Few anglers would argue the effectiveness of planer boards.
In fact, many would argue that planer boards are the most
deadly lure delivery system ever invented. Not only do planer
boards enable anglers to fish multiple lines and lures,
the amount of water that can be quickly covered with a planer
system is second to none.
In addition to straining water and offering multiple lines,
planer board fishing is also the best way to tempt strikes
from wary species such as brown trout, steelhead or heavily
fished walleye. However, these sought after species arent
the only targets of planer board fishing. Hardly a fish
swims that doesnt regularly fall prey to anglers using
a planer board system. Salmon, trout, walleye, steelhead,
muskie, pike, bass and even large panfish such as crappie
and white bass are commonly taken with the help of these
Planer boards are effective and easy to use. To get the
most from these trolling aids, anglers must understand a
few of the basics of planer board fishing.
Understanding Dual Board Systems
Different types of planer boards are designed for different
fishing applications. Anglers can choose from two types
of planer boards. The most popular type of planer board
system are dual boards or what some anglers refer to as
A dual board planer system includes a set of boards that
feature two runners attached parallel to one another. The
Riviera Dual Planer Boards are collapsible, making them
easy to store even in small boats. These boards also feature
three tow point adjustments for different wave conditions
and a durable maintenance free design. A dual board system
also requires a six foot planer mast that mounts near the
bow of the boat. A tow line/reel system attaches to the
mast and allows the planers to be easily deployed and retrieved.
The boards of this type of planer system are normally
set to run 50- 100 feet out to the side of the boat. In
calm water the boards are set out the furthest. Fishing
lines are attached to a dual board system by using specially
designed spring loaded pinch pads. These pinch pads with
the fishing line secured between their jaws are then attached
to the tow line using a shower curtain hook. As the boat
trolls forward, line is played off the fishing reel allowing
the line release and lure to work down the tow line towards
the planer board.
Commonly called planer board releases, Off Shore Tackle
is the worlds largest manufacturer of planer board releases
designed for all types of fishing situations. The size of
these line releases, pad diameters and tension settings
vary depending on the size and type of fish to be targeted.
The line release has two functions. First it must hold
the line securely while trolling at a variety of speeds
and varying line diameters. Second this fishing aid must
release its grip on the line once a fish strikes. Designing
a release that masters these functions is no easy task.
A quality release provides enough tension to insure fish
are solidly hooked before the line slips free. Its
also essential that the release function over and over again
without damaging the fishing line.
Most releases on the market either have too much tension,
or not enough. Many of these products abrade the line and
few can withstand the tortures of day to day fishing. Its
important to note that no single release is universal to
all types of fishing. Thats why Off Shore Tackle produces
a wide variety of line releases that are suitable for all
When targeting smaller species such as walleye, lighter
tension releases are employed. The OR-10 release is the
best selling walleye release on the market. The sliding
spring allows the tension setting to be easily adjusted
as desired. When fishing in rougher water or for larger
walleye, the OR-14 release is the ideal choice. Like the
OR-10, this release has a sliding spring adjustment. The
slightly heavier spring tension of this release allows anglers
to troll in rough water or at faster speeds without false
Larger species such as trout or salmon require line releases
with more spring tension. The OR-3 was designed especially
for anglers who target steelhead , brown trout and trophy
walleye. The larger pad diameter of this release increases
the friction on the line without having to significantly
increase spring tension. The amount of tension desired can
be adjusted by how deep the line is placed in the rubber
pads. The deeper the line is placed in the pads, the more
tension it requires to trigger the release.
The OR-17 is similar to the OR-3 except the release has
stronger spring tension. Ideal for high speed trolling or
when fishing in rough water or when pulling large plugs,
dodgers and other attractors, this product has been an immediate
success with salmon anglers. For muskie anglers, the OR-30
is the most requested planer board release. This release
is similar to the OR-3 and the OR-17 but it has the heaviest
spring tension available.
Also available is the OR-19, a small release with a very
strong spring tension. Popular with charter captains who
prefer a release with extra tension, the OR-19 insures positive
hooksets and the maximum number of landed fish. Often when
a fish strikes a lure attached to the OR- 19, the line doesnt
pop free of the rubber pads. The angler however can easily
trigger the release by simply snapping the rod tip quickly
toward the release. Triggering the releases as desired helps
charter captains manage lines and reduce tangles better
when two or three fish may be hooked at the same time. Matching
line releases to the target species insures that anglers
will enjoy the best possible success.
Dual board systems can be used on virtually any boat and
for any species. The primary advantage of this type of planer
board system cant be disputed. Once a fish strikes
and the line is popped free from the release, the angler
is free to fight the fish. This convenience is the primary
reason so many dual board systems are currently in use.
Dual boards also have the advantage of being able to deploy
large numbers of lines. Many anglers fish up to five lines
per side with the help of dual boards. Anglers who are often
faced with rough water also favor dual boards. The larger
board size helps this planer system plow through rough water
when fishing both with and against the waves. The versatility
of the dual board system is a major reason why so many anglers
swear by them.
Why In-Line Boards?
In-line boards such as the Off Shore Tackle OR-12 Side
Planer have seen significant increases in sales in recent
years. Price is one of the major reasons these small boards
have caught on so quickly. For less than $50.00 a pair an
angler can get started planer board fishing. Compared to
dual board systems, in-line boards are less expensive. In-line
boards also have some other unique features that has helped
them carve out a significant niche in the planer board market.
Because in-line boards attach directly to the fishing
line, the board becomes a strike indicator that makes it
easy and fun to tell when a fish has been hooked. The weight
of a struggling fish causes the board to surge and sag backward
in the water. When two or more of these boards are being
fished side-by-side its especially easy to tell when a fish
has been hooked.
When a fish strikes and is hooked, the board and fish
are reeled in together. Depending on how the board is attached
to the fishing line, the angler can either reel in the board
and quickly remove it, or release the board and allow it
to slide down the line while fighting the fish. Well
get in more detail on how to rig in-line boards in another
Walleye anglers are some of the most devoted in-line board
users, but these smaller sized boards can be used effectively
on any species of fish. The important thing to know about
in-line boards is not all are created equal. A good in-line
board should be large enough to support the weight and drag
of common trolling tackle such as deep diving crankbaits,
snap weights, lead core line, attractors and other gear.
