BEING CREATIVE WITH SNAP WEIGHTS
No two anglers are alike. When it comes to fishing Snap
Weights, the creative options available are almost as numerous
as those anglers who use them. While many anglers swear
by the standard 50/50 method, we've also caught wind of
a few creative variations to the art of trolling in-line
BOTTOM BUMPING WALLEYE
Captain John Hook of Oscoda has competed on the Masters
Walleye Circuit, Pro Walleye Tour, in the Michigan Walleye
Tour and North American Walleye Association tournament circuits.
A trolling specialist, John's twist on Snap Weights came
to him on Saginaw Bay and has also been used effectively
on Lake Erie, Little Bay de Noc and many other waters.
Rather than attaching the Snap Weight directly to the fishing
line, John suggests attaching an 18-24 inch coated wire
or monofilament lead between the OR16 Snap Weight clip and
the trolling weight. "The OR16 clip is then attached
to the main line 8-10 feet ahead of a No. 5, 6 or 7 Colorado
spinner blade and crawler harness," explains Hook.
"Rigging the weight on a short leader helps me achieve
the bottom control I need to keep my spinners positioned
just off bottom. This system works especially well when
fishing over soft silt covered bottoms which are common
in deep water basins."
Capt. Hook fishes this unique Snap Weight configuration
like a bottom bouncer, keeping the rig fishing at approximately
a 45 degree angle behind the boat. "The object is to
let the weight lightly tick along bottom," adds Hook.
"To avoid snags and stirring up the silt on the bottom,
try not to let the weight drag on the bottom."
Don Keenan of Appleton, Wisconsin uses Snap Weights to
drift and slow troll for walleye along weed lines with pinpoint
precision. Don uses eight foot downrigger rods rigged with
floating jigheads or a Phelps Floater and a nightcrawler.
A six or eight foot lead is played out then a Snap Weight
attached directly to the line.
"I want a fairly heavy Snap Weight that sinks almost
straight down while l'm drifting or trolling," says
Keenan. "Keeping the weight straight down allows me
to keep track of exactly how deep the weight is positioned
and where in relationship to the weed edge my trailing lures
This system can be drifted among weed flats, or Keenan
suggests using an electric motor to slowly follow meandering
weed lines. One line can be placed in a rod holder and the
other held and directed in and out of every nook and cranny
along the weed edge. When a fish strikes, simply reel in
the weight, quickly remove it and continue to fight the
Fly in fishing trips are great fun, but it's always difficult
to anticipate what type of equipment will be needed. Most
of these trips limit anglers to 75-100 pounds of total gear.
That doesn't leave much room for tackle after clothes, rain
gear, rods, reels and a sleeping bag are packed!
On waters that support lake trout, a few OR16 Snap Weight
clips and a modest assortment of weights, in sizes ranging
one to four ounces, can quickly transform any casting spoon
or stickbait into trout killers.
To conserve space, the same spoons and large stickbaits
that are productive on northern pike can be used to troll
up lakers. Casting spoons like the Dardevle, Mepps Syolops
and Luhr Jensen Krocodile are classics that produce both
species. In the stickbait category try large baits like
the Jointed ThunderSticks, Rapala Husky Jerks or Rebel F30
If you've got a portable graph, look for trout suspended
over deep water basins. During the summer, lake trout suspend
30-60 feet below the surface, making them ideal targets
for Snap Weight trolling.
Begin trolling by letting out 30-50 feet of lead and placing
a Snap Weight onto the line. Let out another 30-50 feet
of line and begin trolling at around 1.5 miles per hour.
Watch the graph closely. If you're marking fish but not
catching them, try letting out a little more lead until
the lures contact fish. Once you figure out how much lead
is required to reach the fish, the fun begins.
Duplicate effective leads and then start experimenting
with lure and color choices to fine tune the presentation.
This simple, flat line trolling technique is deadly on suspended
Back to Top
Downriggers are designed to make deep water fishing effective
and simple. Like any other method of fishing, downriggers
come complete with a list of do's and don'ts.
ELECTRIC OR MANUAL
One of the most common questions asked at consumer fishing
shows is do I need electric downriggers? The answer to this
question is maybe. Anglers who fish a few times a year or
for those who concentrate primarily on shallow water species
are best equipped with inexpensive manual riggers like the
Riviera Model 300, 500 or 700.
For anglers targeting walleye or steelhead we recommend
purchasing a set of riggers and mounting them on the corners
of the boat. An extra set of rod holders is a good investment
and will allow up to four lines to be run off these two
downriggers. If sliders are used, another four lures can
be added bringing the total lures in the water to eight.
Anglers who fish frequently or spend a lot of time dedicated
to king salmon or lake trout will find electric riggers
an invaluable investment. These species are often taken
from 60-100 feet below the surface. A manual rigger would
work in these situations, but at the expense of a lot of
cranking to raise and lower lines.
Serious salmon anglers often purchase four electric downriggers,
mounting one on each back corner as out/downs and two positioned
to fish straight out the back. When fishing four downriggers
equipped with dual rod holders eight lines plus eight sliders
can be fished at once for a total of 16 lures in the water!
When fishing four riggers at once, the center lines are
run deepest and the outside lines closest to the surface,
to form a rigging pattern that looks like a "V".
This rigging formation takes several factors into consideration.
First off, the boat is likely to spook fish near the surface.
It makes sense to fish the lines directly off the back of
the boat deeper where the boat is less likely to cause problems.
The out/down lines reach out 24 - 72 inches from the boat
side, making them the most logical lines to run closer to
the surface. Also, spreading out the lines at different
depths insures that the main lines, stackers and sliders
won't tangle when turning.
Riviera Downriggers Corporation recommends Off Shore Tackle
pinch pad line releases for all downrigger fishing applications.
Pinch pad style releases provide some fundamental benefits
many anglers don't understand.
For a line release to function properly it must provide
enough tension or resistance that fish are hooked solidly.
