An open storage tray near Gerald Swindle’s rod locker just prior to Day Two of BASSfest represented a virtual who’s who of the deep-diving crankbait universe.

Fact is, scan the rod lockers and front decks of nearly every boat at BASSfest, and you’ll see much the same – lots of long plastic lips designed to escort diving treble-hooked plugs to depths of 20 feet or more.

“I’ve got at least four different styles rigged and ready all day,” says Swindle, who cranked up a nice 20-pound limit on Day One from Kentucky Lake. “I’ve got bold colors, natural colors, plugs with rattles, and some that are silent – and every one of them will hunt down there in that 20-feet deep zone.”

Asked why he uses silent crankbaits, and Swindle offered his typically comical insight. “Because after my boy VanDam has peppered a school, you gotta have something sorta subtle to convince ‘em it’s safe to eat again.”

Don’t be fooled by Swindle’s humor however. He hasn’t won nearly $2 million without a serious plan. Each component of his cranking set-up is part of a planned system that all anglers can learn from.

The Rod – “I’m using a 7’ 10” Quantum Accurist that was actually designed as a flippin’ stick, but it’s got enough length to launch these big plugs to get the longest cast possible, plus enough backbone to handle the weight of a 3-ounce lure like a lotta these are,” says Swindle. “And it’s got a soft enough tip to allow the fish to eat the bait the way you need ‘em to, so they stay hooked,” he explains.

The Reel – “I’m using an EXO 200, not only because it’s light and comfortable, but mostly because it has a big spool to hold plenty of line for long casts,” says Swindle. “A lot of anglers don’t understand the importance of spool size on a baitcaster. A lot of reels today are built to be lightweight and compact, but that sacrifices spool size, and you can’t get enough line on a 100 size spool to make the long casts these big crankbaits call for,” he explains. “You can literally cast all the line off a 100 size reel – and hey, let’s face it, nobody likes a naked spool.”

The Line – “I’m running 12-pound Sunline fluorocarbon on a lot of these crankbaits, but when I use the giant Strike King 10XD, I pair it with 14-pound, because the 10XD is so big and heavy you’ll risk breaking the line as you snap to cast it with anything less than about 14-pound test.”

The Lures – “I ain’t prejudice, I got ‘em all – the Strike King 10XD, the 6th Sense 500DD, Rapala’s DT20, Profound Outdoors Z Boss 20, and some new deep diving Storm Arashi cranks that Palaniuk gave me. I’ll throw ‘em all at some point this week,” concluded Swindle.