Many boards simply arent big enough to get the job
An in-line board should also be ballasted properly. The
OR-12 Side Planer is carefully weighted so the board rides
nose high and always rights itself in the water. Boards
that arent ballasted correctly tend to dive in rough
water causing all sorts of problems.
Because in-line boards are small, they can be tough to
see on the water. The OR-12 features a bright red flag that
contrasts with the yellow board, making them easy for other
anglers in the area to spot. The OR-12 is also versatile
enough to be rigged in a number of ways suitable for walleye,
salmon, trout and a wealth of other species.
We all know that planer boards are the fast track to better
fishing success. If youre new to fishing, a set of
in-line boards is a great way to test the waters and see
for yourself how effective planer fishing can be. If youre
serious about fishing big water and big fish, a dual board
system is an investment youll never regret. Heres
to more and bigger fish.
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CHOOSING PLANER BOARD TYPES
Anglers dont agree on much. It seems everyone who
owns a fishing rod has some strong opinions on what works
on the water and what doesnt. One of the few topics
that anglers do agree upon is the use of planer boards.
Everyone acknowledges that using planer boards can help
anglers catch more and bigger
With that stated, the question becomes which of the two
common types of
planer boards works best, dual planer boards or in-line
planer boards? The debate over these two uniquely different
planer board types has confused countless anglers.
Both types of planer boards are effective, but thats
not to say that each
board type doesnt enjoy a niche in the trolling scene.
Among those who troll with boards often the ranks are about
equally split between big and small boards. One fraternity
believes that dual size boards are the planer board workhorses.
The other faction argues that in-line boards are easier
As is often the case in a debate, both sides of the issue
typically put forth a good argument. The truth is, both
dual board and in-line size boards accomplish similar functions.
The primary purpose of planer boards is to spread out trolling
lines in order to contact more fish. Beyond this primary
function the use of dual boards or in-line boards is largely
a personal choice. There are times however, when one type
of planer board has advantages over the other.
Dual Planer Boards
Full sized boards such as the popular Riviera Dual Planer
Board have their roots in big water. Designed to be used
on open water and with larger sized fishing boats, there
is little doubt that dual boards have the edge when fishing
rough water. The Riviera DPB has a wider board spacing to
make it more stable and the ballast of the board has been
changed to cause the nose to ride a little higher in the
water. Collectively these subtle changes have transformed
an excellent planer board into one all others will be compared
The large size of dual boards enables then to plow through
bumpy seas when trolling both with and against the waves.
Trollers who spend much of their time quartering seas or
trolling into the waves will find that dual boards are superior
compared to in-line size boards. Dual boards also have the
clear advantage regarding the number of lines that can be
fished per side. With a dual board system its common for
anglers to fish four, five or even six lines per side!
If youve got a big boat and frequently fish with
four to six anglers aboard,
dual planer boards are the easiest way to deploy the maximum
number of lines. Dual boards are also the obvious choice
for fishing situations that involve deep
diving crankbaits, Snap Weights, lead core line, gang spinners
(aka cowbells), dodgers and other trolling hardware that
are heavy or that pull exceptionally hard in the water.
For all the advantages dual boards poses, in-line boards
are equally handy. Handy is the right word, because in-line
boards such as the Off Shore Tackle Side Planer are easier
to use than dual boards. Simply set your lure the desired
distance behind the boat, clip on the Side Planer, let out
more line until the board is the desired distance from the
boat, put the rod in the holder and troll. When a fish is
hooked, the Side Planer and fish are reeled in together,
you remove the board from the line and the fight continues.
This straight forward style of board trolling is easy to
learn and fun. In addition to being user friendly, in-line
boards are less expensive.
In addition to being less expensive, in-line boards have
some other subtle
advantages. In-line boards ride the waves in a different
way than dual boards. Smaller in-line boards tend to jerk
around in the swells while imparting a unique start-and-stop
action to the lures. Many veteran trollers feel that in-line
boards trigger more strikes than dual board systems that
produce a more uniform trolling action. In-line boards also
have the advantage of maintaining steady tension against
the fish during the entire fight. When a fish strikes a
lure trolled on a dual board system, the line is pulled
free from a release. For a few seconds slack line exists
until the boat catches up to the fish and the line is pulled
tight again. These few seconds of slack line are often enough
to allow a fish thats not hooked securely to escape.
With an in-line board hooked fish pull against the resistance
of the board. The angler keeps tension on the fish by reeling
the board and fish in together. So long as the boat is kept
moving forward slowly, theres constant tension on
the fish. In-line boards work so well that few hooked fish
escape. This is one of the primary reasons professional
tournament anglers favor in-line boards.
Both dual boards and in-line boards have their advantages
and disadvantages. Choosing one type of planer board over
another boils down to how and where the boards will be used.
On big open water where big boats rule, the dual board system
is the king of planer boards. Anglers who fish from smaller
boats and often frequent a wealth of different water types,
in-line boards are both functional and practical. While
the choice is personal, the fact is you cant make
a bad decision. Both dual boards and in-line boards are
efficient and exciting ways to fish. Take your pick and
get involved in the excitement of planer board fishing.
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DOWNRIGGERS & STACKER RELEASES - DON'T USE ONE WITHOUT
Even the best downrigger can be made better. A simple
device known as the OR-2 Medium Tension Stacker Release
makes any downrigger twice as effective. Stackers are designed
to allow two fishing rods/lines to be used with one downrigger.
The OR-2 and its cousin, the OR-7 Light Tension Stacker
Release are both designed to double your fishing fun. A
pair of pinch pad style Off Shore Tackle releases are connected
together using two lengths of coated steel wire. The top
release is mounted to a slightly shorter length of wire
than the bottom release and both releases are held together
with a heavy duty cross-lok snap.
Rigging a downrigger to fish two rods is easy. Start with
a trolling rod armed with a favorite spoon or other lure.
Let this bait back behind the boat the desired distance.
Grasp the line between your fingers and pinch open the single
downrigger release attached to the cannonball with your
other hand. Place the line into the release near the back
of the rubber pads and allow it to close on the line.
With the first line securely held in the single downrigger
release, lower the cannonball approximately 10 feet below
the surface. Grab a second rod and let out another lure
behind the boat. It's best to keep the lead on this second
rather short. Normally a trolling lead of 10-15 feet works
best with a stacker set up.
