Bassmaster Elite Series pro Ott DeFoe is a product of his environment, and a particular aspect of those positive influences from his East Tennessee youth prove advantageous across southern waters. 

We’re talking about balsa crankbaits — a love affair with which DeFoe was early smitten, and one he gladly shares with Louisiana anglers.

“I’ve always be a tinkerer with fishing stuff and I always liked working with wood; so growing up in East Tennessee, which has always been a hotbed of homemade balsa crankbaits, I started making my own baits,” DeFoe said. “I started doing it because, when I first started out, I didn’t want to be paying $12-$15 for a bait. 

“But I began to see the success that guys had using them, and I heard how everybody’s was a little different. That’s why I wanted to make my own. One of the guys I used to fish with, his dad was into making balsa baits and he was nice enough to show me the ropes.”

Cool story, but DeFoe still trusts many of his professional fishing scenarios to balsa baits — both from the Rapala family and some of his tried-and-true personal creations. So, what’s the attraction? Well, there’s a handful of key points that make these natural wood crankbaits worthy of a significant role in your game plan.

Uniquely you

Without the machinery necessary for creating round body crankbaits, DeFoe stuck to the flat-sided baits he could craft with a router and hand tools. Today, his crankbait arsenal includes a variety of shapes and sizes, but the one thing they all have in common is their inherent