ALL NEW OR34 MINI BOARD
By Mark Romanack
Ever hear the adage that less is more? Sure, almost everyone
appreciates a touch of minimalism when it can make our busy
lives a little easier to navigate. In the world of sport
fishing, less translates into simple and that's almost always
a good thing.
Admittedly, trolling in general can be a rather complex
way to target fish. Most trolling presentations are laden
down with lots of gear and also the knowledge of how best
to put these products to work. That's exactly why Off Shore
Tackle's new planer board is so exciting.
THE NEW OR34 MINI BOARD
The all new OR34 Mini Board packs a lot of planer board
fishing opportunities into a very small and easy to fish
product. The OR34 Mini Board is only about 1/3 the size
and weight of our popular OR12/OR31 Side Planer, but don't
let the small size mislead you. The OR34 Mini Board is a
serious fishing tool that does a great job of getting lures
out to the side of the boat.
Conventional wisdom suggests that larger boards do a better
job of planing lures out to the side of the boat. In part
this is true, but for many of the lures and presentations
trollers face, smaller boards can meet their needs nicely.
The modest OR34 Mini Board is both smaller and lighter than
the Side Planer, yet it does an excellent job of getting
the common crank baits, spoons, spinners, snap weights and
other popular trolling gear anglers use out away from the
Admittedly, the OR34 Mini Board isn't going to pull as
much weight as theOR12/OR31 Side Planer, but it performs
amazingly well with lures and trolling weights ranging from
3/8 to 1.5 ounces.
ADVANTAGES OF THE OR34 MINI BOARD
The OR34 Mini Board is light. The biggest advantage of
the OR34 Mini Board is the small size and weight makes fighting
fish a more enjoyable experience. The resistance of this
new product is amazingly modest, making it ideal for trolling
with light rods and light line.
The OR34 Mini Board is also reversible. By simply popping
out the tow arm and slipping it into the opposite side,
the OR34 Mini Board can be rigged to run port or starboard
The OR34 Mini Board is versatile. This new board comes
standard with an OR10 (yellow) Off Shore Tackle Planer Board
Release. This release has two tension settings allowing
the angler to customize spring tension for specific line
sizes and trolling speeds.
The OR34 Mini Board is portable. Small enough to fit in
a shirt pocket, several OR34 Mini Boards will easily fit
into a tackle box, making them ideal for fly-in trips or
for use on rental boats.
The OR34 Mini Board even works great from shore. River
anglers are going to be amazed how well the OR34 Mini Board
can tow lures out away from shore. There is literally no
limit to how much river water an angler can cover with the
help of the OR34 Mini Board.
The OR34 Mini Board is small and ideally suited to some
specific and popular trolling situations. It's also important
to note that some trolling techniques, like pulling lead
core line or deep diving crank baits, still require the
heavy duty planing chores of the OR12/OR31 Side Planer or
a dual board mast system.
One of the most simple and easy ways to put the OR34 Mini
Board into action is with small to medium sized crank baits.
Simply cast a crank bait out behind the back of the boat,
clip the line into the release on the tow arm of the OR34
Mini Board and then clip the snap swivel at the back of
the board over the line.
Drop the board into the water and troll away letting line
play off the reel until the board is out to the side of
the boat the desired distance.
The OR34 Mini Board will plane out to the side 50-75 feet
or more depending on the lure and trolling speed!
Because OR34 Mini Boards are so light, they can be fished
with almost any rod and reel combination. Imagine, now there's
no need for heavy trolling rods, reels and lines to enjoy
planer board fishing.
Spoons are another trolling presentation that's tailor
made for the new OR34 Mini Board. Both trolling and casting
spoons can be rigged behind a OR34 Mini Board for targeting
a wealth of species. Add a small snap weight or other in-line
weight a few feet ahead of the spoon to achieve the desired
depth and you're fishing that quickly.
Crawler harnesses are another lure that cry out for the
OR34 Mini Board. Use snap weights, keel weights or just
a couple split shots to sink the crawler harness, add the
OR34 Mini Board and you're trolling a deadly rig for walleye,
smallmouth bass and a host of other species.
The OR34 Mini Board is also ideal for targeting suspended
crappie with both crank baits and jigs. Stack up to three
or four OR34 Mini Boards per side if you like. It only takes
a snap of the rod tip to trip the line release, making it
easy to fish multiple lines per side without having to clear
lines to fight fish! Also, don't overlook the OR34 Mini
Board's ability to slow troll shad and other minnow baits
The practical uses of this new board are only limited by
the imagination and ingenuity of those who fish them!
SOME BASIC DO'S AND DON'T
OR34 Mini Boards can be used to troll just about any small
to medium sized lures or weight systems. Don't try to use
OR34 Mini Boards to pull lead core line, bottom bouncers,
deep diving crank baits or other rigs that have a substantial
amount of resistance in the water.
OR34 Mini Boards can be used with almost any rod and reel,
but as always, the trolling line counter reel remains the
most practical way to monitor lead lengths which in turn
dictate respective lure running depth.
As with any trolling presentation, conveniently located
rod holders are a plus for fishing OR34 Mini Boards. If
you have a small boat, clamp on style holders might be the
best option. For larger boats a wealth of more permanent
style rod holders will work well.
Don't be afraid to experiment with OR34 Mini Boards for
targeting just about any species that swims. With a little
ingenuity, these new products can open the door to amazing
Back to Top
KING SALMON, JUST THE FACTS PLEASE
By Mark Romanack
For my money, the ultimate fresh water fish is the king
salmon. It's true that an intrepid angler might someday
catch a 40 pound muskie or maybe even a monster 50 pound
striper, but compared to salmon in the 20 pound class, these
are hard fish to come by. Adult Great Lakes salmon are amazingly
abundant and easily caught in lakes Michigan, Huron, Ontario,
Superior and even in Erie.
There are countless numbers of king salmon waiting to test
tackle and angling skills. The typical king hits like a
freight train and fights like you just hooked a jet ski!
STICK WITH THE BASICS
Salmon, like every popular species, are targeted with a
wealth of lures and angling methods. Too often the hype
associated with these popular fish and the multitude of
lures, lure colors and other gear gets in the way of success.
When you boil down salmon fishing, just three simple lure
groups and a handful of common presentations account for
the majority of the fish. Anglers who stick with these "basics"
will never be far away from hooking their next fish.
THREE LURE GROUPS
Salmon are most commonly caught on three simple lure groups
including spoons, flies and plugs. For each of these lure
groups there are no less than a dozen popular brands and
a wealth of models to choose from.
In the spoon category, all sizes and types of trolling
spoons will catch salmon. The number one choice among charter
captains and serious anglers are the magnum sized spoons.