Open the cross-lok on the stacker and clip it closed around
the downrigger cable. Grasp the stacker release that's on
the longer lead and place the fishing line near the back
of the rubber pads. Next grasp the release on the shorter
lead and pinch it onto the downrigger cable above the cross-lok
snap. The release on the shorter lead simply holds the stacked
line at the desired position along the downrigger cable.
Stackers can be set at different locations along the downrigger
cable depending on how the angler wants to space out trolling
When the cannonball is lowered, the stacker release remains
attached to the downrigger cable. Stackers are an easy way
to fish two rods on a single downrigger. Stackers also make
it possible to cover more water with additional lures and
Off Shore Tackle produces the OR-2 Medium Tension Stacker
Release for trout , salmon, muskie and other large fish
and the OR-7 Light Tension Stacker Release for walleye and
other small to medium size fish.
NOTE: When using Off Shore Tackle stackers, it's important
to always attach the short lead on the stacker to the downrigger
cable. Position the short lead above the cross-lok snap
and you'll enjoy trouble free use and longer service from
these excellent stackers.
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Downrigger fishing is a wonderful thing, but don't stop
short of perfection. Anyone who fishes downriggers should
go the extra step to fish one extra lure per line. Most
anglers make their own rigs for this purpose known as sliders.
A slider is made by simply taking six feet of fishing line
and attaching a snap swivel to both ends. One end of the
slider rig is slipped over the fishing line and closed,
while the second is attached to a favorite spoon or body
bait. The slider rig is then tossed into the water and the
lure allowed to gradually work its way down the main line.
The slider eventually ends up positioned on the main line
somewhere between the surface and the downrigger weight.
Adding a second lure to a downrigger line is always a
good idea, but it¹s impossible to tell exactly where
on the line the slider is fishing. The slider slips down
the main line, but at which point it stops depends on trolling
speed, how deep the downrigger weight is set and the lure
itself used on the slider. Because of these variables it's
nearly impossible to duplicate results using sliders.
Another problem an angler runs into when using sliders
is when a fish strikes the lure attached to the slider,
there is no tension or resistance against the fish. As the
fish swims away, the slider rig simply slides up or down
the main line. The angler can't set the hook until the line
is popped free from the release at the downrigger weight
and all the slack line in between is reeled up. The time
it takes to do all this is plenty for the fish to determine
something is wrong and drop the bait. Unfortunately, sliders
generate lots of strikes but few hooked and landed fish.
An Add-A-Line is similar to a slider, but the rig is fixed
at the desired point along the fishing line using a small
pinch pad style line release. Depending upon the target
fish, one of several Off Shore Tackle planer board releases
is perfect for rigging an Add-A-Line.
Rigging an Add-A-Line is easy. Take six feet of quality
monofilament line and attach a ball bearing swivel to both
ends. Next take an OR-14 (for walleye) or OR-19 (for trout/salmon)
planer board release and install the split ring provided
in the package to the back of the release. Once the split
ring is in place, take a third snap swivel and thread it
also onto the split ring. Select the lure to be attached
to the Add-A-Line and clip it in place on the snap swivel
opposite the release. The Add-A-Line is now ready to set.
An Add-A-Line should be set at least 10 feet above the
point where the main line is attached to the downrigger
weight. Once the main line is secured into the downrigger
release and the downrigger weight lowered at least 10 feet,
take the release on the Add-A-Line and pinch it over the
downrigger cable. Fixed in this position the Add-A-Line
will be lowered or raised as the downrigger weight is moved.
The rig is completed by taking the snap swivel attached
to the split ring and clipping it over the main fishing
line. This step connects the Add-A-Line to the main fishing
The downrigger weight is then lowered to the desired fishing
depth and the Add-A-Line goes along for the ride. Because
the angler chooses at which depth to set the Add-A-Line,
it's easy to duplicate the rig when fish are hooked and
The resistance provided by the release attached to the
downrigger cable is enough to insure that fish which strike
are hooked solidly enough that they can¹t shake the
lure. The struggling fish quickly pops the release free
of the downrigger cable. Meanwhile the jabbing rod tip at
the surface tips off the angler to pop the main line free
of the downrigger release. The angler must then reel as
quickly as possible to pick up the slack line.
Add-A-Lines are an essential part of downrigger fishing.
These simple rigs are effective on walleye, salmon, trout,
steelhead, striper and just about everything else that swims.
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GETTING THE MOST FROM LEAD CORE LINES
History repeats itself. If you hang around anglers long
enough you're bound to hear about the latest techniques.
Often these new techniques are simply new twists on methods
popularized decades ago.
A few decades ago, lead core line was a hot new trolling
method for reaching deepwater trout and salmon. Lead core
is a soft lead wire with a tough dacron coating. Like monofilament,
lead core comes in different break strengths. The size/weight
of the wire used increases as the break strength increases.
Common lead core sizes include 15, 18, 27 and 36 pound test.
Walleye anglers favor 18 or 27 pound test, while salmon
anglers prefer 27 or 36 pound test lead core.
Weighted lines are fished by controlling the trolling
speed and the amount of line let out. To achieve greater
depths anglers let out more line and slow down their trolling
Lead core was just beginning to enjoy popularity when
downriggers and diving planers hit the market. The interest
in lead core line soon declined.
In the last few years both walleye and salmon anglers
have rediscovered the value of trolling lead core line.
It began with a few charter captains and tournament anglers
who started experimenting with lead lines fished straight
out behind the boat. Salmon captains used as much as 100-200
meters (one or two cores) of lead core line connected to
a 20-30 foot leader of 20 pound test monofilament. This
ultra long line trolling method turned out to be just the
ticket for boat shy salmon and steelhead.
Recently the rebirth of lead core line has taken on a
new twist. Adding planer boards helps to gain more outward
trolling coverage and allows anglers to run multiple lead
core lines at the same time. Combined with boards, lead
core is an effective way to get down and out to the side.
Lead core can be fished with both in-line and dual boards.
However, not every in-line board is up to the challenge
of pulling 200 meters of lead line.
Larger in-line boards like the OR-12 Side Planer are needed
to handle this long lining method. Lesser boards simply
can¹t deliver the outward coverage serious anglers
are looking for.
Riviera's Dual Planer Boards are also ideal for fishing
lead lines. With this board set-up several lead lines can
be run off each side of the boat.
