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No two anglers are alike. When it comes to fishing Snap Weights, the creative options available are almost as numerous as those anglers who use them. While many anglers swear by the standard 50/50 method, we've also caught wind of a few creative variations to the art of trolling in-line sinkers .


Captain John Hook of Oscoda has competed on the Masters Walleye Circuit, Pro Walleye Tour, in the Michigan Walleye Tour and North American Walleye Association tournament circuits. A trolling specialist, John's twist on Snap Weights came to him on Saginaw Bay and has also been used effectively on Lake Erie, Little Bay de Noc and many other waters.

Rather than attaching the Snap Weight directly to the fishing line, John suggests attaching an 18-24 inch coated wire or monofilament lead between the OR16 Snap Weight clip and the trolling weight. "The OR16 clip is then attached to the main line 8-10 feet ahead of a No. 5, 6 or 7 Colorado spinner blade and crawler harness," explains Hook. "Rigging the weight on a short leader helps me achieve the bottom control I need to keep my spinners positioned just off bottom. This system works especially well when fishing over soft silt covered bottoms which are common in deep water basins."

Capt. Hook fishes this unique Snap Weight configuration like a bottom bouncer, keeping the rig fishing at approximately a 45 degree angle behind the boat. "The object is to let the weight lightly tick along bottom," adds Hook. "To avoid snags and stirring up the silt on the bottom, try not to let the weight drag on the bottom."


Don Keenan of Appleton, Wisconsin uses Snap Weights to drift and slow troll for walleye along weed lines with pinpoint precision. Don uses eight foot downrigger rods rigged with floating jigheads or a Phelps Floater and a nightcrawler. A six or eight foot lead is played out then a Snap Weight attached directly to the line.

"I want a fairly heavy Snap Weight that sinks almost straight down while l'm drifting or trolling," says Keenan. "Keeping the weight straight down allows me to keep track of exactly how deep the weight is positioned and where in relationship to the weed edge my trailing lures are fishing."

This system can be drifted among weed flats, or Keenan suggests using an electric motor to slowly follow meandering weed lines. One line can be placed in a rod holder and the other held and directed in and out of every nook and cranny along the weed edge. When a fish strikes, simply reel in the weight, quickly remove it and continue to fight the fish.


Fly in fishing trips are great fun, but it's always difficult to anticipate what type of equipment will be needed. Most of these trips limit anglers to 75-100 pounds of total gear. That doesn't leave much room for tackle after clothes, rain gear, rods, reels and a sleeping bag are packed!

On waters that support lake trout, a few OR16 Snap Weight clips and a modest assortment of weights, in sizes ranging one to four ounces, can quickly transform any casting spoon or stickbait into trout killers.

To conserve space, the same spoons and large stickbaits that are productive on northern pike can be used to troll up lakers. Casting spoons like the Dardevle, Mepps Syolops and Luhr Jensen Krocodile are classics that produce both species. In the stickbait category try large baits like the Jointed ThunderSticks, Rapala Husky Jerks or Rebel F30 Minnow.

If you've got a portable graph, look for trout suspended over deep water basins. During the summer, lake trout suspend 30-60 feet below the surface, making them ideal targets for Snap Weight trolling.

Begin trolling by letting out 30-50 feet of lead and placing a Snap Weight onto the line. Let out another 30-50 feet of line and begin trolling at around 1.5 miles per hour. Watch the graph closely. If you're marking fish but not catching them, try letting out a little more lead until the lures contact fish. Once you figure out how much lead is required to reach the fish, the fun begins.

Duplicate effective leads and then start experimenting with lure and color choices to fine tune the presentation. This simple, flat line trolling technique is deadly on suspended lake trout.

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Downriggers are designed to make deep water fishing effective and simple. Like any other method of fishing, downriggers come complete with a list of do's and don'ts.


One of the most common questions asked at consumer fishing shows is do I need electric downriggers? The answer to this question is maybe. Anglers who fish a few times a year or for those who concentrate primarily on shallow water species are best equipped with inexpensive manual riggers like the Riviera Model 300, 500 or 700.

For anglers targeting walleye or steelhead we recommend purchasing a set of riggers and mounting them on the corners of the boat. An extra set of rod holders is a good investment and will allow up to four lines to be run off these two downriggers. If sliders are used, another four lures can be added bringing the total lures in the water to eight.

Anglers who fish frequently or spend a lot of time dedicated to king salmon or lake trout will find electric riggers an invaluable investment. These species are often taken from 60-100 feet below the surface. A manual rigger would work in these situations, but at the expense of a lot of cranking to raise and lower lines.

Serious salmon anglers often purchase four electric downriggers, mounting one on each back corner as out/downs and two positioned to fish straight out the back. When fishing four downriggers equipped with dual rod holders eight lines plus eight sliders can be fished at once for a total of 16 lures in the water!

When fishing four riggers at once, the center lines are run deepest and the outside lines closest to the surface, to form a rigging pattern that looks like a "V". This rigging formation takes several factors into consideration. First off, the boat is likely to spook fish near the surface. It makes sense to fish the lines directly off the back of the boat deeper where the boat is less likely to cause problems.

The out/down lines reach out 24 - 72 inches from the boat side, making them the most logical lines to run closer to the surface. Also, spreading out the lines at different depths insures that the main lines, stackers and sliders won't tangle when turning.


Riviera Downriggers Corporation recommends Off Shore Tackle pinch pad line releases for all downrigger fishing applications. Pinch pad style releases provide some fundamental benefits many anglers don't understand.

