BIG MUSKIE ON LITTLE PLANERS
By Danny Wade
The use of planer boards for muskie fishing typically brings
visions of larger, dual planers deployed off a mast secured
near the bow of the boat. But as you will see in this article,
there is an effective means to utilize planer boards for
inland lake muskie fishing as we have here in Ohio and surrounding
regions. I highly recommend giving the Off Shore Tackle
in-line Side-Planers a try.
I am an avid Ohio muskie angler here in the Buckeye state.
I operate the Muskie Tutor Guide Service on Salt Fork Lake,
here in the east central part of the state. I use Off Shore's
Side-Planers routinely in my muskie pursuits in conjunction
with the OR18 Snapper Adjustable Release. This combination
has proven to be very deadly. The OR18 provides plenty of
grip to minimize any line slippage, which is a must when
trolling at 4-5 mph range.
My preferred set up using the Side-Planers and OR18's is
to put a large barrel swivel about 4' ahead of where the
lure will be attached. On the rear of the Side-Planer, I
put a medium size snap swivel. When the planer board is
release the board slides down to the barrel swivel and stops.
This prevents the hassle of chasing down the boards. I run
the baits 15 to 30' behind the planers.
The OR18 can be set to release upon a strike; however,
my preference is to set them in a fixed tension so the board
can't release. Upon playing the fish to the boat, the easily
fingered tab on the OR18 can be quickly flipped open allowing
the board to slide down to the barrel swivel. This setup
is very useful in heavy chop or chop created by heavy boat
traffic. Yes, it takes a little getting used to manually
releasing the OR18, but when using them in this fashion
you almost completely eliminate boards popping off or release
Off Shore Side-Planers are a major part of my muskie fishing
tactics. I find by using these boards as described, I can
deploy the planers literally in seconds with minimal hassles.
In the 2000 Ohio fishing season, we caught 100 muskie out
of my boat.
To maximize the success of my clients, I almost always
run the Side-Planers. I've been using my boards for almost
10 years now and they are still in good shape. They will
always remain one of my favorite muskie catching tools.
Danny Wade is the operator of Muskie Tutor Guide Services
in Salt Fork Lake, Ohio and can be reached at 740-430-0429
or by email at email@example.com .
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CASHING IN ON THE EXTRA TROLLING LINE
By Mark Romanack
Last year the Michigan Department of Natural Resources
handed salmon and trout anglers a gift. On the open waters
of the Great Lakes salmon and trout anglers can now use
three instead of two lines per angler. Extra lines are always
welcome on a trolling boat. The question is how to best
use these bonus lines to catch more trout and salmon.
DOWNRIGGERS, STACKERS & ADD-A-LINES
On any salmon boat, downriggers are the heart of the trolling
system. The ultimate in depth control fishing, downriggers
are an essential accessory on any salmon boat.
The typical salmon boat is rigged with four or even five
electric downriggers. Frankly many anglers are surprised
when I recommend that they purchase and mount only two downriggers
on their boat. Rigged properly, two downriggers can be used
to present four fishing lines plus four add-a-lines or sliders.
A grand total of eight lures can be fished at different
levels in the water column using just two downriggers. Using
four or five downriggers significantly increases the amount
of water disturbance caused by the cable and weight cutting
through the water. This disturbance can spook fish that
might have otherwise been caught by running fewer lines.
The zebra mussel does such a through job of filtering plankton
from the water that water clarity has improved each year,
causing anglers to modify their techniques.
Two lines can be easily rigged on a single downrigger by
using an Off Shore Tackle OR2 Medium Tension or OR7 Light
Tension stacker release. A stacker consists of two downrigger
style releases attached to a short and long wire cable.
One release is attached to the short length of cable and
the other to the longer cable. The pieces of cable are joined
by a heavy snap that is secured around the main downrigger
To rig a stacker the bottom line must be set first. Set
a desired lure 6-20 feet behind the boat and place the line
between the rubber pads of an OR1 Medium Tension downrigger
release. This release is attached to the back of the cannonball
Once the first line is secured to the downrigger release,
lower the weight 5 to 20 feet into the water. Take the clip
on the stacker release and close it over the downrigger
cable. Next take the release on the short cable lead and
also secure it to the downrigger cable. Now take a second
rod rigged with a desired lure and let this bait back about
10 feet further behind the boat than the bottom lure.
Grasp the second release on the stacker, pinch it open
and place the line from the second rod between the rubber
pads. At this point you can lower the downrigger weight
to the desired fishing depth and begin fishing. Many anglers
go a step further by adding sliders to the stacker rod.
A slider is simply a spoon or stickbait attached to a six
foot length of monofilament with a large snap swivel on
the loose end. The snap swivel is clipped over the fishing
line and the lure tossed into the water. The slider will
sink until it reaches the natural bow in the fishing line.
When a fish hits the slider the spoon is free to slide
down the line. The angler must react quickly by popping
the main release and reeling up the slack line as quickly
as possible. Sliders are easy to fish, but the ratio of
hooked fish to strikes isn't especially good.
A fixed add-a-line works like a slider that's positioned
to stay at a particular depth along the fishing line. Rigging
an add-a-line is easy. Take a six foot length of 20 pound
test monofilament and thread an Off Shore Tackle OR14 medium
tension release onto the line. Tie a heavy snap swivel onto
each end of the leader and to one snap attach the desired
After the main line is attached to the downrigger release
at the cannonball, lower the weight 5-20 feet into the water.
Take the snap swivel from the add-a-line and clip it over
the fishing line. Next take the OR14 release and clip it
to the downrigger cable. Toss the lure over the side and
lower the downrigger weight to the desired fishing depth.
When a fish strikes the fixed add-a-line the OR14 release
provides enough resistance to insure a solid hook set before
the fish pulls the release free from the downrigger cable.
The angler must then trip the line from the main downrigger
release and fight the fish.
A fixed add-a-line enables the angler to set a lure at
any desired depth. Because the add-a-line is fixed to the
main line it's easy to duplicate a productive depth level.
Diving planers fill a very important niche in the Great
Lakes trolling scene. Designed to provide both downward
and outward lure coverage, divers fill the gap between downrigger
lines and planer board lines.
The most popular diver on the market is the Dipsey produced
by Luhr Jensen. Offered in size 3/0, O and 1, the number
1 is the largest and most commonly used diver on salmon
boats. Both the size O and 1 Dipsey Divers are also equipped
with an O Ring that increases the surface area of the diver
and causes them to dive deeper. The Dipsey has a lot of
surface area and can be used to reach depths approaching
A trip arm on the O and 1 Dipsey must be set for the diver
to function. When a fish strikes a lure pulled behind the
diver, the trip arm releases enabling the angler to fight
the fish without the drag of the diver.
The Dipsey also has four settings that adjust the amount
of outward coverage the diver achieves. On the O setting
the diver dives straight down. On the 1, 2 and 3 settings
respectively the diver tracks further out to the side, sacrificing
some overall depth in the process. The Dipsey can be fished
on either the right or left side of the boat by adjusting
the counter balance weight positioned on the back of the
Two or more Dipsey Divers can be fished on each side of
the boat by simply adjusting the overall lead length or
the setting number so the divers don't fish at exactly the
The Dipsey is most often used to present spoons, stickbaits
or J-Plugs on a six to 10 foot leader. The Dipsey is also
useful for fishing dodgers, flashers and a wealth of other
ADDING IN-LINE BOARDS
Downriggers and Dipsey Divers are the workhorse presentations
on any salmon boat, but using in-line boards opens up some
interesting opportunities as well. Simply fishing spoons,
stickbaits, J-Plugs or diving crankbaits behind in-line
boards is a great way to target steelhead that are near
the surface or kings, cohos, browns and even lake trout
early in the season when the water is cold.
Fishing a couple Side-Planers on each side of the boat
can help cover a wealth of water and produce a lot of bonus
fish missed by riggers and divers.
Side-Planers aren't just useful for running high lines
however. The OR12 Side-Planer is a little larger than other
mini boards on the market. The extra size of this board
provides better outward tracking ability, enabling anglers
to fish a wealth of trolling hardware behind a Side-Planer.
Small in-line divers such as the Luhr Jensen Jet Diver
are great tools for fishing from the surface to about 30
feet down. Most small lures can be fished behind these mini
divers with great success and the Side-Planer can be used
to position these rigs well out to the side of the boat.
Side-Planers are also handy when it comes to fishing lead
core line. A lot of salmon trollers simply fish lead lines
straight out the back of the boat, but with the help of
a Side-Planer, anglers lead core can be fished as planer
Spool up a couple hundred yards of monofilament on a large
trolling reel then attach this line to a spool of 27-36
pound lead core line. Spool up the entire core of lead line
and add a leader of 20-30 feet of monofilament on the end.