RIGGING IN-LINE BOARDS FOR LEAD CORE
The standard planer board releases made for in-line boards
are not designed to function with lead core lines. Specialty
releases such as the OR-18 Snapper Release feature wider
jaws and larger pinch pads that are better suited to holding
lead core line. Mount the OR-18 to the tow arm of the Side
Planer with the hardware provided.
When setting lines, let out the desired amount of lead
core and then flip open the OR-18 Snapper on the tow arm
of the Side Planer. Place the lead core as far back in the
release as possible and close the cam action release. Rigged
in this manner the Side Planer will stay put on the line
at the point it was attached.
Once the board is attached to the lead core, more line
is played out until the board reaches the desired distance
away from the boat. When a fish is hooked, the board and
fish are reeled in together, the board quickly removed from
the line and the fight continues.
To reach the maximum depths with lead core line some anglers
spool on 100-150 yards of 30 pound test super braid or dacron
backing before adding the lead core line. A surgeon or blood
knot is a good way to connect the backing to the lead core
line. A 20-30 foot leader of premium 20 pound monofilament
is added at the terminal end.
When fishing lead core line with backing, let out all
the leader and lead line until the backing reaches the tip
of the rod. A line counter reel is the most handy way to
keep track of how much backing is let out. The more backing
that¹s let out the deeper the lead core will run.
When the desired amount of backing has been let out, it's
time to attach the Side Planer. The OR-18 Snapper Release
is ideal for attaching the backing material to the Side
Planer. The adjustable cam action of this release grips
even super braid lines securely, preventing the line from
pulling free of the release. Once the board is attached
to the backing, play out additional line until the board
is 25-50 feet out to the side of the boat. When a fish is
hooked, the board is reeled in and removed from the line
before continuing the fight.
FISHING LEAD CORE ON DUAL BOARDS
Traditional dual board mast systems can also be used to
fish lead core line, but some simple modifications are needed.
To rig up for dual boards, begin by spooling 100-150 yards
of 20-25 pound test monofilament onto a large capacity trolling
reel. Monofilament backing is needed to function in the
line releases incorporated with this trolling system. To
this backing add 50 to 100 meters of lead core line and
20-30 feet of premium 20 pound test monofilament as a leader.
Set lines by letting out all the leader and lead core
line. The running depth is controlled by how much backing
is let out. Once the desired amount of backing is let out,
grasp the monofilament backing in one hand and an OR-17
Medium Tension Planer Board Release in the other. Pinch
open the release and place the backing as far back in the
release as possible. Close the release and open the shower
curtain hook that comes standard with this release. Place
the tow line from the mast system inside the shower curtain
hook and close it. Now as more line is played off the reel
the lead core will work its way out to the side. Two or
three lead lines can easily be run per side of the boat
using this method.
When a fish strikes, the backing will be pulled free of
the OR-17 release and the angler is free to fight the fish.
If more tension is desired, an OR-19 Heavy Tension Release
can be substituted for the OR-17.
The OR-17 release works best when using 50-75 meters of
lead core line. If longer lengths of lead core are used,
the heavier tension of the OR-19 is required.
TIPS TO REMEMBER
Lead core line is a speed dependent trolling system. The
depth lures fished on lead lines run at is controlled by
how fast the boat is trolling and by how much total lead
is played out. Experiment with different speeds and lengths
of lead core until a productive combination emerges.
The super long leads used when fishing lead core make
it impossible to turn sharply. Wide, slow turns are required
when fishing lead lines to avoid tangles. Also it¹s
a good idea to keep well away from other boats that could
accidentally foul these lines.
Incorporating the help of Off Shore Tackle Side Planers
and Riviera Dual Planer Boards, makes fishing lead lines
even more versatile. This old favorite is becoming one of
the hottest new trolling techniques for trout, salmon, steelhead
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LEAD CORE & SNAP WEIGHTS
Every troller needs a little help now and then. Lead core
line is a great way to reach deep water trout, salmon, stripers
and even walleye. Lead lines are enjoying renewed popularity
among salmon anglers who feel the extra long leads used
with lead core help to target boat shy fish. It¹s hard
to argue with success. Countless fish are being caught with
the help of lead core line.
The problem with lead core is sometimes these weighted
fishing lines don't
fish deep enough. Like any trolling weight or weighted line,
the depth lead core line will run depends on lead length
and boat speed. The more lead line that's let out, the deeper
it will fish. Also, the slower the boat is trolled, the
deeper the lead core will fish. Theoretically lead core
line could be used to reach just about any depth desired,
assuming you¹re willing to let out several hundred
yards of lead core line or troll at ultra slow speeds.
It's not practical to troll at these slow speeds or to
use ultra long lengths of lead core line unless you use
Snap Weights. Adding these handy in-line weights to lead
core line is easy. Even better, clipping on a Snap Weight
makes fishing lead core line more versatile and effective.
To increase the running depth of lead core line, simply
let out the desired amount of lead line, then place a Snap
Weight on the lead core line or the backing material. The
point where the lead core and backing join is a logical
place to attach a Snap Weight. A good rule of thumb to follow
is each ounce of weight added will increase the running
depth approximately five feet.
When a fish is hooked, the Snap Weight is reeled in along
with the fish. When the Snap Weight reaches the rod tip,
it only takes seconds to remove it before continuing the
An Off Shore Tackle Snap Weight kit comes complete with
four OR-16 Snap Weight Clips and an assortment of weights
from 1/2 to 3 ounces. Additional clips
and heavier weights can be purchased separately.
Snap Weights are an easy way to get more depth from lead
core. This simple
trick is also a great way to avoid those ultra long leads
so common with lead line. After all, who wants to reel in
a fish from 600 feet away?
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LIVE BAIT STRIPERS
By Bruce DeShano
Landlocked Stripers are another fish that can be easily
taken with planer boards. Recently, live bait has been the
chosen method of guides and running live shad off the Off
Shore Side Planer makes it easy. You use the OR-14 and pigtail
method to attach the live bait to the board because the
striper is such a hard fighter you dont want to take
the board off when landing the fish. To make things easier,
you put a speed bead or Snap Weight about 4 feet ahead of
the hook. Now when you release the board it slides down
to this position and you can net the fish with the board
on the line.
There is no closed season in Kentucky for striper and
they fish year around for them. The average fish is 8 to
14 pounds with 40 pound monsters being caught every year.