For a line release to function properly it must provide enough tension or resistance that fish are hooked solidly. If the release is too light, fish trigger the release on the strike, but before the angler can get the rod from the holder, the fish shakes the hook.

On the other hand, the release must be light enough to trip when the angler wants it to release. The best situation is for the release to hold fast until the angler can remove the bucking rod from its holder and with an upwards snapping of the rod tip, pop the line free from the release and tight against the fish in one smooth motion.

The tension setting of Off Shore Tackle pinch pad style downrigger releases can be adjusted. For a lighter setting simply place the line near the front edge of the pad. To increase the release tension bury the line deeper into the rubber pads.


For a downrigger and line release system to perform properly, the rod and line must be taunt against the release. This is accomplished by "loading the rod" or simply reeling up all the slack between the rod tip and the line release.

Downrigger style rods are designed for this purpose. Made from fiberglass or fiberglass/graphite combinations, these rods are tough enough to withstand a heavy bend in the rod.

The easiest way to load a rod is to open the reel bail and to apply a little thumb pressure to the spool while lowering the cannonball. Use just enough pressure to take some of the stretch out of the fishing line, but not so much you pop the line from the release.

When the cannonball reaches the desired depth, click over the reel bail and reel up some more of the slack line and line stretch until the rod doubles over, then place it into a rod holder. Loading a rod is a simple step, but one that's critical to the overall success of downrigger fishing.


Off Shore Tackle's pinch pad downrigger releases were designed for use with monofilament fishing lines. The natural stretch that nylon monofilament contains is a vital part of the working relationship enjoyed between downriggers, line releases and fishing line.

Braided lines have little stretch or shock absorbing effect. Not surprisingly braided lines don't function properly in pinch pad and other styles of line releases. Because braided lines don't stretch, anglers tend to put too much pressure on fish during the fight. The results are broken lines, straightened out hooks and lost fish.

Braided lines have many applications, but downrigger fishing isn't one of them. Anglers are far better served with a quality monofilament line designed for trolling. Trolling lines tend to be a little stiffer, more abrasive resistant and contain a little less stretch than ordinary monofilament.

Some of the best nylon lines for downrigger fishing include Stren's new Sensor a nylon with approximately 50% less stretch, Stren Super Tough, Trilene XT, Silver Thread Excalibur, Maxima Ultragreen, Mason T-Line and Ande Premium. Each of these products has ideal properties for serious downrigger trolling.


The pound test fishing line used can influence the function of pinch pad downrigger releases. Off Shore Tackle designs their releases to function within a range of pound tests best suited to the species.

The OR1 Medium Tension Release is designed for salmon fishing and functions best with 17-25 pound test monofilament. The OR4 Light Tension Release is designed for walleye fishing and functions best with 10-17 pound test monofilament. The OR8 heavy tension release is designed for musky and salt water applications and functions best with 20-40 pound test monofilament.

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Some ideas are so simple you wonder, "why didn't I think of that." Snap Weights are just such an idea. An in-line trolling sinker, Snap Weights are nothing more than a heavy tension OR16 (red) Snap Weight clip with a chunk of lead attached. Simple in design and simple to use, Snap Weights are the original in-line trolling sinker and can be placed along a trolling line to gain extra fishing depth. The strong spring tension of the OR16 clip insures that the weight will stay put until the angler reels it in and removes it with a pinch between the thumb and forefinger.

Rigging and fishing Snap Weights is that easy. Finally, there's a solution to the age old problem of getting just a little more depth from spinners, spoons and crankbaits. Snap Weights are a step beyond keel sinkers, bead chain sinkers and split shots. Easy to use and deadly, the term Snap Weight has become a household name among trollers. Effective for walleye, salmon, trout and a wealth of other species, any time fish are suspended, Snap Weights are the solution.


Snap Weights are sold in kits that includes four clips, split rings and an assortment of weights ranging from 1/2 to three ounces. The OR16 clips are also available in two packs and the weights can be purchased separately as well.

Any lead sinker will work with a Snap Weight, but it's important to know exactly how heavy each weight is, so when a productive trolling pattern is discovered it can be duplicated exactly. The weights offered by Off Shore Tackle feature the size molded right into the sinker to make choosing weight sizes convenient.


When fishing Snap Weights, it's important to remember that the amount of weight used, the trolling speed and lead length are the primary factors that influence lure running depth. To make it easier for anglers to communicate on and off the water, the Off Shore Tackle staff has developed a standard method for fishing Snap Weights known as the 50/50 system.

Using a standard angling method, such as the 50/50 method, is a good starting point but it only represents a fraction of the ways Snap Weights can be fished effectively.

The 50/50 method incorporates a shallow diving crankbait (stickbait), spoon or nightcrawler harness in a trolling lead that positions the lure 50 feet behind the boat. A Snap Weight is placed on the line at the 50 foot mark and another 50 foot of lead is played out. The total trolling lead of 100 feet can be fished as a flat line or attached to an in-line board or dual style planer board.

When fishing Snap Weights, the lure running depth depends on trolling speed and weight size. The best guide to Snap Weight trolling depths is available in the book Precision Trolling by Mark Romanack, Steve Holt and Tom Irwin. This unique trolling guide provides not only Snap Weight guidelines, but also trolling depths for over 120 crankbaits, Dipsey Divers, lead core line and Jet Divers. To order a copy of Precision Trolling, call 1-800-353-6958 during regular business hours. Credit card orders are welcome.

Combining Snap Weights with trolling boards is one of the most popular ways to fish in-line weights. Often called the down-and-out trolling method, using boards and Snap Weights allow anglers to fish below the surface and out to the side effectively.