Attach a favorite spoon or other lure to the end of the
leader. Let out the leader and all of the lead line until
the monofilament backing is reached. When you reach the
backing, grab an OR12 Side-Planer and attach the backing
line to the release on the tow arm. Next, put the backing
line in the release located at the back of the board. Once
the board is attached to the line with both releases, drop
the board over the side and let line play off the reel while
trolling. The Side-Planer will carry this lead core line
far enough to the side to stay clear of diver lines while
adding a unique and effective extra line to your trolling
WRAPPING IT UP
On a salmon boat there's always room for an extra trolling
line, but it's also important to make sure your lines are
covering the entire water column.
A good trolling pattern for a salmon boat begins with a
couple downriggers, two stacker lines, some add-a-lines,
a couple Dipsey Divers off each side and a couple planer
board lines covering the high lines. If you want to get
creative Side-Planers can also be used to fish lead core
line. The key is to cover as much of the water column as
possible and then let the fish dictate your next move.
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ENDING THE CONFUSION ABOUT KACHMAN AUTOMATIC REELS
By Larry Hartwick
Since the introduction of the first Kachman Automatic Planer
Mast, there has been confusion about how they work. Most
of this has been people trying to make a simple product
into something that an Engineering Degree is required, nothing
could be further from the truth. Using an Automatic Planer
Mast is very easy. It should be called a line management
system only that would probably be more confusing.
There are no motors or crank handles. The Automatic reel
is designed to keep a constant pressure on the tow line.
What this means in real terms is that at no time does the
reel allow any slack in the tow line. This is extremely
beneficial while making turns.
Trolling distance to the planer boards is determined by
setting a manual stop on the reel. There is one hole and
a pair of slots in the side of the reel, by putting a loop
of tow line thru the hole and over the slots, a distance
stop is set. This is very similar to tying a dock line to
a boat cleat, and the stop distance can be changed at any
time. The first time, it is easier to set the distance at
To set the planer boards out, simply place them in the
water. The pressure from the board will take it out to the
pre-set stop. As turns are made, the reels will automatically
retrieve any slack in the tow line. As soon as the boat
straightens out, the pressure from the planer board will
cause the tow line to feed out to the pre-set stop again.
This process will be repeated during every turn.
To retrieve the planer boards, drive directly to one board
and pick it up. Turn the boat around and repeat the process.
This can be accomplished even if you don't have easy access
to the mast by using a tow line retriever. This is basically
a ring attached to a light nylon line. The tow line retriever
can be used from the cockpit of the boat without needing
to access the planer mast. Once the tow line stops are set
to the proper distance, there is no reason or need to access
Planer board fishing has never been easier! Worried about
the reels failing? Don't. The reels are very trouble free.
If it breaks, we'll fix it. This system will take the work
out of planer board fishing and is guaranteed to instantly
make the pilot of the boat better than they were the day
before. The object of fishing is to have fun; the Kachman
Automatic Planer reels will put a bunch of fun back into
trolling. Have Fun!
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FISHING MULTIPLE LURES ON PLANER BOARD LINES
By Mark Romanack With Allen Nielsen
Allen Nielsen of Norwalk Ohio is an avid troller and a
big fan of Off Shore Tackle products. Allen has developed
a system for trolling multiple lures on a planer board line
that makes trolling with Side-Planers even more productive.
Allen spends most of his time trolling in the deep waters
around the Bass Islands region of Lake Erie. His system
begins with a deep diving crankbait such as the Reef Runner
set behind the boat 20 feet. He then clips on an OR16 Snap
Weight Clip with three ounces of weight attached.
The Snap Weight is lowered into the water approximately
10 feet, then an add-a-line is clipped onto the main line.
Allen prefers to use a worm harness or a Stinger spoon on
An add-a-line is easy to rig. Simply take a six foot length
of monofilament and thread an OR16 Snap Weight clip onto
the line. Tie a snap swivel to each end of the monofilament.
To one swivel attach the lure. The other swivel is clipped
over the fishing line and the OR16 is then clipped onto
the main line to hold the add-a-line at the desired position.
The OR16 has a strong enough tension to insure that any
fish that strikes the lure on the add-a-line will experience
enough resistance to set the hook. With a big fish the add-a-line
may slide on the line a little, but the clip can't come
off so long as the line is placed behind the pin in the
Once the add-a-line is clipped into position, toss the
add-a-line over the side and let the Snap Weight down to
the desired fishing depth. This two lure rig can be fished
as a flat line, but Allen strongly suggests adding a Side-Planer
board to spread out the lure coverage.
"The Side-Planer does a good job of handling the Reef
Runner and three ounces of weight," says Nielsen. "I
can fish 30-50 feet down using this system."
Fishing an add-a-line on a planer board rig is a great
way to cover the water column and offer fish a number of
lure options. This same basic rig can be modified by using
different lures and Snap Weight sizes to suit a wide variety
of trolling situations.
Thanks Allen for sharing your tips.
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FIVE WAYS TO CATCH MORE FISH WITH SIDE-PLANERS
By Mark Romanack
The Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side-Planer is the best investment
an angler can make. Simple to use, inexpensive and effective,
the Side-Planer is the key to spreading out your trolling
lures and covering more water. Deadly on just about anything
that swims, the OR12 Side-Planer is the leading in-line
planer on the market.
The popularity of the OR12 is linked to a number of key
features. The overall size of the Side-Planer is slightly
larger than competitive boards. This extra size enables
the Side-Planer to carry the load of deep diving crankbaits,
Snap Weights and even lead core line.
The pinch pad style line releases that come standard on
the OR12 are another reason this board ranks first. The
easiest board on the market to put on and take off a fishing
line, the OR12 can also be used with a wide assortment of
other Off Shore Tackle releases for specific species and
Every year at shows, retail outlets, boat launches and
other places anglers congregate we're asked for suggestions
on using the OR12 Side-Planer. The following five tips are
great ways to put Side-Planers to work catching more fish.
FISH THE SURFACE
The most overlooked fish are those that are feeding near
the surface. Any body of water that has suspended forage
fish is going to have a suspended population of game fish
as well. Many of these fish live out the majority of their
lives within a few feet of the surface, but don't expect
your sonar to tip you off to their presence.
Fish that are suspended high in the water column are nearly
impossible to locate with a sonar unit because the transducer
coverage area is very small near the surface. Also, suspended
fish tend to move out of the way of the boat before the
transducer can do its job.
The only way to know if fish are feeding near the surface
is to fish for them. Set a few trolling lines with favorite
lures and short leads that fish in the top 10 feet. Use
Side-Planer boards to spread out these lines and see for
yourself what you've been missing!
SPREAD OUT BOARD LINES
Most anglers who fish in-line boards space them out to
the side 50-75 feet. If the surface is a little choppy this
strategy works well, but on calm days or when working fish
suspended near the surface it's important to space out the
boards much further to the side.
"I set my outside Side-Planer at least 150 feet out
to the side," says Keith Kavajecz a professional walleye
angler and Off Shore Tackle pro staffer. "My inside
board is set 75-100 feet to the side. Keeping my boards
positioned out to the side further helps me gain more lure
coverage and does a better job of contacting spooky fish.
The higher the fish are in the water column, the more important
it is to fish your Side-Planers further to the side."
Anyone who has spent much time trolling knows that it's
much easier to steer the boat when trolling downwind. Trolling
downwind takes the work out of fishing in-line boards on
rough water days.
In addition to being easier to steer the boat, it's also
easier to detect strikes when trolling with the waves. Downwind
trolling also allows the boards to be positioned out to
the side further increasing lure coverage. Even more importantly,
when a fish is hooked trolling downwind the boat speed can
be slowed to make the fight more enjoyable. Trolling downwind
will also put an end to tangled lines.
On windy days troll downwind while searching for fish.
Once a school of fish is located pick up your lines and
run directly upwind to set up for another pass. Making short,
but precise downwind trolling passes is the most efficient
way to stay on fish in the waves.
USE TATTLE FLAGS
The OR12 Side-Planer is a fish catching machine. Adding
an OR12TF Tattle Flag Kit to an OR12 makes this board an
even better trolling tool. Tattle Flag kits are sold as
after market items and come complete with a flag, linkage
arm, necessary spring, hardware and two OR16 Snap Weight
Clips. It takes about five minutes to install a Tattle Flag
on the OR12 and it's time well spent.
Once installed the Tattle Flag telegraphs even the slightest
bite and takes the guess work out of fishing in-line boards.
When a fish is hooked pressure is applied to the line. This
pressure pulls directly against the linkage arm that in
turn causes the Tattle Flag to fold down. Fish on! It's
that easy to use Tattle Flags.
The Tattle Flag works its magic in calm water, rough water
and in turns. In fact the Tattle Flag is so sensitive that
even unwanted fish such as white perch or small drum will
trigger the flag. The Tattle Flag even folds down when the
lure fouls on a piece of debris in the water. The Tattle
Flag is a must have accessory for the OR12 Side-Planer.
