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By Mark Romanack

Rod holders are an essential part of any fishing boat. Depending on the type of boat and fishing to be undertaken, a few or a lot of rod holders might be in your future.

As essential as rod holders are, they have a nasty habit of ending up in the wrong places and in the way much of the time. This in part happens because different types of trolling require the rod holders to be mounted in different positions around the boat. Because anglers are always trying to save a buck or two, they tend to scrimp on the number of rod holders purchased. Making due with less is a good thing, but in the case of rod holders having too many is far better than not having enough.


Anglers can choose from two distinctively different types of rod holders. Models that are designed to cradle the reel and pistol grip of the rod are known as saddle style. This style of rod holder is normally mounted to the top or inside edge of the gunwale. The rod holder can be adjusted both up and down and about 180 degrees sideways, making them very useful for managing a lot of rods in a small space.

The base used with a saddle type holder is permanently mounted, but the holder itself can be moved from one location to another. Because the bases are relatively inexpensive, they can be mounted in various spots in anticipation of different fishing situations. Most saddle style holders are made of plastic or nylon, but a few are engineered from cast metal or cold rolled steel that's plastic coated to protect the rods.

The other common rod holder type is a plastic or metal tube that accepts the butt of the rod. Tube style holders are most often seen on larger boats, but they can be used effectively on any size fishing platform. Some tube type holders are designed with a base that can be mounted on just about any flat surface. Most tube type rod holders however have a base system that slips into a track. This metal track accepts only certain brand rod holders and mounts on the gunwale of the boat. The length of this track determines how many rod holders can be positioned next to one another. Most tube type holders only adjust up and down, allowing the rod to be positioned parallel to the water or increasingly towards the vertical position. Some of the better engineered tube type holders also allow the rod tube to be tilted a few degrees left or right of center.

Tube type rod holders made of stainless steel are without question the strongest available rod holders. They are also the most expensive to purchase. In spite of the cost, a quality stainless steel tube type rod holder is essential for certain fishing applications.

Fishing diving planers is one good example. Divers are large in size, they have a tremendous amount of pull when trolled at high speeds and the added strain of a tackling big fish means they must really be able to take a beating. A lot of rod holders are likely to break under this kind of strain. When a rod holder fails, the angler not only suffers the loss of a fish, but often an expensive rod and reel!

In general it could be said that saddle style rod holders are better designed for small to medium sized fish like walleye or pike, while tube type holders are stronger and better suited for fishing salmon, steelhead, striper and saltwater species. This is not completely accurate. A number of saddle style holders are plenty strong to function on a salmon or striper boat. Price is usually a good indicator of the strength and quality of a saddle style holder.


The biggest problem with rod holders is they are often mounted without a lot of thought given to how they must function in and among other essential gear. Before you start drilling holes and mounting rod holders, take a minute, sit in the boat and imagine how you'll be fishing. Form a mental picture of where rod holders will be essential and where they may get in the way.

I wish I had a walleye in the freezer for every time I've seen rod holders mounted in direct conflict with swivel seats, rod lockers, storage compartment lids, downriggers and even other rod holder types! Most of these mistakes can be eliminated with just a little planning and patience.


One of the biggest advantages to fishing planer boards is the ability to run a lot of lines. With a dual or triple board planer system it's not uncommon to fish five or more lines per side of the boat! Even when using in-line planer boards a lot of anglers manage three or even four lines per side!

Managing all these lines and avoiding tangles requires a system of both rod placement and rod angle. Say you want to fish three planer board lines per side of the boat. The best way to organize these lines so they function well and take up the least amount of space is to position them in a bank with each holder eight to 12 inches apart.

On my boats I mount an extra rod holder in this bank. The extra holder comes in handy when I'm clearing a line to make room to fight a fish. Instead of reeling this line all the way in, I often simply swing it over to the other side of the boat so it isn't in the way while I'm fighting a fish. This simple and easy trick has saved me lots of grief and broken rods over the years.
Planer board rod holders need to be mounted between the transom and the steering wheel. My rule of thumb is to keep these rod holders near the back 1/3 of the boat.
Of these holders, the one mounted the furthest forward becomes the outside line. The next one in line moving towards the transom becomes the middle line and the rod holder mounted closest to the transom is used for the inside line.
To prevent the fishing lines from touching one another when the boat turns, I like to adjust the rod angle so the rod furthest forward is pointing straight up. The next rod in line is angled slightly towards the water and the third rod in line is angled a little more. Staggering the rod tips helps to keep the lines from swimming over one another and getting crossed in a turn.


Most downriggers come equipped with at least one tube type rod holder. If the downrigger has the option of adding a second rod holder, take advantage of this useful option. The second rod holder allows the rigger to be used with stacker lines doubling the usefulness of the downrigger. Even if you don't plan to use stacker lines, the second rod holder will come in handy when repositioning lines while fighting a fish or while running from spot to spot.


Diving planers are critical to many trolling situations. The position of rod holders to be used with divers is also critical. Make sure there is plenty of room between rod holders for divers and the downriggers. The last thing you want is your diver lines to touch the downrigger cable. On most boats space limitations require that diver rod holders be mounted forward of the downriggers.

I prefer tube type holders for fishing divers, but quality saddle styles can also be used. Either way, this rod holder must be adjustable for vertical and horizontal travel. When two divers are fished on the same side of the boat, one should be set to run a little deeper than the other to avoid tangles.

I manage divers by placing the rod holders in banks of two or three similar to those used for planer board fishing. The deepest diver is positioned in the rod holder closest to the transom. This holder is also set so the rod is almost parallel to the water surface. The second rod (which is fishing closer to the surface) is positioned slightly forward and the rod tip is angled a little more off the water to provide separation between these two lines.