When using in-line boards like the Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer, up to three ounces of weight can be used effectively. If dual style boards are used, weights up to six ounces can be used effectively.


The 50/50 system has become one of the most common rigging methods for Snap Weights, but many anglers have discovered these weights can be used in a multitude of ways. A Snap Weight can be placed on the line, from a few feet in front of the lure to 200 feet or more up the line. Experimenting with lead lengths and weights is how experienced trollers pattern their fish.

The important thing when fishing Snap Weights is to keep track of the variables. For example: If fish are taken trolling 1.5 miles per hour using a two ounce Snap Weight 25 feet ahead of a Jr. ThunderStick with a total lead length of 150, this system must be duplicated exactly to reach the same running depth.

The most commonly used tool for measuring trolling leads is the Daiwa 27LC or 47LC line counter reels. Other line counter reels are produced by Penn, Mitchell, Marado and Shimano. Trolling leads can also be measured by using metered fishing lines or by pulls or passes as the line is stripped off the reel. For the best results, all reels should be loaded with the same diameter (pound test) line and the reels filled to capacity.

Trolling speed is a little more difficult to keep tabs on. The spinner wheel style speed indicators that come as accessories to most fishing graphs are about the best system for measuring trolling speed. These spinner wheels must be kept well lubricated and free of grit for best results.

If you have a GPS unit, the speed-over-ground (SOG) feature also gives an idea of trolling speeds. Unfortunately, SOG varies as selective availability (satellite signal strength) is increased or decreased. The SOG provided by GPS systems should only be used as an estimate of speed.

When setting lines, it pays to use several different Snap Weight configurations to start. Vary the weights and lead lengths until a productive pattern emerges, then duplicate this pattern with other lines. Remember when fishing Snap Weights, nothing is written in stone. The 50/50 system is a good starting point, but the options available are without limit. Experiment until a productive pattern emerges then duplicate what's working and let the fun begin!

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How do you catch twice as many fish using downriggers? The answer is simple, use stackers. A line stacker is a simple and effective way to fish two lines from a single downrigger.


Serious downrigger anglers wouldn't dream of fishing without using stacker releases. The best possible way to double your fishing pleasure; a stacker is simply a pair of downrigger releases attached together. Steel leader material is used to attach one release on a short lead and the second on a slightly longer lead. Both leads terminate into a heavy duty snap that clips over the downrigger cable.

When rigging a stacker make sure to place stacked lines at least five feet above the main line. Place the snap over the downrigger cable and close it, then take the release on the SHORT lead and place it on the cable above the snap. It's important to place the short lead release above the snap to prevent unnecessary wear on the stacker and potential wire breakage.

To complete the stacker rig, take a rod rigged with a spoon or shallow diving crankbait and let the bait back behind the boat. It's best to make the lead on the stacked line longer or shorter than the lead on the main line to avoid tangles. Most anglers prefer to run stackers on short, five to ten foot leads.

Once the lead is set, place the line midway into the pads on the remaining stacker release and lower the downrigger weight to depth. When a fish strikes a lure rigged to the stacker release, the rod will buck from the thrashing fish. Remove the rod from its holder and quickly reel the rod tip down towards the water and trip the release with a sharp upwards jerk of the rod. Using this method, the line pops free of the release and pulls tight against the fish all in one smooth motion.

The OR7 light tension stacker release was designed for walleye fishing, but this release serves just as well for brown trout and other smaller species.


The OR2 Medium Tension Stacker release was built for serious salmon and lake trout fishing situations. Many salmon boats are rigged with five downriggers. Stackers allow up to five additional lines to be fished at different depths. Stackers help to cover the in-between depths and make patterning fish an easier chore.

Medium tension stackers are designed to be used with 17-25 pound test line and trolling speeds of 2-4 MPH.


Many anglers ask, "why do some anglers use stackers and others use sliders?" Stackers are used to rig a second line off a downrigger by attaching the stacker release to the downrigger cable.

Sliders are a five or six foot length of line with a lure attached to a swivel at one each end. Sliders are rigged by placing a snap swivel over the fishing line and tossing the lure into the water. A slider can be added after the lines are set and fishing, even to a stacked line.

A stacker runs at the depth set by the anqler and holds the lure firmly in a line release mechanism. Sliders are free to slide up and down the line and they normally run at or near the bow in the line that's caused when the boat moves forward throuqh the water.

Sliders have a major disadvantage. Because they are free sliding when a fish hits there isn't any tension against the fish to set the hook. That's why when a fish hits a slider the angler must reel like crazy to catch up with the fish and set the hook.


If a slider is good, a fixed slider is even better. You can make a simple and effective fixed slider from a six foot length of 20 pound test monofilament, an OR14 Adjustable Heavy Tension line release and two snap swivels.

Thread the monofilament through the hole in the OR14 release and tie on a snap swivel. On the other end tie on the other snap swivel and add a favorite spoon or stickbait.

A fixed slider is rigged after setting the main downrigger line. The fixed slider is placed on the line at least five feet above the main line. Simply clip the snap swivel over the main line and pinch the OR14 release onto the line to hold the slider in place, then toss the lure over the side. The rigger is then lowered to the chosen depth, positioning the fixed slider a few feet above the main line.

When a fish strikes the fixed slider, the tension from the OR14 release provides enough resistance to set the hook firmly. As the angler fights the fish, the slider works its way down the line. By the time the fish is brought to the net, the fixed slider has usually slid down to the main lure like an ordinary slider.