TROLLING SUPER/FUSED LINES
Monofilament line is the preferred choice of most trollers
because it has the best combination of function and value.
There are times however when the new fused super lines can
make a big difference in trolling success. Fused lines like
Berkley's Fireline are thinner in diameter and have less
stretch than the same break strength of monofilament.
The smaller line diameter creates less drag in the water
and enables diving crankbaits to reach significantly greater
depths. By simply using fused lines crankbaits can be used
to reach deeper fish without adding weight to the line or
using exceptionally long lead lengths.
Fused lines are also a good choice when trolling live bait
rigs at slow speeds. The lack of stretch in fused lines
helps to achieve a solid hookset at slow trolling speeds.
Unfortunately most of the line releases and clips on the
market are not designed for use with fused lines. Off Shore
Tackle recommends the OR18 Snapper Adjustable Release when
using fused lines with the OR12 Side-Planer. This unique
line clip mounts on the tow arm of the OR12 and features
a cam style jaw that can be closed very tightly over the
line. A pin also protrudes through the clip further insuring
that fused lines can not pull free from the clip.
Another option when using fused lines is to use the OR16
(Red) Snap Weight Clip and to double wrap the line through
the jaws. Double wrapping prevents the line from slipping
through and cutting the rubber pads.
SUMMING IT UP
The OR12 Side-Planer is a fishing tackle investment that
pays big dividend. Countless fish each year fall victim
to trolling tactics made better by the Side-Planer. It's
hard to imagine a more perfect way to troll.
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IN-LINE BOARDS IN DEPTH
By Mark Romanack
For many anglers the pint sized planer boards known as
in-line boards are a novelty. Anglers who are familiar with
the workings of a dual board and mast system scratch their
heads when they see those little in-line boards in use.
Tons of folks dedicated to using big boards don't see a
need for the little boards. Even among those who have tried
in-line boards, many still wonder what all the fuss is about.
After all, how can less be more?
The in-line board phenomenon has grown steadily during
the last decade. In part the growing popularity of these
trolling aids point to changes that have occurred in both
angling species and techniques.
During the 70's and 80's salmon were the most sought after
species in the Great Lakes region. Big fish and lots of
them attracted anglers from all around the Midwest. The
action for these brutes took place on big water. Deep water
fishing techniques such as downriggers and diving planers
accounted for most of the fish taken.
As anglers learned more about salmon and how to catch them,
planer board systems started gaining in popularity. Stocking
efforts to establish brown trout and steelhead fueled the
growing demand for planer board fishing techniques. Soon
every charter boat on the Great Lakes, and most of the serious
amateur boats were sporting a planer mast and a set of dual
As interest in board fishing expanded, a niche for the
in-line board started developing. Anglers who tried these
mini boards soon discovered that in-line boards were easy
to use and effective. Dual boards still dominated the scene,
but in-line boards started becoming a common sight on the
By the end of the 1980's the salmon fishery enjoyed by
so many had peaked and was beginning to decline. Salmon
infected with Bacterial Kidney Disease started turning up
dead on beaches in both Lakes Michigan and Huron. As salmon
stocks declined so did interest in fishing.
Anglers who had previously focused primarily on salmon
started turning their attention towards Lake Erie and a
building tide of red hot walleye fishing action. Trolling
crankbaits with the help of planer boards was fast becoming
the quickest way to a walleye limit.
As with salmon, dual board boards quickly dominated the
scene on Lake Erie. It became the norm for anglers in the
Western Basin to fish 10-12 cranks at a time! Most charter
captains favored the use of dual boards and the majority
of the recreational anglers followed suit.
In-line boards did not enjoy a significant foothold on
Lake Erie until tournament anglers popularized their use
during the early 1990's. Because tournament anglers are
forced to fish on a wide variety of waters, they use smaller
18-20 foot boats. In-line boards are ideal for small boat
owners who rarely fish more than four to six lines.
While in-line boards can't compete with dual boards in
terms of the number of lines set or fish taken, these small
boards do enjoy a niche that over the years has grown to
include both the trout/salmon and walleye arena. Those fans
of in-line boards are also quick to point out that these
trolling aids can are just as effective on pike, muskie
and even bass.
The way in-line boards are used to catch different species
varies. Walleye anglers prefer the board to be fixed to
the line. When a fish strikes the board and fish are reeled
in together, the board removed and the fight continued.
Salmon and steelhead anglers rig in-line boards so the
line is connected to the release on the tow arm of the board.
This release triggers when a fish is hooked. The board then
slides down the line via a snap located at the back of the
board. This rigging method allows several boards to be used
per side and insures that a large fish won't pull the board
RIGGING A WALLEYE BOARD
The OR12 Side-Planer comes equipped with two OR14 Adjustable
Medium Tension line releases. One release is attached to
the tow arm and a second release is attached to a split
ring at the back of the board. When setting the board the
angler lets his lure the desired distance behind the boat
and then pinches open the release on the tow arm. The line
is placed near the back of the rubber pads in the jaw and
the release closed. The same procedure is then performed
with the second release located at the back of the board.
With the Side-Planer attached to the line using both releases,
simply drop the board in the water and let line play off
the reel as the boat trolls forward. When the board reaches
the desired distance out to the side, close the reel bail
and place the rod in a conveniently located rod holder.
In calm water the staff at Off Shore Tackle suggests setting
the Side-Planer 100 to 150 feet out to the side of the boat.
In rougher seas position the board 50 to 75 feet out to
the side. When fishing two or more boards per side, space
the boards at least 40 feet apart to increase lure coverage
and reduce any chances of tangling during turns.
The standard (black) OR14 releases that come on the Side-Planer
work very well for normal trolling speeds and calm to moderate
seas. When faced with rough seas or at faster than normal
trolling speeds the spring tension of the OR14 release may
not be adequate. The fishing line may pull out of the release,
causing the board to pop free.
To combat this situation Off Shore Tackle recommends using
the OR16 (red) Snap Weight Clip. This clip has a much stronger
spring tension and a small plastic pin located between the
rubber pads. When the clip is pinched open, the fishing
line can be placed behind the pin. Once the clip is closed
the line is securely held and can't pop free.
Many anglers simply use an OR16 (red) Snap Weight Clip
on the tow arm of the board and the original equipment OR14
(black) at the back of the board. Rigged in this manner
there is no danger of the board popping off the line, even
in heavy seas and at fast trolling speeds.
RIGGING A SALMON BOARD
The Side-Planer is an excellent board for salmon and steelhead
fishing, but to enjoy success the board requires some simple
modifications. The board must be converted from the fixed
rigging method that comes standard with the board to the
release and slide method.
The first step is to unscrew and remove the flag or at
least fold the flag into the down position. Next, remove
the back OR14 release from the split ring and replace it
with a large snap swivel.
Lines to be used with an in-line board must be equipped
with some sort of stop that prevents the planer board from
sliding all the way to the lure. Thread one of Off Shore
Tackle's OR29 Speed Beads onto the line four or five feet
in front of your lure. The Speed Bead does not require the
line to be cut or retied.
Let the lure the desired distance behind the boat and then
pinch open the OR14 release on the tow arm of the Side-Planer.
Place the line near the back of the rubber jaws and close
the release. Next open the snap swivel and place the line
inside and close the snap. Drop the board into the water
and let line play off the reel as the boat is trolling forward.
Most trolling reels have a clicker function that keeps
a little tension on the reel spool when the bail is open.
With the clicker is engaged the board will slowly work itself
out to the side as the boat moves along. This simple line
setting trick allows two or more boards to be set at the
When a salmon, steelhead or trout strikes the lure, the
line is usually jerked free from the tow arm release. The
board then begins to slide down the line towards the lure
via the snap swivel. The board stops at the Speed Bead and
the angler simply reels the fish to net.
Sometimes a fish is hooked, but the line doesn't release
from the board. In this situation the angler must jerk the
rod sharply to pop the line free of the release. This often
occurs when smaller fish are hooked.
The Side-Planer is commonly used to position spoons or
plugs out to the side for spooky steelhead and early season
salmon and brown trout. Many anglers have also discovered
that Off Shore's larger sized Side-Planer tracks better
than other competitors boards, providing increased outward
coverage when fishing deep diving crankbaits, Snap Weights
and lead core line.
The release and slide rigging method works best with powerful
fish such as salmon or when rigging several boards per side.
Walleye anglers who routinely fish only two or three lures
per side favor the fixed method.
Only one in-line board can meet all your salmon, steelhead
and walleye fishing needs. The OR12 Side-Planer is the most
popular in-line board on the market for many reasons. Quality,
function, versatility, affordability and dependability are
trademarks of the Side-Planer. See for yourself why thousands
of anglers will only trust Off Shore Tackle for their trolling
Back to Top
LONG LINING, A LOST ART
By Mark Romanack With Allen Nielsen
Long line trolling is a lost art. The popular use of planer
boards has made long line trolling obsolete, or has it?