Across the Great Lakes big spoons seem to produce more and
bigger salmon spring, summer and fall.
Trolling flies are a second staple of open water salmon
trolling. At one time the dodger was the attractor most
commonly used in combination with trolling flies. Today,
more anglers use flashers or rotators when fishing flies.
Flashers and rotators can be trolled at faster speeds than
a dodger, making them more user friendly and easily mixed
in a trolling pattern that contains other lure types.
The third lure group worth noting is collectively known
as plugs. The term plugs and crank baits are often interchanged.
Sometimes you hear salmon anglers referring to these lures
as body baits.
Actually there are two different categories of crank baits
on which salmon are routinely caught on. In the spring time
when the water is cold, stickbaits like the famous Bomber
Long A are popular choices.
In the summer and early fall, a different kind of body
bait produces better results. High action lures like the
famous Luhr Jensen J-Plug or the Silver Horde are amazingly
effective when salmon start to stage up near river mouths
in preparation for spawning.
Three basic lure groups are the hot pics for salmon fishing.
In the same token, three basic presentations catch most
of the fish. The one, two, three punch needed to catch salmon
includes downriggers, diving planers and lead core line.
Each of these common presentations are easy to master and
effective at triggering salmon. Combining the top three
lure groups with the three best fishing presentations is
the fast track to salmon fishing success.
Most anglers consider downriggers as a tool for fishing
deep water. That's true, but downriggers can also be useful
for fishing closer to the surface.
Both manual and electric riggers are useful. For fishing
very deep water (over 75 feet) electric riggers are a major
convenience. Manual riggers will get the job done nicely
in the majority of salmon fishing situations. Most boats
are well equipped with a pair of downriggers.
Every downrigger system requires a 10-12 pound downrigger
weight and a dependable downrigger line release. The weakest
link in downrigger fishing is the line release. If this
critical trolling tool fails, the rigger fails.
Off Shore Tackle produces the widest assortment of downrigger
line releases and stacker releases of any manufacturer.
No single line release can function properly for all fishing
applications and that's why Off Shore Tackle produces different
releases for different fishing methods and conditions.
The standard OR1 Medium Tension Downrigger Release is ideal
for fishing spoons, and plugs on fishing line from 17-30
pound test. For fishing attractors and fly combinations
a heavier tension line release is needed to insure solid
hook sets and no false releases. The OR8 Heavy Tension Downrigger
Release is ideal for trolling with attractors.
The OR2 Medium Tension Stacker Downrigger Release is ideal
for running two lines from the same downrigger. The spring
tension in this stacker release is best matched up with
spoons and plugs.
Downriggers function best when the lures and attractors
trolled behind them are fished rather close to the downrigger
weight. For spoons, plugs and attractors, the best success
is achieved when these baits are fished from 10-30 feet
behind the downrigger weight. Keeping these baits close
to the downrigger weight increases the lure action and also
helps to avoid tangling with other lines.
The simple diving planer achieves two important functions
when salmon trolling. Not only do these devices dive below
the surface, they can be set to track out to the side of
the boat a short distance as well. Getting both down and
out to the side is a huge deal on a salmon boat because
it allows more lines to be run and more water to be covered
without the fear of tangles.
All three popular lure groups can be used effectively on
diving planers, but these trolling tools see the most use
with spoons and plugs.
The best way to fish a diving planer is to set it on the
No. 3 setting that gains substantial outward coverage and
modest to moderate depths. Ideally the diving planer should
be used not as a super deep diving tool, but rather a tool
that reaches medium depths while also reaching out to the
side of the boat. This compromise helps fill an important
niche in salmon trolling.
The most common size diving planers are the Luhr Jensen
No. 1, Slide Diver No. 1 and Walker Deeper Diver 107 mm.
Each of these popular divers are similar in diameter and
Depending on how deep salmon are found in the water column,
the most common leads for these diving planers are 50-200
feet behind the boat.
LEAD CORE LINE
Lead core line is an age old tactic for getting a variety
of lures to run at depth. Compared to diving planers and
downriggers, lead core is a more shallow fishing option.
A half core (five colors) of 27# test lead core runs about
20 feet deep. A full core (10 colors) of 27# test lead core
runs a little over 30 feet deep.
These modest depths may seem shallow for salmon trolling,
but lead core is a very useful tool for targeting kings
early and late in the day when these fish are likely to
be feeding in shallow water.
Lead core can be trolled straight out the back of the boat,
but most anglers prefer to combine lead core with in-line
planer boards like the Off Shore Tackle OR31 Side Planer
In-line boards allow lead core to fish well outside of
diving planers, covering more water and avoiding tangles
in the process. Rigging two lead core lines per side of
the boat is easy with the OR31 Side Planer SST board.
Lead core is most commonly fished as a segment of lead
core line sandwiched between a monofilament leader and backing
material. Set the half core (shallower running) line first.
Let out the lure, leader material and all the lead core
line. Attach the OR31 Side Planer SST board onto the backing
material and send the board out to the side 50-75 feet.
On the same side of the boat set the full core (deeper
running) and attach it to the OR31 Side Planer SST board
in the same way. Set the OR31 Side Planer SST board to run
about 20-30 feet inside the previously set board.
Duplicate this set up on the opposite side of the boat.
Rigged in this fashion, if a salmon is hooked on the outside
board lines, the board and fish can be reeled in without
having to clear the inside board. This is because the outside
lead core line is only half a core and running closer to
the surface and will slide over top of the deeper running
full core set up.
Lead core can be fished with all three lure groups, but
spoons and plugs are the primary salmon producers.
MIXING IT UP
Combining all the common lure groups and presentations
into one killer salmon trolling program is good advice.
Using downriggers to cover the deepest water, diving planers
to fish the mid depths and lead core to fish closer to the
surface sets up a trolling pattern that not only covers
all the bases, but helps to keep lines separated and tangles
to a minimum.
On the average boat, setting out eight lines represents
a good spread that covers all the common depths and lure
A FEW MORE TIPS
Salmon are one of those species that bite best early and
late in the day. If possible, plan on being on the water
and setting lines an hour before the sun hits the horizon
in the morning. Concentrate most of your lures in the top
60 feet early in the morning and as the day progresses,
fish deeper. For afternoon trips, plan to fish the last
two hours of the day and 30 to 60 minutes after the sun
dips below the horizon.
In low light conditions, glow-in-the-dark colors are always
a good option for salmon. As the light gets brighter, switch
back to more traditional salmon fishing colors and lures
with lots of flash.
Salmon also bite best in water temperatures from 45 to
60 degrees. If there is a perfect water temperature for
salmon fishing it would be 50 to 55 degree water. However,
often salmon are caught in warmer water. This is especially
true as fish stage to spawn in the early fall.
