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The Bill Lewis PWC And PWC Light

Inspired by the world class walleye fishery found on Lake Erie, the Bill Lewis Precise Walleye Crank was years in development. Dubbed the PWC for short, this unique crankbait takes walleye trolling to a whole new level.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right

“When Bill Lewis approached Jake and I with the idea of building a walleye crankbait, the first thing we said was doing this right will take time,” says Mark Romanack the founder of the Precision Trolling Data phone app and co-host of the Fishing 411 TV series. “Building a bait that consistently catches fish requires considerable effort and working with several different prototype versions. Each version must be tested extensively to implement subtle changes, confirm the action is right, that the bait runs true out of the package and most importantly confirm that the bait catches fish!”

When the Bill Lewis PWC was released in December of 2022 the Lake Erie open water trolling season was all but over. Only a handful of hard-core late season anglers gave this new bait an opportunity. Thanks to a few internet videos that went viral, the reputation of the PWC as a crankbait that straight out catches walleye was born.

Creating a list of goals

The PWC is different from other walleye crankbaits. “When Jake and I sat down to design the PWC, we had several goals in mind,” says Romanack. “Most importantly we wanted to bring to market a bait that is tuned and ready to fish right out of the package. Secondly, we wanted a bait that would dive deeper on shorter lead lengths than other crankbaits in this class. Thirdly, we wanted the PWC to be equipped with only two treble hooks instead of the industry norm of three. And finally, we wanted the PWC to have a distinct rolling action even at the slow trolling speeds employed early and late in the year.”

The PWC comes by its’ name naturally. It’s precisely built to run straight and true. The PWC also runs deeper than other crankbaits in this class using modest trolling leads. According to the Precision Trolling Data phone app a trolling lead of just 63 feet of ten pound test monofilament is needed to achieve 20 feet with the Precise Walleye Crank. Other similar baits require 117 feet of ten pound test line or more to dive that deep.

“A bait that runs deep on short lead lengths is critically important,” explains Captain Eric Hirzel of Erie Gold Fishing Adventures. “The more trolling lead that must be used to get baits to depth, the more line stretch that occurs. This in turn makes it more difficult to get solid hook ups. I’ve never used a crankbait that does a better job of hooking and landing walleye than the PWC. Rarely does a fish come unbuckled.”
Most large profile walleye crankbaits feature three No. 6 or No. 4 treble hooks. The PWC was designed to be balanced with a pair of No. 2 wide bend style treble hooks. “The third treble hook on most crankbaits has always been one of my pet peeves,” says Romanack. “That third hook doesn’t help catch any more fish, but it most certainly makes it harder to get landed fish out of the landing net! With just two treble hooks, the PWC enjoys a more life-like action, it maximizes hooking power and at the same time makes it easier to get fish unhooked and out of the net.”

If At First You Don’t Succeed

It’s safe to say that the Romanack’s are perfectionists. “It took six different prototypes to get the unique rolling action the Romanack’s were looking for,” explains Wes Higgins of Bill Lewis. “The Romanack’s were insistent on creating a bait with a defined top-to-bottom roll or rocking action that would consistently trigger walleye strikes both in cold water and warm water trolling situations.”

Sound Matters

Bill Lewis is best known for producing the Rat-L-Trap lipless crankbait that features a rattle chamber that mimics the sound of feeding shad. The action of the PWC wasn’t conducive to duplicating this iconic sound chamber, so Bill Lewis opted to create a bait with a distinctively louder rattle that other crankbaits.
“We’ve known for many years that the noise a bait makes helps to attract fish,” says Romanack. “In the wide-open spaces of the Great Lakes, a bait that is louder will draw in fish from greater distances. This goes double for fishing in stained water and especially when trolling after dark.”

Impeccable finishes

The finishing touches on the PWC focus on the premium finishes. “We teamed up with JT Custom Tackle, one of the premier custom lure painters in the industry, to help Bill Lewis come to market with some killer color options,” adds Wes Higgins. “The PWC is available in 38 fish catching colors including a solid chrome, solid white and clear version for anglers who want to paint up their own “custom” PWC baits.

What’s Next

For those anglers who have discovered that the PWC lives up to its’ reputation, the question becomes what’s next. In 2023 Mark and Jake Romanack were busy developing the next crankbait in the Precise Walleye Crank line up. The PWC Light is a smaller version of the PWC. The PWC Light is tuned and ready to fish right out of the package, it features two oversized wide bend treble hooks and a loud rattle, but the similarities end there. “The PWC Light was designed to provide a more aggressive action,” says Romanack. “We wanted a smaller profile bait that would match the size of forage fish walleye feed commonly on during the warm weather months. Not only does the PWC Light feature a more robust action it thrives on the faster trolling speeds commonly employed in the summer months.”

When the water begins to warm, plankton blooms stain most bodies of water. Crankbaits that generate a lot of flash are often the top producers in stained water. To help maximize flash, the PWC Light offers several models with a chrome lip that maximizes fish attracting flash.

The Bill Lewis PWC was inspired by the Lake Erie walleye fishery, but this bait is also at home in Green Bay, Saginaw Bay, the Bay of Quinte, Lake Huron and the western reservoirs. The PWC Light is just at home on the big water, but the smaller size makes it a “go to” bait for natural lakes and other smaller bodies of water.

Anywhere anglers troll for walleye, the PWC and now the PWC Light is built to catch them day in and day out.

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