The resistance provided by the OR14 release is enough to significantly increase the hook-up ratio as compared to free sliders. A slick and inexpensive trick for adding extra lines, fixed sliders are just one of the ways Off Shore Tackle downrigger, stacker and planer board releases help anglers catch more fish.


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By Mark Romanack and Larry Hartwick

To many anglers, the word downrigger spells salmon fishing. A growing number of walleye anglers wouldn't agree with that stereotype. Not every walleye is caught on a Lindy Rig. Trolling and downriggers are becoming some of the most productive methods of catching walleye, especially in bodies of water where walleye are often found in deeper water.

The ultimate fishing tool for depth control, downriggers are most often used to present spoons, crawler harnesses, and crank baits. With the help of downriggers, these lures can be fished for both suspended and bottom hugging fish with precision and finesse.

Manual downriggers such as the Riviera Model 300 and 500 are ideal for most walleye fishing applications. The Model 300 is an inexpensive model that features a flat arm designed for fishing straight out the back of the boat. The Model 300 features a tough Lexan reel that picks up two feet of cable per handle revolution, an adjustable rod holder, gear driven depth meter, a clutch that's easily adjusted without tools, 200 feet of 150 pound stainless cable, cable termination kit, mounting plate, and an Off Shore Tackle line release.

The Model 500 has all the features of the Model 300 and a few extra. Available with 18, 30, or 48 inch round aluminum booms with a swivel head, the Model 500 comes standard with one rod holder. The mounting plate design allows the 500 to be attached in 5 different positions. This allows the 500 to be used straight off the transom, at 90 degrees off the side, or at a 45 degree angle off the corner. A pair of Model 500 downriggers mounted on the corners of the transom, make a welcome addition to any walleye boat.

Designed for 8 to 10 pound cannonball weights, the perfect line release for the walleye downriggers is the Off Shore Tackle OR4 Light Tension Release. The Off Shore staff recommends using 10 to 17 pound test monofilament fishing line.

All Riviera downriggers and other trolling products are made in Port Austin, Michigan.


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The original idea behind Snap Weight in-line trolling sinkers came from a lake trout fishing technique known as lead drop lines. This cumbersome system incorporated a jettison style release that is threaded onto the line. The jettison release supports a lead ball that's set a distance in front of a trailing lure. Unfortunately, the jettison release is designed to drop the lead weight when a fish is hooked.

The major flaw in this angling method is obvious. Off Shore Tackle doesn't condone dropping lead weights into our fishing waters.

The answer to this problem became as simple as a pinch pad clip with an extra heavy tension designed to hold the weight securely onto the line until the angler could reel it in and remove it. Many prototypes were tried and rejected by our pro staff before the OR16 (red) Snap Weight clip was introduced.

This compact clip has little drag in the water and combines a super heavy spring tension and soft rubber pinch pads that grip onto 10 pound test or larger monofilament firmly without damaging the line. The angler can put the weight onto the line from a few inches to 50 feet or more ahead of the lure. When a fish is hooked, the weight is reeled in with the fish and removed with a quick pinch of your thumb and forefinger. Once the weight is removed, the angler fights the fish without weights or other devices to spoil the fun.

The Snap Weight clip was designed to handle up to eight ounce trolling sinkers, but many anglers report using up to 16 ounces effectively! In most fishing situations weights including two, three, four, six and eight ounces are adequate.

As extra insurance against losing weights, many anglers attach a snap swivel to the split ring that connects the Snap Weight clip to the weight. When the Snap Weight is placed on the line, the snap swivel is also clipped over the line. If for any reason the Snap Weight should pop free of the line, the weight simply slides down the line via the snap swivel.

Developed for bumping bottom in deep water, it's ironic that Snap Weights have evolved into a popular system for attacking suspended fish. Despite the fact that Snap Weights get more use these days on suspended fish, they are still a deadly method of fishing on or near the bottom.


Snap Weights are sold in kits or the clips and weights can be purchased separately. Depending on how fast the angler plans to troll and how deep he or she wishes to fish, weights from one ounce to eight ounces will be required. The kit includes weights from one-half to three ounces. Heavier weights and extra clips can be purchased separately.

The most commonly used lures for Snap Weight trolling are shallow diving crankbaits, crawler harnesses and spoons. These lures and Snap Weights are best handled with downrigger style rods, level wind reels and monofilament line (10 pound test or heavier).

Line counter reels are a practical method of keeping track of lead lengths. For those anglers who don't own line counter reels, metered fishing lines are handy or you can simply count the passes the line makes when stripping off the spool.

Whatever method is used to monitor lead lengths, it's critical that the leads be accurately determined so they can be duplicated when necessary. Like any productive trolling technique, bumping bottom with Snap Weights will involve a considerable amount of experimenting with lead lengths, lures and weights. Once a successful pattern is developed, duplicating the pattern exactly becomes the key to success.


When fishing Snap Weights close to or bumping bottom, great care must be given to avoid the Snap Weight and trailing lure from dragging on and snagging the bottom. When fishing near bottom, the Snap Weight is usually positioned closer to the lure than recommended for suspended fish.

The 50/50 system touted for suspended fish is modified when fishing the bottom by using a shorter lead of 10 to 25 feet. This compromise helps to position the weight well away from the lure while making it easier to control the running depth of the lure and avoid the bait from fouling the bottom.

A good rule to follow is to select a weight that's heavy enough to fish at approximately a 45 degree angle to bottom. Once the Snap Weight is positioned on the line, free spool line until the weight hits bottom. Put your thumb on the spool and troll for a few seconds to let the line settle into position, then if necessary let a little more line out to keep the weight running tight to bottom, but not dragging.