If the release is too light, fish trigger the release on
the strike, but before the angler can get the rod from the
holder, the fish shakes the hook.
On the other hand, the release must be light enough to
trip when the angler wants it to release. The best situation
is for the release to hold fast until the angler can remove
the bucking rod from its holder and with an upwards snapping
of the rod tip, pop the line free from the release and tight
against the fish in one smooth motion.
The tension setting of Off Shore Tackle pinch pad style
downrigger releases can be adjusted. For a lighter setting
simply place the line near the front edge of the pad. To
increase the release tension bury the line deeper into the
LOADING THE ROD
For a downrigger and line release system to perform properly,
the rod and line must be taunt against the release. This
is accomplished by "loading the rod" or simply
reeling up all the slack between the rod tip and the line
Downrigger style rods are designed for this purpose. Made
from fiberglass or fiberglass/graphite combinations, these
rods are tough enough to withstand a heavy bend in the rod.
The easiest way to load a rod is to open the reel bail
and to apply a little thumb pressure to the spool while
lowering the cannonball. Use just enough pressure to take
some of the stretch out of the fishing line, but not so
much you pop the line from the release.
When the cannonball reaches the desired depth, click over
the reel bail and reel up some more of the slack line and
line stretch until the rod doubles over, then place it into
a rod holder. Loading a rod is a simple step, but one that's
critical to the overall success of downrigger fishing.
MONOFILAMENT OR BRAIDED LINES
Off Shore Tackle's pinch pad downrigger releases were designed
for use with monofilament fishing lines. The natural stretch
that nylon monofilament contains is a vital part of the
working relationship enjoyed between downriggers, line releases
and fishing line.
Braided lines have little stretch or shock absorbing effect.
Not surprisingly braided lines don't function properly in
pinch pad and other styles of line releases. Because braided
lines don't stretch, anglers tend to put too much pressure
on fish during the fight. The results are broken lines,
straightened out hooks and lost fish.
Braided lines have many applications, but downrigger fishing
isn't one of them. Anglers are far better served with a
quality monofilament line designed for trolling. Trolling
lines tend to be a little stiffer, more abrasive resistant
and contain a little less stretch than ordinary monofilament.
Some of the best nylon lines for downrigger fishing include
Stren's new Sensor a nylon with approximately 50% less stretch,
Stren Super Tough, Trilene XT, Silver Thread Excalibur,
Maxima Ultragreen, Mason T-Line and Ande Premium. Each of
these products has ideal properties for serious downrigger
POUND TEST GUIDELINES
The pound test fishing line used can influence the function
of pinch pad downrigger releases. Off Shore Tackle designs
their releases to function within a range of pound tests
best suited to the species.
The OR1 Medium Tension Release is designed for salmon fishing
and functions best with 17-25 pound test monofilament. The
OR4 Light Tension Release is designed for walleye fishing
and functions best with 10-17 pound test monofilament. The
OR8 heavy tension release is designed for musky and salt
water applications and functions best with 20-40 pound test
Back to Top
FISHING SNAP WEIGHTS FOR SUSPENDED FISH
Some ideas are so simple you wonder, "why didn't I
think of that." Snap Weights are just such an idea.
An in-line trolling sinker, Snap Weights are nothing more
than a heavy tension OR16 (red) Snap Weight clip with a
chunk of lead attached. Simple in design and simple to use,
Snap Weights are the original in-line trolling sinker and
can be placed along a trolling line to gain extra fishing
depth. The strong spring tension of the OR16 clip insures
that the weight will stay put until the angler reels it
in and removes it with a pinch between the thumb and forefinger.
Rigging and fishing Snap Weights is that easy. Finally,
there's a solution to the age old problem of getting just
a little more depth from spinners, spoons and crankbaits.
Snap Weights are a step beyond keel sinkers, bead chain
sinkers and split shots. Easy to use and deadly, the term
Snap Weight has become a household name among trollers.
Effective for walleye, salmon, trout and a wealth of other
species, any time fish are suspended, Snap Weights are the
Snap Weights are sold in kits that includes four clips,
split rings and an assortment of weights ranging from 1/2
to three ounces. The OR16 clips are also available in two
packs and the weights can be purchased separately as well.
Any lead sinker will work with a Snap Weight, but it's
important to know exactly how heavy each weight is, so when
a productive trolling pattern is discovered it can be duplicated
exactly. The weights offered by Off Shore Tackle feature
the size molded right into the sinker to make choosing weight
THE 50/50 SYSTEM
When fishing Snap Weights, it's important to remember that
the amount of weight used, the trolling speed and lead length
are the primary factors that influence lure running depth.
To make it easier for anglers to communicate on and off
the water, the Off Shore Tackle staff has developed a standard
method for fishing Snap Weights known as the 50/50 system.
Using a standard angling method, such as the 50/50 method,
is a good starting point but it only represents a fraction
of the ways Snap Weights can be fished effectively.
The 50/50 method incorporates a shallow diving crankbait
(stickbait), spoon or nightcrawler harness in a trolling
lead that positions the lure 50 feet behind the boat. A
Snap Weight is placed on the line at the 50 foot mark and
another 50 foot of lead is played out. The total trolling
lead of 100 feet can be fished as a flat line or attached
to an in-line board or dual style planer board.
When fishing Snap Weights, the lure running depth depends
on trolling speed and weight size. The best guide to Snap
Weight trolling depths is available in the book Precision
Trolling by Mark Romanack, Steve Holt and Tom Irwin. This
unique trolling guide provides not only Snap Weight guidelines,
but also trolling depths for over 120 crankbaits, Dipsey
Divers, lead core line and Jet Divers. To order a copy of
Precision Trolling, call 1-800-353-6958 during regular business
hours. Credit card orders are welcome.
Combining Snap Weights with trolling boards is one of the
most popular ways to fish in-line weights. Often called
the down-and-out trolling method, using boards and Snap
Weights allow anglers to fish below the surface and out
to the side effectively.
