Ask the Experts: How can I reduce fatigue when deep cranking?

About the author

Mark Menendez

Mark Menendez

Mark Menendez is a 20-year veteran of the Bassmaster Tournament Trail. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and at MarkMenendez.com

The longer I'm in this business, the more respect I have for the guys who came before me and who are still at it. A lot of fishing fans don't realize how demanding a full day on the water can be —especially if you're getting older.

I'll turn 50 next year, and there are days when I feel every day of it, especially when I'm deep cranking or doing any sort of fishing that's really physically demanding. Big baits, long casts and hard cranking can take it out of you even if you're young and healthy. If you've got a few years in your rear-view mirror, it can be brutal.

That's why I worked with the folks at Lew's to create a new handle design for cranking rods. We call it the "Palmer," and it will definitely make your crankbait fishing easier, less demanding and more productive.

We all know what to look for in a good cranking rod blank. We want plenty of length to make long casts, a soft and forgiving tip and midsection that helps to keep the hooks in the bass' mouth and the slow action that you get from fiberglass and composites.

Unfortunately, too often we overlook the handle which is important because that's where the angler meets the rod. Conventional casting rod handles have a trigger that requires you to divide your fingers and wrap them around the handle and reel. That puts your wrist, elbow and shoulder at angles that can add to your fatigue and may even contribute to tendonitis or other problems.

The Palmer keeps all of your fingers above the trigger during the retrieve and keeps your wrist at a more comfortable and ergonomically-friendly angle. Match it up with a slower reel, like the Lew's BB-1 Pro Series in the 5.1:1 gear ratio, and you have a combo that will take a lot of the fight out of the biggest and deepest diving crankbaits on the market.

Another thing you can do is to really refine your mechanics. A good long cast with a big deep-diving crankbait doesn't have to involve every muscle in your body. It should be efficient and smooth, involving your wrist, elbow and a slight turn of your upper body. It shouldn't look like you're throwing a discus at the Olympics.

If you've ever watched my friend David Fritts cast, you know how economical the movement can be. David has probably reeled a big crankbait more miles than anyone I know, and that wouldn't be possible without good mechanics. He's won a Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year award and a Bassmaster Classic and can throw a big crankbait 60 yards or more because he uses balanced gear and lets the rod and reel do the work. Believe it or not, he does most of his casting and cranking while sitting down!

To get more out of your deep cranking with less wear and tear on your body, use the right gear and get the bugs out of your mechanics. You'll catch more bass and feel better at the end of the day.

Work smarter, not harder.

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