Home > Articles > 2008 Articles

Please scroll down to view all articles or select individual articles from the following list:

DISCLAIMER: Product features, opinions and/or contact numbers may have changed since the following articles were written.

By Jon Thelen

It does not seem to matter where my travels have taken me over the last several years; the latest craze throughout the walleye world is trolling.

While this is obvious from the Missouri River, East through the Great Lakes, it becomes even more overwhelming when visiting any outdoor product retailer. Fishing departments have doubled in size due to the trolling craze. Crankbaits line aisle after aisle, the television on the end-cap is showing technique tips for the trolling spinners in open water and 8-10 foot planer board rods stand tall above 6-foot jigging rods.

This trolling trend has exploded for several reasons. For one, it is no secret that trolling allows an angler to cover more water at a faster rate of speed than any other technique. Secondly, in many, if not most bodies of water, trolling simply catches more and bigger fish.

In most states across the Midwest there is yet another reason. The ability to run more than one line per person, two and sometimes three lines each can easily be accomplished by using Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side Planer Boards. Numerous lines can be run off each side of the boat, tangle-free with multiple yellow Off Shore Boards often resembling airplane wings out each side.

I do not need to explain any more for the angler in multiple line waters, it is simple, if you are not using boards, you are not catching as many fish as you should, or could be!

Let us look at the less obvious, what about the angler residing in a "one line per person" state? This so happens to include myself and although a lot of my fishing would simply allow me to throw two lines over the gunnel and take off; there are reasons for which boards are almost always over my shoulders!

For starters, let's talk shallow fish. From early spring through the first part of June and again in late summer through fall, lakes throughout the Midwest host a shallow water bite. I am talking 10 feet or less, but there are variables. Take the typical Minnesota Lake with a weed line which forms in 9-12 feet of water. Early in the season running small crankbaits along and over this emerging weed growth can be deadly.

Even if I am fishing alone, with the use of an OR12 Side Planer board, I can get my bait to run above the weeds, out to the side of my boat, without spooking the baitfish which the walleye are keying on or the targeted walleye themselves. As friends and/or clients are added to my boat, I can run multiple planer boards out to the weed line side to keep all of my lines equally productive.

When fishing weedy areas, converting your boards with the OR12TF Off Shore Tackle Tattle Flag Upgrade Kit is a must. There is no better way to tell if you have a "fish on" than being able to watch a flag go down. But for me the Tattle Flag serves another equally important role. It is no secret that a lure inadvertently pulling weeds will be ineffective. With the OR12TF Tattle Flag Kit installed, I can tell if my lures have picked up any debris. When fouled, the flag will slightly pull down or pull down and pop back up. In either of these scenarios, I know that I may have picked up some weeds and I need to reel in and clean my baits.

Deep water presents altogether different challenges and scenarios. Lakes like Mille Lacs in Central Minnesota boast clean and clear water. With water clarities being what they are, schools of roaming walleye suspend as if they were transplanted from the Great Lakes. There is a simple rule of thumb here. The clearer the water - the more a walleye is apt to rise up and use the whole water column to feed.

The solution seems easy, simply throw out a couple of lures and pull them several feet over the top of these suspending fish and you should find success, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Fact is, suspended fish can be both the most aggressive and yet the most spooky at the same time. Aggressive, in the sense that they will explode in chase of a fast swimming crankbait from long distances away, although, spooky enough that the shadow of a boat or noise of an outboard can send them on an equally explosive retreat.

It's time to get the boards out again. I use the same Off Shore Tackle OR12 (yellow) Side Planer boards although I do make one slight adjustment. I replace the standard OR14 Releases with either OR19 Releases or the OR18 Snapper Adjustable Tension Release. Either one of these higher tension releases will handle the ferocious hit of a larger suspending walleye which has quit often come full throttle from a long distance.

It doesn't matter whether I am alone or have 4-5 people in my boat, when in open water I run all of my crankbaits behind boards. I use the fish that I graph under my boat to figure the correct depth at which to run my lures at. I also know when I am graphing fish that others are scattered out below my boards and that more are spooking from under my boat out towards my lures.

Here is another seldom thought of factor. If I make a pass through a school of fish without a bite, I go through my list of most common changes, lure color and/or size and speed adjustments. These changes often produce bites but if they don't, I adjust my distance between the boat and my planer boards.

There are times, especially when the fish are really high in the water column (I am talking about the top third), that walleye may be spooking further to the sides of the boat than which I am running my boards. By the time that my baits reach the zone, the fish may have already spooked to the outside of my line sets.

In this situation I simply send my boards out further away from the boat. I work in 10-20 foot increments. While this in 100% trial and error, this additional adjustment has made a difference for me on many occasions. Adding this trick to your trolling arsenal will undoubtedly pay dividends, especially on bright sunny days in clear lakes!

All said and done, Off Shore Tackle planer boards will help every angler catch more fish. It does not matter what state I may be in or how many lines I am allowed to use. When I am trolling, there are almost always boards over my shoulders!


Back to Top

By Mark Romanack

Crankbaits are amazing fishing lures. It's hard to imagine a lure that has a more impressive list of fish catching credentials. Amazingly productive in a wide range of conditions and deadly on just about anything that swims, crankbaits bring a lot to the party.

Heading up their list of unique features, crankbaits enjoy the widest range of effective trolling speeds. From less than one mph to speeds upwards of five mph, crankbaits catch fish! In addition to covering all the common trolling speeds, crankbaits can be used to reach any depth from the surface down to 50 feet! If this wasn't enough, crankbaits are so consistent they can be used to target specific depths over and over again simply by controlling lead lengths! Now tack on the fact that crankbaits come in every imaginable size, shape, action and color and the picture becomes clear. Crankbaits rule as fish catching tools.


Crankbaits come to life when they are trolled or cast and retrieved. It's the diving lip that brings these lures to life.

The size and shape of the diving lip plays a major role in the action a crankbait delivers and also how deep it can dive. Baits with small and/or narrow diving lips reach modest depths and tend to deliver tight actions. The larger and wider the lip becomes, the more pronounced the wobble and diving depth become.

Of course there are literally endless combinations of lip length, width, bait size and shape to contend with. This is in part why so many anglers are intimidated by crankbaits. There are simply too many to choose from!

Admittedly crankbaits can be intimidating, but for the most part these lures can easily be categorized into two useful groupings. Most crankbaits fall into one of two basic categories, including models that float at rest and dive when pulled or models that sink and achieve their depth based on lure weight and speed.

Floating/diving models enjoy the largest following and also these lures are the most consistent in their depth diving abilities. Most anglers understand that water pushing against the lip causes the bait to dive into the water. What they don't realize is that at the same time friction from the line being pulled through the water and the buoyancy of the lure creates an opposing force. As the force that pushes the lure down into the water, stabilizes with the forces working to push the bait back to the surface, something amazing happens.

Every floating/diving crankbait will dive to a predictable depth. This depth is influenced by two simple factors including lead length and line diameter. If these two variables are controlled, it's possible to predict the precise running depth of literally every crankbait fished at all the common lead lengths!

Lures that sink are more complex in that their depth is controlled by not only line diameter and lead length, but also by boat or retrieve speed. Sinking lures fish deeper when trolled or retrieved slowly. At faster speeds these same lures sacrifice running depth.