Once the weight is positioned properly, place the rod in a holder at the back of the boat and watch the rod tip to be sure the weight isn't dragging on bottom. If need be, make minor adjustments to position the weight slightly off bottom. Wave action works to bounce the rods in a rhythmic up and down pattern. When a fish strikes, the rod jabs down hard.

Always keep the rule of 45 in mind. This simple guideline helps to maintain contact with bottom and to predict how far the trailing lure is running over bottom. If too light of a weight is selected, the angler is forced to let out large amounts of line to make contact with bottom, the weight tends to drag and the trailing lure often snags up.

Ideally the weight should be positioned to run slightly off or to tick bottom occasionally. Maintaining this delicate balance is best achieved with the rod positioned in a holder mounted near the back of the boat. If the rod holders are spaced out, two, three or even four rods can be fished at the same time without fear of tangling lines.

The idea for Snap Weights came about through lake trout fishing, but this unique trolling method is equally effective on any species that frequents the bottom. Simple and effective, that's what Snap Weights are all about.


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Dual planer board trolling continues to be one of the most popular ways of catching salmon, steelhead, trout, walleye, striper and many other species. The whole concept behind board fishing, hinges on a product that most anglers have come to take for granted. Without simple and effective line releases, planer board fishing as we've come to enjoy it, wouldn't be possible.

Off Shore Tackle paves the way when it comes to line releases. "We produce pinch pad style releases for every fishing situation and species," says Bruce DeShano, owner of Off Shore Tackle. "All our releases feature rubber pads that hold the line gently, yet securely, insuring a solid hook set and zero line damage."

Line releases are asked to accomplish a difficult task. Every species, line diameter and trolling speed requires a different set of release tensions for these products to function properly. Off Shore Tackle solves this problem by designing some of their releases with adjustable spring tension. The OR10 (yellow), OR14 (black) and OR16 (red) releases and clips range from light to heavy release pressure. Each of these products feature a sliding spring mechanism that can be used to significantly increase or decrease the release pressure.

The release is set in the lighter tension setting when the spring is slid to the back position (away from the pads) and tension increases when the spring is moved forward (towards the pads). Each of these releases can be rigged with a quick clip and used with dual style boards or without the quick clip, they also fit the popular Side-Planer in-line planer board.

The OR10 release was designed for walleye fishing and has become the most popular selling line release on the market. Designed to work flawlessly with 10 to 14 pound test line, the OR10 is the ideal choice when trolling diving crankbaits at speeds from 1.5 to 3 miles per hour.

The OR14 was designed for the Side-Planer in-line board, but it also makes an ideal release for building add-a-lines when fishing salmon and trout. The OR14 can also be used as a dual board release when fishing salmon and steelhead with 14 to 20 pound test line and trolling speeds from 2-4 miles per hour.

The OR16 was designed as a Snap Weight clip, but it too is handy for many other uses. Steelhead anglers like the heavy tension this clip provides, stating that they get better hook-up ratios when using these clips with both in-line boards and dual planer boards.

The best way to get crisp releases when using the OR16 is to wrap the fishing line over your finger and twist it half a dozen turns to form a loop. Place the twisted line into the release about midway between the rubber pads. Rigged in this manner, the release will hold steady even when trolling fast in heavy seas. When a fish strikes, the loop will pull loose, popping the release cleanly.

Off Shore Tackle's OR3 is another popular line release that sees double duty. This release features a larger pad surface that gives the angler more flexibility in tension setting. To set the release lightly, simply place the line near the front edge of the pad. For the heaviest possible setting, bury the line deep into the back of the pad.

Charter captains who fish for walleye, salmon and trout favor this release because the tension is strong enough to deliver the best possible hookset. This release usually doesn't trip at the strike, but instead, the angler watches the rod tips for signs of a strike. When a fish is hooked, the rod is removed from its holder and with a sharp snap of the rod tip, the line is popped free of the release.

Using this method is handy in situations when several fish are often hooked at the same time, such as Lake Erie walleye or when trolling for browns and jack salmon early in the spring. The ability to trip the release when you want it to trip can help save a lot of line tangles.

There's even a place for the OR30 heavy tension downrigger release in planer board fishing. Designed for salt water applications, muskie anglers on Lake St. Clair also swear by this release. The OR30 is equipped with a quick clip (instead of the standard leader) is used in place of the OR3 when trolling large musky baits behind dual planer boards. Anglers who troll for musky often use large baits, in-line weights and troll at speeds upwards of four miles per hour. The extra heavy tension of the OR30 release insures that large hooks of a musky bait can be driven firmly home in the bony mouth of a trophy muskie.

The uses of Off Shore Tackle pinch pad style line releases are as varied as the trolling techniques and species waiting to be caught. If you use Off Shore Releases in a different or unusual manner, contact us with your fish story. We would love to hear how you catch fish with Off Shore Tackle products.


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No one likes a tattle tale. No one except an angler. Off Shore Tackle's new Tattle Flag kit makes it easier than ever to tell when fish bite. This unique flag kit includes a flag, spring and all required hardware to convert the OR12 Side-Planer into a Tattle Board.

"One of the biggest complaints we hear regarding in-line planer boards is that it's hard to tell when you've hooked a small fish or when lures get fouled on weeds and other debris," says Off Shore Tackle owner Bruce DeShano. "The Tattle Flag kit puts these complaints to rest and offers anglers a simple and effective way to know for sure when something is hanging on the fishing line. The idea for the Tattle Flag was introduced to Off Shore Tackle by professional walleye anglers, Mike Victor and Dennis Glappa."

