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Few anglers would argue the effectiveness of planer boards. In fact, many would argue that planer boards are the most deadly lure delivery system ever invented. Not only do planer boards enable anglers to fish multiple lines and lures, the amount of water that can be quickly covered with a planer system is second to none.

In addition to straining water and offering multiple lines, planer board fishing is also the best way to tempt strikes from wary species such as brown trout, steelhead or heavily fished walleye. However, these sought after species aren’t the only targets of planer board fishing. Hardly a fish swims that doesn’t regularly fall prey to anglers using a planer board system. Salmon, trout, walleye, steelhead, muskie, pike, bass and even large panfish such as crappie and white bass are commonly taken with the help of these trolling aids.

Planer boards are effective and easy to use. To get the most from these trolling aids, anglers must understand a few of the basics of planer board fishing.

Understanding Dual Board Systems

Different types of planer boards are designed for different fishing applications. Anglers can choose from two types of planer boards. The most popular type of planer board system are dual boards or what some anglers refer to as mast systems.

A dual board planer system includes a set of boards that feature two runners attached parallel to one another. The Riviera Dual Planer Boards are collapsible, making them easy to store even in small boats. These boards also feature three tow point adjustments for different wave conditions and a durable maintenance free design. A dual board system also requires a six foot planer mast that mounts near the bow of the boat. A tow line/reel system attaches to the mast and allows the planers to be easily deployed and retrieved.

The boards of this type of planer system are normally set to run 50- 100 feet out to the side of the boat. In calm water the boards are set out the furthest. Fishing lines are attached to a dual board system by using specially designed spring loaded pinch pads. These pinch pads with the fishing line secured between their jaws are then attached to the tow line using a shower curtain hook. As the boat trolls forward, line is played off the fishing reel allowing the line release and lure to work down the tow line towards the planer board.

Commonly called planer board releases, Off Shore Tackle is the worlds largest manufacturer of planer board releases designed for all types of fishing situations. The size of these line releases, pad diameters and tension settings vary depending on the size and type of fish to be targeted.

The line release has two functions. First it must hold the line securely while trolling at a variety of speeds and varying line diameters. Second this fishing aid must release its grip on the line once a fish strikes. Designing a release that masters these functions is no easy task. A quality release provides enough tension to insure fish are solidly hooked before the line slips free. It’s also essential that the release function over and over again without damaging the fishing line.

Most releases on the market either have too much tension, or not enough. Many of these products abrade the line and few can withstand the tortures of day to day fishing. It’s important to note that no single release is universal to all types of fishing. That’s why Off Shore Tackle produces a wide variety of line releases that are suitable for all trolling applications.

When targeting smaller species such as walleye, lighter tension releases are employed. The OR-10 release is the best selling walleye release on the market. The sliding spring allows the tension setting to be easily adjusted as desired. When fishing in rougher water or for larger walleye, the OR-14 release is the ideal choice. Like the OR-10, this release has a sliding spring adjustment. The slightly heavier spring tension of this release allows anglers to troll in rough water or at faster speeds without false releases.

Larger species such as trout or salmon require line releases with more spring tension. The OR-3 was designed especially for anglers who target steelhead , brown trout and trophy walleye. The larger pad diameter of this release increases the friction on the line without having to significantly increase spring tension. The amount of tension desired can be adjusted by how deep the line is placed in the rubber pads. The deeper the line is placed in the pads, the more tension it requires to trigger the release.

The OR-17 is similar to the OR-3 except the release has stronger spring tension. Ideal for high speed trolling or when fishing in rough water or when pulling large plugs, dodgers and other attractors, this product has been an immediate success with salmon anglers. For muskie anglers, the OR-30 is the most requested planer board release. This release is similar to the OR-3 and the OR-17 but it has the heaviest spring tension available.

Also available is the OR-19, a small release with a very strong spring tension. Popular with charter captains who prefer a release with extra tension, the OR-19 insures positive hooksets and the maximum number of landed fish. Often when a fish strikes a lure attached to the OR- 19, the line doesn’t pop free of the rubber pads. The angler however can easily trigger the release by simply snapping the rod tip quickly toward the release. Triggering the releases as desired helps charter captains manage lines and reduce tangles better when two or three fish may be hooked at the same time. Matching line releases to the target species insures that anglers will enjoy the best possible success.

Dual board systems can be used on virtually any boat and for any species. The primary advantage of this type of planer board system can’t be disputed. Once a fish strikes and the line is popped free from the release, the angler is free to fight the fish. This convenience is the primary reason so many dual board systems are currently in use.

Dual boards also have the advantage of being able to deploy large numbers of lines. Many anglers fish up to five lines per side with the help of dual boards. Anglers who are often faced with rough water also favor dual boards. The larger board size helps this planer system plow through rough water when fishing both with and against the waves. The versatility of the dual board system is a major reason why so many anglers swear by them.

Why In-Line Boards?

In-line boards such as the Off Shore Tackle OR-12 Side Planer have seen significant increases in sales in recent years. Price is one of the major reasons these small boards have caught on so quickly. For less than $50.00 a pair an angler can get started planer board fishing. Compared to dual board systems, in-line boards are less expensive. In-line boards also have some other unique features that has helped them carve out a significant niche in the planer board market.

Because in-line boards attach directly to the fishing line, the board becomes a strike indicator that makes it easy and fun to tell when a fish has been hooked. The weight of a struggling fish causes the board to surge and sag backward in the water. When two or more of these boards are being fished side-by-side its especially easy to tell when a fish has been hooked.

When a fish strikes and is hooked, the board and fish are reeled in together. Depending on how the board is attached to the fishing line, the angler can either reel in the board and quickly remove it, or release the board and allow it to slide down the line while fighting the fish. We’ll get in more detail on how to rig in-line boards in another feature.

Walleye anglers are some of the most devoted in-line board users, but these smaller sized boards can be used effectively on any species of fish. The important thing to know about in-line boards is not all are created equal. A good in-line board should be large enough to support the weight and drag of common trolling tackle such as deep diving crankbaits, snap weights, lead core line, attractors and other gear. Many boards simply aren’t big enough to get the job done.

