"Kneeling and reeling" — putting the rod tip under the water's surface while crankbait fishing in order to get extra depth out of the lure.
Elias never tried the technique before the 1982 Bassmaster Classic. He heard about a few other anglers putting their rod tips beneath the surface while crankbaiting, so he wasn't the first to try it, but he may have been the first to maximize the method by fishing from his knees and putting the rod under the water all the way up to the reel.
Elias won the 1982 Classic using the kneel and reel technique. It was the first time he tried it. Twenty-six years later, he was still kneeling and reeling when he won the 2008 Elite Series event on Texas' Falcon Lake with a 4-day record weight of 132 pounds, 8 ounces.
When to Use:
The technique is effective any time bass can be located within the range of a deep-diving crankbait, but Elias catches most of his bass when the water temperature is between the high 70s and low 90s — typically June through September.
Where to Use:
Kneeling and reeling is perfect anytime the bass can be found on underwater structure that's between 16 and 21 feet deep. Elias catches the bulk of his crankbait bass on ledges, humps and points.
Elias opts for a Quantum Q750 baitcasting reel with a 5:1 gear ratio spooled with 12-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon line. He mounts the reel on his Quantum Signature Series 7-foot, 11-inch cranking rod (presently in the prototype stage). He says the medium gear ratio helps him get maximum depth out of his lures without much fatigue. The fluorocarbon line gives him an additional foot or so of depth and has little stretch. The rod is designed for big, deep-diving crankbaits and is long enough to give him great casting distance as well as the option of submerging as much as 7 feet of it (all the way up to the reel) to get extra depth.
Most of Elias' deep cranking is done with a Mann's 20+ crankbait. He says he's tried every deep-diving crankbait on the market, and the Mann's 20+ diving bill allows it to get through brush better than any other lure. On a long cast with the right line, he can reach depths greater than 20 feet. Elias typically replaces standard crankbait hooks with Gamakatsu 2X round bend trebles in the same size for greater hook penetration.
A long cast, fluorocarbon line, a medium retrieve speed and a good deep-diving crankbait allow Elias to plumb depths of 20 feet or more with a crankbait while other anglers must slow down and use a jig or Carolina rig. His ultra-deep cranking method allows him to cover more water, while his crankbaits more effectively target larger bass than most soft plastics. When a bass strikes, he allows the rod to load and sweeps the hooks into the fish, applying steady pressure all the way back to the boat. He often keeps the rod tip under the water as he fights fish to prevent their jumping and throwing the hooks.
One More Thing:
Elias maintains that boat positioning is everything when deep cranking. Since a diving lure will attain its maximum depth when it's about two-thirds of the way back to the boat on a long cast, he gets his boat close to the target area and works it from a variety of angles.