Because sinking lures are more difficult to control, they have never achieved the popularity of floating/diving models.

These striking bits of information form the foundation for the popular crankbait guides Precision Trolling and Precision Casting. Collectively these user guides have documented the running depths of countless crankbaits and helped thousands of anglers maximize their time on the water. A simple XY style graph is used to depict how much lead length must be used to achieve specific target depths.

At a glance anglers can consult the "Dive Curve" and determine within inches how deep their lures
are running. The information provided by Precision Trolling and Precision Casting is invaluable to anyone who takes fishing seriously. Not only does this trusted science allow anglers to know with confidence how deep their lures are running in relationship to fish or the bottom, it allows a multitude of lures to be trolled at target depths and virtually eliminates costly snags.

Precision Trolling and Precision Casting deal primarily with crank baits that float. This handy fishing guide also explores the dynamics of adding weight to the fishing line. If you have ever wondered what happens when weight is added to a fishing line, read on.

Crankbaits are amazing fish catching tools, but they have limitations. Every crankbait has a limit to how deep it will dive. Not always do the popular crankbait brands and models reach the necessary target depths. When a crankbait falls a little short on depth, there is a simple fix.

Sooner or later just about everyone who trolls comes to the conclusion that adding weight to the line is necessary at times to reach target depths. There are lots of ways to add weight onto a fishing line, but nothing is as easy or more effective than an Off Shore Tackle Snap Weight.

The OR16 (red) Snap Weight clip is the heart of this simple system. Designed to clip weight on and off the line as needed, the jaws of this clip are rubber coated to protect the fishing line. A small pin in the upper jaw indexes into a hole in the lower jaw. When the line is placed behind this pin, the Snap Weight is effectively held in place on the fishing line.

Changing weight sizes is as simple as threading different size weights onto a split ring attached to the OR16. This simple weight clip allows sinkers ranging from 1/2 to three ounces in size to be placed literally anywhere on the fishing line.

Putting the Snap Weight on or taking it off the line only takes a second, but the rewards are many. Adding weight in front of a crankbait adds versatility to a lure group that is already a capable fish producer. Depending upon how much weight is used, most any crankbait can be deployed to depths up to 50 feet!

Again the Precision Trolling guide is an invaluable tool for determining how adding weight influences the running depth of crankbaits. The "20 Plus Method" described in Precision Trolling outlines in detail how adding one ounce of weight using a Snap Weight increases the running depth of floating/diving crankbaits by approximately 1/3 the normal running depth.

Here's how the "20 Plus Method" works. Pick your favorite floating/diving crankbait and let out 20 feet of line. Attach a one ounce Snap Weight onto the line and let out an additional 100 feet of lead length for a total lead of 120 feet.

Now consult the Precision Trolling guide to determine the normal running depth of your specific lure at 120 feet back. If that lure runs 15 feet deep at 120 feet back, it will run an additional 1/3 deeper when the one ounce Snap Weight is used.

In this case a 15 foot lure will run 20 feet deep simply by adding a one ounce Snap Weight. A bait that runs 18 feet would run 24 feet with a one ounce Snap Weight, etc. Across the spectrum of floating/diving baits this simple to use formula is amazingly consistent, accurate and useful.

Of course adding more than one ounce of weight will increase the diving depth more. The "20 Plus Method" is a good starting point, but anglers are encouraged to use lighter or heavier Snap Weights as conditions dictate.

A good rule to follow when fishing crankbaits in combination with Snap Weights is to strive for consistent trolling speeds. The "20 Plus Method" is based on a constant trolling speed of two mph.

Adding Snap Weights to crankbaits works best when fishing for suspended fish or for species found on flats and other areas where the bottom depth is rather consistent. Bottoms consisting of sand, silt, clay or gravel are ideal places to use Snap Weights in combination with crankbaits.

If you're unsure how deep a particular crankbait is running with a Snap Weight attached, fish this line straight out the back and monitor the lead length closely. Slowly let out additional lead length until the rod tip indicates the bait is hitting the bottom. Reel up a few turns and you can feel comfortable the bait is running near bottom.


Crankbaits fished in combination with Snap Weights are a natural for fishing with in-line boards. Combining Snap Weights, crankbaits and in-line boards like the Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side Planer or OR31 SST adds up to a deadly system for walleye, pike, trout, striper and many other species. Both of these popular boards will easily handle Snap Weights up to three ounces.

Crankbaits are deadly fish catching tools. Snap Weights are the easiest way possible to add weight to a trolling line. Together crankbaits and Snap Weights are a natural choice anytime it's necessary to get a little extra depth from your favorite crankbait.

Back to Top

By Larry Hartwick

As gas prices continue to rise, the trend has been in many cases to replace the large gas guzzling boats with more economical vessels. A smaller boat is easily towed in comparison and often by a more fuel efficient vehicle. While there are up sides to this thinking, there are also down sides. Storage is the largest issue that you will face when downsizing a boat. Riviera Trolling Systems understand the limitations of smaller boats and has worked to eliminate a lot of the problems that might arise when downsizing.

First we have developed a collapsible planer mast that is only 4 ½ ft tall for storage and extends up to 7 feet when in use (Riviera Model numbers DPMKA and DPMPA) . Why is this a big deal? While a 7 ft. mast on a larger boat that sits further out of the water may not be a huge advantage, in the case of an 18-22 foot boat, every inch of extra height is a big deal. Planer boards go out the side of the boat better, they maintain a better angle to the boat so releases slide down the tow line better and everything in general just plain works better because there is less contact with the water by the tow line.

As nice a feature as this is, it is only part of the equation. We also offer the option of 4 different seat mounts in addition to our normal base mount models listed above. This gives you the option of using your existing front seat base to insert the mast into for easy use. Why is this a big deal? You don't need to drill any holes in the boat to use a mast and it frees up the bow of the boat in case an electric trolling motor is needed. Just a couple reasons that many people think is important.

Riviera offers 3 different Springfield Marine adapters (Taper-Lock, Spring-Lock, and Uni-Lock) and a Swivl-Eze 2 3/8" adapter. These are all of the popular seat mounts that the current boat manufacturers are using. If you aren't sure which seat mount that your boat has, you can either email a photo of the base to rivieratrolling@yahoo.com or call 989-738-5700 and we will be happy to assist you.

The price of the seat mount adapters is included in the price of the mast, giving you the option of any of our 5 bases for the same price. For a complete list of all masts with the various seat mount adapters, see www.rivieratrolling.com .


Back to Top

By Mark Romanack

Trolling is such a popular and productive fishing technique, anglers on both sides of the big pond practice it routinely. No matter which side of the globe you may be fishing on, one thing never changes. The fastest way to a limit catch is a trolled line!

Across northern Europe a growing number of anglers troll for salmon, zander and northern pike. These fish are found living in both fresh water in-land lakes and brackish seas.

The popularity of sport fishing has expanded in recent years due in part to the robust economy Europe has enjoyed for some time. The typical European worker is well compensated for his work hours and gets a nice benefit package that includes six weeks of paid vacation per year! With both time and money on their hands, what better hobby to explore than fishing?

Not surprisingly, a lot of the methods used for trolling up popular European species are similar to those we use here at home. Downriggers, planer boards and lots of rod holders are common sights on a recreational fishing boat in Sweden, Finland, Germany or Poland.

