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January 2021

Mark Davis' Favorite Baits for Shallow vs. Deep Water

By : Mark Hicks

Strike King makes a wide variety of proven baits that catch bass in any depth of water you happen to be fishing. Veteran Arkansas pro Mark Davis carries an arsenal of these lures in his boat, but he has a handful of favorites for fishing shallow or deep.

Shallow Baits


Three sizes of Strike King’s KVD Perfect Plastic Ocho keep Davis’ livewell splashing with bass anytime he fishes shallow.

The 5-inch Ocho is my go-to,” Davis said. “I fish it Texas rigged and wacky style. I have one rigged up on just about any body of water I’m fishing. It’s not just a springtime bait. It also works good in the summer and sometimes in early spring when the water’s cold.”

When dealing with smallmouth bass, spotted bass and reluctant largemouth bass in clear water, Davis wacky rigs the 4-inch Ocho with a 2/0 straight shank hook.

“I fish this super-finesse setup with spinning tackle,” Davis said. “You can skip it under docks, cast it to grass edges or wherever finicky bass are holding.”

When Davis wants to fish a soft plastic lure that sinks fast without a weight, he steps up to the 6-inch Ocho. He Texas rigs it with a 5/0 round bend offset hook and slings it with baitcasting tackle and 15-to 20-pound fluorocarbon line.

“Because the bulky 6-inch Ocho sinks fast, it doesn’t need a sinker,” Davis said. “A sinker would make it fall nose down. Without a sinker it falls vertically with an irresistible shimmy. That shimmy is the key.”

During the spawn on a grass lake, Davis casts the 6-inch Ocho to the inside edges of grass lines and to holes in grass beds. Also, anytime the wind prevents a smaller Ocho from sinking properly, switching to the 6-inch Ocho can often get down where Davis needs it to go.

Thunder Cricket

Strike King’s Thunder Cricket Vibrating Jig is a big hitter for Davis anytime he’s fishing water less than 5 feet deep.

“The Thunder Cricket closely parallels the spinnerbait as far as the conditions are concerned,” Davis said. “It’s always good in stained water. If the water is clear, you need wind or clouds or both for it to get bites.”

Three colors do most of the work for Davis: white, white/chartreuse and black and blue. If he’s trying to imitate a bluegill, he goes with some variation of green pumpkin.

He dresses the Thunder Cricket’s hook with a Strike King Menace in a matching color.

“I know guys who rig the Menace vertical on a Thunder Cricket, but I prefer to have the tails flat,” Davis said. “Those big tails have a lot of action and they help me keep the bait up in the water column.”

His basic Thunder Cricket retrieve is steady cranking with “no snatching or jerking.” Davis likes to occasionally contact the cover, especially when the cover is submerged grass.“The only time I wind the Thunder Cricket fast is when I’m fishing in clear water,” Davis added.