Good eating and hard fighting, they make a nice winter break
to fish for.
Nancy Guide Service on Lake Cumberland has perfected the
live shad method of striper fishing. Tim Tarter and his
many guides are experts at finding and catching striper
on this huge lake. I highly recommend you take a trip with
them and learn the finer points of live bait fishing for
striper from these fine guides. Visit their website for
up to the minute fishing reports at www.fishin.com.
Also, I like to stay at the Lake Pointe Lodge located
in Russell County while I am there. Personal, friendly service,
clean and affordable, it makes a nice vacation spot in the
hills near Lake Cumberland. Larry Gillock has both motel
and efficiency units and you can contact him at (270) 866-3856.
The area is rich in history and their chamber has a nice
brochure of things to do while youre there when you
arent fishing. Their number is (888) 833-4220.
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PRO MODIFICATIONS FOR IN-LINE BOARDS
There are many ways to rig the Off Shore Side Planer Board.
Almost every pro and every guide has a twist on the way
they run their boards and that is what confuses many anglers
new to the side planer game.
Right from the package, the boards will fit most normal
fishing situations, in lakes that do not have large waves
or for normal size lures they are fine and are used that
way often. Put the flag up whenever your fishing with the
side planer. It makes it easier to see, read and find if
you happen to have it fall off the line.
Now for some of the Pro modifications:
BIG WATER WALLEYE AND SALMON
OPTION 1. Use an OR-16 on the black tow arm and on the
back split ring.
OPTION 2. Use an OR-18 on the tow arm and an OR-16 on the
back split ring.
OPTION 3. Use an OR-18 only on the tow arm and do not use
any release on the back. This will let the board surf on
the water with a fish.
OPTION 4. Use an OR-14 or OR-19 on the tow arm and an OR-16
on the back split ring. Now you pop the front release when
a fish is on, the board will flip around. Let the fish pull
it back out of the spread and then fight the fish to the
boat. When the board is close enough, remove it and finish
landing the fish. Use the OR-14 release in calm waters and
the OR-19 when it is rough.
OPTION 5. Using the slide back method is when you put a
snap swivel or a product we sell called the corkscrew on
back split ring and either an OR-14 or OR-19 on the tow
bracket. Now when a fish hits, it releases the tow release
and slides down to a Speed-Bead or other stopper you have
placed on the line ahead of the lure. You do not want the
board to go all the way to the lure.
SMALLER FISH AND LIGHT BITING FISH.
Use the tattle flag for slow presentations and where you
might have problems with small fish and weeds in the water.
Adjust the flag so it is just leaning back about 15 degrees
when the lure is pulling on the board. Now if the flag goes
back more or comes up straight, you know you have something
wrong with the lure.
Place both releases on the bracket with the supplied extra
screw and nut. This makes the board more sensitive to anything
pulling on it from the lure.
Most of the Striper guides use the OR-14 release on the
tow arm and a corkscrew or snap swivel on the back. Since
they are usually fishing calm water, they often do not put
the flag up. The downfall of this is that if a line breaks,
the board is difficult to see on the water.
Back to Top
PURSUING BIG LAKE FISH
By Captain Jim J Karr, Therapy Too Charters
The ever-changing eco-system of the Great Lakes has made
fishing more challenging than ever before. The advent of
cleaner, clearer water due to the zebra-mussel invasion
has changed big lake fishing forever. Remember, downrigger
fishing was created on the Great Lakes, we figured out how
to optimize our presentation and it worked for over 30 years,
but its not as productive as it once was. Were
putting more rod holders on boats to accommodate those specialty
rods were adding to our arsenals in our pursuit for
those big-lake fish.
The fish talk on the radio isnt How deep,
what flavor lure? anymore. The talk is How much
lead core (half, full, core & half, two core, or how
many colors, and any clip weight), down the chute, out the
side or on a in-line-planer board? Diver programs
have changed too. What type of line; monofilament, spectra,
or wire and ring size from no ring to standard, large, super,
jumbo size, and super jumbo also are you running clip weights.
These rods are not just an addition to the presentation
anymore but go way beyond the reach of what downriggers
can do. These innovated ways to get farther back, off to
the side and down and out and still maintain control of
what we put out have set the stage for more fish on
Lead core line is simply abrasion resistant braided nylon
over an inner core of lead, which insures quick sinking
of the line. Specially dyed colors change every 10 yards
for metering of line length so you dont need a line
counter reel. It is available in different test from 14#
to 60# but dont think the higher the test the deeper
the line will sink. For example, the 27# test (most popular)
and the 36# test have the same size lead core only the braided
nylon has been increased for strength, which makes the diameter
large so the line will not sink as deep. Lead core is much
bigger in diameter so it requires reels with larger capacity
than ones used for your riggers when you install a core
(10 colors) or more on a reel. Typical setup is a 50
leader of 20# fluorocarbon, 27# lead core, and 30# spectra
or monofilament backing. The smaller diameter of spectra
braid line makes room for a half core (5 colors) to be put
on the same reel used for the downrigger and still have
plenty of backing. This works on diver reels too, as you
can get up to a core-&-half (15 colors) on these.
KEEP IT IN THE WATER
Lead core does not have the resilience that other lines
do and needs to be treated properly. You must put the entire
core in the water, which has a dampening affect on the line,
to prevent breakage. It simply cant take the back
and forth or snap action created from wave and
boat movement like other lines can. Example: if youre
using a full core (10 colors) and your half core (5 colors)
is having all the action, you cant just reel up half
the line-it will eventually break and you will be looking
to retrieve your in-line planer board. Because of this fact,
lead core fishing requires different rod setups for the
various lengths being used. As a minimum, having just two
rods of each setup requires a lot of equipment. So having
reels with different combinations all set to make the changeover
is the way to go. Ill run two to four setups on each
side of the boat, depending on the fish action, and that
requires in-line planers, all to reach out to those boat-shy
TIE ON THE CORE
To tie a leader or backer line to lead core, just pinch
the lead off inside the lead core line about six inches
from the end; remove the core, then tie a blood knot and
apply a little crazy glue to finish it off. If youre
running in-line rods like I do, you need to use a smaller
knot so it passes through the rod tip. Simply pinch off
about an inch of lead core in the braided nylon and remove
it, make a loose overhand knot in the line just back from
where the core has been removed. Now take the leader or
backer line and insert it into the center where the core
was until it butts the remaining core. Pinch both lines
while moving the overhand knot to where the line is inside
of the other, and then tighten the knot, thats it!