Allen Nielsen of Norwalk Ohio considers long lining to be
an important trolling technique. An avid Lake Erie walleye
troller, Allen uses a unique form of long lining in addition
to trolling with planer boards.
"When trolling I like to get as many lines as legal
in the water," says Nielsen. "I often fish a full
compliment of Side-Planer boards and also a Snap Weight
rig with a crawler harness, spoon or stickbait as a flat
line. This extra flat line takes a lot of fish."
Nielsen's flat line rig has a different twist. Instead
of simply setting out the lure, adding the Snap Weight and
then letting out the desired lead length, he goes a step
further. Nielsen sets the lure back, adds the Snap Weight,
lets out the desired lead to get the Snap Weight to the
target depth and then he attaches a three inch foam float
to the line using an 8 inch steel leader and an OR16 Snap
Weight clip. The float is then let back another 50-100 feet,
effectively presenting this flat line well away from the
The float provides enough resistance that when a fish strikes
it is quickly hooked. Also the float is highly visible so
the angler can clearly see that a fish is hooked.
This extra flat line rig is back far enough that it is
out of the way and doesn't interfere with fish being landed
on Planer Board lines.
Thanks Allen for sharing this unique trolling tip with
readers of the Off Shore Release.
Back to Top
NEW FEATURES FOR THE RIVIERA DUAL PLANER BOARD AND POSI-STOP
By Larry Hartwick
Spacing Riviera Downrigger Corporation's Dual Planer Boards
(DPB) 2" further apart makes these planer boards more
stable in rough water without making the boards themselves
bigger or heavier. In addition to making the boards wider,
the staff at Riviera has changed the ballast in the board
to raise the nose slightly. These changes went into effect
at the start of the 2000 season, so don't panic if you've
recently purchased a set of boards.
Collectively these changes make the DPB the trolling board
others are compared to. In calm or rough water, the DPB
is ideal for anglers targeting walleye, salmon, trout, steelhead,
muskie, or stripers.
Refinements have improved the DPB, but the features our
customers have come to expect haven't been changed. The
Riviera DPB still folds down for easy storage. The boards
incorporate foam panels to provide consistent buoyancy and
the bright yellow finish is easy to spot on the water.
There's also a three position tow ring that allows anglers
to custom rig the board to the trolling conditions in seconds.
For fast trolling speeds set the tow ring in the forward
position. For normal trolling speeds the middle setting
is best. For slow trolling chores place the tow ring in
the furthest setting back.
Product improvements are always on the horizon at Riviera.
Anglers will also want to check out the Posi-Stop Dual Planer
Board Mast (DPM-P). The smoothest manual retrieve planer
mast ever developed, the Posi-Stop mast eliminates the clutch
found on most planer board reels.
Instead a strong and positive pin system is used to secure
the wheel once the desired amount of planer line has been
let out. The pin operates like a bolt action rifle, making
it easy to lock the pin in place to securely hold the wheel
or to lock the pin in the free spool setting. New for 2002,
the Posi-Stop mast now features a powdered coated aluminum/magnesium
wheels. Light, but with the strength of steel! Built to
last a lifetime.
Simple, strong and smooth to operate, the Posi-Stop Dual
Planer Mast makes fishing planer boards easier and more
fun than ever.
Back to Top
POWER TROLLING FOR NIGHT EYES
Walleye are built for feeding in low light conditions.
This capable predator has an oversize eye that absorbs the
slightest spark of light, a torpedo shaped body that can
maneuver on a dime and a mouth full of razor sharp teeth.
Not only do walleye have the physical tools to hunt at
night, they are also equipped with resourceful hunting instincts.
Walleye hunt in packs, using their bodies to herd baitfish
into any dead end they can find. Fast sloping breaklines,
sea walls, piers and even the surface of the water form
barriers that walleye use in hunting down baitfish.
Walleye often slip into shallow water areas at night that
they wouldn't venture into during the light of day. Anywhere
concentrations of baitfish turn up, walleye will follow
under the cover of darkness.
Trolling for walleye at night is an exciting game. Lakes
that routinely produce only small fish during the day often
turn out lunkers under the cover of darkness. This is especially
true of clear water natural lakes. Those who spend countless
hours chasing walleye at night feel that trophy walleye
feed almost exclusively between the hours of sunset and
Some of these after hours trolling situations clearly call
for the stealth of an electric motor. When working shallow
water structure or cover, an electric motor can provide
an important edge. However, there are many instances when
power trolling makes more sense. Large flats, well defined
edges or areas of open water are best fished using a small
gasoline kicker motor.
Trolling with the help of Side-Planers is one of the best
ways to target overlooked walleye that live in these areas.
To get in on the action anglers only need a modest amount
Crankbaits are the primary lures used for trolling up night
eyes. To meet the many situations an angler may encounter
will require an assortment of three crankbait styles including
shallow diving stickbaits, floating/diving shad baits and
Some of the most popular stickbaits for walleye include
the Rapala Husky Jerk, Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue, Reef Runner
Ripstick, Storm ThunderStick, Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow and
the Bomber Long A. In the shad bait category good walleye
lures include the Rapala Shad Rap, Storm Hot n' Tot, Cotton
Cordell CC Shad and Wally Diver. Diving minnows that routinely
produce walleye include the Reef Runner Deep Little Ripper,
Storm Deep Jr. ThunderStick, Rapala Deep Husky Jerk and
the Bomber 24A.
In addition to crankbaits anglers will also need a set
or two of OR12 Side-Planer boards. Side-Planers are essential
for presenting crankbaits out away from boat noise and also
to cover the maximum amount of water. Most anglers prefer
to troll two Side-Planers on each side of the boat.
A Side-Planer will do a great job of presenting lures out
to the side, but in the dark you'll need another accessory
to be able to see the boards and detect strikes. The OR12NL
Night Light is a small flashing strobe that clips onto the
flag of the Side-Planer. Powered by a single watch battery,
the Night Light sends out a red blinking light that can
be seen for hundreds of yards. Each Night Light lasts for
up to 100 hours of fishing fun. The battery in the Night
Light can be replaced as needed.
The same trolling rods, reels and lines used during the
day can be applied to night trolling. Line counters are
recommended. A line counter reel makes it easier to monitor
trolling lead lengths and to duplicate effective leads.
A bait clicker is also a helpful aid on a trolling reel.
This feature sends out an audible click when line is pulled
off the reel spool. More on bait clickers in a moment.
Any time you fish at night, it's important to have dependable
lights that can be used to aid in rigging lines, landing
fish, etc. A set of halogen flood lights mounted in such
a fashion that they shine down on the back of the boat work
best for rigging lines and fighting fish. The lights are
only used when rigging or fighting fish. While fishing only
the bow and stern navigation lights are switched on.
The lures selected will depend on the location of fish
in the water column. It's common for anglers to encounter
walleye that are feeding near the surface. These fish may
be located in open water or along piers, breakwalls and
over the top of submerged weed beds. Shallow diving stickbaits
set behind the boat 40-100 feet work best when walleye are
feeding near the surface.
Night walleye also feed along submerged islands, brush
piles and other cover located in deeper water. A floating/diving
shad or minnow bait is ideal for reaching these fish.
The book Precision Trolling provides a handy reference
guide for the diving depth of 180 popular crankbaits. The
data is based on lead length and line diameter. This reference
tool enables trollers to accurately predict the depth of
their lures, increasing presentation accuracy and reducing
the chances of snagging and losing valuable crankbaits.
Once a lure is selected and the desired lead length is
let out, the Side-Planer is attached to the fishing line
by pinching open the OR14 (black) release on the tow arm
of the board. Make sure the line is positioned at the back
of the rubber jaws to insure the board stays attached to
the line. Next open the release at the back of the board
and place the line in this release as well. With the board
attached to the line by both releases, clip a Night Light
onto the flag of the board and turn it on. Drop the board
into the water and while the boat is trolling forward allow
line to play off the reel and the board to work its way
out to the side.
Position the outside board from 75-100 feet to the side
and the inside board 50-75 feet to the side. With four lines
in the water the boat is covering an enormous amount of
The Night Lights make it easy to see the Side-Planers.
When a fish is hooked the board will pull backwards in the
water from the weight of the struggling fish. The moment
the board starts sagging back, get the rod out of the holder
and begin to reel the board and fish towards the boat slowly.
A slow and steady retrieve works best. Don't pump the rod
or attempt to set the hook. Simply keep pressure on the
As the Side-Planer nears the boat, flick on a floodlight
and remove the board from the line by pinching open the
front and back releases. It only takes seconds to remove
a Side-Planer. Once the board is removed from the line continue
to fight the fish to net.