An in-line board should also be ballasted properly. The OR-12 Side Planer is carefully weighted so the board rides nose high and always rights itself in the water. Boards that aren’t ballasted correctly tend to dive in rough water causing all sorts of problems.

Because in-line boards are small, they can be tough to see on the water. The OR-12 features a bright red flag that contrasts with the yellow board, making them easy for other anglers in the area to spot. The OR-12 is also versatile enough to be rigged in a number of ways suitable for walleye, salmon, trout and a wealth of other species.

We all know that planer boards are the fast track to better fishing success. If you’re new to fishing, a set of in-line boards is a great way to test the waters and see for yourself how effective planer fishing can be. If you’re serious about fishing big water and big fish, a dual board system is an investment you’ll never regret. Here’s to more and bigger fish.

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Anglers don’t agree on much. It seems everyone who owns a fishing rod has some strong opinions on what works on the water and what doesn’t. One of the few topics that anglers do agree upon is the use of planer boards. Everyone acknowledges that using planer boards can help anglers catch more and bigger

With that stated, the question becomes which of the two common types of
planer boards works best, dual planer boards or in-line planer boards? The debate over these two uniquely different planer board types has confused countless anglers.

Both types of planer boards are effective, but that’s not to say that each
board type doesn’t enjoy a niche in the trolling scene. Among those who troll with boards often the ranks are about equally split between big and small boards. One fraternity believes that dual size boards are the planer board workhorses. The other faction argues that in-line boards are easier to use.

As is often the case in a debate, both sides of the issue typically put forth a good argument. The truth is, both dual board and in-line size boards accomplish similar functions. The primary purpose of planer boards is to spread out trolling lines in order to contact more fish. Beyond this primary function the use of dual boards or in-line boards is largely a personal choice. There are times however, when one type of planer board has advantages over the other.

Dual Planer Boards

Full sized boards such as the popular Riviera Dual Planer Board have their roots in big water. Designed to be used on open water and with larger sized fishing boats, there is little doubt that dual boards have the edge when fishing rough water. The Riviera DPB has a wider board spacing to make it more stable and the ballast of the board has been changed to cause the nose to ride a little higher in the water. Collectively these subtle changes have transformed an excellent planer board into one all others will be compared to.

The large size of dual boards enables then to plow through bumpy seas when trolling both with and against the waves. Trollers who spend much of their time quartering seas or trolling into the waves will find that dual boards are superior compared to in-line size boards. Dual boards also have the clear advantage regarding the number of lines that can be fished per side. With a dual board system its common for anglers to fish four, five or even six lines per side!

If you’ve got a big boat and frequently fish with four to six anglers aboard,
dual planer boards are the easiest way to deploy the maximum number of lines. Dual boards are also the obvious choice for fishing situations that involve deep
diving crankbaits, Snap Weights, lead core line, gang spinners (aka cowbells), dodgers and other trolling hardware that are heavy or that pull exceptionally hard in the water.

For all the advantages dual boards poses, in-line boards are equally handy. Handy is the right word, because in-line boards such as the Off Shore Tackle Side Planer are easier to use than dual boards. Simply set your lure the desired distance behind the boat, clip on the Side Planer, let out more line until the board is the desired distance from the boat, put the rod in the holder and troll. When a fish is hooked, the Side Planer and fish are reeled in together, you remove the board from the line and the fight continues. This straight forward style of board trolling is easy to learn and fun. In addition to being user friendly, in-line boards are less expensive.

In addition to being less expensive, in-line boards have some other subtle
advantages. In-line boards ride the waves in a different way than dual boards. Smaller in-line boards tend to jerk around in the swells while imparting a unique start-and-stop action to the lures. Many veteran trollers feel that in-line boards trigger more strikes than dual board systems that produce a more uniform trolling action. In-line boards also have the advantage of maintaining steady tension against the fish during the entire fight. When a fish strikes a lure trolled on a dual board system, the line is pulled free from a release. For a few seconds slack line exists until the boat catches up to the fish and the line is pulled tight again. These few seconds of slack line are often enough to allow a fish that’s not hooked securely to escape. With an in-line board hooked fish pull against the resistance of the board. The angler keeps tension on the fish by reeling the board and fish in together. So long as the boat is kept moving forward slowly, there’s constant tension on the fish. In-line boards work so well that few hooked fish escape. This is one of the primary reasons professional tournament anglers favor in-line boards.

Both dual boards and in-line boards have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing one type of planer board over another boils down to how and where the boards will be used. On big open water where big boats rule, the dual board system is the king of planer boards. Anglers who fish from smaller boats and often frequent a wealth of different water types, in-line boards are both functional and practical. While the choice is personal, the fact is you can’t make a bad decision. Both dual boards and in-line boards are efficient and exciting ways to fish. Take your pick and get involved in the excitement of planer board fishing.

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Even the best downrigger can be made better. A simple device known as the OR-2 Medium Tension Stacker Release makes any downrigger twice as effective. Stackers are designed to allow two fishing rods/lines to be used with one downrigger. The OR-2 and its cousin, the OR-7 Light Tension Stacker Release are both designed to double your fishing fun. A pair of pinch pad style Off Shore Tackle releases are connected together using two lengths of coated steel wire. The top release is mounted to a slightly shorter length of wire than the bottom release and both releases are held together with a heavy duty cross-lok snap.

Rigging a downrigger to fish two rods is easy. Start with a trolling rod armed with a favorite spoon or other lure. Let this bait back behind the boat the desired distance. Grasp the line between your fingers and pinch open the single downrigger release attached to the cannonball with your other hand. Place the line into the release near the back of the rubber pads and allow it to close on the line.

With the first line securely held in the single downrigger release, lower the cannonball approximately 10 feet below the surface. Grab a second rod and let out another lure behind the boat. It's best to keep the lead on this second rod
rather short. Normally a trolling lead of 10-15 feet works best with a stacker set up.

