Crank It Up

You hooked the bass-but can you hold it? A fast reel will help.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Kentuckian Shawn Penn, a young professional bass angler, dotes on high-speed baitcasting reels when fishing crankbaits. Most reels typically have gear ratios around 5:1. Penn opts for 6.3:1 reels that put out serious RPMs.

Yes, there are times when Penn blisters the water with crankbaits, but he also employs a high-speed reel for medium and slow retrieves. It boils down to control.

"When a bass strikes," Penn says, "you have to take up slack line immediately to maintain constant pressure on the fish. This can be done better with a high-speed reel, even when slow-cranking."

Some anglers feel that a low gear ratio is helpful for maintaining slow retrieves and affords more leverage when bringing in heavyweight bass.

"I don't have any trouble slowing down a crankbait with a high-speed reel," Penn says. "It's all what you get used to." As for cranking power, it really isn't necessary when fishing crankbaits. You get leverage on the bass with the rod. The reel only takes up slack when you pump the rod tip. And that is where a high-speed reel excels.