A number of popular American based lure brands are also marketed widely across Europe. Just about every tackle shop in Europe sells Bomber, Storm, Reef Runner, Bagley, Luhr Jensen and other popular American made fishing lures.

The Europeans however favor baits with an old world feel and ones they are more familiar with. The top trolling lures across Europe are produced by Salmo, Rapala and Nils Master. Fortunately, these same brands and baits are also widely available in America.


In some ways European anglers have an advantage over the typical American angler. Fishing pressure is light compared to that seen on most popular American lakes. Because the fishing pressure is light, some huge zander and northern pike are routinely taken by European anglers.

On the down side, Northern Europe is plagued with some of the most unstable weather in the world. Cold fronts and low pressure weather systems come and go so quickly that locking down on any particular fishing pattern is difficult at best.

Any good angler knows that weather dictates a lot in terms of fishing success. Since it is impossible to impact or change the weather, European anglers have developed some no-nonsense methods of fishing that enable them to keep their lures in front of fish regardless of changing weather conditions.

During a cold front or low pressure system, most fish react by becoming more lethargic and also moving to deeper water. European anglers compensate for these conditions by trolling slower, using weights in front of their lures to control the fishing depth and also by using lures with a more subtle action.


The more inactive fish become, the more that trolling speed plays a major role in fishing success. Early and late in the year when water temperatures are cold, most anglers recognize the need to troll slower. However, the same holds true even in midsummer when a cold front drops the water temperature even a few degrees.

Slowing down a few clicks when the weather turns sour increases the amount of time the lure is in front of individual fish. This in turn gives the fish more time to react. Think of trolling slower as a way of teasing fish into biting.

During mid summer when trolling speeds are typically 2.5 to 3 miles per hour, it makes sense to slow up .5 to one MPH during cold fronts. During the cold water months, a trolling speed of 1 to 1.5 MPH will produce the best trolling results in most cases.


Adding trolling weights to the line is one of the easiest ways to control lure running depth. Snap Weights, or other trolling sinkers are designed to increase the natural running depth of crankbaits, spoons and other lures.

Fixed weights like keel sinkers are popular and normally rigged on the line approximately six feet in front of the lure. Compared to keel and other fixed weights, Snap Weights are unique in that they can easily be placed anywhere on the fishing line from a few feet in front of the lure, to 100 feet up the line if desired. It's also easy to change the size of the Snap Weight as needed. Not so with keel weights, rubber core sinkers, bead chain sinkers, split shot and other weight systems.

By simply adding more weight to the split ring, a crankbait fished in combination with a Snap Weight can be fished to progressively deeper and deeper depths as dictated by fish mood and location. The weight doesn't change the lure action, just the depth the lure is running at.


When fishing conditions are ideal, faster trolling speeds and high action lures normally produce the best catches. In cold fronts or when fishing cold water, lures that produce a more subtle wobble or action become the clear choice.

Using crankbaits as an example again, high action lures feature wider trolling lips. The wider the lip, the more pronounced the side to side wobble becomes. The most aggressive crankbaits have both a wide lip and often a short stubby body. When running in the water these lures stand on their nose and wobble aggressively. A good example of a high action crankbait would be a Salmo Hornet or the Storm Hot n Tot. Both these lures are an excellent choice for trolling at faster speeds and during stable weather conditions.

Subtle action crankbaits have smaller and narrower lips. The longer and more slender the body shape, the more subtle the action becomes. Lures in this class have less of a side to side wobble and more of a roll or modest quiver in the water. These baits also travel through the water in a horizontal plane instead of standing on their nose.

Good examples of subtle action crankbaits include the Salmo Stinger, Rapala No. 18 Floating Minnow, Smithwick Rattlin Rogue and Reef Runner RipStick.


Catching fish in cold front conditions is rarely easy. Snap Weights are a simple fix for adding additional weight that allows anglers to ply deeper and deeper water as necessary.

Fishing deeper and slower during cold fronts is critical. In the same token, it's important to also increase lure coverage by using in-line planer boards. The Off Shore Tackle Side Planer and SST boards are inexpensive and effective ways to gain additional lure coverage.

Both boards function in a similar manner. The desired lead length is selected and the appropriate sized Snap Weight added to the line. Next the line is placed into the release on the tow arm of the board. The Side Planer features a release on both the tow arm and back of the board. Place the line in both releases.

Fixed to the line in this manner, the Side Planer functions as both a method of getting lures out to the side of the boat and also a strike indicator. When a fish strikes, the board is pulled backwards in the water by the struggling fish. The angler simply reels in the board and fish together until the board is close enough to remove from the line.

The SST board is designed a little different and rigged so the board releases at the strike. A release is mounted on the tow arm and at the back of the board a pigtail swivel. Put the line into the release and then thread it through the pigtail swivel.

When a fish strikes, the angler can trip the board by popping the rod tip sharply. Once the line pops free of the tow arm release, it will slide down the line via the pigtail swivel. To prevent the board from sliding all the way to the lure, rig a Speed Bead (OR29) in line about three feet in front of the lure.

The release and slide method described with the SST board is most commonly used when multiple boards are fished per side of the boat. The SST board is also the logical choice for larger fish like salmon, striper or trout.

If only one or two boards are used per side, the fixed method described with the Side Planer is preferred. Walleye anglers favor the Side Planer.

Both these handy boards can be rigged in a number of ways for different species and fishing situations. Off Shore Tackle produces a wealth of releases and line clips suitable for all trolling applications. Both boards are capable of handling all the common trolling speeds and with Snap Weights up to three ounces.


European anglers spend much more time using weights in front of their favorite trolling lures than American anglers. In part this is because the average European angler is dealing with poor weather more often than those who fish on the American side of the pond. Also, European anglers are practical in their fishing approach. It's simply easier to add weight to the fishing line, than to experiment with deeper diving lures that may or may not trigger strikes.

Good weather or bad, adding weight to a trolling line is one of the easiest and most efficient ways of manipulating lure depth. Instead of reaching for a deeper running lure, consider adding a Snap Weight to the line and let the lead do the work.


Back to Top

By Mark Romanack

Trolling among icebergs may seem a little extreme for the typical angler. After all, how well can fish be biting in water that's cold enough to make ice? The answer may surprise you. For certain species like brown trout, lakers, coho, steelhead and king salmon cold water should not be viewed as a deterrent to fishing success. These species remain active late into the year and as soon as the ice breaks up in the spring, fishing action can be red hot.

Categorized loosely as cold water species, trout and salmon aren't the only fish that bite well when the water is frigid. Other species like walleye, pike and muskie also feed actively in cold water. While these species are technically considered warm water fish, they are actually most active when the water is cool. Even in very cold water this toothy trio can be caught by simply using lures with a more subtle action and slowing down a notch or two.


Trolling speed is one of the most important considerations for the cold water angler. Not only does trolling speed control lure action, it also speaks directly to the activity level of various species.

A wealth of popular fish are active in cold water, but active should be viewed as a relative term. All fish are cold blooded creatures, which means in extremely cold water they are going to be somewhat more lethargic than they would be in warmer water.

Slowing down trolling speeds is a simple and effective way to present baits that offer strike triggering actions at a more enticing speed. It's amazing how tweaking the trolling speed just a couple tenths of a mile per hour can play a huge role in triggering strikes.