Anglers who troll in areas where aggressive yellow perch, white bass, drum or white perch are common, will quickly appreciate this new after market flag kit. "The problem of hooking unwanted fish has plagued board anglers for years," says DeShano. "The dilemma gets even worse when fishing live bait at slow speeds."

The Tattle Flag kit can be used with live bait, spoons, crankbaits and other trolling hardware and at all trolling speeds. Spring tension holds the flag in an upright or slightly bent position depending on what types of hardware are being trolled. When a fish is hooked or debris snagged, the flag folds down to the board signaling the angler to check the line.

Seeing is believing when it comes to the Tattle Flag. Knowing when you've hooked small unwanted fish and/or floating debris isn't the only advantage of this unique new product. "Walleye anglers know that this species has an annoying habit of swimming along with the boat after being hooked," says DeShano. "Even an angler experienced at fishing in-line boards can have trouble telling when a walleye is hooked, especially fish that are just barely legal length."

Fishing in rough seas is another time the Tattle Flag comes in handy. In heavy seas it's tough to drive the boat straight. Because the boards swing back and forth in the water constantly, telling when you've hooked a fish, even a good fish can be tricky.

"The Tattle Flag is so sensitive, bites are visible even from fish that aren't hooked," adds DeShano. "During field tests with the Tattle Flag we noticed many times that the flag would fold down for a second then pop back up, indicating a fish hit the lure but wasn't hooked. If it wasn't for the Tattle Flag, these bites would have gone unnoticed. When you're fishing, every bite tells you something. Even the bites that don't end up as landed fish can help anglers determine which lures, colors or trolling speeds are most productive."

The Tattle Flag is available as an after market item only. Sold in kits, each kit comes with all the necessary parts and hardware to convert an Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer to a Tattle Board.


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Some anglers swear by them and others swear at them, but one fact remains; the new generation of braided super lines is here to stay. The properties of super lines are so dissimilar to monofilament that using these new lines is like learning how to fish all over again. Considering the features that super lines bring to the table, the education is worth the effort.

Like any new product, anglers must learn the strengths and weaknesses associated with braided lines. Braided products feature very little stretch. Compared to similar break strengths of monofilament, braided lines are also very thin in diameter. Braided lines are slick to the touch and few knots will hold securely, furthermore, these lines are so tough it takes a sharp pair of scissors to cut the line!

Collectively the properties that make braided lines unique and useful, also make them tricky to work with when it comes to planer boards and in-line trolling weights.

The pinch pad design of Off Shore Tackle line releases were designed to be used with monofilament lines. However, super lines can be used with all Off Shore Tackle releases if a few simple steps are taken.

1. Larger diameter super lines hold better in the pinch pad style releases than thin diameter lines. We don't recommend trolling with the super thin lines such as the six pound test/two pound diameter products. Larger lines such as 20 pound test will hold in Off Shore Tackle pinch pad releases in normal fishing situations.

2. If thin diameter lines (10-14 pound test) are to be used with in-line boards such as the Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer, we recommend upgrading to the OR14 release to the heavy tension OR16 Snap Weight clip and wrapping the line through the pinch pad twice. Open the pinch pad and place the braided line in the middle of the rubber pads. Close the release and wrap the line around the top of the release and place the line into the pinch pad a second time. Rigged in this manner the line can't slip through the rubber pads, yet the release can still be removed from the line easily when removing the board to fight a fish or reset lines.

Super lines have improved in many ways just during the last couple years. No doubt these products will be improved more in the future and become easier to use in trolling applications.

In addition to new super lines, trollers can also look forward to a new generation of monofilament lines. Stren recently introduced Sensor, a nylon monofilament line that features half the stretch of normal monofilament. Sensor's other handling properties and cost are similar to monofilament lines, making it an excellent option for fishing in-line planers, Snap Weights and other trolling hardware.

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Big boards were made for fishing big water. Dual planer boards are the logical choice when fishing big boats, big water and when setting lots of lines.

The concept of fishing dual planer boards is hardly new, but Riviera has some new twists on the planer board scene. The Riviera Collapsible Dual Planer Board folds up for easy storage and this unique planer is reversible for even more convenience. The bright yellow color also makes the board easy to spot on the water.

The tow arm on this board is another unique feature. Three different attachment points allow anglers to choose the right setting for the wave conditions or trolling speed desired. The front hole works best when fishing in rough water or for high speed trolling. The middle hole is the choice for normal fishing conditions and the back hole is preferred when trolling slowly.

Designed to run 75-80 feet out, Riviera dual planer boards are an excellent choice when running three or four lines per side.


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Trolling is a lot more fun when someone else drives the boat! Even better, let an auto-pilot do the driving and then everyone can enjoy the day on the water. The TR-1 auto-pilot, introduced by Nautamatic Marine Systems, is the only auto-pilot designed to work on a small gasoline motor.

This unique product combines an electronic compass, computer brain and small hydraulic cylinder into a compact package that can be mounted on any boat - large or small. The electronic compass is mounted near the front of the boat and senses even the most subtle changes in boat direction.

Information from the compass is passed onto a computer that in turn controls a small hydraulic cylinder mounted in place of the outboard's tilt tube. The hydraulic cylinder moves the engine to compensate for wind and current drift.

