provided by John E. Phillips
There’s no question about it, tackle does make a difference. New innovations, depth finders, lures, rods, reels and other equipment are allowing professional fisherman to catch as many or more fish than they have in the past. One of the most consistently successful pros is Ott DeFoe, winner of the 2019 Bassmaster Classic and ranked third in the world, according to BassFan.
Ott DeFoe Shares About His Surgery and Reel Preference
The equipment that bass fishermen use are tools. To be the best you can be, you’ve got to use the best tools for every fishing condition that you’ll face when on the water. A carpenter won’t use a tack hammer to drive a tenpenny nail or a big hammer to drive a finishing nail. So, over the years, fishermen have learned which equipment is best to use when fishing certain lures under specific conditions to get a bass in the boat. This is the reason different lengths and types of rods are needed for various kinds of lures and places where we fish those lures.
Success Halted by Surgery
In the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, I won $300,000 and the championship. My sponsor money increased about 15 percent, I picked up a few new sponsors fairly quickly, and then I got a few more to work with that year. I was really on top of the world - fishing and financially. However, on June 24, 2019, I learned I had a torn mitral valve, and I didn’t even know what a mitral valve was. So, doctors performed what they called a minimally invasive heart procedure. They went through my side to reach my heart and repair the mitral valve. It took me two months of recovery until I was almost back to normal.
This experience proved that life is really a roller coaster. I went from the highest high a bass fisherman can experience by winning the Classic in March 2019, to the lowest low three months later having what would’ve been open heart surgery. But thankfully I didn’t have to have my chest split open, and I was pretty much able to get back to normal with only two months recovery in the summer of 2019. What a lot of people were wondering, including me, was how would the heart surgery affect my ability to compete as a professional tournament angler. The truth is my heart surgery really helped my bass fishing.
I didn’t realize how tired I was before the surgery. Once I got past my recovery time, my energy level was much better than it had been in previous years. Since my heart surgery, I won Stage Three of the Bass Pro Tour on Lake Fork and Lake Athens and $100,000. I finished third in the first event of the Major League Bass Pro Tour on Lake Eufaula. I had a good finish on Lake Okeechobee in Florida, and I feel like I’m probably fishing better than I was before and during the 2019 Classic.
The One-Rod Angler
I think an angler should use the most versatile rod available but probably will get the most benefits from using a wide variety of baits. I suggest a 7-foot, medium-heavy action rod. My favorite is a Bass Pro CarbonLite 7-foot medium heavy-action rod. I’ll match that rod with a 7.5:1 gear ratio CarbonLite reel. This reel isn’t extremely fast, but it’s definitely not slow. For line, I’ll suggest fluorocarbon 14-pound-test XPS. If a fisherman only can have one rod, reel and line to fish all of his lures with, this is my bait-casting pick. I think this combo from Bass Pro Shops is roughly $200. Because of the bass-fishing pressure on most popular lakes, I believe that a serious bass fisherman also should use spinning tackle as well as bait-casting tackle.
If an angler only can fish one spinning rod, reel and line, I’ll choose a Johnny Morris Platinum 7’1” medium-action rod and a size 30 Johnny Morris spinning reel. I’ll use 10-pound-test Bass Pro XPS Hyper Braid line, but I always put a leader onto the line - either an 8- or a 10-pound test fluorocarbon leader. Any kind of lure you’ll use on a spinning rod will perform properly on that spinning-tackle setup.
To learn more about Ott DeFoe, visit his Facebook page.