When using in-line boards like the Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer,
up to three ounces of weight can be used effectively. If
dual style boards are used, weights up to six ounces can
be used effectively.
SNAP WEIGHT OPTIONS
The 50/50 system has become one of the most common rigging
methods for Snap Weights, but many anglers have discovered
these weights can be used in a multitude of ways. A Snap
Weight can be placed on the line, from a few feet in front
of the lure to 200 feet or more up the line. Experimenting
with lead lengths and weights is how experienced trollers
pattern their fish.
The important thing when fishing Snap Weights is to keep
track of the variables. For example: If fish are taken trolling
1.5 miles per hour using a two ounce Snap Weight 25 feet
ahead of a Jr. ThunderStick with a total lead length of
150, this system must be duplicated exactly to reach the
same running depth.
The most commonly used tool for measuring trolling leads
is the Daiwa 27LC or 47LC line counter reels. Other line
counter reels are produced by Penn, Mitchell, Marado and
Shimano. Trolling leads can also be measured by using metered
fishing lines or by pulls or passes as the line is stripped
off the reel. For the best results, all reels should be
loaded with the same diameter (pound test) line and the
reels filled to capacity.
Trolling speed is a little more difficult to keep tabs
on. The spinner wheel style speed indicators that come as
accessories to most fishing graphs are about the best system
for measuring trolling speed. These spinner wheels must
be kept well lubricated and free of grit for best results.
If you have a GPS unit, the speed-over-ground (SOG) feature
also gives an idea of trolling speeds. Unfortunately, SOG
varies as selective availability (satellite signal strength)
is increased or decreased. The SOG provided by GPS systems
should only be used as an estimate of speed.
When setting lines, it pays to use several different Snap
Weight configurations to start. Vary the weights and lead
lengths until a productive pattern emerges, then duplicate
this pattern with other lines. Remember when fishing Snap
Weights, nothing is written in stone. The 50/50 system is
a good starting point, but the options available are without
limit. Experiment until a productive pattern emerges then
duplicate what's working and let the fun begin!
Back to Top
SELECTING AND USING STACKER RELEASES
How do you catch twice as many fish using downriggers?
The answer is simple, use stackers. A line stacker is a
simple and effective way to fish two lines from a single
OR7 LIGHT TENSION STACKER RELEASE
Serious downrigger anglers wouldn't dream of fishing without
using stacker releases. The best possible way to double
your fishing pleasure; a stacker is simply a pair of downrigger
releases attached together. Steel leader material is used
to attach one release on a short lead and the second on
a slightly longer lead. Both leads terminate into a heavy
duty snap that clips over the downrigger cable.
When rigging a stacker make sure to place stacked lines
at least five feet above the main line. Place the snap over
the downrigger cable and close it, then take the release
on the SHORT lead and place it on the cable above the snap.
It's important to place the short lead release above the
snap to prevent unnecessary wear on the stacker and potential
To complete the stacker rig, take a rod rigged with a spoon
or shallow diving crankbait and let the bait back behind
the boat. It's best to make the lead on the stacked line
longer or shorter than the lead on the main line to avoid
tangles. Most anglers prefer to run stackers on short, five
to ten foot leads.
Once the lead is set, place the line midway into the pads
on the remaining stacker release and lower the downrigger
weight to depth. When a fish strikes a lure rigged to the
stacker release, the rod will buck from the thrashing fish.
Remove the rod from its holder and quickly reel the rod
tip down towards the water and trip the release with a sharp
upwards jerk of the rod. Using this method, the line pops
free of the release and pulls tight against the fish all
in one smooth motion.
The OR7 light tension stacker release was designed for
walleye fishing, but this release serves just as well for
brown trout and other smaller species.
OR2 MEDIUM TENSION STACKER RELEASE
The OR2 Medium Tension Stacker release was built for serious
salmon and lake trout fishing situations. Many salmon boats
are rigged with five downriggers. Stackers allow up to five
additional lines to be fished at different depths. Stackers
help to cover the in-between depths and make patterning
fish an easier chore.
Medium tension stackers are designed to be used with 17-25
pound test line and trolling speeds of 2-4 MPH.
STACKERS VS SLIDERS?
Many anglers ask, "why do some anglers use stackers
and others use sliders?" Stackers are used to rig a
second line off a downrigger by attaching the stacker release
to the downrigger cable.
Sliders are a five or six foot length of line with a lure
attached to a swivel at one each end. Sliders are rigged
by placing a snap swivel over the fishing line and tossing
the lure into the water. A slider can be added after the
lines are set and fishing, even to a stacked line.
A stacker runs at the depth set by the anqler and holds
the lure firmly in a line release mechanism. Sliders are
free to slide up and down the line and they normally run
at or near the bow in the line that's caused when the boat
moves forward throuqh the water.
Sliders have a major disadvantage. Because they are free
sliding when a fish hits there isn't any tension against
the fish to set the hook. That's why when a fish hits a
slider the angler must reel like crazy to catch up with
the fish and set the hook.
If a slider is good, a fixed slider is even better. You
can make a simple and effective fixed slider from a six
foot length of 20 pound test monofilament, an OR14 Adjustable
Heavy Tension line release and two snap swivels.
Thread the monofilament through the hole in the OR14 release
and tie on a snap swivel. On the other end tie on the other
snap swivel and add a favorite spoon or stickbait.
A fixed slider is rigged after setting the main downrigger
line. The fixed slider is placed on the line at least five
feet above the main line. Simply clip the snap swivel over
the main line and pinch the OR14 release onto the line to
hold the slider in place, then toss the lure over the side.
The rigger is then lowered to the chosen depth, positioning
the fixed slider a few feet above the main line.