Vertical rod holders called rocket launchers are often mounted on the top rail of hard top boats. This provides a handy place for storing rods while motoring to the fishing grounds or between fishing spots. Rocket launchers can also be a handy place for fishing planer board lines or lead core lines on larger boats.

I use this same concept in my smaller walleye boat by mounting six inexpensive plastic rod tubes across the wall of the livewell in my boat. The livewell runs across the entire back of the boat, providing me with lots of room to mount additional rod holders used primarily for transporting rods while the boat is on plane. In a pinch these tube type holders can also be used for planer board fishing or to hold a Snap Weight or other rig fished on a flat line.


Those who fish from cartop style boats or on fly-in vacations will have need for portable rod holders. To be useful these rod holders have to be strong and adaptable enough to fit on just about any gunwale design.
I've been using Cabela's 360 C-Clamp Mount Rod Holders for several years on fly-in adventures and they adapt well to all the boats I've fished in. Made of tough nylon this saddle style holder has a full range of vertical and horizontal adjustment. At least a couple of these holders should go on every fly-in fishing trip.


Saddle style rod holders sometimes need to be fitted with lifts or extensions so the butt of the rod handle can completely clear the gunwale. Depending on the brand of rod holder, these lifts are usually made of nylon or plastic and they are reasonable in price. This style of rod holder is best suited to use on small to medium sized fish.


Both saddle and tube type holders are produced in versions that feature a round ball mounted to a gimbal pin and base. This style of rod holder offers endless adjustment options and fits well in tough spots. The only drawback to these ball mount rod holders is in hot weather. The ball can become soft and no matter how tightly the clamp is turned, the rod holder still moves under pressure.


These are all outstanding rod holders that will serve the angler well year after year.
Check out these websites for more details.
www.teclausa.com (Bert's Custom Tackle)
otcproducts@yahoo.com (Riviera Trolling Systems Incorporated)


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By Mark Romanack

Call me crazy, but I live for fast fishing action. The kind of rod bucking, high-fiving excitement that can only come from hooking doubles and triples! Give me nonstop trolling action, a box full of fish and I'm a happy angler.

Trolling action like this is hard to come by, but not during April along the southern most part of Lake Michigan. From St. Joe, Michigan to Michigan City, Indiana, Lake Michigan is alive with coho action and bonus king salmon, steelhead and brown trout. Most charter captains working these waters routinely put their clients on limit catches daily. In fact, weather is about the only thing that can get in the way of fishing success.

Even weather isn't a big concern along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Prevailing winds at this time of year are from the west and southwest, providing anglers with some amazingly calm fishing waters. Also, much of the best fishing takes place in shallow water near shore, making this fishery ideal for the small boat owner who might otherwise not get an opportunity to target Great Lakes trout and salmon.

Captains Bill Bale and Dave Engel have fished these waters of Lake Michigan each spring for more than a decade. Legends on the salmon tournament circuits for their ability to catch fish in every port they visit, the secret to their success has a lot to do with the amazing amount of time they spend on the water refining their skills and pinpointing the most productive presentations.


"You can catch coho at Michigan City using a lot of different kinds of tackle, but two methods produce best for us," says Captain Engel. "In early April when the water is still cold, slow trolling crankbaits like the Rapala No. 7 Taildancer or stickbaits like the Storm ThunderStick is the best approach. Keep the speed at 2 MPH or less and use planer boards to spread out the lines."

Captain Engel favors the in-line planer boards for early season coho trolling. "In-line boards like the Off Shore OR31 SST are easy to rig and fish. We start by threading an OR29 Speed Bead on the line about three or four feet in front of our lure. This bead is to catch the planer board when it releases and slides down the line."

"Next up we set our lead length using line counter reels," adds Captain Bale. "On our boats we use the Shimano Takota reels and have found them to be the highest quality and most dependable available."

Once the lead length is set, the SST board is placed on the line. "To insure the board will release smoothly, we take the fishing line and wrap it around a finger and twist six or eight wraps into the line," explains Engel. "The OR19 front release (orange) on the board is opened and the twisted line placed between the rubber pads. Next the line is placed in a snap swivel mounted at the back of the board."

Rigged in this manner the SST is ready to slip over the side and let line play out while the boat is trolling forward. These boards can be set to fish up to 150 feet out to the side, stacking two, three or even four lines per side as needed.

"When a fish hits, the board rockets backwards in the water," says Bale. "I grab the rod from the holder and snap the rod tip just enough to cause the line to pop free from the front release. When the board trips, it immediately starts to slide down the line."

"Don't be in a big hurry to reel in the fish," cautions Engel. "Give the board a few seconds to slide down the line and the fish an opportunity to rise in the water column a little. This insures that when the fish is reeled in, one line won't cross over another."

Perhaps the biggest mistake anglers fishing in-line boards make is pumping the rod too much during the fight. This potentially pulls the board up and out of the water, increasing the chances the board will drop at the wrong moment, catch a wave and dive.

"When we're fighting fish on boards, we have the angler keep the rod tip level or low to the water and reel the fish in smoothly with as little rod pumping as possible," says Bale. "The rod tip isn't lifted until the board and fish are close enough to the boat to net. This is especially necessary when fishing lead core or copper line where the board is fixed onto the line and not allowed to release."


The second coho method that works well in southern Lake Michigan is a Howie Fly fished behind the small size orange Luhr Jensen dodger. "Coho are well known for being attracted to gaudy colors like fire red, orange, pink and other bright colors," says Bale. "At the terminal end, we tend to have the best success with green, or blue flies that have some silver or gold tinsel."

"We start to fish dodger/fly combinations in mid April when the water warms a bit," says Engel. "Like the crankbaits, this rig is best fished in combination with an in-line planer board."