SALMON ARE AMAZING
Salmon are amazing fish. Pound for pound, no other fish
fights harder or is more abundant across the Great Lakes
region. While charter captains commonly target these fish
from large boats, salmon can be successfully targeted from
smaller boats much of the time.
The keys to catching more salmon are simple and straight
forward. Stick with the three common lure groups and the
three most popular fishing presentations. Get out early
and fish hard. The rest as they say is history.
Back to Top
SNAP WEIGHT STRATEGIES
By Mark Romanack
Snap weights are trolling sinkers with the emphasis on
simple. No other trolling weights are as simple or versatile
to use as the popular Off Shore Tackle Snap Weight.
It's a forgone conclusion that among trollers, lots of
fishing situations require adding extra weight to the fishing
line. More often than not adding a little extra weight is
the easiest way to achieve a pinch more depth.
Snap weights could not be easier to use. Little more than
a chunk of weight attached to an OR16 (red) Snap Weight
Clip via a simple split ring, these amazing trolling sinkers
simply have no limit to their fishing uses. The beauty of
a snap weight is they can be used to fish a wealth of weight
sizes and the weight can be placed literally anywhere on
the line the angler desires. Furthermore, the snap weight
is easy to put on and just as easy to take off the line
when fighting fish. A small pin that protrudes through the
middle of the rubber pinch pads insures that the snap weight
will stay on the line until the angler removes it.
The fishing situations outlined below are just a few of
the situations where snap weights shine brightly. Read on.
SUSPENDED CRAWLER HARNESSES
It's a well known fact that walleye commonly suspend in
the water column to feed on shiners, shad and other free
ranging forage fish. The garden variety nightcrawler harness
is one of the best ways to catch these fish and snap weights
are the easiest way to present "spinners" at target
Using the standard 50/50 Method outlined in the book Precision
Trolling, (www.precisionangling.com) snap weights can be
easily used to target any depth a walleye is likely to be
living at. Simply let your favorite crawler harness out
50 feet behind the boat, clip on a snap weight onto the
line and let out an additional 50 feet of line.
The snap weight chart in Precision Trolling shows at a
glance how deep respective snap weight sizes will troll
at common speeds. The angler's job is to determine the average
depth fish are marking on the sonar unit and then match
that information up with the ideal size snap weight.
If fish are marking at a variety of depths, use different
sized snap weights to stagger your lures in the water column.
Stick with the standard 50/50 system and simply change weight
sizes to target other depths. When you start catching fish
on a particular weight size, switch over other lines to
the more productive weight size and hold on.
SNAP WEIGHTING CRANK BAITS
For every crank bait that dives the perfect depth, there
is need to fish a little deeper. Crank baits are amazing
fish catching machines, but these lures are limited by how
deep they can dive.
Adding a snap weight to any floating/diving style crank
bait can substantially increase the diving depth without
changing the lure's action. Just placing a one ounce snap
weight 20 feet in front of your favorite crank bait increases
the diving depth of that lures about 30%. For the typical
crank bait that dives 15 feet, one ounce of extra weight
increases the diving depth to 20 feet!
Imagine the possibilities. Using snap weights there are
literally no limits to how deep an angler can fish his favorite
crank bait. Snap on and catch more fish. It's that simple.
SNAP WEIGHTS AND SPOONS
Trolling spoons are awesome fishing lures, but these action
packed lures don't dive on their own. Targeting these lures
at depth requires combining a spoon with some other type
of fishing hardware like a downrigger, diving planer, lead
core line or you guessed it snap weight.
For steelhead, browns and other surface feeding species,
a modest one ounce snap weight will present the typical
trolling spoon about 10 feet below the surface at two miles
per hour. To fish deeper, simply add more weight. It's that
GO HEAVY FOR SALMON
Salmon are a species that is commonly found in deep water.
Downriggers and diving planers are the tools most commonly
used to target deep water fish. Snap weights in the larger
sizes can be a simple alternative to depth control fishing.
Snap weights in the four, six and eight ounce sizes can
easily be used to target depths from the mid 20's to more
than 40 feet! For example, at two miles per hour, a six
ounce snap weight will run 36 feet down when fished 200
feet behind the boat. Impressive!
To fish even deeper try attaching two snap weight clips
to the split ring and adding 10, 12 or even 16 ounces of
weight. A one pound weight will fish a whopping 125 feet
down when set out 200 feet and trolled 2.5 MPH.
Snap weights are a great tool for targeting salmon and
other deep water fish. Troll these heavy weights straight
out the back of the boat and hold on. You're going to be
amazed how well this ultra simple fishing method works.
SNAP WEIGHTING LEAD CORE
Lead core line sinks and achieves substantial depth when
trolled at normal speeds. The problem with lead core is
it takes a lot of line out to achieve any significant depth.
Snap weights again come to the rescue. A lead core rig
consisting of five colors of 27 pound test line will fish
about 20 feet down at three miles per hour. Adding a four
ounce snap weight on the line near the point where the leader
and lead core join, five colors will now run about 30 feet
deep or almost the exact same depth as 10 colors of 27 pound
test lead core.
Fishing less lead core out and adding weight makes sense.
Not only does the angler not have to reel in so much line,
fish are hooked better and more get landed compared to fishing
longer lengths of lead core.
Putting the snap weight on and off the line couldn't be
easier. It only takes a second to put the snap weight on
the line and also to remove it when fighting a fish. Slick!
SUMMING IT UP
Fishing snap weights couldn't be easier and as you can
see from the above examples, snap weights are also versatile.
There simply is no limit to the ways snap weights can be
used to troll up popular species. The only wrong way to
fish a snap weight is to not take them fishing in the first
Back to Top
OR12 SIDE PLANER GETS UPDATED
By Mark Romanack
The popular Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side Planer continues
to catch countless fish for all kinds of anglers. Beginning
in 2009 this popular board has been updated to include two
OR19 (orange) Adjustable Heavy Tension Planer Board Releases
as factory standard equipment. The heavy tension releases
are ideal for fishing these boards at faster trolling speeds,
trolling lead core line, working in rough water and other
challenging fishing situations.
The OR19 (orange) releases have the same spring tension
as the popular OR16 (red) Snap Weight Clip. The difference
is the OR19 doesn't have the pin that protrudes through
the center of the rubber pads. Instead the OR19 features
two rubber pads ideal for holding all common sizes of monofilament
line from 10# to 25# test.