The bait clickers on most trolling reels have a handy purpose
when fishing at night. Once the lines are set and the rods
placed in their respective holders, engage the bait clicker
and back off on the reel drag until line starts to slip
from the reel. As line slips out the reel will produce an
audible clicking sound. Now tighten the drag just enough
to stop the line from slipping and the reel from clicking.
When a fish is hooked the weight of the fish will cause
line to slip from the reel, giving an audible tip off to
the rod which has hooked a fish. This simple tip helps to
sort out strikes that occur in the dark.
Power trolling with Side-Planers and Night Lights is enjoying
more popularity every year. Hot beds for this activity include
the waters of Lake Erie near Huron, Port Clinton and Sandusky
Ohio, the entire Western Basin of Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay,
Lake St. Clair, Little Bay de Noc, Big Bay de Noc, Muskegon
Lake, Lake Macatawa, Green Bay, Tawas Bay, Thunder Bay,
the Bay of Quinte in Lake Ontario and many other places.
A wealth of smaller natural lakes and impoundments also
hold unlimited night trolling potential for walleye. Just
about anywhere walleye are found, there is potential to
power troll up a limit of walleye with the help of Side-Planers
and Night Lights.
Back to Top
SNAP WEIGHTS AND THE 20 PLUS METHOD
By Dr. Steven Holt, Co-Author Precision Trolling
Thanks to the Off Shore Tackle Snap Weight, interest in
fishing clip-on style trolling weights has skyrocketed.
Outdoor magazines around the nation frequently run stories
that describe how to use Snap Weights to catch more walleye,
salmon, trout and other fish. Most of this ink has been
focused on using Snap Weights in connection with crawler
harnesses, spoons and shallow diving stickbaits.
A popular rigging method known as the 50/50 system has
become the jumping off point for anglers who fish Snap Weights.
This simple rigging method involves letting out a chosen
lure 50 feet, then attaching a Snap Weight to the line,
followed by letting out an additional 50 feet of line.
Even before Snap Weights were readily available on the
market, work had begun to document reliable depth diving
data anglers could refer to when fishing these trolling
aids. Depth diving data for the popular 50/50 system is
published in the popular book Precision Trolling. This trolling
guide provides accurate depth diving data for the 50/50
system based on 1/2, 3/4, 1, 1 1/2, 2 and 3 ounce weights.
Because Snap Weights sink, the trolling depths of these
in-line weights are dependant both on speed and the size
of the Snap Weight. To make predicting fishing depth easy,
Precision Trolling offers depth data for three common trolling
speeds including 1, 1.5 and 2 MPH. This landmark depth guide
helps anglers zero in on the strike zone and catch more
fish with Snap Weights.
The 50/50 system works exceptionally well, but this rigging
method is only the beginning when it comes to fishing Snap
Weights. A wide range of lures, lead lengths and weights
can be employed when fishing Snap Weights. The key is to
monitor important details such as lead lengths and the weights
used then simply duplicate the combination(s) that are catching
Shallow running lures are the obvious choice for trolling
with Snap Weights because the angler only needs to be concerned
with the running depth of the Snap Weight, not the lure.
Spinners, spoons and stickbaits tend to run at or slightly
below the level of the Snap Weight.
The question then becomes, how deep will my favorite diving
crankbaits run if a Snap Weight is used to increase their
running depth? The subject of adding Snap Weights to diving
crankbaits was one we avoided for some years because we
felt there were simply too many variables to control during
the testing process.
We were wrong! Amazingly we discovered that by using some
simple standardizations we could develop a highly reliable
formula for predicting the running depth of crankbaits with
a Snap Weight added.
To streamline the process we chose a simple set of standardizations.
Testing was conducted using a variety of floating/diving
crankbaits with a total lead length of 120 feet. A Snap
Weight clip with a one ounce weight was positioned exactly
20 feet in front of the lure. We then began to test the
steady state running depth of these lures, using the scuba
technology we developed for testing other trolling gear.
We were amazed to discover a nearly perfect and highly
reproducible formula for predicting the diving depths of
crankbaits fished in combination with Snap Weights. Even
more exciting this formula worked equally well with all
sizes of floating/diving cranks.
When a one ounce Snap Weight is added 20 feet in front
of a diving crankbait, the adjusted dive depth will be exactly
33% greater than the same dive curve without the Snap Weight.
For example, if a lure will dive 15 feet on a 120 foot lead,
adding a one ounce Snap Weight 20 feet in front of the lure
will increase the diving depth by five feet or a total diving
depth of 20 feet.
This Snap Weight rigging method has been dubbed the 20
Plus method and provides anglers with a wealth of valuable
trolling information. Virtually any floating/diving crankbait
can be fished up to 1/3 deeper by simply adding a one ounce
Snap Weight 20 feet in front of the lure. A simple table
that shows this conversion at a glance is published on page
20 of Precision Trolling the 6th edition.
The question now becomes what will happen if more than
one ounce of weight is used in the 20 Plus method? Stay
tuned for answers to this question. No doubt adding more
than a one ounce weight to the 20 Plus method will cause
the lure to run deeper, but to what degree we can't speculate.
On the water testing during the summer of 2002 will answer
this and other commonly asked questions about Snap Weight
trolling. Watch for the 7th edition of Precision Trolling
to be released early in 2003 for answers to these trolling
questions and more.
Back to Top
SNAP WEIGHTS, BEYOND THE 50/50 SYSTEM
By Mark Romanack
Ever notice how a good idea opens up the lines of communication
for even more and better ideas to come? In the case of Snap
Weights, the 50/50 method has quickly become the standard
rigging method used by thousands of anglers who troll for
walleye, salmon, trout, pike and more.
Snap Weights solve the age old problem of how to add weight
to fishing lines in order to increase the target depth.
Snap Weights are the invention of Off Shore Tackle, the
folks who make the most popular planer board and downrigger
line releases on the market. The Snap Weight isn't a line
The OR16 Snap Weight (red) is a clip that is attached to
the fishing line by squeezing open the rubber jaws and placing
the line between the jaws. A small pin indexes between the
jaws further insuring that once the fishing line is placed
in the jaws, the Snap Weight will be secured to the line.
Different sized weights are attached to this clip using
a split ring that allows weight sizes to be changed quickly.
When a fish is hooked, the Snap Weight is removed from
the line as it nears the rod tip. It only takes a quick
pinch between your thumb and forefinger to complete the
The most common rigging method for fishing Snap Weights
is known as the 50/50 system. This rigging method uses a
standardized lead length of 100 feet with a Snap Weight
positioned midway between the lure and rod tip. Fishing
depths are adjusted by attaching different size weights
to the split ring on the Snap Weight clip.
Most anglers start out fishing the 50/50 system by using
several different weights so that the respective lures are
fishing at a variety of depths. Once a productive combination
of lure and Snap Weight size are achieved, other lines are
This straight forward trolling strategy works great, but
there are many other ways to use Snap Weights effectively.
The 50/50 system is a great starting point and a good place
to return to when fishing gets tough, but don't overlook
other Snap Weight fishing methods.
GET THE HIGH FISH OTHERS MISS
On any body of water the fish most often overlooked are
those that live closest to the surface. Anglers tend to
target the fish they can see on their electronics. Fish
suspended within 10-15 feet of the surface rarely show up
on a sonar unit because the presence of the boat causes
these fish to move out of the way before the transducer
cone can intercept them. This is especially true in clear
water conditions where fish are extra spooky.
Even in turbid waters it's difficult to mark fish close
to the surface. Because the transducer cone angle is small
compared to the surface area of water that must be covered,
marking high fish on the sonar rarely occurs. The only practical
way to know if suspended fish are living near the surface
is to set some lures to run shallow, add some planer boards
to your trolling pattern and see what happens.
Fortunately fish found near the surface are there for one
reason, to feed. Walleye, salmon, trout, muskie and other
species often force schools of baitfish to the surface where
they can block their escape and feed at will.
Trolling spoons and crawler harnesses are a couple great
lures for targeting fish that suspend near the surface.
Snap Weights are the ideal way to present these lures to
the target depth.
If walleye are the species, try trolling crawler harnesses
at 1-1.5 MPH. Set a crawler harness 25 feet behind the boat
then add a 1/2 ounce Snap Weight. Let out an additional
25 feet of lead and attach the line to a planer board so
the lure can be presented out to the side of the boat.
At this slow trolling speed a 1/2 ounce Snap Weight will
present a crawler harness 6-8 feet below the surface. To
get a little more depth try a 3/4 or 1 ounce Snap Weight.
Keeping the overall lead short can be critical when fishing
at these slow speeds. A short lead reduces line stretch
and significantly improves hook penetration.