When a fish strikes the fixed slider, the tension from
the OR14 release provides enough resistance to set the hook
firmly. As the angler fights the fish, the slider works
its way down the line. By the time the fish is brought to
the net, the fixed slider has usually slid down to the main
lure like an ordinary slider.
The resistance provided by the OR14 release is enough to
significantly increase the hook-up ratio as compared to
free sliders. A slick and inexpensive trick for adding extra
lines, fixed sliders are just one of the ways Off Shore
Tackle downrigger, stacker and planer board releases help
anglers catch more fish.
Back to Top
THE WALLEYE DOWNRIGGER
By Mark Romanack and Larry Hartwick
To many anglers, the word downrigger spells salmon fishing.
A growing number of walleye anglers wouldn't agree with
that stereotype. Not every walleye is caught on a Lindy
Rig. Trolling and downriggers are becoming some of the most
productive methods of catching walleye, especially in bodies
of water where walleye are often found in deeper water.
The ultimate fishing tool for depth control, downriggers
are most often used to present spoons, crawler harnesses,
and crank baits. With the help of downriggers, these lures
can be fished for both suspended and bottom hugging fish
with precision and finesse.
Manual downriggers such as the Riviera Model 300 and 500
are ideal for most walleye fishing applications. The Model
300 is an inexpensive model that features a flat arm designed
for fishing straight out the back of the boat. The Model
300 features a tough Lexan reel that picks up two feet of
cable per handle revolution, an adjustable rod holder, gear
driven depth meter, a clutch that's easily adjusted without
tools, 200 feet of 150 pound stainless cable, cable termination
kit, mounting plate, and an Off Shore Tackle line release.
The Model 500 has all the features of the Model 300 and
a few extra. Available with 18, 30, or 48 inch round aluminum
booms with a swivel head, the Model 500 comes standard with
one rod holder. The mounting plate design allows the 500
to be attached in 5 different positions. This allows the
500 to be used straight off the transom, at 90 degrees off
the side, or at a 45 degree angle off the corner. A pair
of Model 500 downriggers mounted on the corners of the transom,
make a welcome addition to any walleye boat.
Designed for 8 to 10 pound cannonball weights, the perfect
line release for the walleye downriggers is the Off Shore
Tackle OR4 Light Tension Release. The Off Shore staff recommends
using 10 to 17 pound test monofilament fishing line.
All Riviera downriggers and other trolling products are
made in Port Austin, Michigan.
Back to Top
FISHING SNAP WEIGHTS ON BOTTOM
The original idea behind Snap Weight in-line trolling sinkers
came from a lake trout fishing technique known as lead drop
lines. This cumbersome system incorporated a jettison style
release that is threaded onto the line. The jettison release
supports a lead ball that's set a distance in front of a
trailing lure. Unfortunately, the jettison release is designed
to drop the lead weight when a fish is hooked.
The major flaw in this angling method is obvious. Off Shore
Tackle doesn't condone dropping lead weights into our fishing
The answer to this problem became as simple as a pinch
pad clip with an extra heavy tension designed to hold the
weight securely onto the line until the angler could reel
it in and remove it. Many prototypes were tried and rejected
by our pro staff before the OR16 (red) Snap Weight clip
This compact clip has little drag in the water and combines
a super heavy spring tension and soft rubber pinch pads
that grip onto 10 pound test or larger monofilament firmly
without damaging the line. The angler can put the weight
onto the line from a few inches to 50 feet or more ahead
of the lure. When a fish is hooked, the weight is reeled
in with the fish and removed with a quick pinch of your
thumb and forefinger. Once the weight is removed, the angler
fights the fish without weights or other devices to spoil
The Snap Weight clip was designed to handle up to eight
ounce trolling sinkers, but many anglers report using up
to 16 ounces effectively! In most fishing situations weights
including two, three, four, six and eight ounces are adequate.
As extra insurance against losing weights, many anglers
attach a snap swivel to the split ring that connects the
Snap Weight clip to the weight. When the Snap Weight is
placed on the line, the snap swivel is also clipped over
the line. If for any reason the Snap Weight should pop free
of the line, the weight simply slides down the line via
the snap swivel.
Developed for bumping bottom in deep water, it's ironic
that Snap Weights have evolved into a popular system for
attacking suspended fish. Despite the fact that Snap Weights
get more use these days on suspended fish, they are still
a deadly method of fishing on or near the bottom.
Snap Weights are sold in kits or the clips and weights
can be purchased separately. Depending on how fast the angler
plans to troll and how deep he or she wishes to fish, weights
from one ounce to eight ounces will be required. The kit
includes weights from one-half to three ounces. Heavier
weights and extra clips can be purchased separately.
The most commonly used lures for Snap Weight trolling are
shallow diving crankbaits, crawler harnesses and spoons.
These lures and Snap Weights are best handled with downrigger
style rods, level wind reels and monofilament line (10 pound
test or heavier).
Line counter reels are a practical method of keeping track
of lead lengths. For those anglers who don't own line counter
reels, metered fishing lines are handy or you can simply
count the passes the line makes when stripping off the spool.
Whatever method is used to monitor lead lengths, it's critical
that the leads be accurately determined so they can be duplicated
when necessary. Like any productive trolling technique,
bumping bottom with Snap Weights will involve a considerable
amount of experimenting with lead lengths, lures and weights.
Once a successful pattern is developed, duplicating the
pattern exactly becomes the key to success.
When fishing Snap Weights close to or bumping bottom, great
care must be given to avoid the Snap Weight and trailing
lure from dragging on and snagging the bottom. When fishing
near bottom, the Snap Weight is usually positioned closer
to the lure than recommended for suspended fish.
The 50/50 system touted for suspended fish is modified
when fishing the bottom by using a shorter lead of 10 to
25 feet. This compromise helps to position the weight well
away from the lure while making it easier to control the
running depth of the lure and avoid the bait from fouling
A good rule to follow is to select a weight that's heavy
enough to fish at approximately a 45 degree angle to bottom.
