Bill Adcock could be the first angler to figure out that by sticking the rod into the water you could get greater depth from your crankbaits. Photo Grits Gresham's book The Complete Book of Bass Fishing.

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. In today’s piece, Kneeling and Reeling Bill Adcock, we’ll show you who may be the first angler to use the technique to get crankbaits deeper.

Last week Brian posted a piece titled Grits Gresham 1969 and he alluded to this subject.  It’s been 10 years since I last read Gresham’s book, so I thought I’d get it back out and hang with an old friend for a while.

I pulled the book out and went directly to the index.  I spotted Adcock’s name and went to the pages associated with his name.  And, of course, I found what I was looking for.

The picture shows an angler by the name of Bill Adcock from Baton Rouge, LA 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.

In this chapter, 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 just his reel was clear.”

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

But the other thing that caught my eye was another bit of information that Gresham regarding tackle adjustments that Adcock made to his River Runt.

Paul Elias kneeling-and-Reeling at the 1982 BASS Masters Classic on Montgomery Lake in AL. Photo Bassmaster Magazine.

“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, in this case making the River Runt fish more like a standard crankbait today.  Just for giggles, I did a search for “Notched River Runt” and nothing came up.  I wonder now if anyone has ever found any of these baits and knew what they were?

I need to reread this book in its entirety and provide a review on it.  It really is an amazing piece of literature and one of the best from this era of bass fishing.