Crews’ Favorite Cranking Rod

John Crews likes the Fenwick rod because it’s soft but still accurate.
Virginia Bassmaster Elite Series pro and shallow-cranking fanatic John Crews Jr. has found it: his all-time favorite cranking stick.

Before the 2007 season started, he signed on with Fenwick and they outfitted him with all the best stuff they had. After fishing that stuff all year, Fenwick’s Elite Tech specialized Target/Spinnerbait Rod has become his key shallow-crankbait tool.

Here’s why.

Location, Location, Location

We all know it: If you don’t put your bait close to the fish, they rarely come out from wherever they are to get it. Though long rods are the norm for many pros, those who do a lot of close-quarters casting into tight spots favor shorter rods with a little give to them.

“Great shallow-cranking rods are hard to find,” Crews said. “The new Fenwick Elite Tech 6′ 3″ Target/Spinnerbait Rod is the best one for a shallow crankbait. That rod is so good because it can cast well, but has lots of tip to play the fish without letting them pull out the trebles. At the same time, it’s also accurate. That is a hard balance (to reach in a rod).”

The Target/Spinnerbait Rod comes in three models, all with a 60/40 blank with moderate delay, extreme cadence performance and very accurate casting.

Crews thinks the accuracy comes from the composition of the rod blank. “It’s a good mix of a flexible fiberglass tip and a firm graphite backbone,” he said. “If the tip is too flexible, then you have no accuracy. Too stiff, and the fish pull off. It is a trade-off.”

The Whole Package

Once he had the right rod for the job, he had to put something on it. He chose an Abu Garcia Revo ST low-profile baitcaster spooled with Berkley Trilene Maxx line.

The Revo is a fairly high-speed reel with a 6.4:1 ratio, and while many pros like a slower reel for diving plugs, Crews likes to crank it up.

“I crank it pretty fast, usually,” he said. “When you’re fishing a crankbait, the problem is never on the retrieve. It’s when you’re fighting the fish. Many times a bass will hit a shallow crank and run at the boat. A high speed 6:4 to 1 Revo does the job (of keeping up with the fish).

“Drag is super-important too,” he added. “I keep mine pretty loose, and the Revo is super-smooth.”

A lot of pros these days fish with fluorocarbon line for additional depth and perceived sensitivity when cranking. Again, Crews isn’t one of them.

“I crank with (Berkley) Trilene Maxx monofilament,” he said. “It is kind of the best of XT and XL together. I like some stretch to keep them buttoned up, and the mono helps with that as well as providing casting distance and accuracy.”

He’s used a lot of different rods before, but many became unavailable. “With every other good rod, the companies discontinued them,” he said. “Fenwick understands what a good rod they have, and hopefully (they’ll keep making it).”

While he’s not always trying to thread a needle with his casts, he wants a rod that he doesn’t have to work too hard to get the results he wants – with no surprises or errant casts. “I really want the lure to cast where I am aiming,” he said. “It might be a stump, break line, laydown, pocket, rockpile or just going along the bank, or even fan-casting a flat.”

When he wants to deep-crank, he opts for a longer rod. “I use the 7′ 3″ Fenwick Elite Tech Cranking rod,” he said. “It has a great tip for keeping fish on. It also has a nice handle for launching big plugs.”

The series of Fenwick Elite Tech rods was covered on BassFan earlier this year. Click here to read about them if you need a refresher.

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