I use the scissors on my pocketknife to cut the core, leader,
and backer to make sure the ends are free of burrs. Spectra
line is small in diameter and limp so you first need to
glue about two inches of line to make it stiff so it can
be inserted inside the braided nylon.
Each colored segment takes the lead core down about 2
to 3 feet, depending on boat speed, type of lure used, and
amount of current present. You can develop a pattern as
to distance back and down just as we have with downriggers.
The use of in-line planers is needed to develop these patterns
with lines more than the length of two football fields trailing
behind. Its risky to even fish this way when there
is much boat traffic; its difficult to turn and keep
other boats from crossing over your lines that far back.
CORE AND SNAP WEIGHTS
I use a Snap Weight on the OR-16 clip to assist in getting
the lead core down quicker and shorten up the distance behind
the in-line planer boards to obtain the same depth. For
example: 3 oz. is down 18 feet, 8 oz. is down 22 feet when
added to a half core. With a full core 3 oz. takes it down
to 31 feet, while 8 oz. take it down to 36 feet; with a
core & a half add the same weight and youre at
47 feet and 62 feet respectively.
NO LEAD CORE
A half core with a 50 leader puts you 200 feet back
behind the in-line planer board. The same distance back
with a combination of spectra line and Snap Weights on an
OR-16 clip will surprise you! The 3 oz. takes it down 10
feet (same as a half core), 6 oz. is down 18 feet (same
as half core with a 3 oz. weight), and 8 oz. is down 30
feet (same as a full core) that is 150 feet shorter than
the full core distance. That gives you more control and
enhances your maneuverability when using multiple in-line
I quit using double core completely and use Snap Weights
on the OR-16 clips, which has reduced the need for all the
different rod and reel combos too. What is unique about
the OR-16 Snap Weight Clip is it has a pin protruding through
the center of the pinch pad that prevents it from releasing
the line even if it did slip.
SETTING UP THE BOARD
When setting up in-line planer to use spectra line, install
an OR-16 at the rear of the board and move the spring forward
to the tightest setting, this allows the board to just lay
back and not move down the line if it releases while fighting
a big fish. On the front end install an OR-19 release again
moving the adjustment forward to tightest setting, and then
install the second release, an OR-14 in the middle. To install
the planer on the line, clip the OR-16 on the line making
sure the line is placed behind the pin protruding through
the center of its pads, then place the line between the
pinch pads of the OR-19 release, loop the line around and
run it between the pads a second time and snug it tight,
insert the line thats between the front release and
the rear clip into the OR-14 release in the middle. This
super pro method of rigging the OR-12 board
will surprise you even in rough water.
With spectra line on all my specialty rods, either as
the main or backer, my in-line rods make working with these
type super lines a lot more enjoyable as there are no guides
for the line to wrap around - but it does requires the use
of smaller knots to pass through the rods. When not using
in-line rods, just splice in an 18 piece of 30# test
monofilament between the lead core and backer line, then
just fasten each clip to the larger diameter monofilament.
TAKE CARE OF THE CORE
The nylon cover over the lead core does not have the abrasion
resistance like monofilament or spectra type lines do. So
always fasten the clips to the leader or the backing. Place
Snap Weights on the leader right after the knot and fasten
the planer board in the same place on the backer. This allows
you to be more accurate with your presentation and obtaining
your target depth. The other advantage is you know where
to check the line for abrasions. When using just spectra
line and the OR-16, you need to mark the line at the different
locations where you install the OR-16 and the in-line planer
board; this way, a line counter reel isnt required.
The use of Snap Weights and in-line planer boards with
the OR-16 clip is the most universal equipment on my boat
and I know it will be yours, too, if you give it a try.
Captain Jim Karr of Therapy Too Charters can be contacted
at 800-845-6095 or by visiting his website at www.therapytoo.com
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SNAP WEIGHTS MADE EASY
Ever since Snap Weight in-line trolling weights were introduced
a few years
ago, anglers have been saying, Why didn't I think
of that? Simple, effective
and easy to use, Snap Weights should be a part of every
trollers bag of
tricks. Unlike traditional trolling weights that must be
attached to the fishing line, Snap Weights can be put on
and taken off a
fishing line in seconds. There is no need to cut and retie,
the weight can
be attached at any point along the fishing line and these
trolling aids work
great on all common types of fishing line.
The Off Shore Tackle OR-16 Snap Weight Clip is the secret
to this amazing trolling system. Similar to a pinch pad
style planer board release, the OR-16 features extra heavy
spring tension to insure that the Snap Weight Clip and attached
weight stays put on the line. A small pin protruding through
the center of the rubber pinch pads further guarantees the
line can't pop free of this clip. Simply pinch open the
jaws of the OR-16 and place the fishing line behind the
pin. Select a desired weight size and thread it onto the
split ring located on the OR-16 Clip. It's that easy to
add Snap Weights to your trolling lines.
The OR-20 Snap Weight Kit contains four OR-16s and
an assortment of weights ranging from 1/2 to 3 ounces. Larger
weights and additional OR-16 clips can be purchased separately.
Snap Weights are a great way to increase the running depth
of spoons, crankbaits, spinners and a wealth of other hardware.
The fishing depth is controlled by how much weight is added,
trolling speed and also by the trolling leads selected.
Snap Weights can be used to present just about any trolling
lure at all common fishing depths. From just below the surface
to salmon depths, Snap Weights fill an important niche in
the trolling scene.
These unique in-line weights are designed to stay on the
line while trolling and fighting hooked fish. The angler
simply fights the fish as normal and removes the Snap Weight
as it nears the rod tip. It only takes a split second to
remove a Snap Weight from the line.
Some anglers like noted fishing expert and author Ken
Darwin use up to 16 ounces when fishing Snap Weights for
salmon and trout. "Snap Weights have become my bread
and butter salmon system," says Darwin. "My basic
salmon setup includes a standard sized Silver Streak or
Michigan Stinger spoon set 50 feet behind the boat. I clip
a 12-16 ounce Snap Weight onto the line near the rod tip
and zero out the counter on the reel. Next I check my graph
for fish marks and then let out enough line to present my
spoon just above the fish. These heavy Snap Weights run
at a sharp angle behind the boat, making it fairly easy
to predict the running depth of the trailing lures."