Over the years it has become common place for walleye anglers
to upgrade their OR12 Side Planer by purchasing a pair of
heavy tension OR16 Snap Weight Clips. The introduction of
the OR19 to the OR12 Side Planer makes this extra expense
unnecessary. This represents an added value of more than
The OR19 release is actually the best of both worlds. Walleye
anglers who want to be sure the OR12 stays on the line,
will find that rigged with the OR19's, their problems are
over. No matter how fast they troll and even in rough water
the OR19 has plenty of tension to insure the OR12 Side Planer
will stay put on the line until the angler reels it in and
The stronger spring tension of the OR19's are also a benefit
to salmon anglers who troll in big seas and prefer to rig
their boards so they can be released and allowed to slide
down the line. To rig the OR19 releases so they can easily
be triggered, simply follow these simple instructions. First,
set your lead length to the desired distance. Second, wrap
the fishing line around your index finger four or five times,
forming a loop and a few twists of line. Third, put the
twists of line into the OR19 release attached to the bracket,
leaving the loop of line exposed out the top of the release.
Fourth, clip over the line with a snap swivel mounted at
the back of the board. The board is now rigged for the release
and slide method of trolling.
The release and slide rigging method works best when targeting
large fish species like salmon, muskie or striper. This
is also a convenient way of rigging in-line boards so multiple
boards/lines can be set on each side of the boat. A quick
snap of the rod tip is all that's required to pull the loop
free of the release and send the Side Planer sliding down
To prevent the board from sliding down to the lure, rig
an OR29 Speed Bead on the line about three feet ahead of
the lure. These inexpensive beads are easy to rig and the
ideal way of preventing the planer board from sliding down
and potentially knocking the fish off the lure.
MORE ABOUT THE SIDE-PLANER
Also new for 2009 the OR12 and OR31 Side Planers are both
now factory equipped with an environmentally friendly alloy
counter balance weight. Anglers won't even notice the difference,
except for the good feeling they get for being friendly
to our planet.
As always the Side Planer and SST boards are ideal for
hard core trolling applications. There is hardly a species
in fresh or salt water that can't be caught with the help
of these work horse planer boards. As always, Off Shore
Tackle is constantly looking for ways to improve their products
and help anglers catch more fish.
Back to Top
SPRING TROUT AND SALMON FUN
By Larry Hartwick
2008 was full of surprises, some good and some bad. The
worst of the bad was $4.50 boat gas and the best was the
spring trout and salmon fishing in Lake Huron.
After all of the havoc unleashed from the hundreds of invasive
species that have been deposited on the Great Lakes by some
human greed, we are never quite sure what we will find each
spring. To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be
a gross understatement. I was elated! Fishing was great!
Was it as good as 1985-1987? No, but it was still good.
Lake Huron has always had great lake trout fishing so it
wasn't really a surprise that lake trout were still plentiful.
The big surprises were the coho and king salmon. Coho were
very abundant which is an unknown phenomenon because it
has been over 10 years since any coho were planted in Lake
Huron. They were on both the Canadian and U.S. shores at
the same time and covering a minimum of 80 miles of shoreline
in Michigan alone. No one knows where they are coming from
but it appears that they are natural reproduction and my
guess is that they are coming from the Canadian rivers.
The amount of coho has been increasing since the alewife
crash, although populations of the native emerald shiner
and rainbow smelt have been booming. The coho were feeding
heavily on the emerald shiners and were getting fatter by
the week. The first week of May had the average coho weighing
between 1 ½ to 2 ¾ pounds, a week later they
were 2 ½ to 3 ½ pounds, and by the first week
of June, I had reports of 4 to 5 pound fish.
The kings were more abundant than previous years with some
caught in May weighing up to 15 pounds. Wherever you found
the smelt, the kings were there.
All of the normal methods produced fish, but the stand
out winner was using the Riviera Triple Planer Boards run
in conjunction with the Riviera Kachman Dual Automatic Planer
Even though we don't have easy access to the bow of the
boat, the Riviera Kachman Automatic Planer Mast can be pre
set for the distance that the Riviera Triple Planer Boards
are deployed. Retrieve lines are then used to set releases.
These act in a similar fashion as a weight retriever would
on a downrigger. With the mast extended to the 7 foot working
height, the planer boards are being towed from approximately
10 feet high. This added height keeps the tow line out of
the water and maximizes the efficiency of the planer boards.
We towed a variety of stick baits from the Riviera Triple
Planer Boards with the best producers being 14A and 15A
Various colors produced well with the fish having a preference
for gold tones with a splash of red or orange on several
occasions. Planer board leads varied from 50 to 100 feet
behind the release and we normally ran 3 lines per side
from each triple board. We used Off Shore Tackle OR3 Light
Tension Planer Board Releases which provided the proper
tension for solid hook ups.
Downriggers produced as well when we extended the leads
to match those being run on the triple planer boards with
80-100 feet behind an Off Shore Tackle OR8 Heavy Tension
Downrigger Release. The additional holding strength of the
OR8 release gave us the proper hook sets even at those extended
distances. We used Mason T-line in 25# test clear monofilament
to reduce line stretching.
Early May found the best results with the downriggers run
in the top 10 feet of the water column and then the depths
increased after mid May. We had 4 super colors and lures
that worked virtually every day off of the downriggers.
These baits and colors included the Northport Nail Wild
Thing WT-21, Raider Glow Chicken Pox, Michigan Stinger Natural
Born Killer, and Wolverine Glow Yellowtail. They were all
exceptional fish producers in May. Other colors were probably
working as well but there was not any reason to switch colors
that were producing every time.
Diving planes worked as well with the same colors used
as we deployed on the downriggers. They produced fish as
well but, most days we fished a planer board and downrigger
program because they work well together and complimented
each other with no interference.
Limit catches were common with several trips ending in
a limit of fish in less than 2 hours dock to dock. Most
of this action took place in less than 30 feet of water.
The key was finding the depth that the bait was in for that
particular day. Do not be afraid to look in some fairly
shallow water. There were many trips that we released several
salmon while trying to pick up another trout for a limit.
I can assure you that this not been an issue in the last
What will 2009 bring when the ice leaves Lake Huron? Hopefully
more great spring action!!
Back to Top
RESOLUTION: TO BE MORE ORGANIZED IN 2009
By Mark Romanack
If anyone needs to be organized it's an angler. Name a
hobby other than fishing that requires so many different
pieces of gear and other essentials that must be somehow
stored and organized? Most avid anglers have enough gear
to fill a garage! Try fitting all that stuff into a fishing
boat and still leaving some room to fish.
The problem with fishing tackle is you'll only need it
if you don't take it. How many times have you had to stop
at a bait shop to purchase something you already owned but
left it at home? Getting better organized is something every
angler could benefit from. A few organizational tips make
it easier to lay your hands on essential gear and avoid
having to choose what goes and what stays home. After all,
an angler's goal should be to take it all and let the fish
decide what gear will be needed on any given day.