Once the Snap Weight is positioned on the line, free spool
line until the weight hits bottom. Put your thumb on the
spool and troll for a few seconds to let the line settle
into position, then if necessary let a little more line
out to keep the weight running tight to bottom, but not
Once the weight is positioned properly, place the rod in
a holder at the back of the boat and watch the rod tip to
be sure the weight isn't dragging on bottom. If need be,
make minor adjustments to position the weight slightly off
bottom. Wave action works to bounce the rods in a rhythmic
up and down pattern. When a fish strikes, the rod jabs down
Always keep the rule of 45 in mind. This simple guideline
helps to maintain contact with bottom and to predict how
far the trailing lure is running over bottom. If too light
of a weight is selected, the angler is forced to let out
large amounts of line to make contact with bottom, the weight
tends to drag and the trailing lure often snags up.
Ideally the weight should be positioned to run slightly
off or to tick bottom occasionally. Maintaining this delicate
balance is best achieved with the rod positioned in a holder
mounted near the back of the boat. If the rod holders are
spaced out, two, three or even four rods can be fished at
the same time without fear of tangling lines.
The idea for Snap Weights came about through lake trout
fishing, but this unique trolling method is equally effective
on any species that frequents the bottom. Simple and effective,
that's what Snap Weights are all about.
Back to Top
PLANER BOARD RELEASES A-Z
Dual planer board trolling continues to be one of the most
popular ways of catching salmon, steelhead, trout, walleye,
striper and many other species. The whole concept behind
board fishing, hinges on a product that most anglers have
come to take for granted. Without simple and effective line
releases, planer board fishing as we've come to enjoy it,
wouldn't be possible.
Off Shore Tackle paves the way when it comes to line releases.
"We produce pinch pad style releases for every fishing
situation and species," says Bruce DeShano, owner of
Off Shore Tackle. "All our releases feature rubber
pads that hold the line gently, yet securely, insuring a
solid hook set and zero line damage."
Line releases are asked to accomplish a difficult task.
Every species, line diameter and trolling speed requires
a different set of release tensions for these products to
function properly. Off Shore Tackle solves this problem
by designing some of their releases with adjustable spring
tension. The OR10 (yellow), OR14 (black) and OR16 (red)
releases and clips range from light to heavy release pressure.
Each of these products feature a sliding spring mechanism
that can be used to significantly increase or decrease the
The release is set in the lighter tension setting when
the spring is slid to the back position (away from the pads)
and tension increases when the spring is moved forward (towards
the pads). Each of these releases can be rigged with a quick
clip and used with dual style boards or without the quick
clip, they also fit the popular Side-Planer in-line planer
The OR10 release was designed for walleye fishing and has
become the most popular selling line release on the market.
Designed to work flawlessly with 10 to 14 pound test line,
the OR10 is the ideal choice when trolling diving crankbaits
at speeds from 1.5 to 3 miles per hour.
The OR14 was designed for the Side-Planer in-line board,
but it also makes an ideal release for building add-a-lines
when fishing salmon and trout. The OR14 can also be used
as a dual board release when fishing salmon and steelhead
with 14 to 20 pound test line and trolling speeds from 2-4
miles per hour.
The OR16 was designed as a Snap Weight clip, but it too
is handy for many other uses. Steelhead anglers like the
heavy tension this clip provides, stating that they get
better hook-up ratios when using these clips with both in-line
boards and dual planer boards.
The best way to get crisp releases when using the OR16
is to wrap the fishing line over your finger and twist it
half a dozen turns to form a loop. Place the twisted line
into the release about midway between the rubber pads. Rigged
in this manner, the release will hold steady even when trolling
fast in heavy seas. When a fish strikes, the loop will pull
loose, popping the release cleanly.
Off Shore Tackle's OR3 is another popular line release
that sees double duty. This release features a larger pad
surface that gives the angler more flexibility in tension
setting. To set the release lightly, simply place the line
near the front edge of the pad. For the heaviest possible
setting, bury the line deep into the back of the pad.
Charter captains who fish for walleye, salmon and trout
favor this release because the tension is strong enough
to deliver the best possible hookset. This release usually
doesn't trip at the strike, but instead, the angler watches
the rod tips for signs of a strike. When a fish is hooked,
the rod is removed from its holder and with a sharp snap
of the rod tip, the line is popped free of the release.
Using this method is handy in situations when several fish
are often hooked at the same time, such as Lake Erie walleye
or when trolling for browns and jack salmon early in the
spring. The ability to trip the release when you want it
to trip can help save a lot of line tangles.
There's even a place for the OR30 heavy tension downrigger
release in planer board fishing. Designed for salt water
applications, muskie anglers on Lake St. Clair also swear
by this release. The OR30 is equipped with a quick clip
(instead of the standard leader) is used in place of the
OR3 when trolling large musky baits behind dual planer boards.
Anglers who troll for musky often use large baits, in-line
weights and troll at speeds upwards of four miles per hour.
The extra heavy tension of the OR30 release insures that
large hooks of a musky bait can be driven firmly home in
the bony mouth of a trophy muskie.
The uses of Off Shore Tackle pinch pad style line releases
are as varied as the trolling techniques and species waiting
to be caught. If you use Off Shore Releases in a different
or unusual manner, contact us with your fish story. We would
love to hear how you catch fish with Off Shore Tackle products.
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"NEW PRODUCT RELEASE" TATTLE FLAG TELLS ALL
No one likes a tattle tale. No one except an angler. Off
Shore Tackle's new Tattle Flag kit makes it easier than
ever to tell when fish bite. This unique flag kit includes
a flag, spring and all required hardware to convert the
OR12 Side-Planer into a Tattle Board.
"One of the biggest complaints we hear regarding in-line
planer boards is that it's hard to tell when you've hooked
a small fish or when lures get fouled on weeds and other
debris," says Off Shore Tackle owner Bruce DeShano.