Controlling trolling speed isn't as simple as pulling back on the throttle. For most boats equipped with inboard/outboard engines or a larger outboard motor, the slowest possible trolling speed isn't slow enough for fishing in icy cold water. Using a sea bag to slow up trolling speed becomes necessary.

The problem with using a sea bag is the drag or resistance tends to pull the boat one direction or another. This forces someone to stay at the helm all the time to keep the boat on course.

One way to reduce this problem is to rig two sea bags, one on each side of the boat, to make tracking easier. Another way is to position one sea bag directly under the hull. This is easily accomplished by attaching the bag to the bow eye of the boat and then using guide ropes attached to either side of the bag to center it under the hull. The rope attached to the bow eye is used to position the bag amid ship. The guide ropes on either side of the bag are then used to position and keep the bag dead center of the hull. Once the bag is positioned correctly, the guide ropes are tied off to cleats on each gunwale.

Rigging a sea bag this way takes a few minutes, but it's amazing how much control it provides in regards to both speed and the boat's turning radius.


Smaller boats are best controlled with a small gasoline kicker motor. Not only do these motors use less fuel, they allow the angler to tweak trolling speed as necessary. If the idle is set correctly and the engine running smooth, a kicker motor can be used to troll as slowly as one MPH.

These days most kicker motors are four stroke technology, which means the engine is quiet, smoke free and they squeeze a lot of trolling out of a gallon of fuel. Because four stroke engines burn straight gasoline, most anglers rig the kicker motor into the main fuel tank to save space in the boat. Some walleye boats feature a built-in kicker tank.

A kicker motor can be easily mounted on the transom and rigged on either the port or starboard side of the boat. Steering the boat can be controlled by the handle on the kicker itself, or by using a bar that connects the kicker to the main outboard. Rigged in this manner, the boat is controlled by simply turning the main steering wheel.

A kicker solves the speed control issues on most boats, but there are times when even a kicker can't go slow enough. When trolling down wind on a rough day, it may actually be necessary to run the kicker motor in reverse to slow the boat down to the target speed.

On a rough day, it's also a good idea to put the kicker motor in reverse when fighting a big fish. This takes some of the pressure off and allows the angler to gain line quickly on the fish.


The best trolling speed varies from day to day and also from lure to lure. Certain baits require certain speeds to bring out their best action. The best way to determine what speed matches best with what lures is to observe them at boat side.

Trolling style spoons are the big issue when it comes to boat speed. Many models of spoons simply have no wobble or limited flash at slower speeds. Experiment with spoon sizes and brands until models that have good action at slower speeds are discovered. For cold water trolling a spoon that has good action at 1.5 to 2 MPH is required.

One of the best spoons for slow trolling is the Wolverine Tackle Mini Streak. Recently redesigned to be even better, this Great Lakes staple works well on a wide variety of species.

Crankbaits are less speed sensitive than spoons. Many crankbaits will deliver satisfactory action at speeds as slow as one mile per hour. The crankbaits that seem to produce best in cold water are long, minnow shaped floating/diving models.

Looking down on these lures in the water, they rock back and forth along the centerline, but deliver little side to side motion. Usually the diving lips on these baits are longer than they are wide and the best action is achieved at speeds ranging from one to two MPH.

Baits with a wide diving lip tend to generate a wider and more aggressive side to side wobble. In general, it takes a little more boat speed to bring out this pronounced wobble. As a result crankbaits with wider diving lips don't enjoy a generous range of productive trolling speeds for cold water fishing.


Long lining lures straight out the back of the boat is a popular method for cold water trolling. To be effective, these lures must be set 200 or more feet behind the boat.

A more practical approach is to use in-line boards like the popular Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side Planer or OR31 SST models. By incorporating in-line boards into an ice-out trolling pattern anglers can gain invaluable lure coverage, troll at slow speeds and contact fish using shorter lead lengths.

The OR12 Side Planer (yellow) was designed for walleye fishing and comes equipped with a pair of OR14 (black) releases. The OR31 SST board is similar, but comes factory rigged a little differently. Designed for trout, striper and salmon fishing, the SST board is orange, does not have a flag and is armed with an OR19 heavy tension tow arm release. A pigtail swivel comes in the package so the angler can rig the board to release and slide down the line. Rigged in this manner, a Speed Bead (OR29) should be positioned a few feet in front of the lure, to prevent the board from sliding down all the way to the fish.

Walleye anglers favor a rigging method that keeps the board fixed to the line. When a strike occurs, the fish and board are reeled in at the same time. The board is removed from the line as it approaches the rod tip and the fight continued.

Trout and salmon anglers tend to fish three or more boards per side. To avoid the need to clear lines when fighting fish, the OR31 SST board can be rigged so the line pops free of the tow arm release when a fish strikes. The board then slides down the line via the pigtail swivel. Meanwhile the angler reels in the fish without having to clear any lines.

To insure a smooth and consistent release, Off Shore Tackle recommends using monofilament line. Twist the line a few times around your finger and place the twisted portion half way into the rubber pads on the OR19 release. Rigged in this manner the board will remain fixed in place on the line until a strike occurs. If a small fish is hooked, it may be necessary to pop the rod tip to trigger the release.


A solid layer of ice is about the only thing that puts an end to the trolling fun. No matter if you're fishing late into the fall or early in the spring, trolling in cold water is an ideal way to target a wealth of species.

The keys to success include trolling slowly, paying attention to lure types, monitor lure actions closely and don't forget to use in-line planer boards.

Back to Top

By Bruce DeShano

Having fished various planer board releases for over 20 years, there is one thing I know for sure about these trolling aids; planer board releases can be described as the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of the bad ones aren't much to look at either!

In seriousness, a functioning planer board release is an engineered piece of fishing equipment. The level of function the release provides is determined by how well engineered it is. To think for a second that an ordinary office rubber band or alligator clip can perform the same function as a release designed solely for the job of hooking fish is simply ridiculous!

There are many reasons that rubber bands and alligator clips make lousy line releases. Most importantly it is essential to understand that one size can't fit all when it comes to line releases. The release that works perfectly for walleye is not going to function well on large fish like salmon. To make the most of the fish that bite, anglers need to arm themselves with high quality line releases that are designed to catch the species targeted.

This is the very reason Off Shore Tackle produces so many different models of planer board releases. No matter what species you're after, Off Shore Tackle has the line release category covered.


The popular yellow OR10 is all about panfish and walleye fishing. Designed to be used with 6-20 pound test monofilament lines, this versatile release has two tension settings making it ideal for targeting "eaters" and also larger fish. To adjust the tension, simply slide the spring forward towards the pads for increased line gripping power or backwards to reduce the tension.


The OR14 picks up where the OR10 leaves off. Standard equipment on the OR12 Side Planer board, the OR14 is also favored by many walleye anglers who troll dual board mast systems. The OR14 has a slightly heavier spring tension than the popular OR10. Like its brother the OR10, this release can be adjusted for tension by sliding the spring forward towards the pads or back. When walleye trolling with deep diving crank baits, mini-disks or larger size Snap Weights, the OR14 is ideal.


