When it comes to fishing lures, the tool is only as effective as its delivery system. That’s why DeFoe takes great care in selecting the right tackle for his balsa crankbaits.

“For my cold-weather, flat-sided crankbaits, I’m always going to be fishing that on a spinning rod,” he said. “I don’t think you hear a whole lot of people talk about fishing a crankbait on a spinning rod; but for me, during those times, it’s all about efficiency. Also, you’re typically not fishing around a lot of heavy cover.”

Here, DeFoe uses a 7-foot, 2-inch Johnny Morris Carbon Light medium-action spinning rod and reel and 8-pound XPS fluorocarbon. For all his other balsa baits, he uses a 7-foot, medium-heavy Bass Pro Cranking Stick with a Johnny Morris Platinum reel.

“I’m going to vary the line depending on the depth I’m wanting to achieve, the size of the bait, and the cover I’m fishing around,” DeFoe said. “For sparse cover, it’ll be 10-pound XPS fluorocarbon. I’ll go up to 12, if I need to, but if I’m fishing squarebills around a lot of wood or cover, I’ll go up to 14.”

Consider that during winter months, bass tend to be more lethargic. This not only influences their feeding; it also diminishes their fighting ability. That being said, don’t hesitate to downsize your tackle for cool season cranking.