Steelhead and salmon anglers are often faced with the same
situation. The fish are high in the water column and too
spooky to catch with downriggers. Say the target species
are steelhead, spoons are the lure of choice and the trolling
speed is a brisk 3.5 MPH. The same 25/25 lead with a 1/2
half ounce Snap Weight would barely keep the spoon in the
water. To sink the spoon 6-10 feet will require a heavier
two ounce Snap Weight with a 25/25 lead combination.
TARGETING DEEPER FISH
Fish located in deeper water can also be targeted with
Snap Weights. The same 25/25 lead combinations can be used
to target deeper fish by simply increasing the size of the
Snap Weight. For example, the same spinner rig and trolling
speed used for targeting walleye near the surface can be
used to fish 15 feet down by simply increasing the Snap
Weight size from ½ ounce to 2 ounces. To fish a little
deeper yet the second lead length can be extended from 25
to 50 feet making the overall lead length 75 feet. The combinations
of lead lengths and Snap Weight sizes are endless.
Many anglers who fish Snap Weights also incorporate the
Side-Planer in-line board to present lines out to the side
of the boat. The Side-Planer is an excellent tool for fishing
Snap Weight rigs up to three ounces in size.
Heavier Snap Weights can be fished with a mast style board
system such as the Riviera Dual Planer Board. Using Snap
Weights in the four to six ounce range, anglers can target
deeper depths or troll at faster speeds to meet a wealth
of fishing challenges.
When using heavy Snap Weights in combination with a dual
planer board system, a line release with a little more tension
must be used. The normal OR10 Adjustable Light Tension or
OR14 Adjustable Medium Tension line releases aren't designed
to hold heavy Snap Weights. This is especially true when
trolling at faster speeds.
The ideal line release for fishing heavy Snap Weights or
at high trolling speeds is the OR17 Medium Tension Planer
Board Release. Don't let the medium in the name fool you.
The larger diameter rubber pads of this release keep a firm,
but gentle grip on monofilament lines from 10-25 pound test.
The tension on the OR17 can be adjusted by how deep the
line is placed between the rubber pads making this release
ideal for light biters like walleye, up to toothy and hard
to hook fish like muskie and king salmon.
The ways Snap Weights can be used to troll up more fish
are endless. It never hurts to start out with the popular
50/50 rigging method, but don't be afraid to experiment
with other lead length options. The more anglers experiment
with Snap Weights the more they will discover just how effective
these in-line trolling weights can be.
Back to Top
SNAP WEIGHTS THE ORIGINAL IN-LINE TROLLING AID
By Mark Romanack
Trolling comes in many forms. The game of trolling ranges
from simple presentations that drag lures in the prop wash
to sophisticated hardware consisting of accessories such
as downriggers and outriggers. No matter how simple or complex,
all forms of trolling have one common denominator. Sooner
or later some type of weight must be added to the fishing
line to achieve the desired depth range.
No matter what species is targeted or how lures are presented,
adding weight to the line will eventually become necessary.
Using varying amounts of weight is the only practical way
to present lures at the different depth ranges anglers are
frequently faced with.
Not surprisingly, imaginative souls have conjured up several
ways to affix weight to a fishing line. Split shots, rubber
core sinkers, in-line keel weights, three-way rigs and bottom
bouncers are just some of the weight options that solve
the problem of getting lures a little deeper.
Unfortunately, most sinker options require the weight to
be permanently fixed in position on the line. Attaching
the weight near the lure solves the problem of getting more
depth, but it also creates a new set of problems.
Adding weight to the fishing line reduces the natural wobbling,
flashing, wiggling and swimming action of spinners, crankbaits,
spoons and other trolling lures. When weight is fixed to
the line near the lure, the lure is essentially tethered
on a short leash. The end result is a lure with less action.
Weight positioned near the lure also presents another problem.
The weight is an unnatural object in the water that can
actually cause wary fish to become even more suspicious.
The spooking factor created by adding weight to the line
is most noticeable in clear water. Under these conditions
game fish have the advantage of scrutinizing lures and other
objects in the water at their leisure. Many species such
as salmon, trout and even walleye frequently follow trolled
lures as if trying to decide if they should strike at them
Underwater cameras have helped us document this behavior
time and again. Game fish are quickly attracted to a passing
lure when it's first spotted. The fish moves in for a closer
look, then follows along briefly as the lure does its thing.
During this game of cat and mouse, the fish is mesmerized
for a moment. Unfortunately the spell is quickly broken
if anything seems unnatural or out of place. Instead of
striking the lure, the fish loses interest and simply breaks
off the chase.
As anglers we can minimize stale lure action and the spooking
factor that adding weight to the line causes by simply increasing
the distance between the lure and the weight. The answer
to this problem comes in the form of a unique in-line trolling
aid known as the Snap Weight. Snap Weights allow trolling
sinkers to be added and then removed from the fishing line
at any point between the rod tip and the lure.
The secret to the Snap Weight system is the OR16 Snap Weight
Clip that allows trolling weight to be attached on the line
when setting lures, then reeled in when a fish is hooked
and removed from the line as the Snap Weight nears the rod
tip. It only takes a second to put on or take off a Snap
Snap weights enable trolling weight to be easily added
to the line 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 50 feet ahead of the
lure! A wide assortment of weight sizes can be used to achieve
just about any common fishing depth. With the help of a
Snap Weight, anglers can get the depth they need without
detracting from lure action or spooking fish.
The heart of a Snap Weight is an Off Shore Tackle OR16
(red) clip. This clip features a heavy spring tension that
grips the fishing line firmly between two rubber pads.
It's important to note that the Snap Weight clip is NOT
a line release. This product is engineered with heavy spring
tension to insure the Snap Weight remains on the line. When
a fish is hooked, the angler reels the fish and Snap Weight
in together. When the Snap Weight nears the rod tip, the
angler simply removes it with a pinch between the index
finger and thumb.
As added insurance against losing the Snap Weight, a small
plastic pin protrudes from one pad and nestles inside the
other pad when the clip is closed. To put the Snap Weight
on the line, the clip is pinched open, the fishing line
placed behind the pin, and the clip closed. Once the clip
closes there is no way the Snap Weight clip or attached
weight can come off the line.
The versatility of the Snap Weight comes into play as different
size weights are used. Weights easily clip onto a split
ring attached to the Snap Weight clip. Changing weight sizes
only takes seconds.
Off Shore Tackle offers a Snap Weight kit that features
four OR16 clips, four split rings and an assortment of weights
ranging from 1/2 to 3 ounces. Heavier weights up to 8 ounces
can be purchased separately and used to achieve even deeper
depths. Some fans of Snap Weights use these trolling aids
to add up to 16 ounces of weight to their trolling lines.
Anglers have the option of purchasing the OR20 Snap Weight
Kit or building their own Snap Weight system by purchasing
OR16 clips and weights separately.
The Off Shore Tackle Snap Weight was the first in-line
trolling aid of its kind. Since the introduction of the
Snap Weight half a dozen other companies have introduced
their own version of this product. However, none are as
easy to put on and take off the line as the patented OR16
Snap Weight Clip. The name Snap Weight has become synonymous
with in-line trolling weights and a system of trolling that
has swept the nation. Countless walleye, salmon, pike, muskie,
trout, steelhead and other game fish have fallen victim
to the Snap Weight system. Simple to use, effective and
inexpensive, nothing beats the Snap Weight system when getting
to the right depth means adding a little weight.
Back to Top
TAKE YOUR FAMILY TROLLING
By Mark Romanack
Fishing is one of those recreational activities that ranks
right up there with baseball, barbecues and pigging out
on a cold slice of watermelon. To those of us who routinely
enjoy fishing, the experience becomes more rewarding each
time on the water. Unfortunately, a lot of kids have not
experienced the rush catching a nice fish brings.
Statistics indicate that the number of young people exposed
to fishing declines each year. Single parent homes and our
urbanized society are part of the problem. Americans simply
don't have the close association with the outdoors and nature
they once did.
It would be easy to blame the declining interest in fishing
on the single parent family, but the truth is many anglers
don't make an effort to share their love of the outdoors
with young people. Too often we get caught up in our own
fishing adventures and don't make time to introduce others
to the sport of fishing.
This summer make a point to get some young people involved
in fishing. Kids enjoy all types of fishing, but trolling
is an especially good way to insure first timers enjoy a
positive experience on the water. The beauty of trolling
is that everyone on board doesn't have to be a fishing expert.
As long as the angler operating the boat understands the
basics of trolling, everyone on board can share equally
in the fun. With other types of fishing the angler's skill,
or lack of, often plays a role in the angling success or
When picking a trolling destination, select a target species
and location where the action is likely to be fast. Trying
to introduce a kid to fishing while trolling for muskie
isn't a great idea. Sure you might catch the fish of a lifetime,
but the odds are you won't catch a thing. When involving
kids in fishing it's important to get their attention right
away. There's no better way to accomplish this goal than
to catch a bunch of fish quick.