What sets the OR3 apart is the larger pad diameter. This release can be used with a wide cross section of monofilament line sizes. To adjust the tension, simply control how deep the line is placed between the rubber pads. This no nonsense line release is a favorite of walleye anglers, those who target spring browns and cohos with their Riviera Dual Planer Boards.

OR16 (RED)

The OR16 isn't a line release at all, but rather a line clip. Designed to hold the Snap Weight trolling system on the line, these clips are also widely used by OR12 Side Planer users to insure their boards stay put on the line regardless of trolling speed or wave conditions. A small pin indexes through the center of the rubber pads, insuring that once the line is placed behind the pin, it can't pop free.


This medium tension planer board release is built with salmon fishing in mind. Like the OR3 the larger pad size on the OR17 provides ample surface area to insure a firm or light release as selected by the angler. This popular release is designed to function with monofilament lines ranging from 10-25 pound test. A great release used with your Riviera Dual Planer Boards.


The OR19 comes as standard equipment on the OR31 SST in-line planer board. Also sold in packages with a quick clip for traditional planer board fishing, the OR19 has the same spring tension as the OR16 Snap Weight Clip, but WITHOUT the pin protruding through the center of the pads. This release is ideal for salmon, striper, lake trout, muskie and for lead core fishing applications.


Like the OR16, the Snapper is a special purpose line clip. The cam action of this clip allows the tension to be adjusted for a traditional release on monofilament lines, or the tension can be increased enough to hold even the most slippery super braid lines. Most often the Snapper is used in combination with the OR12 Side Planer or OR31 SST boards to insure the board stays on the line when trolling with super braids. The Snapper is also commonly used for fishing lead core line that's equipped with a super braid backing.

OR30 (RED)

The OR30 heavy tension release has the strongest spring tension of all the Off Shore Tackle releases. Built to insure maximum spring tension for hooking toothy critters like lake trout, trophy pike, muskie, striper and saltwater fish, the OR30 is designed to be used with 20 pound test monofilament or heavier lines. This release is without question the heavyweight on the block and a great asset used with Riviera Triple Planer Boards. This release is superior when fishing dodgers, flashers and rotators for suspended salmon.


Quality line releases cost more than rubber bands and alligator clips, but they work better and in the end hook more fish. After all the purpose of a line release is to hold the line until a fish strikes, then provide just the right amount of tension to insure the fish hooks itself.

If the release pops too easily, the fish won't be hooked securely and likely escape. If the release is too strong, hooked fish will simply get dragged along for the ride. Effective planer board fishing is all about selecting the line release that is "just right" for the job. Think about it. Who makes more line release models than Off Shore Tackle? No one; that is why Off Shore Tackle is "The Leader In Trolling Technology".

Back to Top

By Mark Romanack

Anglers have lots of options available to them when it comes to controlling lure depth. Downriggers, diving planers and Snap Weights are just a few of the popular options.

Another option known as lead core fishing line has also gained in popularity recently. Lead core is simply a fishing line made from soft lead wire with a protective braided nylon coating. The coating protects the soft lead wire from damage and yields the necessary tensile strength. The lead wire of course causes the line to sink.

Lead core is normally sold on spools that contain either 100 meters or 200 meters of line. Different pound test lines ranging from 12 to 45 pound test meet just about any trolling needs from walleye to salmon and deep water lake trout.

The most popular size lead core line is 27 pound test. Popular with salmon and trout anglers, the 27 pound test size is also widely used by walleye anglers. The next most popular size in lead core line is 18 pound test. This size is favored by walleye anglers and to a lesser degree by salmon anglers who are targeting fish higher in the water column. These sizes of lead core are popular because they offer the ideal combination of both weight (trolling depth) and strength.


Because lead core line is rather thick and stiff, it's not practical to tie lures directly onto lead core. Instead, a leader of monofilament or better yet fluorocarbon line is added. Fluorocarbon gets the nod because it is tough and very difficult to see in water.

The leader length varies depending upon the fishing conditions. For open water trolling a leader of 50 feet is customary. This long leader allows the angler to cut and retie frequently. For structure fishing, a shorter leader of 10-20 feet allows for more precise depth control.

For trout and salmon fishing a leader of 17-20 pound test is recommended. For walleye trolling the leader is generally 10-12 pound test.

Lead core line can be fished by simply letting out specific amounts to target specific depths. Every 10 meters the line coating changes color making it easy to monitor how much line is being deployed.

Another rigging option is to add backing material onto the lead core line, so that the entire amount of lead core can be deployed. Known as segmented lead core, this is the most popular way of fishing these weighted lines. By letting out all the lead core line, maximum depth is achieved. Also, the depth can be increased by letting out additional backing material.

The backing material can be either monofilament or braided lines. Monofilament is a little less expensive and more user friendly, but braided lines are thinner in diameter and allow more line to be spooled in the limited space available.

For walleye fishing, 10-12 pound test monofilament is a favorite backing material. With a monofilament backing, lead core rigs can easily be adapted to fishing with either in-line or dual board planer systems. When monofilament backing is used no special purpose line releases are required.

Salmon fishing poses a different issue. Because salmon anglers are targeting deeper water, maximum amounts of lead core line must be used to achieve these depths. This leaves little room on most reels for backing material. Super braids are the answer because these ultra thin diameter lines allow a significant amount of backing to be spooled on without using up much line capacity.

A common backing line among salmon anglers is Power Pro in the 30 pound test size. This line has a diameter equal to eight pound test monofilament!


Lead core line is thick stuff and it takes a substantial reel to hold any significant amount of lead core. Obviously, the more lead core that's required, the bigger the reel must be to hold the necessary leader, lead core and backing material.

Because lead core is color coded, it's not essential to use a line counter style reel for fishing lead core line. A quality level wind trolling reel like the Okuma Convector or Catalina works well with lead core. The size 20 level wind reel will hold all the lead core and backing a walleye angler will need. For salmon fishing the size 45 will easily handle 100 meters of 27 pound test lead core and 100 meters of 30# test braided backing. For fishing 1.5 or 2 cores of lead line, the larger size 55 reel is required.

Line counter style reels can be handy when it becomes necessary to let out all the lead core line and a substantial amount of backing. Use the line counter reel to monitor the amount of backing being deployed and simply duplicate what works.


Lead core line is a useful fishing tool, but when it comes to tying leaders and backing material to lead core the fun is over. Chip Cartwright of Wolverine Tackle has some tips on rigging lead core to leaders and backing that take away a lot of the frustration.

"Most of the knots designed to attach lead core to other lines are either hard to tie or they produce a knot so big it catches in the reel guides," says Cartwright. "To tie a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader to lead core, start by removing about three inches of the lead wire from the protective coating. Next take the desired leader material and thread it into lead core coating until the leader bottoms out against the remaining lead wire. At this point simply tie an overhand knot in the lead core near the point where the lead core and leader meet."

This simple leader rigging method yields a knot that's smooth and a leader to lead core connection that is very strong. "One of the tricks to this rigging method is to cut the leader with a sharp razor blade," advises Cartwright. "This leaves a clean cut that will slide into the lead core coating easily."

Unfortunately this leader rigging method doesn't work with braided lines. "To rig a braided line backing to lead core, start by first removing about three inches of the lead wire from the protective coating," adds Cartwright. "Next take a two foot length of 20 pound test fluorocarbon line and insert the leader into the lead core until it bottoms out against the lead wire. Tie an overhand knot as before, making sure the knot is in the lead core coating near the point where the leader and lead core join. Now you've got a short length of fluorocarbon attached to the lead core which can in turn be knotted to the braided backing material."