To rig a dodger/fly combination, start by threading a one ounce egg sinker onto the line. Tie in a barrel swivel and then add a two foot leader of fluorocarbon leader from the swivel to the dodger. The fly itself is tied on a 18-24 inch leader and attached to the dodger.

"We can't say enough about using fluorocarbon for all leader materials," says Bale. "Last year we started using the Gamma fluorocarbon leader material in 20# test and we feel it makes a huge difference in the number of strikes and also the percentage of fish landed."

The dodger/fly combinations are presented using in-line boards which make up the majority of the lines set. "Normally we'll run four SST boards per side and then fill in the remaining rods with a diver line on each side of the boat and a downrigger line or two," says Engel. "Spoons are the most common lure used on the diver lines and also on the riggers. This trolling set up allows us to cover the entire water column and also to present a variety of lures and lure colors."


Coho make up the majority of the catch. Most of the fish are 16-20 inches in length and the perfect size for the table. Seasoned in anglers will also catch steelhead, brown trout and a significant number of two and three year old kings.

One of the few places in the Great Lakes where anglers can enjoy a consistent diet of mixed bag fishing, it's common for anglers to catch their five fish limit during April and into early May. As the month of May grinds on, a significant number of the coho make their way west and north up into Illinois waters. Most of the kings start their annual migration north and east along the Michigan shoreline.

Once this huge concentration of fish leave the bottom of Lake Michigan, finding them becomes the major challenge.


BEST CHANCE PROMOTIONS (Captains Bale & Engel)

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BY Mark Romanack

No single line release can function properly in all trolling situations. Fortunately, Off Shore Tackle produces a wide variety of line releases designed for downrigger fishing, downrigger stacking, fishing with dual and triple planer boards, fishing with in-line (Side Planer) planer boards, attaching weights to trolling lines and even fishing for extra hard to hook muskie and saltwater species.

To better help the angler understand the function of each of these many products, Off Shore Tackle uses a color coding system that allows anglers to judge the spring tension of their releases at a glance.


Off Shore Tackle produces three different downrigger style line releases. The OR4 is white and features the lightest spring tension of the three. Designed for fishing walleye, brown trout, spring coho salmon and in-land lake trout species, the OR4 features large rubber pads that provide anglers the option of burying the line deep to increase tension or setting the line near the edge of the pad to reduce the release tension.

The OR1 was the original Off Shore Tackle product. Today the OR1 (black) continues to be a top seller and favorite downrigger release for anglers targeting salmon, steelhead, striper, deep water lakers and other large fish. Like the OR4, the OR1 has large pads that allow the angler to customize the amount of release tension desired depending on water depth and trolling speed.

The OR8 is red to indicate a stronger spring tension. This extra heavy tension release actually incorporates two springs to insure a solid grip on heavy lines. Designed for musky fishing and also hard to hook saltwater species, the OR8 provides the extra holding power to insure a positive hookset when trolling in deep water, at high speeds or for hard to hook species. This release is also the top choice for fishing dodgers, flashers or rotators like the Luhr Jensen Coyote.


Dual and Triple planer boards require line releases that provide just the right amount of spring tension. If the release has too light a tension, false releases and missed fish are the result. If the release triggers too hard, fish can be needlessly dragged or it can be difficult to trigger the release. Getting that "just right" spring tension is the job of several Off Shore Tackle releases.

The popular OR10 (yellow) line release has a light tension ideal for fishing eating sized walleye. A favorite among anglers on Lake Erie, the OR10 has two tension settings. With the spring in the rearward position the tension is at the lightest setting. To increase the spring tension simply slide the spring into the forward position.
The OR3 (white) line release has a light spring tension, but a larger in diameter rubber pad. The large rubber pads allow anglers to adjust the release tension simply by how deeply the line is buried into the release. Popular with big water walleye anglers, the OR3 is also very useful for board trolling situations that target spring coho, brown trout, pink salmon or trout living in in-land lakes.

The OR14 (black) sees double duty as a dual board line release and in-line planer release. The standard equipment release provided on the OR12 Side Planer board, this release is also widely used by dual board trollers. The OR14 is black and the spring tension is slightly heavier than it's cousin the OR10. Like the OR10, the OR14 has a sliding spring adjustment that allows anglers to choose from two tension setting. In the rearward position the spring tension is at the lightest setting. Simply by sliding the spring into the forward position, the release tension is increased. The OR14 finds itself used most often by walleye trollers, but this release is also ideal for trolling other small to medium sized species including brown trout, wipers, coho, pink salmon, northern pike and others. The OR14 also finds a lot of use as an add-a-line release for anglers who fish downriggers frequently.

Moving up the spring tension scale, the OR17 (black) is simply the popular OR1 downrigger release rigged with a shower curtain hook so it can be used as a dual or triple planer board release. The medium tension of this release is ideal for hooking larger fish including salmon, steelhead, stripers and small to medium sized saltwater species.

The OR16 Snap Weight Clip (red) is not a line release at all. The extra strong spring tension and pin design of this product insures the OR16 stays put on the line. Used primarily for fishing Snap Weights, the OR16 is also commonly used on the OR12 Side Planer when fishing in rough seas or trolling at faster speeds.

The orange OR19 boasts the same heavy spring tension of the OR16, but without the pin. This strong, but small release is perfect for fishing dual and triple boards and species like northern pike, steelhead, striper and salmon that are often very difficult to hook securely.

The OR30 (red) is the heaviest spring tension release in the Off Shore Tackle line up designed for dual and triple board fishing. The extra strong spring tension is ideal for fishing heavy lines, fast trolling speeds and powerful fish. The OR30 is a favorite of musky trollers on Lake St. Clair and saltwater anglers everywhere.