"The Tattle Flag kit puts these complaints to rest
and offers anglers a simple and effective way to know for
sure when something is hanging on the fishing line. The
idea for the Tattle Flag was introduced to Off Shore Tackle
by professional walleye anglers, Mike Victor and Dennis
Anglers who troll in areas where aggressive yellow perch,
white bass, drum or white perch are common, will quickly
appreciate this new after market flag kit. "The problem
of hooking unwanted fish has plagued board anglers for years,"
says DeShano. "The dilemma gets even worse when fishing
live bait at slow speeds."
The Tattle Flag kit can be used with live bait, spoons,
crankbaits and other trolling hardware and at all trolling
speeds. Spring tension holds the flag in an upright or slightly
bent position depending on what types of hardware are being
trolled. When a fish is hooked or debris snagged, the flag
folds down to the board signaling the angler to check the
Seeing is believing when it comes to the Tattle Flag. Knowing
when you've hooked small unwanted fish and/or floating debris
isn't the only advantage of this unique new product. "Walleye
anglers know that this species has an annoying habit of
swimming along with the boat after being hooked," says
DeShano. "Even an angler experienced at fishing in-line
boards can have trouble telling when a walleye is hooked,
especially fish that are just barely legal length."
Fishing in rough seas is another time the Tattle Flag comes
in handy. In heavy seas it's tough to drive the boat straight.
Because the boards swing back and forth in the water constantly,
telling when you've hooked a fish, even a good fish can
"The Tattle Flag is so sensitive, bites are visible
even from fish that aren't hooked," adds DeShano. "During
field tests with the Tattle Flag we noticed many times that
the flag would fold down for a second then pop back up,
indicating a fish hit the lure but wasn't hooked. If it
wasn't for the Tattle Flag, these bites would have gone
unnoticed. When you're fishing, every bite tells you something.
Even the bites that don't end up as landed fish can help
anglers determine which lures, colors or trolling speeds
are most productive."
The Tattle Flag is available as an after market item only.
Sold in kits, each kit comes with all the necessary parts
and hardware to convert an Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer
to a Tattle Board.
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USING SUPER LINES WITH IN-LINE BOARDS & SNAP WEIGHTS
Some anglers swear by them and others swear at them, but
one fact remains; the new generation of braided super lines
is here to stay. The properties of super lines are so dissimilar
to monofilament that using these new lines is like learning
how to fish all over again. Considering the features that
super lines bring to the table, the education is worth the
Like any new product, anglers must learn the strengths
and weaknesses associated with braided lines. Braided products
feature very little stretch. Compared to similar break strengths
of monofilament, braided lines are also very thin in diameter.
Braided lines are slick to the touch and few knots will
hold securely, furthermore, these lines are so tough it
takes a sharp pair of scissors to cut the line!
Collectively the properties that make braided lines unique
and useful, also make them tricky to work with when it comes
to planer boards and in-line trolling weights.
The pinch pad design of Off Shore Tackle line releases
were designed to be used with monofilament lines. However,
super lines can be used with all Off Shore Tackle releases
if a few simple steps are taken.
1. Larger diameter super lines hold better in the pinch
pad style releases than thin diameter lines. We don't recommend
trolling with the super thin lines such as the six pound
test/two pound diameter products. Larger lines such as 20
pound test will hold in Off Shore Tackle pinch pad releases
in normal fishing situations.
2. If thin diameter lines (10-14 pound test) are to be
used with in-line boards such as the Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer,
we recommend upgrading to the OR14 release to the heavy
tension OR16 Snap Weight clip and wrapping the line through
the pinch pad twice. Open the pinch pad and place the braided
line in the middle of the rubber pads. Close the release
and wrap the line around the top of the release and place
the line into the pinch pad a second time. Rigged in this
manner the line can't slip through the rubber pads, yet
the release can still be removed from the line easily when
removing the board to fight a fish or reset lines.
Super lines have improved in many ways just during the
last couple years. No doubt these products will be improved
more in the future and become easier to use in trolling
In addition to new super lines, trollers can also look
forward to a new generation of monofilament lines. Stren
recently introduced Sensor, a nylon monofilament line that
features half the stretch of normal monofilament. Sensor's
other handling properties and cost are similar to monofilament
lines, making it an excellent option for fishing in-line
planers, Snap Weights and other trolling hardware.
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BIG WATER/BIG BOARDS
Big boards were made for fishing big water. Dual planer
boards are the logical choice when fishing big boats, big
water and when setting lots of lines.
The concept of fishing dual planer boards is hardly new,
but Riviera has some new twists on the planer board scene.
The Riviera Collapsible Dual Planer Board folds up for easy
storage and this unique planer is reversible for even more
convenience. The bright yellow color also makes the board
easy to spot on the water.
The tow arm on this board is another unique feature. Three
different attachment points allow anglers to choose the
right setting for the wave conditions or trolling speed
desired. The front hole works best when fishing in rough
water or for high speed trolling. The middle hole is the
choice for normal fishing conditions and the back hole is
preferred when trolling slowly.
Designed to run 75-80 feet out, Riviera dual planer boards
are an excellent choice when running three or four lines
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OPEN WATER AUTO-PILOTS
Trolling is a lot more fun when someone else drives the
boat! Even better, let an auto-pilot do the driving and
then everyone can enjoy the day on the water. The TR-1 auto-pilot,
introduced by Nautamatic Marine Systems, is the only auto-pilot
designed to work on a small gasoline motor.
This unique product combines an electronic compass, computer
brain and small hydraulic cylinder into a compact package
that can be mounted on any boat - large or small. The electronic
compass is mounted near the front of the boat and senses
even the most subtle changes in boat direction.
Information from the compass is passed onto a computer
that in turn controls a small hydraulic cylinder mounted
in place of the outboard's tilt tube. The hydraulic cylinder
moves the engine to compensate for wind and current drift.