The Western Basin of Lake Erie is an ideal place to take
a kid trolling. Odds are you'll catch lots of small to medium
sized walleye, a bunch of fresh water drum, some white bass
and maybe even a small mouth bass or two.
This fertile body of water is one of the richest trolling
fisheries in North America. Lake St. Clair is another great
place to troll. You never know what you might catch when
you fish on Lake St. Clair. Walleye, northern pike, muskie,
small mouth bass, white bass, crappies, rock bass, catfish
and drum are all abundant and readily caught.
Saginaw Bay is also a fine fishing destination for introducing
kids to the pleasures of trolling. Saginaw Bay yields good
to excellent catches of walleye and there are always, drum
and channel catfish willing to bite spinners or crankbaits
trolled behind planer boards.
When introducing kids to trolling, get them involved in
the fishing process. Let them help with selecting lures
and setting lines. When it's time to try new lures, let
them help reel in the lines, select new lures and reset
the lines. The best way to learn things on a boat is by
doing. The overall fishing experience is going to be more
rewarding if your guests feel like they made a contribution
to the success.
When a fish is hooked, make a big deal of it. If the fish
gets away, don't dwell on it. A little coaching is okay,
but don't forget to keep things light and fun. I've been
on charter boats where the captain literally yelled at clients
when a fish got away. Remember, the object isn't to fill
the boat with fish, but rather to enjoy the experience of
catching each fish.
When trolling, it never hurts to keep a good supply of
soft drinks and snacks handy. In between strikes, pass the
time eating, drinking and telling stories. It doesn't take
long for newcomers to discover that fishing isn't just about
catching. The fellowship enjoyed on the water is part of
what makes fishing such an enjoyable experience.
When a strike occurs, the angler is connected to the fish.
At the same moment the angler also connects with those around
him. Help a young person make a connection to fishing this
summer. The smiles generated may be your own.
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THE GREAT PLANER BOARD DEBATE
Choosing Planer Board Types
When trollers get together, debate is soon to boil. Eventually
the topic turns to planer boards and someone poses the question;
"Which are better, dual planer boards or in-line planer
boards?" The great planer board debate has gone on
for as long as planer boards have been in use. One fraternity
believes that dual planer boards are the planer board workhorses.
The other faction argues that in-line boards are easier
As is often the case in a debate, both sides of the issue
typically put forth a good argument. The truth is, both
dual board and in-line planer boards accomplish similar
functions. The primary purpose of planer boards is to spread
out trolling lines in order to contact more fish. Beyond
this primary function the use of dual boards or in-line
boards is largely a personal choice. There are however,
times when one type of planer board has advantages over
DUAL PLANER BOARDS
Full sized boards such as the popular Riviera collapsible
dual planer board (DPB) have their roots in big water. Designed
to be used on open water and with larger sized fishing boats,
there is little doubt that dual boards have the edge when
fishing rough water.
The large size of these boards enables them to plow through
bumpy seas when trolling with or against the waves. Trollers
who spend much of their time quartering seas or trolling
into the waves will find that dual boards are the best investment.
Dual boards also have the clear advantage regarding the
number of lines that can be fished per side. With a dual
board system it's common for anglers to fish four, five
or even six lines per side! If you've got a big boat and
frequently fish with four to six anglers aboard, dual boards
are the answer.
Dual boards are also the obvious choice for fishing situations
that involve deep diving crankbaits, Snap Weights, lead
core line, gang spinners, dodgers and other trolling hardware
that is heavy or that pull exceptionally hard in the water.
IN-LINE PLANER BOARDS
For all the advantages dual boards pose, in-line boards
are equally handy. Handy is the right word, because in-line
boards such as the Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer are much
easier to use than dual boards. Simply set your lure the
desired distance behind the boat, clip on the Side-Planer,
let out more line until the board is the desired distance
from the boat, put the rod in the holder and troll. When
a fish is hooked, the Side-Planer and fish are reeled in
together, remove the board from the line and continue to
fight the fish. This straight forward style of board trolling
is easy to learn and fun.
In-line boards have some other subtle advantages. In-line
boards ride the waves in a different way than dual board
boards. With in-line boards being smaller in size, they
tend to jerk around in the swells while imparting a unique
start and stop action to the lures. Many veteran trollers
feel that in-line boards trigger more strikes than dual
board systems that produce a more uniform trolling action.
They also have an advantage of maintaining steady tension
against the fish during the entire fight. When a fish strikes
a lure trolled on a dual board system, the line is pulled
free from a release. For a few seconds slack line exists
until the boat catches up to the fish and the line is pulled
tight again. These few seconds of slack line are often enough
to allow a fish that's not hooked securely to escape.
With an in-line board, hooked fish pull against the resistance
of the board.
The angler keeps tension on the fish by reeling the board
and fish in together. So long as the boat is kept moving
forward slowly, there's constant tension on the fish. In-line
boards work so well that few hooked fish escape. This is
one of the primary reasons professional tournament anglers
favor in-line boards.
Both dual boards and in-line boards have their advantages
and disadvantages. Choosing one type of planer board over
another boils down to how and where the boards will be used.
On big open waters where big boats rule, the dual board
is the king of planer boards. Anglers who fish from smaller
boats and often frequent a wealth of different water types,
in-line boards are both functional and practical.
While the choice is personal, the fact is you can't make
a bad decision. Both dual boards and in-line boards are
efficient and exciting ways to fish. Take your pick and
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THE IMPROVED OR16 SNAP WEIGHT CLIP
By Mark Romanack
When the Off Shore Tackle Snap Weight Clip (red), OR16
hit the market a few years ago, it was an immediate success.
The concept of using in-line trolling weights that can be
placed anywhere on the line and easily removed when fighting
a fish, solved the headache of using split shots, sinkers,
rubber core and other trolling weights forever.
Walleye and salmon anglers alike quickly began using the
OR16 as a replacement release for the OR14 (black) that
comes standard on the Side-Planer board. The extra strong
spring tension of the OR16 was ideal for insuring the Side-Planer
stays on the line when trolling for walleye. Salmon and
steelhead anglers like the extra tension because it insures
a solid hook set before the line is tripped from the release.
The OR16 has served anglers well, but in 2001 this popular
product received a design modification that will make it
even more useful and popular. At first glance the improved
OR16 looks the same. When the jaws are pinched open however
you'll notice a small plastic pin is positioned in the center
of one jaw and the pin fits into a hole in the opposite
rubber pad. When the OR16 clip is opened and the line placed
between the rubber pads, be sure to place the line behind
the plastic pin. This simple modification insures the Snap
Weight Clip will remain on the line, even if heavy Snap
Weights are used or if the weight contacts the bottom.
This same feature also insures that those anglers who use
the OR16 as a line clip for the Side-Planer board won't
have to worry about the board popping off the line when
fishing in heavy seas.
The improved OR16 is recommended for use with monofilament
lines from 10 to 20 pound test. The OR16 will also hold
larger sizes of super braids such as 20-60 pound test, but
we recommend that anglers who use super braids try the OR18
Snapper Adjustable Release which is designed specifically
to hold super braids.
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THE NEW OR19 ADJUSTABLE HEAVY TENSION RELEASE
New for 2002 is the orange OR19. This release has an adjustable
heavy tension spring designed for salmon and large fish
on planer boards. The OR19 comes with both a split ring
for in-line planer board use and quick clip for using with
dual planer boards and harder pulling baits. When fishing
with the Side-Planers using the slide back method to get
the board behind the boat, put the OR19 on the front bracket.
You can also use the OR19 as a fixed slider so that it will
hold hard enough to set the hook then slide down to fight
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TROLLING BEYOND THE BIG THREE
By Mark Romanack
It's widely accepted that trolling is one of the best ways
to catch the big three; salmon, trout and walleye. Any time
anglers are faced with the chore of finding and catching
these species, trolling is the obvious choice. Trolling
is most often practiced on large bodies of water, but this
fishing technique is just as deadly on small lakes and rivers.
Trolling is also deadly on a wealth of other species. Panfish,
pike and even bass are fair game for trollers who know when
and how to target these fish.
Trolling for panfish? You bet. Crappie are classified as
panfish throughout their range, but this title comes from
their size; not their feeding habits or behavior. Crappie
may be small compared to other species, but these widespread
fish are also aggressive predators. During the weeks prior
to the spawning season, crappie are especially active and
readily caught using trolling tactics. During the pre-spawn
period, crappies often stage in deep water areas adjacent
to the shallow flats where these fish spawn. Huge schools
often suspend in open water where they are easy pickings
for anglers who troll small crankbaits behind in-line boards
such as the Off Shore Tackle Side Planer.