All of the Off Shore Tackle line releases but one are designed to function with monofilament line. The OR18 Snapper (black) is designed to hold slippery braided lines. Most commonly used in combination with the OR12 Side Planer, this release has a screw tension adjustment that allows it to be set at any tension desired. Anglers who are after a release that works on super braid and monofilament lines need to look no further than the OR18 Snapper.
No single line release can do it all and at Off Shore Tackle there is a release that's perfect for every trolling chore and line type. Once you get the hang of the color coding system used, making the right line release choice is easy.

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By Captain Bill Bale

In the world of fishing there is always something that promises to be the next big thing. I've been around fishing long enough to remember when downriggers were getting all the hype. The diving planer craze took hold soon after and then there was the stainless steel wire thing. In recent years most of the banter on the marine radios has been about lead core line fishing. And so it goes.

In the humble opinion of this charter captain, the next big thing in the world of Great Lakes trout and salmon fishing is going to be copper wire. Softer and easier to work with than stainless wire, copper wire has the necessary weight, strength and handling characteristics to make it angler friendly. Like stainless wire and lead core line, copper wire gets it depth based on the weight of the line. What sets copper aside is the diameter is thin enough to cut the water, but the line is heavy enough to achieve substantial depth without using excessively long leads.
The biggest disadvantage of using lead core is the huge amount of line that must be deployed in order to reach the kinds of depth trout and salmon frequent. Copper has the ability to reach these depths with hundreds of feet less line out! Sound interesting?


Stainless wire and lead core are often spooled onto a reel and fished as a continuous line. Copper wire is best fished as a segment sandwiched between a monofilament leader and monofilament backing. My favorite rig is 50 foot of 30 pound test monofilament tied to 300 feet of copper wire which is in turn tied to 300 feet or more 30# test monofilament backing. I also rig 200 and 400 foot segments of copper wire for fishing shallower and a deeper waters.
Howie Tackle Company produces copper wire and on the package an illustration shows how to connect monofilment line to copper line. For more details on how to purchase and rig copper wire contact www.howiestackleco.com.
Copper unlike lead core has absolutely no stretch, which is why I favor a monofilament backing. It's also critical to have a reel with a smooth drag system. There is no margin of error when working with copper.


Based on using copper extensively for over a year, I feel that 200 feet of copper wire runs about the same depth as one core of 27# lead core line. A spool of 300 foot of copper wire runs about the same depth as a core and a half of lead core and 450 feet of copper will reach about the same depth as two cores of lead core.


It takes a big reel to fish copper line, in part because the wire takes up a lot of space and the necessity of a monofilament backing. I favor the Shimano 800 series Takota reels for fishing copper.


Copper wire can be used to fish a wide variety of lures and attractors. I use copper primarily when fishing spoons, J-Plugs and crankbaits, but copper can also be used with dodgers, flashers and rotators. FISHING WITH PLANER BOARDS
Copper wire can readily be fished in combination with in-line planer boards. I use an Off Shore Tackle OR31 Side Planer SST board rigged with a snap swivel at the back of the board instead of the factory provided pigtail. This swivel allows me to remove the board quickly when a heavy fish is on the line.

Rigging a planer board line with copper is easy. Begin by letting out the lure, leader and all the copper wire on the reel. The OR31 is then placed on the monofilament backing by pinching open the OR19 release and burying the line as deep in the rubber pads as possible. The snap swivel on the back of the board is then opened and the line placed inside and the snap closed.

Rigged in this way, the board will stay put on the line. When the board is rigged onto the backing, I drop the board into the water and allow line to free spool from my reel for a few yards to get the whole rig away from other lines. When I'm sure the copper line is far enough back to clear divers and downrigger lines, I engage the reel and let the board work it's way out to the side.

When fishing multiple lines per side, I like to set the most shallow lines out furthest to the side and the deeper lines closer to the boat. This helps to prevent tangles when setting lines and fighting fish.


When fighting a fish on copper wire, it helps to keep the rod tip low and the board in the water as long as possible. If the rod is held high, the board may pop out of the water and upon reentry can dive. I simply keep the rod tip down until the board is within reach of the boat, then lift the rod, remove the board and continue to fight the fish in one smooth motion. Once the board is off the line a high rod position works best for finishing the fight.


Some anglers are saying that copper wire carries a low voltage electric current into the water that attracts fish. I can't say that this is actually happening, but I do notice that copper seems to catch more fish than lead core line. When I fish the two lines at the same time, the copper routinely catches more fish. Is it harmonics, electric current or something else at work? I can't say for sure, but copper works and there doesn't seem to be any reason to fix that situation.


One thing you don't want with copper wire is a tangle or kink in the wire. Once the line is kinked, it must be discarded. A kinked or snarled wire loses most of its strength. Also there is no practical way to splice two pieces of copper wire back together again.

Use extra care when setting lines to avoid backlashes. Keeping the line clicker engaged is a good way to keep the spool from backlashing.


Copper wire may well be the next big thing in Great Lakes trolling. Charter captains like myself are running three or four lines per side, but I'd suggest that recreational anglers start out with one or two copper lines. There is little doubt that copper works and in the world of open water trolling, who can afford not to give it a try?
NOTE: To book a charter fishing trip with Captain Bill Bale, you can contact him on his cell phone at 616-292-6098.

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By Mark Romanack

Imagine a fishing "system" that's so efficient at presenting lures that no other presentation can compare. Imagine a "system" that literally vacuums up every walleye in the vicinity. Imagine other nearby anglers watching in amazement as you land fish after fish, while they seemingly can't get a bite.