VERTICAL ROD TUBES
Storing long trolling rods is a major problem in most boats.
Many rod lockers simply won't accept rods longer than seven
feet. Inexpensive plastic vertical rod tubes are a great
way to organize trolling rods when running from one fishing
spot to the next. Produced by Berkley and many other companies
these rod holders are sold individually or in banks of 3,
4 and 6 rod holders. Mounted on the side of the console
or near the transom of the boat, these rod holders insure
that your rods won't tangle or bang together when running.
When trolling these tubes double as a handy place to store
your landing net ready for action.
CLOTH ROD COVERS
Ever put a dozen rods into the rod storage locker and then
tried to get one out? What a mess. Cloth rod covers are
an expensive way to cover rod/reel combinations that are
strung and ready for action. The cloth covers the guides
and line and prevents the rods from tangling. Each cover
runs around $5.00, making them cheap insurance against rod
damage and frustrating tangles.
MESH MINNOW BAGS
Tipped over your minnow bucket lately? Minnow buckets always
seem to find a way to get tipped over or to get in the way.
Even if your minnows don't spill, chances are they will
be dead before you can use them.
Mesh minnow bags that fit into your boat's live well are
an interesting alternative to traditional minnow buckets.
Keeping your minnows in the live well allows them to be
treated to fresh water, insuring the minnows will be frisky
These mesh bags feature a foam float to keep them upright
in the live well and easy to get minnows as needed. When
not in use the bags collapse and take up very little room.
One mesh minnow bag is plenty to hold all the minnows needed
for a long day of fishing. Slick!
"In-line planer boards are essential tools for many
trolling situations, but storing them between fishing trips
or even between trolling runs has been a problem,"
says walleye pro Keith Kavajecz. "A new product known
as the Planer Tamer neatly stores four planers and some
essential tools or six planer boards. Designed to mount
along a rod box or at the transom of the boat, this cool
new product protects your Side Planer boards and keeps them
STORING PLANER BOARD RELEASES
If you troll with a mast system and dual or triple planer
boards, you no doubt have a host of planer board releases
that need to be contained and kept handy. In the house wares
section at any department store, you can find a slick solution.
Small (8"X12") mesh plastic baskets hold 50 or
more OR10 (yellow) walleye planer board releases. I have
two and keep one on each counsel of the boat, ready for
action. When I need a planer board release, they are always
handy and the mesh boxes allow the releases to dry out between
PLASTIC MILK CRATES
When I was in college I literally lived out of plastic
milk crates. Just about everything I owned fit nicely into
one of these durable and handy containers. Anglers can find
just as many uses for plastic milk crates, but one of the
most handy is for storing the many Plano boxes anglers use
to store crankbaits and spoons. Milk crates come in two
sizes and both will fit nicely under the console of most
boats. The mesh design allows water to drain out, keeping
the things stored inside organized and relatively dry. The
things you can store in these durable containers are endless.
Milk crates are great for storing anchors, anchor line
and dock lines so they can dry out after use. These handy
items can also help to keep a minnow bucket from tipping
over so easily. Bulky items like marker buoys, in-line planer
boards and sea anchors can also find a good home in these
SOFT SIDED COOLERS
Hard coolers and boats just don't go together well. Because
the cooler won't fit into dry storage compartments, they
end up cluttering the floor of the boat. Soft sided coolers
are ideal for storing crawlers, cold drinks, lunch or anything
else that needs to stay cold. Because they can be molded
into just about any shape, they fit into dry storage compartments
where they are out of sight and out of the way. Off Shore
Tackle has a handy 6 pack size soft cooler that works great
for these items! Check it out on the Off Shore brand product
pages on this website.
MILITARY AMMUNITION CANS
Every angler should have a camera on board. How do you
keep expensive camera gear dry in a fishing boat? Metal
ammunition cans sold at army surplus stores are the answer
to storing delicate and expensive gear like cameras, flash
attachments, film, digital scales and hand-held GPS units.
A rubber seal in the lid makes these containers 100% waterproof
and because they are made of metal they are also crush proof.
Line them with pieces of foam rubber to cushion your gear
and you'll be ready for a quick hero shot every time you're
on the water.
RUBBER FLOOR MATS
Is your boat carpet getting thin in some high traffic areas?
Rubber floor mats (the type sold at farm stores) can be
custom cut to fit just about any space. These mats provide
secure footing, they keep objects from sliding around on
the floor and they help contain messes associated with fishing
crawlers or minnows. A layer of rubber on the deck also
makes just about any boat quieter. When they need cleaning,
simply pull them out and hose them off.
GETTING IT TOGETHER
Fishing success often boils down to being prepared and
organized. Hopefully, one or more of these tips will help
keep your fishing boat ship shape and ready for action in
2009. At the very least your fishing partners will be amazed
they can clearly see the floor on your boat.
Back to Top
By Larry Hartwick
As the ice flows leave the lake waters, the baitfish (Smelt)
move inshore in search of spawning tributaries. The smelt
will actively seek out waters that range from creeks to
large streams for spawning. More often than not, these locations
will be the same year after year. This is vital information
for the anglers that target trout and salmon in the spring.
As the smelt stage off of these tributaries, they attract
predators in large quantities. These fish often will range
in groups that could easily be referred to as wolf packs.
There are going to be very few single fish, so if you catch
one, there are usually a lot more in that immediate area.
Most of the time, these wolf packs will be very concentrated
in one area. The key to success is locating the productive
area and then STAYING on the area. The most prominent error
that I observe, made by anglers every year, is leaving a
productive area while the fish are there and feeding.
How often have we seen a boat take a fish or two and continue
trolling in the same direction without turning around? The
key to success is keeping the boat on the fish by either
circling or running a figure 8 pattern. Sound too difficult?
With multiple rods in the water, it takes a little more
finesse to turn around than stay in a straight line.
With that said, a common sense approach to rigging a boat
in terms of rod holder location, downrigger locations, and
planer mast location will eliminate most of the hassles
associated with spinning in circles or figure 8's while
working a wolf pack.
Planer masts should be mounted as far forward as possible
on the boat, as this eliminates the tow line coming in contact
with rods during a turn. Can't access the front of the boat
easily? No problem, Riviera manufactures an automatic planer
mast that can be operated without physically having to accessing
the unit each time you set lines and does not require 12
volt power to operate it. Good tools such as this eliminate
a lot of hassle while using planer boards.