A small barrel swivel works for this union or a nail knot is a good choice to join a small diameter braided line to a larger diameter fluorocarbon line.

"The other benefit of this rigging method is the short length of fluorocarbon makes the ideal place to attach an in-line planer board like the Off Shore Tackle OR31 SST," says Cartwright. "I use an orange OR19 release on both the front and back of my SST boards when I'm fishing lead core line."

Depending on what species you're targeting the amount of lead core line can vary widely. "I carry four different lead core rigs on my boat," says Chip Cartwright. "I spool up a couple reels with two colors, three colors, five colors and 10 colors of lead. The five and 10 color rigs get the most use, but at times two or three colors is just what it takes to catch fish.

Captain Russ Clark of Sea Hawk Charters (www.fishseahawk.com) runs a slightly different lead core approach. Russ favors just two set ups using three colors and eight colors of 27 pound test lead core.

"I like to fish both three and eight color lead core lines at the same time," says Captain Clark. "The three color rig is set to the outside and the deeper running eight color set on the inside. I normally use an Off Shore Tackle OR31 SST board to present both these lead core combinations. If a fish is hooked on the outside line, I can reel it in without having to clear the other lead core line. This is because the eight color rig runs deep enough to stay below and clear of the three color rig."


Lead core is ideally suited to fishing with in-line boards like the Off Shore Tackle OR31 SST or OR12 Side Planer. Most anglers let out all the lead core and attach the board to the backing material. If braided line is used for backing an OR18 Snapper Release grips and holds braid better than any other release on the market. If monofilament line is used the OR16 Snap Weight Clip or OR19 Heavy Tension Planer Board Release as they work exceptionally well.

It's not practical to rig an in-line board to release and slide down the line when fishing lead core. Instead use a release on both the front and back of the board to hold it securely onto the backing.

One final tip for board fishing is important. "A critical time in the fight occurs when the board starts to get close to the boat," says Captain Clark. "Lower the rod tip as the board approaches the boat to keep the board in the water. If the board starts jumping out of the water, it can catch a wave and dive. Lowering the rod tip until the board is almost within reach eliminates this problem."


Fishing lead core line requires the angler to use some specialized gear and rigging options. If rigging knots with lead core seems too much to tackle, consider using Mason's Redi-Core. These lead core rigs come pre-spooled with a monofilament leader and braided backing already factory installed. All the angler has to do is spool it onto a reel that's capable of handling the line capacity and go fish. Redi-Core comes in a wide variety of lead core lengths and break strengths.

If all you have are 10 color lead core rigs and the word is the fish are biting on five colors, don't hesitate to modify your lead core lines as necessary. If you cut off a piece of lead core line, save it. This line can later be spliced back into place by simply removing a little of the lead wire and tying a double overhand knot into the joining pieces.

Lead core isn't always pretty, but it just about always catches fish. It's hard to imagine anything that has as much versatility of old fashioned lead core line.

Captain Russ Clark, www.fishseahawk.com
Wolverine Tackle, www.catchmorefish.com


Back to Top

By Mark Romanack

Part of what makes fishing with in-line boards so deadly is the versatility these fishing tools bring to the party. In-line boards are ideal for fishing all the major species, a wealth of lures and special purpose gear like lead core line, Snap Weights, jets and mini disks. In short, there is a board and rigging method ideal for just about anything that swims.

In addition to being versatile, in-line boards are functional. For the money nothing works better at gaining outward lure coverage, increasing the size of a trolling spread or targeting spooky fish. Investing in these boards is money well spent and an major step towards fishing success.


The familiar yellow OR12 Side Planer is the board that started the in-line craze. Designed with walleye anglers in mind, the Side Planer can be fished at all trolling speeds from crawler slow to spoon fast. In addition to walleye applications, the Side Planer is also ideal for targeting brown trout, pike and even for heavy duty jobs like pulling lead core or trolling with muskie sized crankbaits!

The Side Planer comes factory equipped with a pair of OR14 releases. This release configuration is designed for fishing with monofilament line in normal trolling situations. Many walleye anglers upgrade their boards by adding an OR16 Snap Weight Clip to the tow arm. The OR16 has a stronger spring tension and a pin that prevents the line from popping free of the clip even at high speeds or in rough water.

Anglers who fish with braided lines will want to upgrade their boards to include an OR18 Snapper release on the front tow arm. This unique product is the best solution for fishing with hard to hold super braids. The OR18 Snapper also works exceptionally well with monofilament lines.


The Side Planer comes with a factory installed orange flag that makes it easier to spot and monitor the board on the water. The OR12TF Tattle Flag Upgrade Kit takes board fishing to a whole new level. Included in the Tattle Flag Upgrade Kit are two OR16 Snap Weight Clips, linkage arms, spring, flag and the necessary hardware to convert an ordinary Side Planer into a Tattle Flag Side Planer.

The Tattle Flag is a spring loaded strike indicator. When trolling, the flag remains in a slightly angled position until a fish strikes. The flag pulls down when a fish is hooked, making it easy for even a novice to determine they have a fish on!

The Tattle Flag is adjustable for tension settings and highly sensitive. Even if a small perch is hooked it will cause the flag to fold down. This unique feature enables board fishermen to troll with the confidence that their lures are working properly 100% of the time!

A must for trolling crawler harnesses and other live bait rigs, the Tattle Flag kit has become a "must have" item among serious walleye anglers. It only takes about five minutes and some basic tools to rig a Side Planer with a Tattle Flag kit.


The OR31 SST board has salmon fishing written all over it. Designed to haul lead core, Snap Weights, mini-disks, keel weights and other trolling gear, the bright orange color of the SST board forms a striking contrast against the water.

In the short time this board has been on the market, it has already become the "go to" board among charter captains who fish lead core or segments of copper wire. The size and ballast design of the SST board enables it to effectively troll even two full spools of lead core line!

Rigged from the factory with an OR19 heavy tension release on the tow arm and a pigtail swivel on the back of the board, the SST is factory set for fishing with monofilament lines. For fishing with super braids, the factory recommends substituting an OR18 Snapper Release on the tow arm. This release is designed especially for fishing with super braid lines.


The OR12 Side Planer is the popular choice of walleye anglers, while the OR31 SST board is favored by trout and salmon trollers. Both boards accept a wealth of line clips, releases and factory upgrades designed to make the Off Shore Tackle family of boards user friendly on any species or trolling situation. When it comes to in-line boards, Off Shore Tackle wrote the book on success.

Back to Top


Starting January 2008, a new fishing program hits the air. Fishing 411 hosted by Mark Romanack will be broadcast on the Sportsman Channel during the first and second quarters of 2008.

"Like the name suggests, this program is all about fishing and sharing information with fellow anglers," says Mark Romanack. "Every episode we tackle a different species, hot destinations, new techniques and insider tips that will help anglers make the most of their time on the water."

In the first season anglers can look forward to segments that include exciting fishing action and hot tips for walleye, yellow perch, steelhead, lake trout, coho, king salmon, panfish, trophy northern pike, ice fishing and much more.

