Lane's Secret Weapon Ready For Neely Henry

Yamaha pro Russ Lane knew things were getting close, but as with any lure design the prototypes required another little tweak ... and another ... and another ...

His new SPRO Big Daddy Crank deep-diving crankbait got some thorough workouts over the last several months. Lane kept returning the baits to SPRO's design team with suggestions for a little more of this or a little less of that. Finally, the Alabama cranking specialist knew it was good to go.

"I kept sending it back, probably at least 3-4 times or more to change a few little things and get it exactly right," Lane said. "It just has a lot of little things that I wanted, like the body that I came up with, a mid-sized profile bait instead of one with a large body.

"But I also wanted a bait you could land fish with, so it had to carry two full-size No. 2 Gamakatzu EWG treble hooks. I think those are the best you can get, so the hook hangers had to be turned at the right point and the one on the back had to be placed high. We added a little slant to the tail to keep the hooks from tangling."

Lane showed off the Big Daddy Crank in late April during a writer's event at Lake Lanier in Georgia. It was to be introduced at the annual ICAST fishing trade show just six weeks later, but he found a couple of more little things to tinker with. By the time the show rolled around in mid-July, it was ready.

"I'm pleased with it, for sure," he said. "Everyone has some different ideas about crankbaits but if you get one you're confident with and it catches fish, then you gravitate toward that bait. This bait is not the only one you'll ever need. A crankbait to me is a tool and you use the right one for the right situation on the lake. But this one, to me, is probably going to be a little more versatile and could turn into a line or series for SPRO. I'm really excited about it."

Lane's new deep-diver will get some use on Neely Henry Lake during the Bass Pro Shops PAA Tournament Series presented by Carrot Stix. The final event of the 2011 PAA Tournament Series season is set for Aug. 18-20, going out of Coosa Landing in Gadsden, Ala.

Daily weigh-ins are 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Coosa Landing, with the final weigh-in set for 4:30 p.m. at Bass Pro Shops in Leeds. The field will compete for cash and prizes, including a new Nitro Z-8 with a Mercury 225 and T-H Marine Atlas jackplate, and a Humminbird 898c Si Combo sonar unit as the MinnKota Humminbird Big Bass Award for the tournament's biggest lunker.

Also at stake is the PAA Angler of the Year points championship, currently led by Ranger pro Todd Auten of South Carolina with 351 points. Right behind is Gene Larew pro Tommy Biffle of Oklahoma, the defending Angler of the Year, with 347 points, and Hefty pro Mike McClelland of Oklahoma, with 343 points. Nitro pro Stacey King of Missouri (323 points) and BoatUS Weigh-to-Win pro Troy Morrow of Georgia (307) are within reach of claiming the honor.

Neely Henry will present the pros with dual options, despite the summer heat and high water temperatures. As one of the impoundments of the famed Coosa River, the pros can head offshore for deep structure and spotted bass or try their luck upriver or shallow for spots and largemouth.

Lane's affinity for cranking deep structure was honed on the lower end of the Coosa and also the Tallapoosa and Alabama rivers near his central Alabama home. One key of his new crankbait is the lack of any internals noise-makers.

"It doesn't have rattles because I think that's important after fish have been beaten on after several days of practice and a tournament," he said. "Running silent like that doesn't spook the school. One other element is the bait has more of a rolling action instead of an 'X-ing' action, so easier to reel. It's a sneakier bait and I think it will surprise the fish and make them react."

Deep-diving crankbaits have, for years, typically had large bodies and giant bills, or lips, to get them to depths of 15 feet or more. The old Poe's 300 and 400 Series, Bagley Diving B3 and Bomber Fat Free Shad designs are great to mimic larger threadfin or gizzard shad plowing along the bottom.

But in recent years, a trend toward more slender, sleeker deep-divers has emerged. Strike King's popular XD6 is one, as are the Lucky Craft deep divers. Strike King also has a new XD5, with a smaller body that still gets deep. Lane wanted similar body characteristics with the Big Daddy Crank.

"The size isn't too small but isn't overbearingly big," he said. "You can throw it on 10-pound test Sunline on a long cast to get to 14 feet or more, or on 14-pound fluorocarbon in water just six feet deep. I believe it'll be a versatile bait.

"If there are fish offshore from 6-14 feet, that bait will get the job done. You might have to change line size or the distance on your cast, but that's what good crankbait fishermen do. I'm looking forward to putting it to the test."

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