Downriggers should be mounted so they don't interfere with
using either planer boards or diving planes or your other
downriggers. The perfect set up for downriggers has all
of the end pulleys in a straight line when viewed from the
side of the boat. In this configuration, it is nearly impossible
to tangle lines but it requires the outside downriggers
to be run at an angle to the transom. Most swivel bases
will have a 45 degree angle that will usually work well.
If not, the bases can be set at the proper angle when they
are mounted. I have come to prefer this installation over
the years, as everything "flows" without interfering
with each other. Downriggers should have a minimum spacing
of 48" apart on the end pulleys.
Rod holders for the planer boards need some spacing between
them (I like about 8-10") and the ability to be adjusted
to different angles. Having multiple angles on the rod holders
allows a greater separation on the rod tips and will greatly
reduce the amount of tangled lines. This also applies to
rod holders for diving planes. The use of a track mounting
system will allow for experimenting with various locations
and leave you with more options.
The formula for spring fishing is simple, rig your boat
to be user friendly, find the wolf packs at the bait concentrations,
and do not leave them until you have had enough fun for
Back to Top
NEW TROLLING OPTIONS
By Mark Romanack
For decades the gasoline kicker motor has ruled the roost
when it comes to serious trolling chores. From walleye to
salmon and just about everything in between the nine to
fifteen horse kicker motor has been the magic that gets
the work done.
A kicker motor has plenty of power for all practical trolling
speeds and these little engines are stingy on a gallon of
gas. As popular as the "kicker" motor has become,
there may be a better option looming on the horizon.
ELECTRIC MOTOR TROLLING
Ironically electric trolling motors have historically been
used not to troll but rather to position the boat from one
casting location to the next. These products are typically
used more for boat control than maintaining a particular
That era may be quickly coming to an end. The advent of
the auto-pilot style electric motor has opened up a wealth
of serious trolling options for anglers targeting walleye,
striper and other species where the typical boat speeds
range from 1 to 1.5 MPH. Slow trolling with an auto-pilot
electric motor has a host of advantages and can be applied
to in-line boards or traditional structure trolling.
First off, the electric motor is quiet. Even the quietest
four stroke outboard is loud compared to an electric motor.
In the boat, the silence of an electric motor is golden.
You can talk without yelling and for the first time enjoy
the peace and quiet anglers are so often seeking.
Secondly, an auto-pilot electric motor can easily be used
to set a course and maintain it. Trolling with the typical
gasoline kicker motor requires the angler to constantly
adjust the course. With an auto-pilot electric motor, just
set the desired compass heading and let the electric motor
do the work of driving.
Even electric motors without the auto-pilot feature can
be useful for these slow speed trolling chores. Any electric
motor with a power drive style head will do a pretty good
job of following a particular course setting. This is because
the power head will stay positioned in one direction even
when the continuous switch is engaged.
Traditional push-pull cable driven style electric motors
can't be used in this capacity because when the unit is
set to run on continuous, the head indexes, causing the
boat to run in a tight circle.
Thirdly, auto-pilot electric motors have a cable on the
control pad that allows the controls to be placed literally
at any location in the boat. If you need to make a course
adjustment or change trolling speeds there is no longer
the need to move to the front of the boat.
This simple remote control option allows guides to fish
and control the presentation at the back of the boat, freeing
up the front of the boat for their clients.
A fourth advantage of electric motor trolling is the speed
control. The speed control on an auto-pilot electric motor
allows minute speed adjustments compared to the typical
four stroke kicker motor that's either going too fast or
too slow all the time.
On a rough day when the wind and waves are pushing the
boat too fast, the electric motor can be turned backwards
and used to slow down the trolling speed as needed.
A WORD ON POWER
Electric motors depend on battery power. The typical 24
volt electric motor with 80 pounds of thrust will troll
a 20 foot walleye boat at 1.5 MPH for six to eight hours.
A 36 volt motor will add another three or four hours of
To extend the running time of a 24 volt electric motor,
simply rig a third battery into the system to increase the
amp hours without increasing the voltage.
A LONG SHAFT IS A MUST
Bow mount electric motors require a long shaft to insure
the power head stays in the water all the time. For the
typical Deep V walleye style boat, a shaft length of 60
inches is the minimum recommended length. Using longer shaft
lengths is a clear advantage when trolling in rough water.
If wave action causes the power head to contact the surface,
the prop loses its bite and forward motion is interrupted.
The deeper the boat, the more important it is to have an
extra long shaft on the trolling motor.
FASTER TROLLING SPEEDS
For trolling speeds faster than 1.5 MPH another option
is required. Fishing with crank baits or spoons can easily
be handled with the primary outboard motor. These days even
big V6 engines can troll at 2.0 to 3.5 MPH with ease.
The leader of the pack in terms of slow trolling outboards
is the Mercury Verado. This four stroke engine is available
in 135-200 HP four cylinder models or 200-300 HP six cylinder
models. All are capable of running amazingly quiet and trolling
Another advantage of trolling with the Verado is power
is controlled by a digital throttle that provides instant
and positive speed adjustments. Unlike a four stroke kicker
motor that routinely is running too fast or too slow, the
speed on a Verado can be tweaked to literally any fishing
speed required. Kicker motors tend to speed up or slow down
the RPM speed even when the throttle adjustment isn't changed.
The Verado throttle stays true and provides a smooth and
consistent speed in both trolling and running situations.
SUMMING IT UP
The way anglers troll is quickly changing. The gasoline
kicker motor was once the work horse of trolling, but that
era may soon be over. Today with the advent of auto-pilot
style electric motors and ultra smooth four stroke primary
outboards, the traditional "kicker" doesn't seem
so necessary anymore.
Back to Top
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES
By Douglas Cameron
As you know fishing for walleye on Hubbard Lake can be
a difficult thing, especially in the hot summer weather
when they are deep. On Thursday, July 17, I went out in
our pontoon boat to give it a try using planer boards for
the first time that summer. By mistake, I used quick release
rod holders. As I was heading north in about 40 feet of
water, I heard a sound and watched as one of my rods disappeared
overboard. I quickly pulled the other line in and turned
around to try to retrieve the road board that was still
floating. However by the time I reached it, it had gone
under. I stopped the pontoon and stood there cussing my
stupidity. I then noticed the planer board just below the
surface a short distance away. I used my extendable boat
hook to try to get it but it was too far. I started the
motor and tried to get close to the board but lost sight
of it and could not find it again. Morning of stupidity
cost me a good rod, reel and planer board, a value well
over $100. Stupid me!
Saturday, July 26, was the HLSIA All Species Fishing Tournament.
My neighbor Rudy Von Zittwitz and I went out early in the
morning in our pontoon at 7:00 a.m. to try to catch walleye.