Now imagine all of this happening without the benefit of a fishing reel, rod or even live bait. If all this is hard to imagine, you've never had the pleasure of fishing with a handline. In the world of river walleye fishing, handlining is without question the most "unique" way that anglers target fish.

For those of you who are not familiar with handlining, it's a very unique, somewhat unorthodox and just about always productive river trolling technique. Until recently handline fishing has been primarily limited to a pair of rivers located along the eastern border of Michigan. The St. Clair and Detroit Rivers are collectively two of the most important spawning areas in the Great Lakes for walleye. Countless fish from Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and as far away as Saginaw Bay migrate to these rivers each spring to spawn.

Handlining got its start on these Michigan rivers, but it works anywhere anglers fish for walleye in flowing water.

Tournament anglers have carried this technique far and wide with impressive success. Still, the average weekend angler knows little about handlining or how it can help anglers catch more walleye.

Handline fishing is exactly what the name implies. The angler doesn't use a traditional rod or reel to fight the fish, but instead pulls the fish in hand over hand until it can be netted or simply flipped into the boat. A spring loaded reel loaded with braided wire is mounted to the boat and used to manage the line.

Attached to the end of this wire is a lure spreader locally referred to as a shank. The shank is actually another piece of wire with two or more clevices attached at key points along the shank that accept trolling leads made from heavy monofilament line. At the bottom of the shank a heavy snap accepts a lead weight that ranges in size from 12 ounces to two pounds. Depending on water depth and current speed, just enough weight is selected so when the wire, shank, leaders and lures are all lowered the angler can easily feel the weight tunk bottom.

The most popular reel for handlining (RCWIRE) is produced by Riviera Trolling Systems Incorporated (989-738-5700) based out of Port Austin, Michigan. The RCWIRE comes with a Kachman automatic retrieval hand line reel pre-spooled with 200 feet of 60 lb coated wire, a Tempress rod holder adapter, an aluminum clamp mount that fits ¾" to 1 ¼" rails to conveniently fit the reel to the boat, a 5 foot trolling shank, a 1 ¼ lb. lead weight and an allen wrench. The angler only needs to add his own leaders and lures to get started handlining.

The object of handlining is to use the weight to maintain contact with the subtle contours of the river bottom, while taking every caution not to drag the weight or snag bottom. The trailing harnesses are staggered in length so that two lures can be fished near bottom without fear of the lures tangling one another. Normally the bottom clevice is located about two feet above the weight and a 20 foot leader of 20# test monofilament is attached to this clevice. Further up the shank another 18-24 inches a second clevice is secured that accepts a longer 40 foot leader.

This two line configuration is the most common used by handliners because it allows two lures to be fished tight to bottom where walleye strikes are most likely to occur with little fear of snagging or loosing the lures. Most anglers favor small stickbaits when handlining such as the famous No. 11 Rapala floating minnow, but a wealth of other stickbaits, pencil plugs and even spinner concoctions are often used by handliners.

To set a handline and begin fishing the angler begins slowly trolling upstream and pulls out enough wire to lower his weight a couple feet into the water. The leader attached to the bottom clevice is then set by threading it out into the water by hand. Once this bait is set and swimming properly the shank is lowered a couple more feet into the water and the second leader is let out. The second leader is longer to allow the bait an opportunity to dive deep enough to be positioned tight to bottom.

Spare leaders are pre-tied, marked for length and stored on a leader wheel to prevent them from getting tangled. Once both leaders are set and swimming freely, the weight is lowered the rest of the way to the bottom and the angler grasps the wire lightly using the index finger of his right hand if he's fishing on the starboard side or left hand if he's fishing on the port side.

A typical handliner will control the boat using a tiller outboard and fish himself on the starboard side, while a buddy fishes the port side of the boat. Some more sophisticated handliners rig special foot pedal in their boats so they can steer with their feet and leave both hands free to fish!

As the boat trolls along upstream, the angler can easily lift and drop the weight while keeping track of changing water depth. Meanwhile the trailing stickbaits are positioned near bottom 100% of the time. Unlike jigging that allows the bait to constantly enter and leave the strike zone, handlining keeps the lure where fish are most likely to see and strike it all the time. It's no wonder this unusual trolling technique is so effective.

When a fish strikes, the bite is rather easy to detect through the wire line. The angler can't however determine if the fish is hooked on the top or bottom leader. By simply allowing the spring loaded reel to collect the wire, the angler gently pulls the fish to the surface until the shank comes into view. At this point the angler checks each leader to determine which one has hooked a fish. Without slowing his forward motion, the angler then pulls the fish in hand over hand until it can netted or if the fish is small flipped over the side of the boat.

Once landed, the leader is returned to the water and the shank lowered again to bottom. Slick!


Handlining has been practiced and refined for generations. There are very few ways to improve on the basic handlining presentation, but the way anglers approach the river bed can make a huge difference on how many fish are contacted and ultimately caught.

The bottom of a walleye river is rarely flat and featureless. Instead the bottom composition changes from soft mud to scattered rock or a combination of rock, sand and gravel substrate. In addition deeper waters such as the river channel wind around features such as points, islands, etc., creating a convenient navigation route for walleyes moving both up and downstream. Walleye prefer to travel along and rest near these meandering edges whenever possible.
Because a handline angler is in constant contact with bottom, it's easy to identify areas that feature hard bottoms, drop offs, depressions in the bottom or other structural features that walleyes prefer. In short, a handliner is learning the intimate details of his fishing area in a way that jig anglers can not match.

To the casual observer, it appears that handlining is mostly about aimlessly trolling upstream. In reality there is some aimless trolling involved in getting to know productive stretches of the river bottom. However, once a handline fisherman has found a "spot on the spot" that's holding fish, it becomes second nature to make repeated passes over the structure that's holding fish. By quartering into the current, the angler can present his trailing lures to fish that the boat has not passed over. It's even possible to troll downstream while positioning the boat for another upstream pass over prime real estate.