Off Shore Tackle is a proud sponsor of Fishing 411. Other industry sponsors include Starcraft Boats, Mercury Outboards, Salmo Crankbaits, Rivers West Clothing, Jay's Sporting Goods, Bert's Custom Tackle, Okuma Fishing Rods/Reels, Lowrance Electronics and Precision Angling.

The Fishing 411 program and the Sportsman Channel can be found on both Comcast and Charter Cable. "I'm excited about being featured on the Sportsman Channel," says Romanack. "This is one channel that's all about fishing and hunting. There are no paid programming, prospecting, off roading or other programs to sort through. It's all fishing and hunting all day!"

The Fishing 411 program airs on Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m., Saturdays at Noon, and on Sundays at 5:30 a.m. For more information check out www.thesportsmanchannel.com , www.buycomcast.com or www.charter.com .

Off Shore Tackle is also sponsoring Jay's Outdoor Magazine television with Mike Avery. Jay's Outdoor Magazine has also moved to the Sportsman Channel. This unique mix of fishing and hunting adventures set across North America has become one of the most popular outdoor programs on television. Tune in on Wednesdays at 8 p.m., Mondays at 11:30 a.m., and on Sunday at 3:30 a.m.

If your cable or satellite provider doesn't offer the Sportsman Channel you can watch programming anytime from your computer via on line broadcasting. For a nominal fee of $4.95 per month you can enjoy all your favorite outdoor programs right at your personal computer. For more details on how to get on-line broadcasting, check out www.thesportsmanchannel.com and click on the on-line broadcast menu.


Back to Top

By Mark Romanack

Thousands of fish are hooked and lost each year because anglers take their hooks for granted. Ironically, the hooks that adorn our favorite lures and live bait rigs are the most important yet most frequently overlooked aspect of fishing. Don't worry, the following isn't another lecture about the virtues of sharp hooks. Sharp hooks are mandatory, but there is much more to the science of hooking than simply keeping a file handy.


Anglers make the same mistake over and over again. They choose hooks that are too small for the job. Walleye anglers are perhaps the worst in this department.

"Walleye fishermen have seemingly always used small hooks," says Mike Avery the host of Jay's Outdoor Magazine television. "The theory is that small hooks are easier to hide in the bait. Hiding the hook sounds good in theory, but using small hooks to catch fish equipped with hard, bony mouths breaks all the rules of common sense."

An avid walleye angler, Avery rarely uses a hook smaller than a No. 4 when walleye fishing and often uses No. 2 and even No. 1 sized hooks. "Oversized hooks make sense because they're large enough to reach back into the softer and more easily penetrated part of the fish's mouth," explains Avery. "Walleye have a large, bony mouth that's resistant to hook penetration. "The first step toward achieving higher hooking ratios is going to larger hooks. The second step is understanding the two stages of hooking a fish."

Simply setting the hook hard doesn't guarantee you'll catch more fish. To hook more walleye you first have to stick the fish with the hook point. In order to land more fish, the hook point must penetrate deep enough to insure the hook doesn't slip or tear free.

Avery explains that there are two vital parts to the science of hooking. Sticking or embedding the point of the hook is only half the game. Hook penetration is what prevents the fish from being able to shake the hook and escape.

"Unfortunately, most hooks are designed to only stick the fish that bite," says Avery. "Hooks designed to offer a needle-like point stick the hard tissue inside a fish's mouth effectively, but they don't penetrate well. During the fight, the bite of the hook is easily lost and the fish escapes. To penetrate and hold effectively, a hook must have a knife-like cutting edge or a point that's otherwise modified to improve penetration."

The instant the angler feels a fish bite, he rears back on this rod and sets the hook point into the fish's mouth. In response the fish realizes that something is wrong. The fish responds by opening his mouth and forcing water out. If this doesn't dislodge the foreign object, the fish begins to shake its head violently.

Meanwhile, the angler leans into the fish and puts pressure on the hook point. If the hook has a sharp cutting edge, it starts to work deep into the tissue of the fish's mouth. Every time the fish shakes his had back and forth, the hook cuts deeper and eventually penetrates to the barb.

On the other hand, if the hook were one with a needle-like point, it probably pricked the hard bony surface of the fish's mouth, but wasn't able to penetrate deeply. If this is the case, chances are good that the fish will be able to struggle until the hook eventually loses its grip.

Leading hook manufacturers are taking the science of hooking to even greater levels. Using a specially designed computer, manufacturers have conducted tests with many different hooks to measure the grams of force needed for both point and barb penetration.

"Fish hooks featuring a knife-like or cutting edge penetrate with two-and-a-half times less force than traditional needle-point hooks," says Skip Mortensen, of Mustad a major manufacturer of walleye fishing hooks. "The future of fish hook design is definitely heading toward cutting-edge and other ultra sharp hook styles."

Cutting edge style hooks are a good thing, but many of these hooks are designed for bass and other fishing applications. It's important to select a hook model and size that's designed for walleye fishing. The type of bait to be used, the cover to be fished and the actual presentation determine the best possible hook choice.


A growing number of hook designs are being produced commercially as "cutting edge" style hooks. Unfortunately, not every hook style a walleye angler is likely to need are produced using these progressive designs. Sharpening a hook by hand is a good way to convert just about any hook type into a cutting edge hook.

Filing or honing a hook to maximum sharpness is easy. Hold the hook between your thumb and forefinger with the point facing away from your hand. Stroke the file/stone along the edge of the hook towards the point. Two or three strokes on each side of the hook is usually enough to create a sharp cutting edge hook point with a file. A few more strokes may be needed when using a fine grit stone.

After giving the hook a couple strokes try a thumbnail sharpness test. If hooks are sharpened properly, they should be sticky sharp and easily penetrate into the surface of a fingernail.

Even factory produced hooks featuring a cutting edge will need to be touched up with a file occasionally. Go easy with the file. Removing too much material will ruin the hook.

Between factory designed cutting edge hooks and hooks that are properly sharpened to deliver a sharp cutting edge, a wide variety of hook styles can be made to perform well on walleye.


Lots of anglers sharpen the treble hooks on their crankbaits and spoons, but few go the extra mile and replaced those hooks with models designed to hook and hold better. Unfortunately many of these popular lures come factory-armed with hooks that are adequate at best. A few lure manufacturers have discovered the advantages of producing their lures using high tech wide bend style hooks that stick like glue. Mustad's Triple Grip, Matzuo's Sickle and Eagle Claw's Wide Gap Kahle are examples of premium quality treble hooks that do a better job of holding onto the fish that bite.

Premium hooks are expensive, but anglers shouldn't pinch pennies when it comes to replacing treble hooks. After all, what good is a lure if fish strike it but aren't hooked?

On many models of crankbaits and spoons, the hooks can be switched out for models one size larger. Even a slightly larger hook will produce significantly more fish.

A word of caution. Tread easy when switching out hooks. Some lures have delicate actions that can be destroyed by using too big a hook.

Replacing the back hook on crankbaits is the most critical. It's especially important to upsize the hooks on fat-bodied cranks. Wide-bodied cranks are notoriously lousy hookers. When the lure's width exceeds the hook's width, a hard-mouthed fish, such as a walleye, will either be lightly hooked or won't be hooked at all.

Replacing treble hooks can be expensive and time consuming, but taking this important step insures that crankbaits and spoons will produce maximum benefits.