The reaction time of the TR-1 is so quick, the boat easily holds a course even when trolling into a facing sea, crossing winds or river current. Adjustments to course are made with a hand-held remote. A simple twist of the remote is all it takes to steer the boat left or right. Once the new course is set, the boat will follow this course until the operator sets a new course.

The TR-1 can be fitted to most brands of gasoline kicker motors with 6 to 25 horsepower. Owners of four stroke outboards can also take advantage of a new remote control that includes an electronic throttle control. With this new remote, anglers can both steer and control trolling speed at the touch of a button.

The TR-1 shines best as an open water trolling aid. The unit can also be interfaced with any standard Loran-C or GPS unit. Retail cost on this new product is around $1500.00. For more information, contact Nautamatic Marine Systems at 1-800-588-7655.


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How do I rig in-line fishing boards? Each year this question is directed to the Off Shore Tackle field staff countless times. Before this question can be answered, the angler must decide which species he or she is interested in catching.

Rigging options is one of the most confusing things regarding in-line boards. There are two common ways in-line boards are rigged for fishing. One method incorporates two heavy tension releases that insure the board will stay on the line while trolling and fighting the fish. The second method combines a lighter tension release and snap swivel that allows the board to release at the strike and slide down the line via the snap swivel.

The "fixed board" method is best used on smaller species such as walleye, bass, trout and panfish, while the "release and slide" method works best with powerful species including steelhead, salmon, muskie and striper.


Rigging an Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer to stay on the line is easy. The board comes packaged from the factory with an OR14 (black) release on the tow arm and a second release attached with a split ring at the back of the board. (The tow arm release is folded back toward the board to fit in the package.) The release on the tow arm must be removed and positioned so the metal eyelet in the release slides over the metal tab on the tow arm. The release will then be mounted perpendicular to the board and the provided hardware should be tightened before the board is fished.

Next, check to see that both releases have the springs positioned in the forward (towards the pads) or heavy tension setting. If the spring needs to be slid forward, use a small screw driver to move the spring. The board is now ready to fish.

For most walleye, bass and other small fish, the black OR14 releases that come standard with the board are ideal. For best results, anglers should use monofilament line 10 pound test or heavier and bury the line deep into the pads of the release. Anglers who fish in especially heavy seas or at high trolling speeds, may opt to use a heavier tension release.

The OR16 (red) Snap Weight clip can be purchased separately and substituted for the standard OR14 release. Many anglers simply put an OR16 (red) clip on the tow arm and leave the OR14 (black) release on the back of the board. Most walleye tournament anglers prefer to replace both releases with OR16 (red) Snap Weight clips.

Using the heavier Snap Weight clip insures that the board won't pop off the line when fishing in rough conditions, if lures are snagged or while fighting stubborn fish.


Keeping the board fixed to the line works great when dealing with smaller fish, but for steelhead, salmon, musky and other large fish, it's best to rig the board to release at the strike and slide down the line via a small snap swivel.

When rigging a Side-Planer to release and slide, the tow arm release is mounted the same as with the fixed method. The release mounted at the back of the board is removed and replaced with a stout snap swivel.

When the board is attached, bury the line deep in the tow arm release and clip the snap swivel over the line. Rigged in this manner the board will run smoothly until a fish strikes. A powerful fish may trigger the release and send the board sliding down the line immediately or in some cases the angler may have to give the rod a little jerk to trip the release.

When using the release and slide method, a plastic bead, Speed Bead, barrel swivel or split shot, must be tied in-line a few feet ahead of the lure to prevent the board from sliding down and knocking the fish off.

Many Great Lakes salmon and steelhead anglers prefer to rig their Side-Planers using a red OR16 Snap Weight clip. The extra tension of this release insures solid hook-ups and is best suited to trolling at high speed or in rough seas.

When using the OR16 clip, it helps to wrap the line around your finger and make a half dozen twists before attaching the board. Bury the twists of line into the release then clip the snap swivel over the line. This method of attaching the board to the line insures the board will stay put until a fish strikes and releases the board.

The "fixed" and "release and slide" board rigging methods are both easy to master. Keep your fishing simple and use the fixed method for smaller fish and the release and slide system when trolling for large or powerful fish.


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By Mark Romanack and Larry Hartwick

Great Lakes salmon and trout is synonymous with downriggers. These depth control fishing aids have produced countless salmon, lake trout, steelhead, brown trout, and other species. Riviera is proud to be the oldest manufacturer of downriggers in America. The Riviera brand has always stood for quality and value, a tradition we're proud to carry on at our Port Austin manufacturing facility.

Simplicity is the hallmark of Riviera Trolling Systems Incorporated. The design and structural integrity of Riviera downriggers is well known in the downrigger community. Many of our customers are still using downriggers purchased over 30 years ago. Our service department deserves the credit for keeping the downriggers running smoothly and for insuring our products will catch fish for decades to come.

Riviera manufactures two models of downriggers designed for the Great Lakes anglers. The Model 700 is a manual unit that features a 24, 48, or 72 inch aluminum boom, dual rod holders, a 360 degree swivel base, aluminum reel, gear driven depth meter, adjustable clutch, 200 feet of 150 lb. stainless cable, cable termination kit, and a Off Shore line release. The Great Lakes troller also has the option of converting this Model 700 to electric. The Model 700 is affordable, but offers all the features for serious downrigger trolling.

Anglers interested in an electric downrigger will be impressed with the Riviera Model 1000, This deluxe model features 24, 48, or 72 inch aluminum booms, dual rod holders, 360 degree swivel base, a gear driven depth meter, marine switches, re-set breaker, Riviera's famous reels, a hand adjustable clutch system, 200 feet of 150 lb. stainless cable, cable termination kit, and a Off Shore line release.