Open the cross-lok on the stacker and clip it closed around the downrigger cable. Grasp the stacker release that's on the longer lead and place the fishing line near the back of the rubber pads. Next grasp the release on the shorter lead and pinch it onto the downrigger cable above the cross-lok snap. The release on the shorter lead simply holds the stacked line at the desired position along the downrigger cable. Stackers can be set at different locations along the downrigger cable depending on how the angler wants to space out trolling lines.

When the cannonball is lowered, the stacker release remains attached to the downrigger cable. Stackers are an easy way to fish two rods on a single downrigger. Stackers also make it possible to cover more water with additional lures and depth selections.

Off Shore Tackle produces the OR-2 Medium Tension Stacker Release for trout , salmon, muskie and other large fish and the OR-7 Light Tension Stacker Release for walleye and other small to medium size fish.

NOTE: When using Off Shore Tackle stackers, it's important to always attach the short lead on the stacker to the downrigger cable. Position the short lead above the cross-lok snap and you'll enjoy trouble free use and longer service from these excellent stackers.

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Downrigger fishing is a wonderful thing, but don't stop short of perfection. Anyone who fishes downriggers should go the extra step to fish one extra lure per line. Most anglers make their own rigs for this purpose known as sliders. A slider is made by simply taking six feet of fishing line and attaching a snap swivel to both ends. One end of the slider rig is slipped over the fishing line and closed, while the second is attached to a favorite spoon or body bait. The slider rig is then tossed into the water and the lure allowed to gradually work its way down the main line. The slider eventually ends up positioned on the main line somewhere between the surface and the downrigger weight.

Adding a second lure to a downrigger line is always a good idea, but it¹s impossible to tell exactly where on the line the slider is fishing. The slider slips down the main line, but at which point it stops depends on trolling speed, how deep the downrigger weight is set and the lure itself used on the slider. Because of these variables it's nearly impossible to duplicate results using sliders.

Another problem an angler runs into when using sliders is when a fish strikes the lure attached to the slider, there is no tension or resistance against the fish. As the fish swims away, the slider rig simply slides up or down the main line. The angler can't set the hook until the line is popped free from the release at the downrigger weight and all the slack line in between is reeled up. The time it takes to do all this is plenty for the fish to determine something is wrong and drop the bait. Unfortunately, sliders generate lots of strikes but few hooked and landed fish.


An Add-A-Line is similar to a slider, but the rig is fixed at the desired point along the fishing line using a small pinch pad style line release. Depending upon the target fish, one of several Off Shore Tackle planer board releases is perfect for rigging an Add-A-Line.

Rigging an Add-A-Line is easy. Take six feet of quality monofilament line and attach a ball bearing swivel to both ends. Next take an OR-14 (for walleye) or OR-19 (for trout/salmon) planer board release and install the split ring provided in the package to the back of the release. Once the split ring is in place, take a third snap swivel and thread it also onto the split ring. Select the lure to be attached to the Add-A-Line and clip it in place on the snap swivel opposite the release. The Add-A-Line is now ready to set.

An Add-A-Line should be set at least 10 feet above the point where the main line is attached to the downrigger weight. Once the main line is secured into the downrigger release and the downrigger weight lowered at least 10 feet, take the release on the Add-A-Line and pinch it over the downrigger cable. Fixed in this position the Add-A-Line will be lowered or raised as the downrigger weight is moved. The rig is completed by taking the snap swivel attached to the split ring and clipping it over the main fishing line. This step connects the Add-A-Line to the main fishing line.

The downrigger weight is then lowered to the desired fishing depth and the Add-A-Line goes along for the ride. Because the angler chooses at which depth to set the Add-A-Line, it's easy to duplicate the rig when fish are hooked and landed.

The resistance provided by the release attached to the downrigger cable is enough to insure that fish which strike are hooked solidly enough that they can¹t shake the lure. The struggling fish quickly pops the release free of the downrigger cable. Meanwhile the jabbing rod tip at the surface tips off the angler to pop the main line free of the downrigger release. The angler must then reel as quickly as possible to pick up the slack line.

Add-A-Lines are an essential part of downrigger fishing. These simple rigs are effective on walleye, salmon, trout, steelhead, striper and just about everything else that swims.

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History repeats itself. If you hang around anglers long enough you're bound to hear about the latest techniques. Often these new techniques are simply new twists on methods popularized decades ago.

A few decades ago, lead core line was a hot new trolling method for reaching deepwater trout and salmon. Lead core is a soft lead wire with a tough dacron coating. Like monofilament, lead core comes in different break strengths. The size/weight of the wire used increases as the break strength increases. Common lead core sizes include 15, 18, 27 and 36 pound test. Walleye anglers favor 18 or 27 pound test, while salmon anglers prefer 27 or 36 pound test lead core.

Weighted lines are fished by controlling the trolling speed and the amount of line let out. To achieve greater depths anglers let out more line and slow down their trolling speeds.

Lead core was just beginning to enjoy popularity when downriggers and diving planers hit the market. The interest in lead core line soon declined.

In the last few years both walleye and salmon anglers have rediscovered the value of trolling lead core line. It began with a few charter captains and tournament anglers who started experimenting with lead lines fished straight out behind the boat. Salmon captains used as much as 100-200 meters (one or two cores) of lead core line connected to a 20-30 foot leader of 20 pound test monofilament. This ultra long line trolling method turned out to be just the ticket for boat shy salmon and steelhead.

Recently the rebirth of lead core line has taken on a new twist. Adding planer boards helps to gain more outward trolling coverage and allows anglers to run multiple lead core lines at the same time. Combined with boards, lead core is an effective way to get down and out to the side.

Lead core can be fished with both in-line and dual boards. However, not every in-line board is up to the challenge of pulling 200 meters of lead line.