Unlike downriggers and other traditional deep water trolling
methods, Snap Weights can be rigged and deployed quickly.
It only takes a few seconds to rig and set a Snap Weight.
Weight sizes, lead lengths and lures can also be changed
quickly. Darwin recommends that anglers using heavy Snap
Weights incorporate 10 foot diver rods into their trolling
program. "The longer diver rods are better equipped
to handle the heavy Snap Weights and they also increase
the overall trolling coverage," explains Darwin. "I
typically run two long diver rods out each side of the boat
and two shorter heavy action downrigger rods off the corners."
SNAP WEIGHTS BOARDS & THE 50/50 SYSTEM
Heavy Snap Weights are a great way to target salmon or
trout found 40-60 feet below the surface. For fish located
higher in the water column a different Snap Weight program
is in order. Steelhead, walleye, brown trout and other fish
that are often found within 20 feet of the surface are prime
targets for Snap Weights combined with planer boards. Weights
ranging from 1/2 to 2 ounces are ideal for fishing the upper
Select a favorite crankbait, spoon or spinner and set
it behind the boat 50 feet. Clip on a Snap Weight and let
out an additional 50 feet of line. At this point the Snap
Weight rig can be fished behind a dual planer board system
or an in-line board such as the OR-12 Side Planer. Anglers
using dual boards and Snap Weights for walleye will find
the OR-14 Medium Tension Planer Board Release is ideal.
Salmon and steelhead anglers favor the larger pads, increased
better hook setting powers of the OR-17 Planer Board Release.
who prefer in-line boards will find the OR-12 Side Planer
is up to the task.
Larger and more buoyant than other in-line boards, the Side
handles Snap Weights, diving crankbaits and other hardware
that would sink
BEYOND THE 50/50 SYSTEM
The 50/50 system is a great starting point for anyone
who fishes Snap Weights. Keeping the lead lengths standard
and simply switching weight sizes to achieve the desired
depth is an approach that¹s easy to understand and
easy to communicate to other anglers.
Think of the 50/50 system as a convenient starting point.
It's important to
note that Snap Weights can be fished on any combination
of lead lengths, making them amazingly versatile. Remember,
the lead length combinations used aren't as important as
simply knowing which combinations are productive on any
given day. Don't forget to monitor your lead lengths with
a line counter reel so productive leads and Snap Weight
sizes can be duplicated as needed. From steelhead that are
often found near the surface to walleye, salmon and even
deep water loving trout, Snap Weights can do it all.
Back to Top
TIPS FOR READING IN-LINE PLANER BOARDS
By Mark Romanack
I had just completed setting out a 4th Off Shore Tackle
Side Planer when my youngest son Jake looked at me with
a puzzled face and asked, Dad how do we tell when we have
a fish? An elementary but important question, reading
or detecting strikes when using in-line boards isn't an
easy concept to explain or grasp.
I thought for a moment and then answered, "When a
fish grabs our lure, the board will jerk backwards in the
water." The look on Jake's face suggested he wasn't
sure exactly what to expect next. I went on to explain that
the weight of the fish pulling and fighting against the
board causes it to jerk or pull backwards in the water.
By watching and comparing to the other boards, it's pretty
easy to tell if a board has hooked a fish.
The truth is it's pretty easy to tell when a fish is hooked
on the Side Planer board. Pretty easy so long as the fish
is good sized, you're trolling straight downwind, the boat
doesn't turn and you happen to see the strike the moment
Unfortunately there are times when even a seasoned troller
can drag fish he didn't know was hooked. Small fish are
tougher to detect because they aren't big enough to cause
the board to react violently or in an obvious way. Quartering
into the waves (instead of trolling straight with or into
the wind) also makes it more difficult to read in-line boards.
When a fishing boat quarters the waves it doesn't enjoy
a steady and smooth course. The wind turns the boat, forcing
the driver to constantly adjust his course. The boat moves
forward but is actually swinging back and forth along an
imaginary centerline. The trailing boards follow the boat,
swinging back and forth instead of following a steady and
Each time the boat turns toward one of the boards the line
goes a little slack and the board sags backward slightly,
then recovers when the boat turns again and the line pulls
If a fish is hooked while the boat is in a subtle turn
there's just enough slack in the line to prevent the board
from showing obvious movement. The weight of the hooked
fish does cause the board to sag backward, but it's easy
to miss even if you¹re an experienced troller. Eventually
the boat will pull straight or turn the opposite direction.
happens the board with a fish attached always seems to be
lagging a little behind the others. The rule of thumb is
to always check lines that are sagging a little or don¹t
look just right. It only takes a minute or two to check
the line and be sure you¹re not dragging a small fish
or a fouled lure.
Turns are the toughest place to detect strikes on in-line
boards. During a turn the outside lines speed up while at
the same time the inside lines stall and slow down. Of course
the trailing lures do the same thing, helping to trigger
If a fish is hooked on an outside line, it is usually
pretty easy to detect because the board is moving in a steady
path. It's the inside boards that are stalling that are
tougher to read. Often a fish hooked on the inside lines
isn't apparent until the boat straightens out again. A fish
hooked on the inside lines often prevents the board from
pulling back out to
the side properly once the boat straightens out. Again,
a board that always seems to be lagging behind is a tip
off that something is wrong.
HOW FAR DO I RUN MY BOARDS OUT TO THE SIDE?
It's also easier to detect strikes when the boards are
fished within 50-75 feet of the boat. When the boards are
let out 100 or more feet away from the boat, slight changes
in course cause the boards to momentarily stall and start,
making it more difficult to tell if a fish has been hooked.
This is especially true if the target fish are small.
Running the boards a little closer to the boat makes subtle
changes in how the board is running more obvious. However,
there's obviously a point of diminishing return. Fishing
the boards too close to the boat defeats the purpose of
using boards in the first place. Running the boards 50-75
feet out is a good rule of thumb when you're first learning
how to read planer boards. Once you get a little experience,
I'd recommend running the boards
out 75-100 feet. Many of the top walleye pros run their
boards as far as 150 out to the side.
TROLL WITH THE WIND
Trolling with the wind makes it easier to read the boards,
no matter how far out to the side they are fished. In a
following sea the boards run smoothly and in a predictable
manner. When trolling into the waves, the boards jump around,
leap out of the waves and otherwise hop all over the place.
