The Ole’ Kneel-n-Reel Trick

Paul Elias Kneeling and Reeling. Photo Bassmaster.com

Most people credit Paul Elias with creating the kneel-and-reel technique to get crankbaits deeper. There’s no doubt he played a major role in popularizing the technique after his win in the 1982 Bass Master Classic but even Elias himself states that he didn’t invent sticking your rod in the water to get a bait to go deeper.

So, who did invent that awkward way of retrieving a crank? Well, here’s possibly a look at one of the first people who used or developed the technique.

I was reading Grits Gresham’s book, Complete Book of Bass Fishing – published in 1966, and came across this interesting picture.

The picture shows an angler by the name of Bill Adcock from Baton Rouge, Louisiana crouching and sticking the rod tip below the surface. He may not be kneeling but who would’ve attempted to in that narrow old Jon Boat? Plus, in the position he’s in, he’s more than likely lower to the water than he would be in one of today’s bass boats.

Bob Adcock doing his pre-1966 version of kneeling and reeling. Photo from Grits Gresham’s book, Complete Book of Bass Fishing, 1966.

In his book, Gresham recounted his first experience fishing with Adcock, which ended up being a learning experience. Here’s what he said:

“….He waited until his plug sank to the bottom, then stuck his 6-foot casting rod into the water until jut his reel was clear.”

Obviously Gresham was alluding that Adcock was using a sinking plug, but the fact remains that a sinking plug begins its ascent as you as you begin cranking the rod. By sticking the rod tip below the surface, you can keep it at depth longer.

Here’s another interesting bit of info that Gresham wrote in his book regarding tackle adjustments and kneeling and reeling.

“Adcock developed the notched River Runt, a lure that vibrates on the retrieve. The mechanics of ‘notching’ are simple. First, he clipped the loose ring from the screw eye and threw it away. Next, he filed a smooth notch on the top side of that screw eye. Last, he tied the monofilament leader to the screw eye with a figure 8 knot, pulling the knot down into the notch tightly.

“The most important effect of this alteration was that it held the front end of the lure fast, keeping it from wobbling. As speed of retrieve was increased the rear of the lure began to quiver and vibrate. Tying the leader on top of the screw eye had the added advantage of tilting the lure downward, making it run a bit deeper. Sticking the rod full length down into the water while making the retrieve got still more depth.”

So not only was Bill Adcock an early kneeler-and-reeler, he also made fine adjustments to his lures – much like anglers do today.