Larger in-line boards like the OR-12 Side Planer are needed to handle this long lining method. Lesser boards simply can¹t deliver the outward coverage serious anglers are looking for.

Riviera's Dual Planer Boards are also ideal for fishing lead lines. With this board set-up several lead lines can be run off each side of the boat.


The standard planer board releases made for in-line boards are not designed to function with lead core lines. Specialty releases such as the OR-18 Snapper Release feature wider jaws and larger pinch pads that are better suited to holding lead core line. Mount the OR-18 to the tow arm of the Side Planer with the hardware provided.

When setting lines, let out the desired amount of lead core and then flip open the OR-18 Snapper on the tow arm of the Side Planer. Place the lead core as far back in the release as possible and close the cam action release. Rigged in this manner the Side Planer will stay put on the line at the point it was attached.

Once the board is attached to the lead core, more line is played out until the board reaches the desired distance away from the boat. When a fish is hooked, the board and fish are reeled in together, the board quickly removed from the line and the fight continues.

To reach the maximum depths with lead core line some anglers spool on 100-150 yards of 30 pound test super braid or dacron backing before adding the lead core line. A surgeon or blood knot is a good way to connect the backing to the lead core line. A 20-30 foot leader of premium 20 pound monofilament is added at the terminal end.

When fishing lead core line with backing, let out all the leader and lead line until the backing reaches the tip of the rod. A line counter reel is the most handy way to keep track of how much backing is let out. The more backing that¹s let out the deeper the lead core will run.

When the desired amount of backing has been let out, it's time to attach the Side Planer. The OR-18 Snapper Release is ideal for attaching the backing material to the Side Planer. The adjustable cam action of this release grips even super braid lines securely, preventing the line from pulling free of the release. Once the board is attached to the backing, play out additional line until the board is 25-50 feet out to the side of the boat. When a fish is hooked, the board is reeled in and removed from the line before continuing the fight.


Traditional dual board mast systems can also be used to fish lead core line, but some simple modifications are needed. To rig up for dual boards, begin by spooling 100-150 yards of 20-25 pound test monofilament onto a large capacity trolling reel. Monofilament backing is needed to function in the line releases incorporated with this trolling system. To this backing add 50 to 100 meters of lead core line and 20-30 feet of premium 20 pound test monofilament as a leader.

Set lines by letting out all the leader and lead core line. The running depth is controlled by how much backing is let out. Once the desired amount of backing is let out, grasp the monofilament backing in one hand and an OR-17 Medium Tension Planer Board Release in the other. Pinch open the release and place the backing as far back in the release as possible. Close the release and open the shower curtain hook that comes standard with this release. Place the tow line from the mast system inside the shower curtain hook and close it. Now as more line is played off the reel the lead core will work its way out to the side. Two or three lead lines can easily be run per side of the boat using this method.

When a fish strikes, the backing will be pulled free of the OR-17 release and the angler is free to fight the fish. If more tension is desired, an OR-19 Heavy Tension Release can be substituted for the OR-17.

The OR-17 release works best when using 50-75 meters of lead core line. If longer lengths of lead core are used, the heavier tension of the OR-19 is required.


Lead core line is a speed dependent trolling system. The depth lures fished on lead lines run at is controlled by how fast the boat is trolling and by how much total lead is played out. Experiment with different speeds and lengths of lead core until a productive combination emerges.

The super long leads used when fishing lead core make it impossible to turn sharply. Wide, slow turns are required when fishing lead lines to avoid tangles. Also it¹s a good idea to keep well away from other boats that could accidentally foul these lines.

Incorporating the help of Off Shore Tackle Side Planers and Riviera Dual Planer Boards, makes fishing lead lines even more versatile. This old favorite is becoming one of the hottest new trolling techniques for trout, salmon, steelhead and walleye.

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Every troller needs a little help now and then. Lead core line is a great way to reach deep water trout, salmon, stripers and even walleye. Lead lines are enjoying renewed popularity among salmon anglers who feel the extra long leads used with lead core help to target boat shy fish. It¹s hard to argue with success. Countless fish are being caught with the help of lead core line.

The problem with lead core is sometimes these weighted fishing lines don't
fish deep enough. Like any trolling weight or weighted line, the depth lead core line will run depends on lead length and boat speed. The more lead line that's let out, the deeper it will fish. Also, the slower the boat is trolled, the deeper the lead core will fish. Theoretically lead core line could be used to reach just about any depth desired, assuming you¹re willing to let out several hundred yards of lead core line or troll at ultra slow speeds.

It's not practical to troll at these slow speeds or to use ultra long lengths of lead core line unless you use Snap Weights. Adding these handy in-line weights to lead core line is easy. Even better, clipping on a Snap Weight makes fishing lead core line more versatile and effective.

To increase the running depth of lead core line, simply let out the desired amount of lead line, then place a Snap Weight on the lead core line or the backing material. The point where the lead core and backing join is a logical place to attach a Snap Weight. A good rule of thumb to follow is each ounce of weight added will increase the running depth approximately five feet.

When a fish is hooked, the Snap Weight is reeled in along with the fish. When the Snap Weight reaches the rod tip, it only takes seconds to remove it before continuing the fight. Slick!

An Off Shore Tackle Snap Weight kit comes complete with four OR-16 Snap Weight Clips and an assortment of weights from 1/2 to 3 ounces. Additional clips
and heavier weights can be purchased separately.

Snap Weights are an easy way to get more depth from lead core. This simple
trick is also a great way to avoid those ultra long leads so common with lead line. After all, who wants to reel in a fish from 600 feet away?

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By Bruce DeShano

Landlocked Stripers are another fish that can be easily taken with planer boards. Recently, live bait has been the chosen method of guides and running live shad off the Off Shore Side Planer makes it easy. You use the OR-14 and pigtail method to attach the live bait to the board because the striper is such a hard fighter you don’t want to take the board off when landing the fish. To make things easier, you put a speed bead or Snap Weight about 4 feet ahead of the hook. Now when you release the board it slides down to this position and you can net the fish with the board on the line.