The reaction time of the TR-1 is so quick, the boat easily
holds a course even when trolling into a facing sea, crossing
winds or river current. Adjustments to course are made with
a hand-held remote. A simple twist of the remote is all
it takes to steer the boat left or right. Once the new course
is set, the boat will follow this course until the operator
sets a new course.
The TR-1 can be fitted to most brands of gasoline kicker
motors with 6 to 25 horsepower. Owners of four stroke outboards
can also take advantage of a new remote control that includes
an electronic throttle control. With this new remote, anglers
can both steer and control trolling speed at the touch of
The TR-1 shines best as an open water trolling aid. The
unit can also be interfaced with any standard Loran-C or
GPS unit. Retail cost on this new product is around $1500.00.
For more information, contact Nautamatic Marine Systems
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RIGGING IN-LINE BOARDS
How do I rig in-line fishing boards? Each year this question
is directed to the Off Shore Tackle field staff countless
times. Before this question can be answered, the angler
must decide which species he or she is interested in catching.
Rigging options is one of the most confusing things regarding
in-line boards. There are two common ways in-line boards
are rigged for fishing. One method incorporates two heavy
tension releases that insure the board will stay on the
line while trolling and fighting the fish. The second method
combines a lighter tension release and snap swivel that
allows the board to release at the strike and slide down
the line via the snap swivel.
The "fixed board" method is best used on smaller
species such as walleye, bass, trout and panfish, while
the "release and slide" method works best with
powerful species including steelhead, salmon, muskie and
THE FIXED BOARD METHOD
Rigging an Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer to stay on the
line is easy. The board comes packaged from the factory
with an OR14 (black) release on the tow arm and a second
release attached with a split ring at the back of the board.
(The tow arm release is folded back toward the board to
fit in the package.) The release on the tow arm must be
removed and positioned so the metal eyelet in the release
slides over the metal tab on the tow arm. The release will
then be mounted perpendicular to the board and the provided
hardware should be tightened before the board is fished.
Next, check to see that both releases have the springs
positioned in the forward (towards the pads) or heavy tension
setting. If the spring needs to be slid forward, use a small
screw driver to move the spring. The board is now ready
For most walleye, bass and other small fish, the black
OR14 releases that come standard with the board are ideal.
For best results, anglers should use monofilament line 10
pound test or heavier and bury the line deep into the pads
of the release. Anglers who fish in especially heavy seas
or at high trolling speeds, may opt to use a heavier tension
The OR16 (red) Snap Weight clip can be purchased separately
and substituted for the standard OR14 release. Many anglers
simply put an OR16 (red) clip on the tow arm and leave the
OR14 (black) release on the back of the board. Most walleye
tournament anglers prefer to replace both releases with
OR16 (red) Snap Weight clips.
Using the heavier Snap Weight clip insures that the board
won't pop off the line when fishing in rough conditions,
if lures are snagged or while fighting stubborn fish.
THE RELEASE AND SLIDE METHOD
Keeping the board fixed to the line works great when dealing
with smaller fish, but for steelhead, salmon, musky and
other large fish, it's best to rig the board to release
at the strike and slide down the line via a small snap swivel.
When rigging a Side-Planer to release and slide, the tow
arm release is mounted the same as with the fixed method.
The release mounted at the back of the board is removed
and replaced with a stout snap swivel.
When the board is attached, bury the line deep in the tow
arm release and clip the snap swivel over the line. Rigged
in this manner the board will run smoothly until a fish
strikes. A powerful fish may trigger the release and send
the board sliding down the line immediately or in some cases
the angler may have to give the rod a little jerk to trip
When using the release and slide method, a plastic bead,
Speed Bead, barrel swivel or split shot, must be tied in-line
a few feet ahead of the lure to prevent the board from sliding
down and knocking the fish off.
Many Great Lakes salmon and steelhead anglers prefer to
rig their Side-Planers using a red OR16 Snap Weight clip.
The extra tension of this release insures solid hook-ups
and is best suited to trolling at high speed or in rough
When using the OR16 clip, it helps to wrap the line around
your finger and make a half dozen twists before attaching
the board. Bury the twists of line into the release then
clip the snap swivel over the line. This method of attaching
the board to the line insures the board will stay put until
a fish strikes and releases the board.
The "fixed" and "release and slide"
board rigging methods are both easy to master. Keep your
fishing simple and use the fixed method for smaller fish
and the release and slide system when trolling for large
or powerful fish.
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THE SALMON / TROUT DOWNRIGGER
By Mark Romanack and Larry Hartwick
Great Lakes salmon and trout is synonymous with downriggers.
These depth control fishing aids have produced countless
salmon, lake trout, steelhead, brown trout, and other species.
Riviera is proud to be the oldest manufacturer of downriggers
in America. The Riviera brand has always stood for quality
and value, a tradition we're proud to carry on at our Port
Austin manufacturing facility.
Simplicity is the hallmark of Riviera Trolling Systems
Incorporated. The design and structural integrity of Riviera
downriggers is well known in the downrigger community. Many
of our customers are still using downriggers purchased over
30 years ago. Our service department deserves the credit
for keeping the downriggers running smoothly and for insuring
our products will catch fish for decades to come.
Riviera manufactures two models of downriggers designed
for the Great Lakes anglers. The Model 700 is a manual unit
that features a 24, 48, or 72 inch aluminum boom, dual rod
holders, a 360 degree swivel base, aluminum reel, gear driven
depth meter, adjustable clutch, 200 feet of 150 lb. stainless
cable, cable termination kit, and a Off Shore line release.
The Great Lakes troller also has the option of converting
this Model 700 to electric. The Model 700 is affordable,
but offers all the features for serious downrigger trolling.
Anglers interested in an electric downrigger will be impressed
with the Riviera Model 1000, This deluxe model features
24, 48, or 72 inch aluminum booms, dual rod holders, 360
degree swivel base, a gear driven depth meter, marine switches,
re-set breaker, Riviera's famous reels, a hand adjustable
clutch system, 200 feet of 150 lb. stainless cable, cable
termination kit, and a Off Shore line release.
