Finesse Bassin’ From Start To Finish

Power fishing is not for this successful tournament angler, even in March when bass move up and get super active.

Craig James | March 2, 2023

You won’t find Davey Allen fishing a Chatterbait, frog or crankbait this spring. He’ll stick to his comfort zone and continue to catch solid limits using finesse baits.

You probably won’t ever read about Davey Allen in “Bassmaster” magazine, and you’re not going to see him on the next episode of Major League Fishing. Heck, he’s not even what you would label as a “big time” bass fisherman. But don’t let all that fool you. 

If you have fished small club and open tournaments in the south Georgia or north Florida area in the past 20 years, it’s likely you know Davey, or at least know of him. In the past couple of decades, he has amassed too many top-5 finishes to count and has won tens of thousands of dollars along the way. Not bad at all for a small timer. As impressive as Davey’s accolades are, what’s more impressive is how he’s gone about achieving his success.

Go to any tournament in south Georgia on a Saturday morning and you will find anglers throwing all the typical offerings. Buzzbaits, ChatterBaits, jigs, crankbaits, frogs… you name it, they’ve got it tied on.

But not Davey. 

In a part of the country where power fishing is the standard, Davey usually manages to put some cash in his pockets by taking a much lighter approach to tournament fishing than his competition.

“I’m a finesse fisherman at heart. It’s what I’m confident in. I know a bunch of folks like throwing the bigger stuff, and it works for them. But it’s not for me. I was at a tournament a while back and some guys were talking about frog fishing. I told them I’ve never even seen a fish caught on a frog. Seriously… I’ve literally seen Bigfoot as many times as I have seen a bass eat a frog,” Davey laughed.

Tournament Mentality

While most anglers wait until late in the day or when the bite gets tough to turn to finesse tactics, Davey shows up at the ramp ready to put five fish in the boat.

“I’ve found that in most small club tournaments, especially jonboat or kayak tournaments, catching five fish will usually get you close to, if not in the money. With that in mind, I’m just trying to get five keeper bites. Finesse fishing works really well to do just that. Once I’ve got five, then I can make a decision as to what will help me upgrade what I’ve got already,” said Davey.

Even after catching a limit, Davey admits that he rarely will stray from his finesse tactics in order to put together a bigger bag of fish.

“I’ve fished so many tournaments through the years where me and my partner Kevin have managed to catch 30 or 40 fish in day. Granted we had to weed through a bunch of small fish, but at weigh-in time, we would have five fish that would weigh 15 to 20 pounds. Weights like that will get you paid pretty consistently in small tournaments, and most of the big ones for that matter,” said Davey.


These days, Davey does his tournament fishing out of his Kaku Voodoo kayak (readers can check them out at Satilla Feed and Outdoors in Blackshear), and he prefers to keep his tackle selection small and light, opting to only bring the equipment and lures he believes in.

“I’ve found that reels in the 3000 size series seem to work best for my style of fishing. It’s not the super light style of finesse fishing they do out West, so with the slightly heavier line I use, the bigger reels work well. My rods aren’t your typical finesse-style rods either. I prefer medium to medium-heavy action rods for the way I like to fish,” said Davey.

“My go-to combo is an Abu Garcia size 3000 spinning reel paired with a 13 Fishing medium-heavy 7-foot rod, and I keep it spooled with 10-lb. Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon line. I primarily use it throwing a finesse worm, but it still works good for the other finesse lures I use. I’d say this combo is the one I use 90% of the time,” said Davey.

Davey’s next combo of choice is a 3000 series Shimano spinning reel that he has matched with a 7-foot Falcon HD medium-action rod. He keeps this combo spooled with 8-lb. P-line. Davey says this is the setup he likes to throw a drop shot with, citing that he’s able to get more casting distance out of the 8-lb. copolymer line.

A third combo Davey keeps on his kayak as a backup is a 3000 series 13 Fishing spinning combo that is a medium action. He keeps it spooled with 10-lb. Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon line.

I asked Davey how he feels about lighter-action baitcasting combos when using lighter lures.

“You know I’ve tried that, and despite today’s baitcaster becoming increasingly lighter and more sensitive, it’s just not the same. I don’t know exactly why, but I just can’t get the same results with baitcasting equipment,” said Davey.

Davey said that though he’s had success with his particular setups, be sure not to get hung up on the brand. He says size is what’s really important.

“In south Georgia’s grass-filled lakes, you have to be sure that even though you’re using finesse tactics, you still have enough power to get fish away from grass and other structure. It will take you some trial and error, but after a few times out on the water, you can figure out what kind of rod and reel works good for you,” Davey said.