There is no closed season in Kentucky for striper and they fish year around for them. The average fish is 8 to 14 pounds with 40 pound monsters being caught every year. Good eating and hard fighting, they make a nice winter break to fish for.

Nancy Guide Service on Lake Cumberland has perfected the live shad method of striper fishing. Tim Tarter and his many guides are experts at finding and catching striper on this huge lake. I highly recommend you take a trip with them and learn the finer points of live bait fishing for striper from these fine guides. Visit their website for up to the minute fishing reports at www.fishin.com.

Also, I like to stay at the Lake Pointe Lodge located in Russell County while I am there. Personal, friendly service, clean and affordable, it makes a nice vacation spot in the hills near Lake Cumberland. Larry Gillock has both motel and efficiency units and you can contact him at (270) 866-3856. The area is rich in history and their chamber has a nice brochure of things to do while you’re there when you aren’t fishing. Their number is (888) 833-4220.

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There are many ways to rig the Off Shore Side Planer Board. Almost every pro and every guide has a twist on the way they run their boards and that is what confuses many anglers new to the side planer game.

Right from the package, the boards will fit most normal fishing situations, in lakes that do not have large waves or for normal size lures they are fine and are used that way often. Put the flag up whenever your fishing with the side planer. It makes it easier to see, read and find if you happen to have it fall off the line.

Now for some of the Pro modifications:


OPTION 1. Use an OR-16 on the black tow arm and on the back split ring.

OPTION 2. Use an OR-18 on the tow arm and an OR-16 on the back split ring.

OPTION 3. Use an OR-18 only on the tow arm and do not use any release on the back. This will let the board surf on the water with a fish.

OPTION 4. Use an OR-14 or OR-19 on the tow arm and an OR-16 on the back split ring. Now you pop the front release when a fish is on, the board will flip around. Let the fish pull it back out of the spread and then fight the fish to the boat. When the board is close enough, remove it and finish landing the fish. Use the OR-14 release in calm waters and the OR-19 when it is rough.

OPTION 5. Using the slide back method is when you put a snap swivel or a product we sell called the corkscrew on back split ring and either an OR-14 or OR-19 on the tow bracket. Now when a fish hits, it releases the tow release and slides down to a Speed-Bead or other stopper you have placed on the line ahead of the lure. You do not want the board to go all the way to the lure.


Use the tattle flag for slow presentations and where you might have problems with small fish and weeds in the water. Adjust the flag so it is just leaning back about 15 degrees when the lure is pulling on the board. Now if the flag goes back more or comes up straight, you know you have something wrong with the lure.

Place both releases on the bracket with the supplied extra screw and nut. This makes the board more sensitive to anything pulling on it from the lure.


Most of the Striper guides use the OR-14 release on the tow arm and a corkscrew or snap swivel on the back. Since they are usually fishing calm water, they often do not put the flag up. The downfall of this is that if a line breaks, the board is difficult to see on the water.

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By Captain Jim J Karr, Therapy Too Charters

The ever-changing eco-system of the Great Lakes has made fishing more challenging than ever before. The advent of cleaner, clearer water due to the zebra-mussel invasion has changed big lake fishing forever. Remember, downrigger fishing was created on the Great Lakes, we figured out how to optimize our presentation and it worked for over 30 years, but it’s not as productive as it once was. We’re putting more rod holders on boats to accommodate those specialty rods we’re adding to our arsenals in our pursuit for those big-lake fish.

The fish talk on the radio isn’t “How deep, what flavor lure?” anymore. The talk is “How much lead core (half, full, core & half, two core, or how many colors, and any clip weight), down the chute, out the side or on a in-line-planer board?” Diver programs have changed too. What type of line; monofilament, spectra, or wire and ring size from no ring to standard, large, super, jumbo size, and super jumbo also are you running clip weights.”

These rods are not just an addition to the presentation anymore but go way beyond the reach of what downriggers can do. These innovated ways to get farther back, off to the side and down and out and still maintain control of what we put out have set the stage for more “fish on” again.

Lead core line is simply abrasion resistant braided nylon over an inner core of lead, which insures quick sinking of the line. Specially dyed colors change every 10 yards for metering of line length so you don’t need a line counter reel. It is available in different test from 14# to 60# but don’t think the higher the test the deeper the line will sink. For example, the 27# test (most popular) and the 36# test have the same size lead core only the braided nylon has been increased for strength, which makes the diameter large so the line will not sink as deep. Lead core is much bigger in diameter so it requires reels with larger capacity than ones used for your riggers when you install a core (10 colors) or more on a reel. Typical setup is a 50’ leader of 20# fluorocarbon, 27# lead core, and 30# spectra or monofilament backing. The smaller diameter of spectra braid line makes room for a half core (5 colors) to be put on the same reel used for the downrigger and still have plenty of backing. This works on diver reels too, as you can get up to a core-&-half (15 colors) on these.

Lead core does not have the resilience that other lines do and needs to be treated properly. You must put the entire core in the water, which has a dampening affect on the line, to prevent breakage. It simply can’t take the back and forth or “snap action” created from wave and boat movement like other lines can. Example: if you’re using a full core (10 colors) and your half core (5 colors) is having all the action, you can’t just reel up half the line-it will eventually break and you will be looking to retrieve your in-line planer board. Because of this fact, lead core fishing requires different rod setups for the various lengths being used. As a minimum, having just two rods of each setup requires a lot of equipment. So having reels with different combinations all set to make the change–over is the way to go. I’ll run two to four setups on each side of the boat, depending on the fish action, and that requires in-line planers, all to reach out to those boat-shy fish.