Advancements in hook design are changing the way walleye anglers think and fish. The trend in walleye fishing is toward bigger hooks and hooks that feature cutting-style knife edges. Taking the science of hooking seriously has immediate rewards. Nothing puts more fish in the boat that a sharp and properly designed fish hook.


Back to Top

By Bruce DeShano

The last days of June 2007 brought a week of phenomenal fishing on Minnesota's Mille Lac Lake. Off Shore Tackle and myself were guests of McQuoid's Inn, located on the southeast corner of this famed walleye factory.

I made the trip on the invitation of Off Shore Tackle National Team Member and 2007 PWT Championship Qualifier, Jon Thelen. This event was one of his annual National Media Events sponsored in part by Shakespeare Fishing Tackle Company. Thanks Jon, you did a great job for all of your sponsors at this event!

The event brought together individuals from various outdoor media outlets including, among others, television personalities Keith Warren (Outdoor Adventures), O'Neill Williams (O'Neill Outside), Mike Simpson (People Who Fish), and Midwest Outdoors Television. Also attending were various writers including Jeff Knapp who is a regular contributor to In-Fisherman and Walleye Insider. Tony Puccio and I fished together for several days and caught both walleye and smallmouth bass.

McQuoid's Inn owners, Brad and Melissa Johnson and the whole staff at this first class resort provided an excellent venue for this event. From the hotel and beautiful condos to the 5 star catered meals, I would recommend McQuoid's Inn to anyone searching for the ultimate fishing vacation. McQuoid's Inn also owns Angler's Paradise which is located just ¾ of a mile up the road from the hotel. Angler's Paradise boasts the largest launch boat fleet on the lake (five boats with capacities up to 35 people each) as well as serving as the launching port for McQuoid's private guide service. For information regarding McQuoid's Inn and its fishing services, go to www.mcquoidsinn.com or give them a call at 800-862-3535. They have quite a few Ice Houses for winter fishing as well. Call them about a winter weekend package.

This event offered opportunities to catch walleye using various techniques. The trolling bite was on and we took full advantage. Jon was able to shoot 2 trolling shows featuring Off Shore Tackle products for Midwest Outdoors and Keith Warrens Outdoor Adventures, while Tony Puccio and I were able to film segments with "People Who Fish TV" and one with Bob Jensen's "Fishing The Midwest".

"People Who Fish" and Keith Warren's "Outdoor Adventures" can be seen on the Outdoor Channel while "Midwest Outdoors" and "Fishing The Midwest" can be found on various stations throughout the Midwest. Watch for these action packed shows to air throughout 2008!

Back to Top

By Larry Hartwick

2005 was first year that the Riviera Triple Planer Boards were available to the public. They definitely have filled a gap between what dual planer boards would do and what anglers wanted them to do. With the resurgence of lead core line and the ever increasing clarity of the Great Lakes, anglers have been seeking alternative methods to deploy more lines. It has been no secret that too many lines in the water during the mid day periods would usually spell out "NO FISH" in capital letters. Another thing that also is not a secret is the reluctance of anglers to take lines out of the water. The TPB (Triple Planer Boards) have cured most of that problem by allowing anglers to spread out their lines over a much greater distance to the side of the boat. The TPB will easily handle 4 full core rigs without giving up much distance from the side of the boat.

Anglers fishing the famed Chesapeake Bay are also jumping on the TPB band wagon in their quest for huge Striped Bass. These anglers use some serious lures with some serious weight when compared to what we use in the Great Lakes. One of the common lures is an Umbrella Rig which can weigh 2 pounds. That is the equivalent weight of 4 full core rigs. These are serious rigs and I can tell you that I haven't talked to many anglers fishing the Chesapeake Bay that were willing to only fish one rig per side of the boat. These dilemmas are normally what inspire changes and this was no exception. The TPB got a new ballast system during mid season in 2005. The results were excellent and the TPB can haul a lot more "junk" thru the water than ever before. In fact, we applied the same ballast changes to our Riviera DPB (Dual Planer Board) for 2006 and you will see increased performance from them as well.

One word of warning, the TPB is a serious planer board that pulls out to the side of the boat very well. It can be too much planer for some of the early mast set ups. At Riviera Trolling Systems, we spool all of our masts with 200 pound test Dacron planer line because we don't want to hear how many releases went in the water when the tow line broke and we believe in using the best products that are available. If your mast came with 135# test line it would be wise to change to the better stuff.

We will never be content to sit back and watch. We are constantly looking at new products and new ways to improve our existing product line with the end result being to make your time on the water more enjoyable. Fishing is supposed to be fun! Enjoy it!


Back to Top


By Dave Dybowski, Eagle Bay Outfitter

Any duck hunter that spends any time at all waterfowl hunting knows what a tangled mess decoys can get. Here is a way to keep your decoys tangle free and add a great presentation to your spread.

Using braided decoy line, tie loops in the line about three feet apart and as many loops as you like. Attach your Off Shore OR1 Medium Tension Single Downrigger Releases to the front of your decoys and use the clamp portion (pinch pad end) of the release to attach to the loops in your decoy line. Attach an anchor line to the front decoy and add a weight heavy enough to keep the entire set in position. I use a downrigger cannon ball for this.

This is the most effective set-up I have seen for both puddlers and divers. The nice thing about this spread besides the ease of attaching tangle free decoys to your line is that it will automatically change your spread to proper position with wind changes. Once set, you never have to leave your blind to readjust your decoy spread.

I have found that strings of twelve to fifteen decoys works best for divers. Divers will almost always come in from the back of your string and move towards the front so situate your diver strings accordingly to offer you the best shot. Puddlers seem to just want a landing spot so I set four or five strings consisting of three to four decoys and situate them into the wind so they have a nice landing area within gun range.

When your hunting day is done, simply unclamp all the decoys except the front anchored decoy. Once unclamped wrap your line around the front decoy and you are ready for your next outing.


Back to Top



Off Shore Tackle Company LLC and In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail pro angler Gary Parsons set an unprecedented record - he won three Johnsonville Angler of the Year titles. His sixth place finish at final Super Pro tournament, the Optima/Berkley Pro-Am on Cass Lake presented by Minn Kota, sealed the record.

He also won the $35,000 Angler of the Year prize: $25,000 from Johnsonville Brats and a $10,000 bonus from Mercury Marine, the powerful outboard brand he has used since his first foray on PWT waters.

During 2007, the Glidden, Wisconsin pro has a win on Lake Winnebago, an eighth place finish in Dryden, Ontario, two ninth places at Chamberlain SD and Escanaba, Mich., the sixth place trophy at Cass Lake, Minn., and a 28th money finish on Mille Lacs, for nearly $140,000 in winnings this season.

His PWT lifetime totals are nearly $600,000. This year he also captured the Regional Series title, presented by MotorGuide. He was Angler of the Year in 1993 and 1994, won three PWT tournaments on South Dakota's Lake Oahe, has 27 top 10 finishes, and has cashed checks in two-thirds of the 109 PWT tournaments he's fished. Only two other pro anglers, Mike Gofron, Antioch, Ill., and Ron Seelhoff, Burlington, Col., have two Angler titles.

Press release provided by Professional Walleye Trail. For more detailed information, please visit www.professionalwalleyetrail.com .


Back to Top