It was windy and so we opted for drift fishing - dragging
crawlers on or near the bottom of the lake and letting the
wind and waves propel them. We would motor out to 40 feet
depth, cut the engine and let the waves take over.
During the morning Rudy managed to catch five walleye (two
keepers) and I, none. About 9:30 Rudy caught something -
he said it was big, and I got the net ready. After a few
minutes, Rudy decided he had caught the bottom and suddenly,
the line gave. I went back to my rods and Rudy reeled in.
"Look what I have," he announced. In amazement
I saw that Rudy had the lure I had been using when I lost
my planer board and rod on July 17. "A chance in a
million," I thought. At that point it was time to pull
lines and head out.
As we headed toward the middle of the lake, Rudy pointed
out something in the water ahead. It was a planer board,
just sitting upright in the water. "That's my planer
board," I said, now getting very excited. "It
has to be." There were no other boats around. Rudy
manned the net and when he had the planer board safely in
it, I cut the engine. We both pulled line still attached
to the board and quickly up came my rod, scuffed but otherwise
in good shape. What are the chances!
Back to Top
CORY'S SWEDISH WALLEYE
Cory Symoens, not only a good angler, but also a great
cook, prepared this dish for us while in Sweden!
1 Large onion
2 cups breadcrumbs
8 potatoes (peeled)
1 cup cream
1 cup whole milk (important to use whole milk)
½ stick of butter
1/4 cup parsley
1 ½ - 2 lbs. walleye fillets
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Place walleye fillets in the center of olive oiled large
deep baking dish.
Boil the potatoes and let cool. When cold, quarter and
place them around the edge of the dish with walleye fillets
in the center.
Sauté the butter and onions with olive oil until
the onions are golden brown. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove
pan from heat and stir in the breadcrumbs and parsley. Set
this dish aside for now.
Salt and pepper the fish and potatoes in a pan. Pour cream
and milk over the fish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mix evenly
over fish and potatoes.
Place in a heated oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
Eat and enjoy!
Back to Top
A GREAT START
By James Collins
Growing up in Northern Maine led me to become an avid hunter,
angler and eventually a guide.
Muskie, as you know, are called the fish of a thousand
casts. Now we are boating more muskie than ever, and it
is simply because of the Off Shore OR12 Side Planer boards
we bought at LL Bean.
They are perfect! They troll well at various speeds and
handle much larger lures than I expected. My first weekend
with them on the boat, I decided to get some of my pals
together and take a trip with them before we took paying
customers out so I would look like I knew what I was doing.
On this first weekend of using the OR12 Side Planers, we
hammered muskie all weekend! The boards worked flawlessly,
hookups were consistently solid, and the spread we put out
was fantastic! I'll be telling everyone about how much they
helped me. Thanks again!
If anyone wants to catch muskie sometime, send them my
way. I would love to have people come up and see what the
northern Maine woods have to offer. (James Collins can be
reached at 207-942-5250).
Back to Top
THE MAGIC OF MINI DIVERS
By Mark Romanack
Anglers are inventive soles. For just about every problem
an angler faces, there is a product designed to solve that
problem. For example, spoons are wonderful trolling lures
that have an abundance of natural action. The problem is
spoons don't sink very deep when trolled. To deploy spoons
to greater depths anglers commonly use a variety of diving
planers designed to dive below the surface taking the spoon
along for the ride. The spoon is attached to the back of
the diver using a short leader. Problem solved; well sort
Other problems trollers struggle with is that diving planers
are heavy, they create a lot of drag or resistance in the
water, they need to be fished on heavy line and all of this
takes away from the enjoyment of fighting the fish. To solve
this problem a number of manufacturers are producing "mini
divers". Pint sized versions of the devices more commonly
used to troll for trout and salmon, mini divers are just
the ticket for trolling at shallow to moderate depths.
The first place that mini divers found a niche was for
walleye trolling on Lake Erie. The perfect combination of
features, mini disks easily reach the 15-25 foot depths
walleye anglers commonly troll at. Ideal for trolling spoons,
crawler harnesses and small shallow diving crank baits,
these divers are also small enough that they create minimal
drag in the water. Because mini divers are small they can
be fished in combination with planer boards, further making
them a "go to" product for open water trolling
Across Lake Erie mini divers are in wide use. Anglers fishing
for walleye on other sprawling waters are also starting
to discover the benefits of these mini divers. Outside of
the walleye niche, the mini diver market has been slow to
take off. That's a pity because the mini diver can be used
to target just about any species that lives in open water.
The mini disk is the ideal tool for trolling coho, brown
trout and king salmon early in the year. In the spring these
fish are often found in shallow water or in the top 20 foot
of the water column. Mini disks can also be used to target
open water steelhead that suspend near the surface most
of the year.
The list of uses for mini disks doesn't stop with cold
water species. Northern pike, smallmouth bass and even muskie
are prime targets for diver fishing.
MINI DIVERS COME IN TWO FLAVORS
Most mini divers fall into two categories including round
disks that are weighted to achieve depth and floating versions
that achieve depth like a crank bait diving down into the
water. Both designs work very well and each has their own
set of advantages. Most mini divers have no release mechanism.
Instead the line is tied to a snap on one end and the leader
is tied to another snap at the other end. The exception
to this rule is a new mini diver produced by Walker Downriggers
that has a release arm similar to that found on larger diving
Disk style divers come in different sizes. The smaller
devices are approximately the diameter of a half dollar.
Some larger divers about the diameter of a tennis ball are
also available. Obviously the larger divers are designed
to fish a little deeper, but even the smaller sized disks
reach substantial depth when fished on thin super braid
Just like other trolling devices, two primary factors determine
how deep diver disks run. The amount of lead length deployed
and the line diameter used are the two factors that influence
depth. Longer leads allow these divers to achieve greater
depths as do thin diameter lines that have less resistance
in the water.
The smaller sizes of mini disks have minimal drag or resistance
in the water similar to that of a deep diving crank bait.
Because these devices are small they work best when fished
in combination with small or light lures like spoons, spinners
and stick baits.
Disk divers are also directional like their larger cousins.
By tilting the weight slightly to the left or right of center,
these planers can be made to dive down and slightly out
to the side. The operative word here is slightly. Mini disks
are so small that they achieve very little outward planing
ability compared to full size diving disks. Most anglers
prefer to fish mini disks on the zero setting that dives
straight down. Some even go so far as to glue the weight
in place so the diver is permanently set on zero.
Divers that float at rest and dive like a crank bait when
trolled are also available in small enough sizes to qualify
as a mini diver. The Luhr Jensen Jet Diver is unique in
that it floats at rest and dives when trolled, but this
diver doesn't impart an action or wiggle to the lure. The
Jet Diver pulls straight in the water and like other divers
a leader is used to attach the lure to the diver.