To tie a leader or backer line to lead core, just pinch the lead off inside the lead core line about six inches from the end; remove the core, then tie a blood knot and apply a little crazy glue to finish it off. If you’re running in-line rods like I do, you need to use a smaller knot so it passes through the rod tip. Simply pinch off about an inch of lead core in the braided nylon and remove it, make a loose overhand knot in the line just back from where the core has been removed. Now take the leader or backer line and insert it into the center where the core was until it butts the remaining core. Pinch both lines while moving the overhand knot to where the line is inside of the other, and then tighten the knot, that’s it! I use the scissors on my pocketknife to cut the core, leader, and backer to make sure the ends are free of burrs. Spectra line is small in diameter and limp so you first need to glue about two inches of line to make it stiff so it can be inserted inside the braided nylon.

Each colored segment takes the lead core down about 2 to 3 feet, depending on boat speed, type of lure used, and amount of current present. You can develop a pattern as to distance back and down just as we have with downriggers. The use of in-line planers is needed to develop these patterns with lines more than the length of two football fields trailing behind. It’s risky to even fish this way when there is much boat traffic; it’s difficult to turn and keep other boats from crossing over your lines that far back.

I use a Snap Weight on the OR-16 clip to assist in getting the lead core down quicker and shorten up the distance behind the in-line planer boards to obtain the same depth. For example: 3 oz. is down 18 feet, 8 oz. is down 22 feet when added to a half core. With a full core 3 oz. takes it down to 31 feet, while 8 oz. take it down to 36 feet; with a core & a half add the same weight and you’re at 47 feet and 62 feet respectively.

A half core with a 50’ leader puts you 200 feet back behind the in-line planer board. The same distance back with a combination of spectra line and Snap Weights on an OR-16 clip will surprise you! The 3 oz. takes it down 10 feet (same as a half core), 6 oz. is down 18 feet (same as half core with a 3 oz. weight), and 8 oz. is down 30 feet (same as a full core) that is 150 feet shorter than the full core distance. That gives you more control and enhances your maneuverability when using multiple in-line planers.

I quit using double core completely and use Snap Weights on the OR-16 clips, which has reduced the need for all the different rod and reel combos too. What is unique about the OR-16 Snap Weight Clip is it has a pin protruding through the center of the pinch pad that prevents it from releasing the line even if it did slip.


When setting up in-line planer to use spectra line, install an OR-16 at the rear of the board and move the spring forward to the tightest setting, this allows the board to just lay back and not move down the line if it releases while fighting a big fish. On the front end install an OR-19 release again moving the adjustment forward to tightest setting, and then install the second release, an OR-14 in the middle. To install the planer on the line, clip the OR-16 on the line making sure the line is placed behind the pin protruding through the center of its pads, then place the line between the pinch pads of the OR-19 release, loop the line around and run it between the pads a second time and snug it tight, insert the line that’s between the front release and the rear clip into the OR-14 release in the middle. This “super pro method” of rigging the OR-12 board will surprise you even in rough water.

With spectra line on all my specialty rods, either as the main or backer, my in-line rods make working with these type super lines a lot more enjoyable as there are no guides for the line to wrap around - but it does requires the use of smaller knots to pass through the rods. When not using in-line rods, just splice in an 18” piece of 30# test monofilament between the lead core and backer line, then just fasten each clip to the larger diameter monofilament.

The nylon cover over the lead core does not have the abrasion resistance like monofilament or spectra type lines do. So always fasten the clips to the leader or the backing. Place Snap Weights on the leader right after the knot and fasten the planer board in the same place on the backer. This allows you to be more accurate with your presentation and obtaining your target depth. The other advantage is you know where to check the line for abrasions. When using just spectra line and the OR-16, you need to mark the line at the different locations where you install the OR-16 and the in-line planer board; this way, a line counter reel isn’t required.

The use of Snap Weights and in-line planer boards with the OR-16 clip is the most universal equipment on my boat and I know it will be yours, too, if you give it a try.

Captain Jim Karr of Therapy Too Charters can be contacted at 800-845-6095 or by visiting his website at www.therapytoo.com .

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Ever since Snap Weight in-line trolling weights were introduced a few years
ago, anglers have been saying, “Why didn't I think of that”? Simple, effective
and easy to use, Snap Weights should be a part of every trollers bag of
tricks. Unlike traditional trolling weights that must be permanently
attached to the fishing line, Snap Weights can be put on and taken off a
fishing line in seconds. There is no need to cut and retie, the weight can
be attached at any point along the fishing line and these trolling aids work
great on all common types of fishing line.

The Off Shore Tackle OR-16 Snap Weight Clip is the secret to this amazing trolling system. Similar to a pinch pad style planer board release, the OR-16 features extra heavy spring tension to insure that the Snap Weight Clip and attached weight stays put on the line. A small pin protruding through the center of the rubber pinch pads further guarantees the line can't pop free of this clip. Simply pinch open the jaws of the OR-16 and place the fishing line behind the pin. Select a desired weight size and thread it onto the split ring located on the OR-16 Clip. It's that easy to add Snap Weights to your trolling lines.

The OR-20 Snap Weight Kit contains four OR-16’s and an assortment of weights ranging from 1/2 to 3 ounces. Larger weights and additional OR-16 clips can be purchased separately. Snap Weights are a great way to increase the running depth of spoons, crankbaits, spinners and a wealth of other hardware. The fishing depth is controlled by how much weight is added, trolling speed and also by the trolling leads selected. Snap Weights can be used to present just about any trolling lure at all common fishing depths. From just below the surface to salmon depths, Snap Weights fill an important niche in the trolling scene.

These unique in-line weights are designed to stay on the line while trolling and fighting hooked fish. The angler simply fights the fish as normal and removes the Snap Weight as it nears the rod tip. It only takes a split second to remove a Snap Weight from the line.

Some anglers like noted fishing expert and author Ken Darwin use up to 16 ounces when fishing Snap Weights for salmon and trout. "Snap Weights have become my bread and butter salmon system," says Darwin. "My basic salmon setup includes a standard sized Silver Streak or Michigan Stinger spoon set 50 feet behind the boat. I clip a 12-16 ounce Snap Weight onto the line near the rod tip and zero out the counter on the reel. Next I check my graph for fish marks and then let out enough line to present my spoon just above the fish. These heavy Snap Weights run at a sharp angle behind the boat, making it fairly easy to predict the running depth of the trailing lures."