The longer an angler uses the handline to explore his river environment, the more intimate his knowledge of the river bottom and places where walleye hang out becomes. Over time this angler develops a mental list of spots that typically hold fish and each day on the water simply becomes a milk run of sorts.

Few anglers understand the rivers they fish like a handliner. This often misunderstood trolling technique is without question one of the most efficient ways to fish flowing water.

Handlining may not be for everyone, but don't knock it until you've tried it. Frankly, it's hard to imagine a river fishing technique that could do a better job of keeping lures in the strike zone. Effective in clear, stained and even dirty waters, the hard core handliners ply their craft after dark, but for beginners fishing in the daylight is the best way to develop confidence in this game.

Imagine catching walleye at will and you'll have a good idea how deadly handlining can be.

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By Larry Hartwick

One nice thing about Great Lakes trolling is that we seldom get bored and stuck in the "same stuff, different day mode". There is always something better, faster, stronger around the corner that will be hailed as the newest and greatest to ever grace the fishing department shelves. Sometimes these are nothing more than a "flash in the pan", while others prove their effectiveness and are added to the ever growing arsenal that we haul around the lakes trying to be the latest "Pied Piper of the Fish".

For several years I resisted using cut bait, stating that I didn't need it to catch fish. We had used a version of cut bait for about 20 years and while it was effective, most of the time we didn't need it to box a limit. Times change and so does the Great Lakes. The massive algae blooms, that colored our water green are gone and have been replaced with ultra clear blue water that makes viewing dodgers and flashers at depths of 50 feet possible. Who would have imagined this scenario 20 years ago?

What has changed in cut bait? For starters we can buy it already processed instead of picking up fish in the round at a fish market and tediously converting it into bait strips. What a revolution! I can't begin to explain how much work it was starting from a whole sucker! Now a stop at the local tackle shop to pick up a couple tubs of strips, and you're ready to go with bait. Also at a price that is much better than what we would have into a sucker strip if we had ever counted our time involved in the process.

Using a cut bait rig is really easy. It is probably one of the easiest techniques to date to master in a short amount of time. Fishing cut bait requires the use of a "Cut Bait Rig" which is a 5 foot rig that starts at the front of the rig with a bead chain swivel. This keeps everything from getting twisted. Following the bead chain is a series of three flies that are equally spaced apart. These are strictly for color, flash and ultimately attraction. Following behind the three flies is the bait head that will hold the cut bait strip. The bait strip is inserted into the bait head and held in place by inserting a round toothpick thru the bait head and also the bait strip. Sound complicated? It's not, stick a strip in the head, run a toothpick thru the head and strip, break the toothpick ends off flush with the sides of the bait head and it's ready to go. The hooks trail along side and slightly behind the strip and are independent of the bait strip. Now it is just a matter of picking out a flasher or rotater that you want to use and hook the "Cut Bait Rig" to it.

The flashers are normally fished from 3-12 feet behind an OR8 Heavy Tension Release although you can experiment with different lead lengths. Keep in mind the flashers cut a larger circle in the water as the length behind the ball increases. You only need enough distance to achieve a nice roll on the bait. The bait shouldn't be spinning like a top, but should keep a continuous roll as it turns over and over to create the desired attraction. If you use only one "Cut Bait Rig" at a time, you really won't see much difference in the catch rate as compared to any other method. This method is most productive when two or more flashers and "Cut Bait Rigs" are deployed. One of the biggest differences that I have witnessed is that it will light up fish all day long as opposed to the morning and evening flurry that has been the norm. Like anything else, the more you use it, the more effective you will be. My personal preference is for using "Reel Flashers" with Shure Strike Ultimate Cut Bait Rigs behind them. Both come in a vast array of colors that will match any situation that you are likely to encounter. These can be fished on downriggers, divers, leadcore, copper wire, planer boards or any other method being used in the Great Lakes. One very effective
presentation when the fish were up in the water column, was the use of the Riviera TPB (Triple
Planer Board) to deliver leadcore lines or mono lines. The mono lines were weighted with weights
up to 8 ounces using OR16 Snap Weight Clips to keep them attached to the line.
All are effective methods depending on the day. Yesterday's fish are history and today is definitely
a different day, keep experimenting! Will you smell like fish? Yes, but isn't that the point?

Note: You can contact Shure Strike by email at shurestrike@yahoo.com

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By Mark Romanack

The in-line planer board (AKA Side Planer) isn't exactly a new fishing concept, but the ways anglers are finding to better use these boards is newsworthy. Perhaps the best way to describe these little boards is to say they are inexpensive, versatile and highly effective. Those are some pretty powerful alkaloids, but the in-line board deserves a lot of credit for both catching fish and for getting anglers hooked on trolling.

New last year the OR31 Side Planer SST in-line board immediately became popular with open water anglers. Similar to the popular OR12 Side Planer, the OR31 is bright orange in color, comes without the flag and is equipped with an OR19 Adjustable Heavy Tension Planer Board Release. Ideal for fishing lead core, copper wire, mini disks, Snap Weights and a wealth of other trolling hardware, the OR31 was designed with salmon, trout and stripper fishing in mind.

Factory rigged for fishing the release and slide method of board rigging, the OR31 SST is perfect for stacking several lines per each side of the boat. The illustration shows how to twist the line while rigging the SST to release easily when a fish strikes, sending the board sliding down the line. The trick here is to create a loop of line that is pinched between the jaws of the release. When a fish strikes the loop of line is easily pulled free, sending the board sliding down the line via the snap swivel mounted at the back of the board.
For fishing situations that require the board to remain fixed on the line, the factory rigged OR19 works great. Simply open the release and bury the line as deep as possible between the rubber pads. Close the release and clip the snap swivel over the line. Rigged in this manner, the board will remain on the line and must be reeled in as the fish is fought. When the board is close enough to the boat to reach, the board is removed and the fight continued. This rigging method is preferred by anglers who fish lead core and copper wire rigs.

