Mark Daniels Jr loves to crank, and in fact loves it so much he's makin' Bill Lewis make more 'n more hard baits with bills on 'em. The newest one is the MR-12
– Mark calls it "the big brother to the MR-6
" – which, yep, gets to 12'. Should be available in Jan, tho TW says Feb 4.
Here's 5 with him, mostly about cranking right now:
1. How do you figure out which type and color of crankbait to throw this time of year?
> "For me the #1 factor – the first thing I always consider when crankbait fishing – is water clarity. Cuz right off the bat that's going to tell me my color scheme and often the depth as well: The more stained to murky the water, the shallower those fish are gonna set up.
> "I can roll up to a random lake and if the water's muddy I'm instantly reaching for chartreuses and bright vibrant reds – and likely a squarebill. In my mind they're shallow. In a clear-water lake I'm using translucent baits, more of a shad pattern, and right away I'm looking for 6-8' divers.
> "The last factor that's equally as important but not first for me is the water temp. That will tell me if I'm fishing hard-hitting baits – what some people call wider-wobbling – or tighter-wiggling baits. Rattles or no rattles – all of that is determined by water clarity and temperature.
> "I'm kinda one of those textbook guys. I've found through experience that a tighter-hitting bait works better for me in colder water."
Follow-up Q: What if you're fishing an area that goes from 0 to 14' in 1 cast length?
> "In that situation I think a better selection is a bait you know will get down to minimum 12', maybe even 14-15'. Most times...if you're not in contact with the bottom, you're not getting bit. That's crankbait fishing 101. I would want a bait that's maintaining bottom contact the majority of that retrieve. That would be vital."
2. Is there one part of a lake and depth you'll always look to start on this time of year?
> "I'm a back of the creeks kinda guy right now. Real cold nights, nice mid-day temps in the mid-60s, and the backs of the creeks tend to stay a little warmer, they heat up a little faster. You see shad migrate over the course of the day as the water temperature rises....bass know that too, and they're also creeping around in these sorts of areas."
3. How many years did it take to convince Wes at Bill Lewis to make a bait with a bill on it? 😁
> [Laughs] "What's funny is when I first joined the Rat-L-Trap team they were actually working on...Wes, Andrew and Brian came up with the Echo. That was dropping as soon as I joined. So it took from 1964 [til then]...a long time."
4. Is it still fun being friends with Jacob Wheeler or have all the wins gotten old already? 🤔
> "Man that dude – bro, he's something, he's unreal. Naw me and J Dub, that's my boy. I don't give a dang if he wins every one of them, to be honest with you. It's all love – I learn so much from watching him and just being around him and all the positive energy – it's all good man.
> "...you are literally watching greatness unfold before your eyes. It's hard to say that. I want to kick his tail too, don't get me wrong. But at some point you have to acknowledge it. I look at it as no different than being teammates with a LeBron James or a Michael Jordan – you're watching it go down. I'm just lucky we're best friends."
5. Ain't it about time you and Dustin did some hazing – like maybe hiding whatever Jacob's OCD about or locking him in his camper or whatever? I mean, it doesn't have to be at an MLF deal – or maybe it does, and either way I didn't see any rules about hazing so you're good. 😁
> [Laughs] "It's been time for that. We done dropped the ball on that – about 4 wins ago we should've started doing that...probably should be messing him with more than we do. I'm not gonna do that during tournament time...maybe in practice I might pull a little something something on him."
Hahaha love it! Here's Mark's crankin' gear:
> Rod – "My boy B-Lat came out with a phenomenal rod, actually 2 of them. Favorite's been doing a really good job letting us design rods.... The one I prefer is the 6' 10" M graphite composite – it's a Sick Stick but a Brian Latimer signature series. It's an amazing rod for shallow cranking.
> "For mid-range cranking, 8-10', he also has a 7' 2" MH graphite composite. Those 2 rods are freakin' legit. I'm really excited about these 2 rods."
> Line – "I like 12-lb Seaguar AbrazX. Anytime I'm cranking I'm always using AbrazX. The castability is superior and obviously the abrasion resistance – because if you're cranking and you're not in contact with stuff, you're not getting bit. My crankbaits look horrible when I get done fishing with them.
His reel is a Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Platinum (6.8). Couple baits he'll have on, of course his Bill Lewis baits:
> "A squarebill is excellent this time of year. I like my SB57. 'TN shad' [pictured] is probably my favorite right now and 'chartreuse shiner' you gotta have if the water gets a little stain to it.
> "The MR-6...a little bit deeper, more of a rock crankbait than it is wood...for more of your main-lake stuff...points, transitions banks, a little bit of deeper water. You're sitting in 8-10', casting up shallow. One of my favorite colors is 'silverado' [pictured] – looks just like a shad. It's a really good color."