Unlike downriggers and other traditional deep water trolling methods, Snap Weights can be rigged and deployed quickly. It only takes a few seconds to rig and set a Snap Weight. Weight sizes, lead lengths and lures can also be changed quickly. Darwin recommends that anglers using heavy Snap Weights incorporate 10 foot diver rods into their trolling program. "The longer diver rods are better equipped to handle the heavy Snap Weights and they also increase the overall trolling coverage," explains Darwin. "I typically run two long diver rods out each side of the boat and two shorter heavy action downrigger rods off the corners."


Heavy Snap Weights are a great way to target salmon or trout found 40-60 feet below the surface. For fish located higher in the water column a different Snap Weight program is in order. Steelhead, walleye, brown trout and other fish that are often found within 20 feet of the surface are prime targets for Snap Weights combined with planer boards. Weights ranging from 1/2 to 2 ounces are ideal for fishing the upper water column.

Select a favorite crankbait, spoon or spinner and set it behind the boat 50 feet. Clip on a Snap Weight and let out an additional 50 feet of line. At this point the Snap Weight rig can be fished behind a dual planer board system or an in-line board such as the OR-12 Side Planer. Anglers using dual boards and Snap Weights for walleye will find the OR-14 Medium Tension Planer Board Release is ideal.

Salmon and steelhead anglers favor the larger pads, increased tension and
better hook setting powers of the OR-17 Planer Board Release. Those anglers
who prefer in-line boards will find the OR-12 Side Planer is up to the task.
Larger and more buoyant than other in-line boards, the Side Planer easily
handles Snap Weights, diving crankbaits and other hardware that would sink
lesser boards.


The 50/50 system is a great starting point for anyone who fishes Snap Weights. Keeping the lead lengths standard and simply switching weight sizes to achieve the desired depth is an approach that¹s easy to understand and easy to communicate to other anglers.

Think of the 50/50 system as a convenient starting point. It's important to
note that Snap Weights can be fished on any combination of lead lengths, making them amazingly versatile. Remember, the lead length combinations used aren't as important as simply knowing which combinations are productive on any given day. Don't forget to monitor your lead lengths with a line counter reel so productive leads and Snap Weight sizes can be duplicated as needed. From steelhead that are often found near the surface to walleye, salmon and even deep water loving trout, Snap Weights can do it all.

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By Mark Romanack

I had just completed setting out a 4th Off Shore Tackle Side Planer when my youngest son Jake looked at me with a puzzled face and asked, Dad how do we tell when we have a fish? An elementary but important question, reading
or detecting strikes when using in-line boards isn't an easy concept to explain or grasp.

I thought for a moment and then answered, "When a fish grabs our lure, the board will jerk backwards in the water." The look on Jake's face suggested he wasn't sure exactly what to expect next. I went on to explain that the weight of the fish pulling and fighting against the board causes it to jerk or pull backwards in the water. By watching and comparing to the other boards, it's pretty easy to tell if a board has hooked a fish.

The truth is it's pretty easy to tell when a fish is hooked on the Side Planer board. Pretty easy so long as the fish is good sized, you're trolling straight downwind, the boat doesn't turn and you happen to see the strike the moment it occurs!

Unfortunately there are times when even a seasoned troller can drag fish he didn't know was hooked. Small fish are tougher to detect because they aren't big enough to cause the board to react violently or in an obvious way. Quartering into the waves (instead of trolling straight with or into the wind) also makes it more difficult to read in-line boards. When a fishing boat quarters the waves it doesn't enjoy a steady and smooth course. The wind turns the boat, forcing the driver to constantly adjust his course. The boat moves forward but is actually swinging back and forth along an imaginary centerline. The trailing boards follow the boat, swinging back and forth instead of following a steady and straight course.

Each time the boat turns toward one of the boards the line goes a little slack and the board sags backward slightly, then recovers when the boat turns again and the line pulls tight.

If a fish is hooked while the boat is in a subtle turn there's just enough slack in the line to prevent the board from showing obvious movement. The weight of the hooked fish does cause the board to sag backward, but it's easy to miss even if you¹re an experienced troller. Eventually the boat will pull straight or turn the opposite direction. When this
happens the board with a fish attached always seems to be lagging a little behind the others. The rule of thumb is to always check lines that are sagging a little or don¹t look just right. It only takes a minute or two to check the line and be sure you¹re not dragging a small fish or a fouled lure.

Turns are the toughest place to detect strikes on in-line boards. During a turn the outside lines speed up while at the same time the inside lines stall and slow down. Of course the trailing lures do the same thing, helping to trigger strikes.

If a fish is hooked on an outside line, it is usually pretty easy to detect because the board is moving in a steady path. It's the inside boards that are stalling that are tougher to read. Often a fish hooked on the inside lines isn't apparent until the boat straightens out again. A fish hooked on the inside lines often prevents the board from pulling back out to
the side properly once the boat straightens out. Again, a board that always seems to be lagging behind is a tip off that something is wrong.


It's also easier to detect strikes when the boards are fished within 50-75 feet of the boat. When the boards are let out 100 or more feet away from the boat, slight changes in course cause the boards to momentarily stall and start, making it more difficult to tell if a fish has been hooked. This is especially true if the target fish are small.

Running the boards a little closer to the boat makes subtle changes in how the board is running more obvious. However, there's obviously a point of diminishing return. Fishing the boards too close to the boat defeats the purpose of using boards in the first place. Running the boards 50-75 feet out is a good rule of thumb when you're first learning how to read planer boards. Once you get a little experience, I'd recommend running the boards
out 75-100 feet. Many of the top walleye pros run their boards as far as 150 out to the side.


Trolling with the wind makes it easier to read the boards, no matter how far out to the side they are fished. In a following sea the boards run smoothly and in a predictable manner. When trolling into the waves, the boards jump around, leap out of the waves and otherwise hop all over the place. While this board action can trigger strikes, reading these strikes is tricky for even those anglers who have considerable experience fishing in-line boards.