Ironically, the OR31 has also made a big splash with walleye and general purpose trollers. Walleye guys who stack several lines per side like the OR31 SST because it is rigged from the factory for the release and slide method of board fishing. Some anglers mix OR31 and OR12 boards in the same trolling pattern using the yellow OR12 boards on one side and the orange OR31 boards on the other!

Both the OR31 and OR12 boards function best when fished on monofilament lines. If braided lines are used, we suggest upgrading to the OR18 Snapper Release. This cam action release can be adjusted tight enough to hold the most slippery superbraid lines without fail. That's part of the versatility of Off Shore Tackle in-line (Side Planer) boards. A number of different releases can quickly be rigged on these boards for specific trolling situations, line types, trolling speeds and other applications. No other in-line board is as versatile or dependable as the OR12 and OR31.

The tattle flag kits continue to grow in popularity. Sold only as an after market kit, it takes about five minutes to rig an OR31 or OR12 board with a Tattle Flag kit (OR12TF).

Designed to telegraph light strikes and to indicate when small fish or debris is being dragged, the Tattle Flag is must have equipment for anyone who trolls for smaller fish, with live bait, in waters where panfish or sheepshead are common and in weedy waters.

The unique and foolproof spring adjustment of the Tattle Flag allows this strike indicator to be used with a wide range of fishing tackle. Reducing the spring tension makes the flag more sensitive to light strikes. Increasing the flag tension allows the Tattle Flag to be used with deep diving crankbaits, Snap Weights and other trolling gear that pulls hard in the water.

The perfect spring tension setting is when the flag leans slightly backward. In this position the angler can actually confirm that the lure is wobbling as the flag vibrates back and forth.

Until you've fished a Tattle Flag, you can't imagine how often fish strike, but aren't hooked. The Tattle Flag telegraphs both light and hard strikes, tipping off anglers to the overall mood of the fish on any given day.


Effectively fishing in-line boards requires anglers to develop board reading skills or the ability to determine strikes. Newcomers to the world of in-line boards often struggle at first with this chore. Even seasoned veterans can have a tough time telling when a fish has been hooked during turns or when fishing in rough water.

The best way to fish in-line boards is in pairs positioned 20-50 feet apart. A single board is tougher to read because there is nothing to compare it to. When in-line boards are fished as pairs, it's much easier to see if one board moves slightly out of formation.

Fishing downwind is another trick that makes it easier to read in-line boards. Traveling with the wind, the boards tend to spread out better and follow a more predetermined path. When a strike occurs, the movement of the board pulling backwards can be detected easily. Also, because the boat is moving in a steady direction constant pressure is maintained on the fish. This helps the hooks to penetrate better and reduces the chances of fish escaping. Trolling downwind is also the best way to maintain a constant course, reduce tangles and eliminate the need for someone manning the steering wheel every second.

Fishing downwind is a good idea in calm seas, but especially important in rough water. The rougher the water becomes, the more difficult it is to read boards as they cut into the waves. Simply going with the flow and fishing downwind will make board fishing a more enjoyable experience.
Turns are when a lot of fish are hooked, but it is also one of the more difficult times to detect strikes. When the boat is turning, pay particular attention to the boards. The outside lines which will be speeding up and often the increased lure speed triggers strikes. If you suspect that a fish has been hooked in a turn, grab the rod and pull tight against the board. If the board seems unnaturally heavy, chances are good you've hooked a fish.

While most of the strikes will occur on the outside lines, don't ignore the inside lines that are slowing down. One dead giveaway that an inside line has hooked a fish is when the boat straightens back out and the board seems to be lagging behind. If in doubt, check the line immediately. It's better to find nothing wrong, than to drag a small fish around needlessly. Using Tattle Flags will eliminate this common problem associated with in-line boards.

It's also important when turning not to turn too sharply. A sharp turn will allow the inside line to swim over top of the outside line. Once the lines cross, the boards will not return to their normal running position.

Making wide turns helps to keep the lines free of one another. Another trick is to reel in the inside lines close to the boat before making a turn. This allows the turn to be much sharper without crossing lines in the process.


In-line boards can be used to target just about any species that swims. Walleye anglers are perhaps the biggest fans of in-line boards, but rigged correctly these boards can be used to take Great Lakes salmon, trout and steelhead as well. Striper anglers have literally fallen in love with in-line boards. Nothing does a better job of spreading out lines when working fish in open water that are found at different water depths.

The next time you take a pike or walleye trip to Canada, toss in a pair of in-line boards. You'll be amazed how many untapped northern pike and walleye live in open waters far from the nearest point or other structure.

In-line boards are also deadly for fishing inland trout species, bass over the tops of emerging weed beds, musky along weed lines, saltwater species that live on the shallow flats and much more. It's hard to imagine a single fishing tool that is more versatile and or better able to target more species than the in-line board. Happy trolling in 2006.

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By Mark Romanack

Just about everyone who fishing open water uses trolling weights of one type or another. The Off Shore Tackle Snap Weight is a simple device that's designed to place weight on the fishing line anywhere between the lure and the rod tip. With a quick pinch between the thumb and forefinger, a Snap Weight can be added or removed from the line, making these the hands down "easy" ways of fishing trolling weights.

When the Snap Weight system (OR20) was first introduced several years ago, the need to establish some standards for use and depth become obvious. The folks at Precision Angling Specialists, the founders of Precision Trolling developed a simple and easy method of fishing Snap Weighs called the 50/50 system.