The working man's electric downrigger, the model 1000 has
all the features serious anglers want without adding expensive
gadgets that bump up the bottom line and produce few fish.
Like all Riviera downriggers, the Model 700 and 1000 are
designed to handle 8 to 10 pound cannonball weights. For
most salmon and trout fishing situations, the 10 pound weight
The perfect downrigger release for salmon fishing continues
to be the Off Shore Tackle OR1 Medium Tension Release. This
pinch pad style release features large diameter rubber pads
that make it easy to adjust the tension without damaging
the line. Simply place the line near the edge of the pad
for a lighter tension release or bury the line deep into
the pad for a firmer release.
Unless the quarry are small salmon or trout, it's best
to bury the line deep into the OR1 release. This will provide
enough tension to insure solid hook ups. Off Shore's staff
recommends using 17 to 25 pound test monofilament line with
the Medium Tension OR1 Release.
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WHY IN-LINE BOARDS?
A lot of serious trollers are wondering what all the fuss
is about with in-line planer boards. Planer boards, including
the smaller inline versions, have been around for generations,
but it wasn't until recently that in-line boards, like the
Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer, started getting credit as
serious fishing tools.
In-line boards are named for the way they attach directly
to the fishing line. The angler simply lets out a favorite
lure the desired trolling lead behind the boat then attaches
the board onto the line. The board is then dropped into
the water and additional line let out to allow the board
an opportunity to plane into the desired position.
In calm wave conditions, in-line boards can be fished up
to 150 feet to the side of the boat, covering huge amounts
of water effectively. In rough seas the boards perform best
when positioned 50-75 feet out. In the roughest conditions,
the boards perform best when trolling downwind.
Normally in-line boards are fished one or two per side,
but in some cases, such as Great Lakes steelhead fishing,
up to five boards can be fished per side depending on the
number of anglers aboard! When a fish is hooked, the board
signals the strike by pulling backwards in the water. Steelhead,
salmon and other large fish jerk the board backwards violently.
Other species, such as walleye or trout, simply pull the
board backwards as if the lure has gotten snagged on weeds
Fighting fish with in-line boards is straight forward.
The angler must begin by reeling in the fish and the board
at the same time; surprisingly, the amount of drag the board
creates in the water is minimal. Once the board is within
reach of the boat, a quick pinch releases the board from
the line and leaves the angler free to fight the fish.
If a fish is hooked on an outside board, the inside line
is quickly reeled in and simply placed on the opposite side
of the boat until the fish is landed. Once the fish is landed,
the inside line that was cleared, is placed in the water,
and it becomes the outside line. The line that caught the
fish is simply reset and it becomes the inside line.
The Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer has quickly become the
leading in-line board on the market. When comparing in-line
boards, the Side Planer is popular because it is easy to
put on the line when setting lures and just as easy to take
off when fighting a fish. Two pinch pad line releases, one
on the tow arm and a second on the tail of the board, securely
holds the board in place on the line. Rubber pinch pad style
releases are used because they hold the board in place without
damaging the monofilament.
Anglers have several releases to choose from when using
the Side Planer. The board comes packaged with a set of
OR14 releases (black) that feature two tension adjustments.
If more release tension is required, the OR16 (red) Snap
Weight clip can be substituted. If a lighter tension is
required, the OR10 (yellow) planer board release gets the
nod. Each of these three release clips are interchangeable
with the Side-Planer and all feature rubber pads and adjustable
spring tension settings.
The Side-Planer is also popular because it is slightly
larger and tracks better than other in-line boards. The
larger size of the Side-Planer makes it a superior product
for trolling deep diving crankbaits, lead-core line, Snap
Weights, Jet Divers and other trolling hardware. Each Side
Planer also comes with a contrasting red flag that makes
the boards easy to spot on the water.
The Side-Planer is designed to catch fish right out of
the package, but many anglers modify the board for specific
purposes. Captain Dave Engel from Best Chance Charters is
a renowned steelhead troller. Dave removes the flag from
the Side-Planer and takes out about half the lead weight
in the bottom to lighten the board up. Next he replaces
the OR14 release, that comes standard with the board, with
an OR16 clip. The last step is to add a snap swivel to the
back of the board.
Dave's modifications make the Side-Planer a lean and mean
steelhead trolling machine. When setting lines he wraps
the line around his finger to form a loop and then places
the loop into the OR16 clip. Next he places the snap swivel
over the line and drops the board over the side. Engel frequently
fishes up to five Side-Planers per side, stretching the
boards out for 150 feet or more to the side. When a fish
strikes, the loop pulls free from the OR16 clip and the
board slides down the line to the fish. To prevent the board
from hitting the fish, Dave recommends placing a Speed bead
on your fishing line about four feet ahead of the lure.
This steelhead rigging technique allows multiple lines
to be fished without fear of tangles and allows the angler
to keep constant tension on the fish at all times. According
to Dave, it's the only way to troll for steelhead.
The Side-Planer has caught on just about everywhere anglers
troll and is being used to catch almost everything that
swims. Salmon, steelhead, trout, walleye, striper, muskie,
pike, bass and even crappies are just a few of the species
commonly taken with in-line planer boards.
In addition to the advantages already outlined, an attractive
price tag makes in-line boards accessible to anyone who
enjoys fishing. A set of boards costs about the same as
a half dozen crankbaits.
The Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer is a versatile trolling
tool. In-line boards can be used to target cold or warm
water species, fished fast or slow, trolled in flat water
or heavy seas, used with artificial lures or live bait rigs,
can be stowed in any boat or tackle box and these handy
boards are at home in small or large boats. Fishing with
Side-Planers is easy, effective and a set or two won't use
up your whole fishing budget. Now it's easy to see what
the fuss is about.
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