Davey with trophies he has won finesse fishing the past couple of seasons from his kayak.

Lure Selection

Davey’s day in and day out favorite lure is none other than the tried-and-true Zoom Finesse worm. He says it’s responsible for more of his tournament success than all of his other lures put together.

“A black or junebug colored Finesse worm will catch bass anywhere you go. When I tie one on at a tournament, I know I’m gonna get bit by something.”

Davey uses a basic Texas rig with a black painted 1/32-oz. weight, and he completes the rig by tying on an Owner black chrome offset 2/0 hook. Davey admits he is on the OCD side when it comes to his sinker, and he says if it starts to become chipped, he will take it off and tie on another.

“I like everything to look as natural as possible, that’s why I use the black hook and weight. I don’t want anything to look strange to the fish and cost me a bite,” said Davey.

Davey also likes to throw a drop shot and says he’s gaining more and more confidence in it as of late. His go-to worm for drop shotting is Roboworm’s 4.5-inch Fat Worm, and he says the M.M. III  in junebug/chartreuse are two of his favorite colors to throw. To complete his drop-shot rig, he uses a 1/8-oz. cylinder weight and a VMC Spin Shot 2/0 hook. 

“Be sure to keep your leader short when you’re throwing a drop shot. For me, it seems like more than 8 inches of leader, and it makes it much easier for a fish to throw the hook and come off,” said Davey.

Davey’s other favorite lure choice is a Ned rig. He says anytime cover allows, he’s going to be throwing it.

“Due to its popularity, fish are seeing it more than they used to, but it’s still really effective. If I’m in an area where I can throw it without getting hung up, I feel like it will get me bit,” said Davey.

I asked Davey how he felt about the newer weedless Ned heads that are now available.

“You know I tried them, but with the (Z-Man Finesse) TRD rigged weedless, it doesn’t have the same action that it does when it’s open hooked. I feel like you’re gonna get way more bites fishing with the hook exposed,” said Davey.

Davey says his go-to Ned rig setup is a 1/10-oz. head and a Z Man green-pumpkin colored TRD.

Davey also said he’s been tinkering around with fishing 3-inch grubs here lately, and he’s been working on figuring out the best setup and way to fish them. Though he’s been catching fish with them, he says he doesn’t have the confidence to throw them in a tournament just yet.

“The grubs are working well for me, I just have to finish figuring them out. I love trying new things and techniques, just not on tournament day. On tournament day, I’m sticking to what I know and believe in,” said Davey.

Davey’s tools of the trade (from left): a drop shot, a Texas rig and a Ned rig.


“When I’m fishing a lake in south Georgia, I’m looking for grass first. Any part of it that stands out or is different, I want to fish,” said Davey.

Davey focuses his efforts in areas where one type of grass abruptly changes to another, or where there’s one section of grass out and away from the others. Anything that doesn’t look like everything else.

“If you’re fishing lily pads for instance, find that one single pad that’s standing off by itself 10 or 15 yards from all the others. That’s gonna be the pad holding fish,” said Davey.

Davey also likes to key in on other obvious structure such as islands and points. He said that the marked fish attractors at Public Fishing Areas are also really good targets.

“When you’re throwing a small worm, it doesn’t matter as much if you’re fishing obvious structure behind several boats. You’re going after a fish in a different way, and that will get you bit, even when the fish are heavily pressured,” said Davey.

Final Thoughts

Davey says the biggest piece of advice he can give anyone is simply just focus on the fish.

“Don’t overthink it, don’t get caught up as much in what color to throw, or what rod will work best. Think about where the fish should be, throw them something small and fish slowly and thoroughly until you get bit. There’s a bunch of hours in a tournament, and all you need is five good bites to have a shot at getting paid,” said Davey.

Davey mentioned that anyone who has interest in his style of finesse fishing is welcome to reach out to him on Facebook, and he will be glad to answer any questions you may have. 

Davey does most of his tournament fishing these days with the King of the Kayak Series, a club that fishes multiple venues across southern Georgia and regularly has 30-plus kayaks competing in each tournament.

“Any of y’all who are interested in tournament fishing out of a kayak, look our club up on Facebook. We’ve got some great folks in it, and we’re always looking for more,” said Davey.

Davey has been featured in GON a couple of times in the past five years. Subscribers can search the archives and find stories featuring Davey and his finesse fishing techniques at both Paradise PFA and Grassy Pond.

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