The working man's electric downrigger, the model 1000 has all the features serious anglers want without adding expensive gadgets that bump up the bottom line and produce few fish.

Like all Riviera downriggers, the Model 700 and 1000 are designed to handle 8 to 10 pound cannonball weights. For most salmon and trout fishing situations, the 10 pound weight is ideal.

The perfect downrigger release for salmon fishing continues to be the Off Shore Tackle OR1 Medium Tension Release. This pinch pad style release features large diameter rubber pads that make it easy to adjust the tension without damaging the line. Simply place the line near the edge of the pad for a lighter tension release or bury the line deep into the pad for a firmer release.

Unless the quarry are small salmon or trout, it's best to bury the line deep into the OR1 release. This will provide enough tension to insure solid hook ups. Off Shore's staff recommends using 17 to 25 pound test monofilament line with the Medium Tension OR1 Release.


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A lot of serious trollers are wondering what all the fuss is about with in-line planer boards. Planer boards, including the smaller inline versions, have been around for generations, but it wasn't until recently that in-line boards, like the Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer, started getting credit as serious fishing tools.

In-line boards are named for the way they attach directly to the fishing line. The angler simply lets out a favorite lure the desired trolling lead behind the boat then attaches the board onto the line. The board is then dropped into the water and additional line let out to allow the board an opportunity to plane into the desired position.

In calm wave conditions, in-line boards can be fished up to 150 feet to the side of the boat, covering huge amounts of water effectively. In rough seas the boards perform best when positioned 50-75 feet out. In the roughest conditions, the boards perform best when trolling downwind.

Normally in-line boards are fished one or two per side, but in some cases, such as Great Lakes steelhead fishing, up to five boards can be fished per side depending on the number of anglers aboard! When a fish is hooked, the board signals the strike by pulling backwards in the water. Steelhead, salmon and other large fish jerk the board backwards violently. Other species, such as walleye or trout, simply pull the board backwards as if the lure has gotten snagged on weeds or debris.

Fighting fish with in-line boards is straight forward. The angler must begin by reeling in the fish and the board at the same time; surprisingly, the amount of drag the board creates in the water is minimal. Once the board is within reach of the boat, a quick pinch releases the board from the line and leaves the angler free to fight the fish.

If a fish is hooked on an outside board, the inside line is quickly reeled in and simply placed on the opposite side of the boat until the fish is landed. Once the fish is landed, the inside line that was cleared, is placed in the water, and it becomes the outside line. The line that caught the fish is simply reset and it becomes the inside line.

The Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer has quickly become the leading in-line board on the market. When comparing in-line boards, the Side Planer is popular because it is easy to put on the line when setting lures and just as easy to take off when fighting a fish. Two pinch pad line releases, one on the tow arm and a second on the tail of the board, securely holds the board in place on the line. Rubber pinch pad style releases are used because they hold the board in place without damaging the monofilament.

Anglers have several releases to choose from when using the Side Planer. The board comes packaged with a set of OR14 releases (black) that feature two tension adjustments. If more release tension is required, the OR16 (red) Snap Weight clip can be substituted. If a lighter tension is required, the OR10 (yellow) planer board release gets the nod. Each of these three release clips are interchangeable with the Side-Planer and all feature rubber pads and adjustable spring tension settings.

The Side-Planer is also popular because it is slightly larger and tracks better than other in-line boards. The larger size of the Side-Planer makes it a superior product for trolling deep diving crankbaits, lead-core line, Snap Weights, Jet Divers and other trolling hardware. Each Side Planer also comes with a contrasting red flag that makes the boards easy to spot on the water.

The Side-Planer is designed to catch fish right out of the package, but many anglers modify the board for specific purposes. Captain Dave Engel from Best Chance Charters is a renowned steelhead troller. Dave removes the flag from the Side-Planer and takes out about half the lead weight in the bottom to lighten the board up. Next he replaces the OR14 release, that comes standard with the board, with an OR16 clip. The last step is to add a snap swivel to the back of the board.

Dave's modifications make the Side-Planer a lean and mean steelhead trolling machine. When setting lines he wraps the line around his finger to form a loop and then places the loop into the OR16 clip. Next he places the snap swivel over the line and drops the board over the side. Engel frequently fishes up to five Side-Planers per side, stretching the boards out for 150 feet or more to the side. When a fish strikes, the loop pulls free from the OR16 clip and the board slides down the line to the fish. To prevent the board from hitting the fish, Dave recommends placing a Speed bead on your fishing line about four feet ahead of the lure.

This steelhead rigging technique allows multiple lines to be fished without fear of tangles and allows the angler to keep constant tension on the fish at all times. According to Dave, it's the only way to troll for steelhead.

The Side-Planer has caught on just about everywhere anglers troll and is being used to catch almost everything that swims. Salmon, steelhead, trout, walleye, striper, muskie, pike, bass and even crappies are just a few of the species commonly taken with in-line planer boards.

In addition to the advantages already outlined, an attractive price tag makes in-line boards accessible to anyone who enjoys fishing. A set of boards costs about the same as a half dozen crankbaits.

The Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer is a versatile trolling tool. In-line boards can be used to target cold or warm water species, fished fast or slow, trolled in flat water or heavy seas, used with artificial lures or live bait rigs, can be stowed in any boat or tackle box and these handy boards are at home in small or large boats. Fishing with Side-Planers is easy, effective and a set or two won't use up your whole fishing budget. Now it's easy to see what the fuss is about.

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