. In developing the original floating Rapala, Lauri noticed that balsa wood imparts a subtle and delicate wobble, similar to a wounded baitfish, that triggers explosive fish strikes.
So began the legendary pairing of balsa and Rapala, which flourishes today in designs dreamed up in Ott’s Garage, in boxes stacked by the hundreds on retail-store shelves, and in the thousands of baits tied on the lines of anglers across the world as they reel in a fish of a lifetime. Contributing to that tradition is an honor DeFoe appreciates greatly – and doesn’t take for granted.
“I love the fact that we work with balsa because every piece of it is unique,” DeFoe said. “I’m so thankful to have gotten to work with Rapala on the whole OG line. I’ve been fishing balsa-wood baits my whole career. I love building baits out of balsa wood. I’ve done it since I was a kid.”
Sharp-Looking Baitfish Patterns, Sticky-sharp Hooks
While the similarities between Rocco, Slim and Tiny start with balsa-wood construction, they also include attention-grabbing, gamefish-mimicking color patterns and sticky-sharp VMC Black-Nickel 1X Strong Hybrid Treble Hooks. “Those are my absolute, all-time favorite treble hooks,” DeFoe said.
OG Rocco 5’s are available in 15 forage patterns, comprising “good mixes” of both baitfish and crawfish patterns, as well as bright-color and natural-forage patterns. Bright colors are better, generally, in stained to muddy water. Natural looks generally work best in crystal-clear to lightly stained water. The Rocco’s palette of color patterns includes three new options – Bruised Citrus Shad, Tuxedo Shad and Chartreuse Black. The original OG Series color patterns include Bream, Classic Craw, Copper Green Shad, Chartreuse Rootbeer Crawdad, Citrus Shad, Dark Brown Crawdad, Green Gizzard Shad, Hot Copper Green Shad, Helsinki Shad, Red Crawdad, Rootbeer Crawdad and Silver.
Of new color patterns, Bruised Citrus Shad is DeFoe’s favorite.
“That is just a dynamite color, man,” DeFoe said. “I’m just super happy with how this one turned out. It’s kind of got that little bit of chartreuse, like Citrus Shad, but a darker back with gold iridescence over it.”
Likewise, the new Chartreuse Black pattern, he said, is a “staple” that “we had to have.” DeFoe said Tuxedo Shad, which is mostly white with a black back, is a “staple” color as well.
OG Rocco 5 weighs 3/8th oz. and measures 2-½ inches. It will run as deep as 5 feet on 12- to 14-pound test line. The OG Rocco 5 has a suggested manufacturer’s retail price of US$10.49.
“It really hits that all-purpose square-bill-crankbait diving depth,” DeFoe said. “That makes it an excellent, 365-days-a-year bait. It’s just an absolute workhorse.”
Check your local retailer for availability.