Using low stretch lines such as the super braids or fused lines makes it very easy to detect hooked fish on in-line boards. Because the line doesn't stretch, anything that touches the lure causes the board to react accordingly. When fishing low stretch lines I recommend using the new Off Shore Tackle OR-18 Snapper Release that's designed to hold this thin and slippery surfaced line securely. Snapper releases are sold individually and can be installed on most in-line boards.


Certain lures pull harder in the water than others. Matching up lures that generate similar drag or pulling resistance allows the board to run in a more uniform manner that¹s easier to monitor. Avoid running a deep diving lure with lots of drag next to a shallow diving lure with little drag.


No matter how good you get at reading in-line boards, there will be times when a small fish or fouled lure is dragged around. The ultimate solution to this problem is the OR-12TF Tattle Flag produced by Off Shore Tackle.

The Tattle Flag is a spring loaded flag kit that allows the flag to fold down when a fish is hooked. The Tattle Flag is so sensitive even a crankbait that¹s fouled with a piece of weed causes the flag to fold to half mast. Never again will you drag a small fish or fouled lures with the Tattle Flag.

Designed as an after market kit, a Tattle Flag can be installed on an OR-12 Side-Planer board in about five minutes. The kit comes complete with a flag, spring/linkage assembly, two OR-16 Snap Weight clips and the necessary hardware.

Reading the boards is part science and part intuition. If for any reason you suspect something is wrong with the way a board is running, take a few seconds and check that line. The bait could have become fouled on something floating in the water, picked up a weed or a cluster of zebra mussels. It's better to check immediately than to drag something around, twisting the line in the process.

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By Captain Dee Geoghegan

Fishing in Lake Pontchartrain is like standing on the corner at Mardi Gras, you never know what you will catch. Fresh and saltwater species are abundant in Lake Pontchartrain year round; however, the spotted sea trout or speckled trout is a highly sought after prize.

A trip to Lake Pontchartrain, which is as close as 15 minutes from downtown New Orleans, can fill an ice chest with speckle trout, redfish, flounder, drum, and many other species of fish. As a year round fishery, the lake is an anglers dream. It truly lives up to the Louisiana title of sportsman paradise.

Trolling is a year round tactic used by many anglers in the area. Yet, very few anglers incorporate in-line planer boards into their fishing tactics. Since I started using the Off Shore Tackle Side Planers, I have increased my catches of trout. Even though I get some strange stares from local anglers, few can argue with my results. I was surprised how easy the board was to use.

Lake Pontchartrain is a very shallow body of water. The average depth of the lake is about twelve feet. With strong tidal movement caused by wind and the link to the Gulf of Mexico, bridges such as the Causeway and I 10 Twin Spans are frequent haunts of big sea trout. The Causeway is a 24 mile two bridge connection between New Orleans and it’s north shore neighbor. An approximate six miles wide neck of the eastern end of Lake Pontchartrain is traversed by the I 10 interstate bridge, Highway 11 bridge, and a train trestle. The bridges have produced numerous state record trout in the last few years.

Seabrook, next to the lakefront airport, is another prime area to fish. Seabrook resembles a funnel, which exits water from the lake into the Industrial Canal and to the gulf via the Intercoastal Waterway. This area is one of the deepest parts of the lake with some location reaching 40 to 60 feet. Southshore, the shoreline between Seabrook and I 10 bridge, is known as the home of the World Series Trout. By trolling this area about the time of the World Series, anglers catch big trout.

Trolling in Louisiana has never been a complex event. An angler uses his outboard to idle next to a bridge using one or two rods with a 3/8 ounce jig head with a plastic tail or other type of lure. Although this is productive, planer boards increase the number of rods in the water and the area of water covered. When I troll the train trestle or Southshore, I often fish with four rods at one time. Since I am the only person in the boat, this would be a difficult task without the planer boards.

Fishing in the lake is a year round event. In the winter, trolling is at its best when trout move to the deep water near the area’s bridges. In the spring, usually around April Fools Day, the trout return to the Seabrook area. In the summer, trout along with a dozen other species of fish congregate at the bridges and other structure in the lake. By fall and the World Series, trout show up along the Southshore.

My main lure for trolling for big speckled trout is a lure made by V and G Lures called a Deadly Dudley. It is sold as a straight tail or terror tail model. Both are excellent for imitating shrimp, croakers, or other baitfish targeted by the speckle trout. The terror tail has a design that causes the lure to wobble much like a crankbait. The extra vibration really produces when it comes to trolling. It has also been used for walleye and other species such as bass.

About the time of the Super Bowl, state record trout frequent the bridges along the I 10 area of the lake between Slidell and New Orleans. Trolling is the best way to cover the miles of water along the I 10, Highway 11, and trestles. Use various size jig heads from ¼ to ½ ounces. Add Deadly Dudley’s in various colors and styles. If you add a right and left Side Planer, four rods can be used instead of two. By paralleling the bridges, you can add trout to your trip by adding these simple to use in-line boards.

After casting the bait perpendicular to the boat, the angler simple reaches up and clips the board on the line. Place the board in the water and let out about 20 yards of line. The board carries the bait about 20 feet away from your boat. After a fish is hooked, the board and fish are reeled to the boat. Once the board is within reach, unclip the board and continue to fight the fish. Planer boards will add fish to your ice chest by increasing the area you cover and the number of lures in the water.

Very few people in Louisiana use planer boards. I was surprised how productive the boards made my fishing. I was even impressed how easy the boards were to use. From the first cast and placement of the board to the landing of the fish, the Off Shore Tackle Side Planer was simple, fun, and flawless in its performance.

The next time you are in New Orleans, skip the parades and Bourbon Street and pass a good time trolling the Big Easy.

Captain Dee Geoghegan can be reached at 1-888-773-2536 or by visiting his website at www.fishingguideservices.com .

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