Available in a No. 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 sizes, the Jet
Diver is most popular among walleye anglers. The No. 10
and 20 are popular in Saginaw Bay and the Western Basin
of Lake Erie. The larger 30 and 40 Jets are widely used
in Lake Erie's Central and Eastern Basins where walleye
are often found in deeper water.
The 10 and 20 Jets have minimal drag in the water and are
commonly used in combination with either in-line planer
boards or dual board mast systems. Larger 30 and 40 Jets
are large enough to have considerable drag in the water
and work best in combination with dual board mast planer
Spoons are the most common lure trolled behind Jets, but
these floating/diving devices are also handy for fishing
crawler harnesses and shallow diving crank baits.
Like the mini disks, Jets see little use among salmon,
steelhead and trout anglers. It's even rarer to see a pike
or muskie troller using a Jet Diver. It's funny how anglers
associate certain products with certain species and rarely
use them to target others.
SUMMING IT UP
The fact is, both mini disks and Jet Divers are hardcore
trolling tools that can be used to target a wealth of species.
Any time the fish are within 30 feet of the surface, chances
are a mini diver of some type is going to get the job done.
Even better, these useful trolling tools work well with
either dual and triple planer board systems or in-line boards
like the popular Off Shore Tackle Side Planer. Combining
mini divers with planer boards makes these products even
more useful, effective and versatile.
Walleye anglers recognize the value of these pint sized
divers more than other anglers, but with time that too will
change. Until then, don't underestimate the value of mini
divers for catching all kinds of Great Lakes fish.
Back to Top
DO I NEED LINE COUNTER REELS?
By Mark Romanack
Trolling for just about any kind of fish is a numbers game.
How deep are the fish? How many lines can I use? What's
the limit? How fast should I troll? What pound test is best?
These are just a few of the numbers questions anglers must
ask themselves every time they go fishing. The most important
question however zeroes in on one very specific aspect of
trolling. How much line do I have out? Lead length or the
amount of line played off the reel is a critical element
of trolling. While other variables influence on lure running
depth. Lead length is the primary factor that determines
where in the water column a lure is likely to run.
Anglers who control and monitor their lead lengths closely
are rewarded with critical fishing information. Say for
example that you have decided to set your favorite crank
bait 60 feet behind the boat. Only a few moments pass before
the rod bucks and a nice fish is hooked up. Obviously when
the fish is landed, you'll want to return that lure to the
same depth by letting out exactly the same amount of line
If you happen to have another one of the same lure in your
tackle box, it would be a good idea to set it out also using
the same lead length. Determining what lead lengths are
the most productive and duplicating them is the corner stone
WHY LINE COUNTERS?
There are a number of ways anglers can monitor their lead
lengths, but none are as user friendly or accurate as a
line counter style reel. Virtually all line counter reels
use similar technology to determine how much line is being
played off the reel. A gear driven counter is connected
to the reel spool. As the spool turns and line plays out,
the counter keeps track by clicking off the lead length
The counter has a button that allows it to be reset to
zero before each lure is set. This simple fishing tool converts
trolling from a guessing game into a sport where anglers
can accurately predict the exact lead lengths that will
Clip on style line counters that mount to the rod or metered
fishing lines are other ways to monitor lead length, but
neither is as convenient to use as a line counter reel.
MORE ON LINE COUNTERS
Most anglers don't realize that all line counter reels
don't measure lead lengths exactly the same. How much line
is on the reel spool, the diameter of the line used and
the width of the spool are all factors that influence the
numbers that appear on the counter.
For example, if the reel you're fishing is half full of
line, each rotation of the spool is letting off less line
than if the spool was full. This is precisely why it's important
to make sure all your reels are full to capacity when trolling.
Different sized line counter reels also function differently.
A reel sized for walleye isn't calibrated to provide the
same numbers as a salmon sized reel. This is because the
spool size and width on these reels is somewhat different.
The most accurate way to monitor trolling leads is for an
angler to use a series of reels that are exactly the same
model and size. It's also important that each reel be filled
to capacity. Also, load each reel with exactly the same
diameter fishing line.
By controlling these important variables, anglers can enjoy
amazingly accurate and useful data from a line counter reel.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND?
When it comes to line counter reels an angler can spend
$40.00 each or as much as $200.00 a piece. Obviously, the
more expensive reels are built using higher grade materials
and designed to last longer.
Which model is right for each angler depends on how much
time will be spent fishing and the budget available. Most
anglers settle for reels that fall into the middle of the
road in terms of quality and cost.
For example, Okuma is one of the leading producers of line
counter reels. They produce three different models including
the Magda Pro that retails for around $40.00, the Convector
that retails for about $75.00 and the Catalina which costs
around $130.00. All three are excellent reels, but each
offers a series of features which in turn controls the price
point. In the end, each angler must choose the reel that
offers the best combination of features based on how he
or she fishes.
CAN I USE SALMON REELS FOR WALLEYE?
One of the common questions regarding line counter reels
is can I use reels designed for salmon to catch walleye?
The answer is yes. Anglers who target both small and larger
fish species are wise to invest in the larger size reels,
best suited to catching big fish. These same reels can then
be used to catch smaller species like walleye or browns
by simply using smaller diameter fishing lines.
Selecting the smaller sized reels only makes sense if the
angler plans on only fishing walleye or other smaller species.
The line capacity of the smaller sized reels simply isn't
adequate for targeting big kings.
MONOFILAMENT OR BRAID?
Monofilament fishing lines dominate the trolling scene,
but a growing number of anglers are experimenting with braided
lines. Monofilament line has a unique set of characteristics
that make it ideal for most trolling applications. Monofilament
is relatively thin in diameter for the break strength, it
holds knots well, is difficult for fish to see, and offers
controlled stretch and is reasonable in price.
Super braids seem to cost more but they actually last longer
than monofilament and they provide some specialized features
that have a niche in trolling. Braided lines are very thin
in diameter for the break strength which allows them to
deploy lures to greater depths. Braids also have near zero
stretch, which means long leads can be used without fear
of losing hook setting power.
When fishing braids, smaller reels can be used because
the small diameter allows reels to enjoy a larger line capacity.
About the only negative regarding braids is the reduced
knot strength. Because these lines don't stretch, they suffer
from poor shock strength compared to monofilament line.
LET'S GO TROLLING
Every serious troller recognizes the value of monitoring
lead lengths closely. Without question using a line counter
reel is the best way to stay on top of the lead length issue.
If you don't already use them, step up to line counter reels
and watch as the mystery of trolling melts away into limit
Back to Top