While this board action can trigger strikes, reading these
strikes is tricky for even those anglers who have considerable
experience fishing in-line boards.
LOW STRETCH LINES HELP
Using low stretch lines such as the super braids or fused
lines makes it very easy to detect hooked fish on in-line
boards. Because the line doesn't stretch, anything that
touches the lure causes the board to react accordingly.
When fishing low stretch lines I recommend using the new
Off Shore Tackle OR-18 Snapper Release that's designed to
hold this thin and slippery surfaced line securely. Snapper
releases are sold individually and can be installed on most
MATCHING UP LURES
Certain lures pull harder in the water than others. Matching
up lures that generate similar drag or pulling resistance
allows the board to run in a more uniform manner that¹s
easier to monitor. Avoid running a deep diving lure with
lots of drag next to a shallow diving lure with little drag.
No matter how good you get at reading in-line boards,
there will be times when a small fish or fouled lure is
dragged around. The ultimate solution to this problem is
the OR-12TF Tattle Flag produced by Off Shore Tackle.
The Tattle Flag is a spring loaded flag kit that allows
the flag to fold down when a fish is hooked. The Tattle
Flag is so sensitive even a crankbait that¹s fouled
with a piece of weed causes the flag to fold to half mast.
Never again will you drag a small fish or fouled lures with
the Tattle Flag.
Designed as an after market kit, a Tattle Flag can be
installed on an OR-12 Side-Planer board in about five minutes.
The kit comes complete with a flag, spring/linkage assembly,
two OR-16 Snap Weight clips and the necessary hardware.
Reading the boards is part science and part intuition.
If for any reason you suspect something is wrong with the
way a board is running, take a few seconds and check that
line. The bait could have become fouled on something floating
in the water, picked up a weed or a cluster of zebra mussels.
It's better to check immediately than to drag something
around, twisting the line in the process.
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TROLLING THE BIG EASY SPOTTED SEA TROUT OF LAKE PONCHARTRAIN
By Captain Dee Geoghegan
Fishing in Lake Pontchartrain is like standing on the
corner at Mardi Gras, you never know what you will catch.
Fresh and saltwater species are abundant in Lake Pontchartrain
year round; however, the spotted sea trout or speckled trout
is a highly sought after prize.
A trip to Lake Pontchartrain, which is as close as 15
minutes from downtown New Orleans, can fill an ice chest
with speckle trout, redfish, flounder, drum, and many other
species of fish. As a year round fishery, the lake is an
anglers dream. It truly lives up to the Louisiana title
of sportsman paradise.
Trolling is a year round tactic used by many anglers in
the area. Yet, very few anglers incorporate in-line planer
boards into their fishing tactics. Since I started using
the Off Shore Tackle Side Planers, I have increased my catches
of trout. Even though I get some strange stares from local
anglers, few can argue with my results. I was surprised
how easy the board was to use.
Lake Pontchartrain is a very shallow body of water. The
average depth of the lake is about twelve feet. With strong
tidal movement caused by wind and the link to the Gulf of
Mexico, bridges such as the Causeway and I 10 Twin Spans
are frequent haunts of big sea trout. The Causeway is a
24 mile two bridge connection between New Orleans and its
north shore neighbor. An approximate six miles wide neck
of the eastern end of Lake Pontchartrain is traversed by
the I 10 interstate bridge, Highway 11 bridge, and a train
trestle. The bridges have produced numerous state record
trout in the last few years.
Seabrook, next to the lakefront airport, is another prime
area to fish. Seabrook resembles a funnel, which exits water
from the lake into the Industrial Canal and to the gulf
via the Intercoastal Waterway. This area is one of the deepest
parts of the lake with some location reaching 40 to 60 feet.
Southshore, the shoreline between Seabrook and I 10 bridge,
is known as the home of the World Series Trout. By trolling
this area about the time of the World Series, anglers catch
Trolling in Louisiana has never been a complex event.
An angler uses his outboard to idle next to a bridge using
one or two rods with a 3/8 ounce jig head with a plastic
tail or other type of lure. Although this is productive,
planer boards increase the number of rods in the water and
the area of water covered. When I troll the train trestle
or Southshore, I often fish with four rods at one time.
Since I am the only person in the boat, this would be a
difficult task without the planer boards.
Fishing in the lake is a year round event. In the winter,
trolling is at its best when trout move to the deep water
near the areas bridges. In the spring, usually around
April Fools Day, the trout return to the Seabrook area.
In the summer, trout along with a dozen other species of
fish congregate at the bridges and other structure in the
lake. By fall and the World Series, trout show up along
My main lure for trolling for big speckled trout is a lure
made by V and G Lures called a Deadly Dudley. It is sold
as a straight tail or terror tail model. Both are excellent
for imitating shrimp, croakers, or other baitfish targeted
by the speckle trout. The terror tail has a design that
causes the lure to wobble much like a crankbait. The extra
vibration really produces when it comes to trolling. It
has also been used for walleye and other species such as
About the time of the Super Bowl, state record trout frequent
the bridges along the I 10 area of the lake between Slidell
and New Orleans. Trolling is the best way to cover the miles
of water along the I 10, Highway 11, and trestles. Use various
size jig heads from ¼ to ½ ounces. Add Deadly
Dudleys in various colors and styles. If you add a
right and left Side Planer, four rods can be used instead
of two. By paralleling the bridges, you can add trout to
your trip by adding these simple to use in-line boards.
After casting the bait perpendicular to the boat, the angler
simple reaches up and clips the board on the line. Place
the board in the water and let out about 20 yards of line.
The board carries the bait about 20 feet away from your
boat. After a fish is hooked, the board and fish are reeled
to the boat. Once the board is within reach, unclip the
board and continue to fight the fish. Planer boards will
add fish to your ice chest by increasing the area you cover
and the number of lures in the water.
Very few people in Louisiana use planer boards. I was surprised
how productive the boards made my fishing. I was even impressed
how easy the boards were to use. From the first cast and
placement of the board to the landing of the fish, the Off
Shore Tackle Side Planer was simple, fun, and flawless in
The next time you are in New Orleans, skip the parades
and Bourbon Street and pass a good time trolling the Big
Captain Dee Geoghegan can be reached at 1-888-773-2536
or by visiting his website at www.fishingguideservices.com
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