The same medium or light action trolling rods, reels and
lines used for walleye fishing can double as crappie trolling
equipment. The crankbaits selected however should be crappie
sized models. Examples of good baits for crappie trolling
include the No. 5 Shad Rap, Strike King Bitsy Pond Minnow,
Rebel Crayfish, Cotton Cordell CC Shad, Norman's Baby N
and Bandit 100 series. The smaller the crankbait the better
when tempting crappie.
Fishing two in-line boards on each side of the boat makes
a good crappie trolling spread. Crappie often run small
and it can be difficult to detect bites and hooked fish.
To solve this problem equip a Side Planer with a Tattle
Flag kit. These spring loaded flag kits allow the flag to
fold down from the weight of a hooked fish. Even small fish
are readily detected on a board equipped with a Tattle Flag.
The Tattle Flag is sold only as a kit, not as boards equipped
with Tattle Flags. Each kit comes complete with a flag,
linkage arm, spring, spacers and two OR16 Snap Weight clips.
It takes about five minutes to convert an ordinary Side
Planer into a Tattle Flag board.
Start out trolling by varying the lead lengths on each
crankbait to maximize the vertical spread of the lures.
Experiment with lead lengths until a few fish are caught,
then simply duplicate productive lead lengths and lures
with other lines.
Pre-spawn crappie sometimes scatter in open water, but
usually the best schools form along the deep water edge
of breaks, weed lines and other cover. You'll have the most
success trolling areas adjacent to flats, emerging weeds,
submerged brush and other cover that crappies use when spawning.
Early in the season water on the north and west ends of
the lake receive the most exposure from the sun and warm
first. Schools of pre-spawn fish will be attracted to these
areas first then other areas as the lake begins to warm.
Other panfish such as white bass readily fall victim to
this same trolling strategy. White bass are especially aggressive
and noted for traveling in huge schools.
Northern pike are another overlooked species that are especially
vulnerable to trolling. Pike will strike at trolled lures
most any time of year. During April, May and June these
fish are most apt to be found in shallow water near flats
with emerging weed beds. Later in the summer, adult pike
abandon the shallows and head for open water where they
often suspend in the water column and target whitefish,
ciscoes and other pelagic baitfish.
Trolling crankbaits in cooperation with Side Planer boards
can make short work of pike in both spring and summer. Early
in the season it's tough to beat a trolling pattern of stick
baits, worked over the tops of emerging weed growth. Most
stick baits only dive from six to eight feet, making them
ideal for fishing over the tops of emerging weeds growing
in six to 10 feet of water.
Some of the top pike producing baits in this category include
the Reef Runner Rip Stick, Rapala Husky Jerk, Rebel Minnow,
Storm Thunder Stick, Mann's Loud Mouth, Smithwick Rattlin'
Rogue and Bomber Long A.
Set these lures from 40-80 feet behind the boat and attach
a Side Planer to the line using both the front and rear
mounted OR14 line releases. Squeeze open the pinch pads
and place the line near the back of the rubber pads. To
insure the board stays securely on the line, check to be
sure the spring in the OR14 is slid into the forward or
heavy tension setting.
Pike living in shallow water can be very spooky. For the
best results let the Side Planers out to the side at least
75 to 100 feet. Stacking two boards per side of the boat
makes an effective and manageable trolling pattern.
Pike usually strike hard and then immediately make a short,
but powerful run. The Side Planer will telegraph this strike
by dragging backwards sharply in the water from the weight
of the struggling fish. When trolling Side Planers there's
no need to set the hook. Instead keep the boat trolling
forward while reeling the fish towards the boat slowly.
Adjust the drag tension on the reel so the line slips a
little while the angler is fighting the struggling fish.
Fight the fish by keeping steady pressure on the fish and
reeling slow and steady. Stop reeling only when the fish
makes a run.
As the angler begins to win the battle, the board will
be reeled within reach of the boat. Remove the board from
the line by pinching open the two releases. Once the board
has been removed from the line, you can slow down the boat
or put the motor in neutral for the remainder of the fight.
A similar approach works when pike suspend over open water.
Instead of using only shallow diving stick baits, mix in
some deeper diving crankbaits into the pattern. Pike like
high action crankbaits. Some good choices for open water
trolling include the Storm Hot-n-Tot, Bomber 25A, Reef Runner
Deep Diver, Storm Deep Thunder Stick and Rapala Deep Husky
When setting up a trolling pattern, vary the lead lengths
and lure running depths to cover as much water as possible.
Often pike will suspend just above a thermocline where the
water is cool and well oxygenated. The book Precision Trolling
is a trolling guide that shows the running depths of hundreds
of popular crankbaits. The data provided is based on lead
length and line diameter, making this handy reference the
final word in crankbait running depths. Currently in it's
6th edition, Precision Trolling is $24.95 and can be ordered
by calling Precision Angling Specialists at 1-800-353-6958.
Both small mouth and largemouth bass can be caught trolling.
In fact the largest bass on record have been taken using
Largemouth are more likely to be found in among heavy cover.
To target this species, try trolling a shallow diving stick
bait or crankbait over the top of weed flats or along weed
Small mouth love cover too, but this species is most often
found on flats with scattered weeds or outcroppings of gravel
and rock. Diving crankbaits presented behind Side Planer
boards produce so well on small mouth it makes you wonder
why anyone would bother with plastic worms.
Salmon, steelhead, trout and walleye are the most popular
species targeted by trollers. Panfish, pike, largemouth
and small mouth bass are just as vulnerable to trolling
tactics. The fact is, when you start trolling you never
know what you'll catch.
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WALLEYE ON WIRE
By Jerry Fox Jr.
Sometimes traditional trolling tactics aren't the answer.
When it comes to trolling for walleye in rivers, a specialized
angling method takes the art of trolling to a new dimension.
Wire line trolling is a mainstay for many walleye anglers
in the metro Detroit area. Popular for over 60 years, wire
lining is the ultimate in hands-on walleye fishing!
Developed as a technique for fishing the fast current of
the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers, wire lining or hand lining
as it is also called has recently gained popularity in other
parts of the country. As this unique fishing method gains
acceptance, more anglers are asking how to get involved
in wire line fishing.
Wire line fishing requires some basic equipment. The wire
itself is 60 pound test cable stored on a spring loaded
reel. The wire line reel is best mounted near the front
of the boat along the gunwales. Riviera Downrigger Corporation
produces a spring loaded reel (RCWIRE) that's ideal for
the job. Each reel comes complete with 200' of wire already
loaded, a 5' shank and a 1 ¼ pound weight.
The shank attaches to the wire and has several clevises
attached that will ultimately accept trolling leads. At
the bottom of the shank a heavy duty snap accepts a lead
cylinder mounted on a length of heavy wire. The lead weight
varies in size depending on water depth. One pound weights
are normally used for most shallow water or moderate current
situations. In deeper or faster water up to two pounds is
Two or three trolling leads are attached to the clevises.
Most hand liners prefer to use two leads. The lead closest
to the weight is approximately 20 feet long and mounted
24 inches above the weight. The next lead is 40 feet long
and mounted 12 inches above the first lead.
Staggering the leads allows two lures to be fished tight
to bottom without fear of tangles. The most common lures
are stickbaits such as the Rapala Minnow, Storm ThunderStick,
Bagley Bang-O-Lure, Bomber Long A or Reef Runner Little
Ripper. Other baits that find their way onto a wire line
rig include the Helin Flatfish, pencil plugs, various spinners
and a wealth of other shallow diving crankbaits.
When setting a wire line rig it's important to bring the
boat up to trolling speed then lower the weight and shank
into the water a few feet. Next feed your trolling leads
into the water and watch the lures to be sure they are in
tune and running properly. Once the lures are running properly,
lower the whole rig to the bottom keeping the weight ticking
bottom at approximately a 45 degree angle behind the boat.
Wire lining is effective because it keeps two lures in
the strike zone 100% of the time. Even in areas where the
current is fast or the bottom irregular, an angler fishing
a wire line rig can keep pace with changes in bottom contour
by simply letting out or taking up a little wire line to
maintain contact with bottom. The more erratic the bottom
the better this presentation works.
Wire lining is often practiced at night, but this technique
works equally well during the daylight. At night walleye
are often taken in water less than 10 feet deep. During
the day, most of the action takes place in deeper water.
When a fish strikes a wire line rig, the angler can easily
feel the struggling fish. The wire is slowly pulled in by
hand and the spring loaded reel keeps the wire from tangling.
The weight is placed in the boat and the angler determines
which trolling lead has hooked a fish. The fish is pulled
in with a hand-overhand retrieve. When the fish makes a
run, the angler allows line to slip through his fingers.
Trolling leads are normally made from 20 pound test monofilament.
Smaller line tends to tangle too much. Keeping the boat
clean and organized is important when hand lining to avoid
Two anglers each fishing a hand line rig with two trolling
leads each is the ideal set up. Hand lining is effective,
easy to learn and considered by many to be the ultimate
in hands-on fishing.
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