To use the 50/50 system all an angler needs to do is let out his favorite trolling lure 50 feet behind the boat, add a Snap Weight onto the line and then let out an additional 50 feet of trolling lead. When a fish is hooked the whole rig is reeled in until the Snap Weight can be removed from the line. It only takes a second to remove the Snap Weight and continue fighting the fish.

Using scuba gear to document the running depths of Snap Weights, Precision Trolling tested the 50/50 system with 1/2, 3/4, 1, 1 1/2, 2 and 3 ounce Snap Weights. These weight sizes are the most commonly used among open water trollers. The chart provided in Precision Trolling is based on three common trolling speeds.

The 50/50 system is a great way to put Snap Weights into service, but this only scratches the surface of the ways Snap Weights can be used to troll up more walleye, pike, salmon, trout, striper and other species.

Another simple way to manage Snap Weights is to use a single weight size and an initial lead length of say 25 feet. To vary the depth gradually increase the distance between the Snap Weight and the rod tip until a productive pattern is discovered.

Snap Weights can also be used with much heavier weights for targeting deep water species like striper or lake trout. A Snap Weight clip will easily handle four, six and even eight ounce trolling weights. By putting two Snap Weight clips onto the same split ring, anglers can fish up to 16 ounces of weight without fear of losing the weight. Slick!


The popularity of lead core trolling these days brings up the question, which trolling system is better? The answer is they both are! Snap Weights position the entire weight in one spot on the line. Slight changes in boat speed and wave conditions will cause the Snap Weight to rise and fall rather quickly in the water column. Since the Snap Weight is constantly searching the water column, they function best in open water environments or when hunting for fish.

Lead core line spreads out the weight over a great distance. Because the weight is dispersed, lead core line tends to run a more consistent depth compared to Snap Weights. The consistent running depth provided by lead core line makes this system ideal for fishing bottom structure, contours and also for specific depth fishing like targeting thermoclines. Both Snap Weights and lead core line are useful trolling tools. Don't limit your options by using just one method.


Snap Weights are most often used for getting walleye spinners to depth, but they can also be used to gain additional depth from floating/diving crankbaits. The staff at Precision Angling Specialists discovered that a one ounce Snap Weight placed 20 feet in front of a typical floating style crankbait will increase the diving depth by about 1/3. In other words a crankbait that would normally run 15 feet will run 20 feet when a one ounce Snap Weight is attached to the line. This bit of useful information is a great way to get a little more from deep diving crankbaits.

For even more information regarding Snap Weights check out the publications Precision Trolling and Precision Trolling Big Water Edition available at leading sporting goods stores or on line at www.precisionangling.com.


Snap Weights were designed to function with monofilament fishing lines. Snap Weights can be used with super braid lines if the smaller weight sizes are employed. Using larger trolling weight in combination with super braid lines may cause the Snap Weight to pop off the line and be lost.


Snap Weights are without question the fastest and most convenient means of adding weight to a fishing line. The 50/50 method is a good place to start, but don't limit your fishing to this popular rigging option.

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By Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz

The Snap Weight (OR16 and red in color) is one of those ideas that was way overdue. One thing about trolling that always seems to hold true, is the constant need to control lure depth. There simply is no easier way to add weight to a trolling line than using an OR16 Snap Weight clip. The OR16 was designed to quickly accept weights from 1/2 ounce to three ounces. For the majority of walleye trolling chores weights from 1/2 to two ounces are ideal but many anglers use larger weights including sizes up to four, six and even eight ounces on their OR16 clips! The options of adding or subtracting weight are almost endless thanks to this simple and affordable invention.

The OR16 Snap Weight Clip looks like other Off Shore Releases, but this product isn't designed as a line release, but rather to hold trolling weights on the line at any point between the lure and the rod tip. To use an OR16 simply pinch open the OR16 clip and slip the line in behind the pin. The heavy spring tension used on this clip insures the OR16 will remain on the line where you want it. When the clip is allowed to close, the line is held firmly between two rubber pads and the pin is indexed into a hole in the bottom rubber pad so there is simply no way the Snap Weight can pop off the line.

Since the OR16 stays put on the line, the angler must remove it when fighting a fish. The easiest way to remove a Snap Weight is to have a fishing partner reach up and pinch open the OR16 as it nears the rod tip. This process should take no more than a second. Once the Snap Weight is removed, resume the fight as normal.

With a Snap Weight, trolling weights can be added to the line near the lure or anywhere on the line from the lure to the rod tip. Ideal when targeting suspended fish, if Snap Weights have any weakness it's that sometimes getting a solid hookset is difficult when using heavier size weights and light biting fish like walleye.

The illustration shows two typical Snap Weight set ups including one with a heavier two ounce weight and another with a lighter one ounce weight. Note that the two ounce Snap Weight runs with a greater angle or bow in the line. When a fish strikes, this bow or angle must be pulled tight before the fish can be hooked securely.

A light biting fish like a walleye will often feel the resistance and drop the bait before the line pulls tight. To avoid this situation, try using a lighter weight (such as a one ounce) and setting the lead length further back to help compensate for lost depth. Because the smaller weight creates a more modest angle or bow in the line, faster hook-ups are achieved and even light biting fish have a difficult time detecting anything unnatural.


This simple Snap Weight trick works wonders on light biting walleye, but there are some other tips that can also help put more fish in the boat. Instead of using single beak style hooks for crawler harnesses, tie up your own harnesses using two No. 6 Mustad Triple Grip treble hooks. Treble hooks do a much better job of hooking and holding open water fish. This goes double for light biters.

The Triple Grip is a super premium hook that's ultra sharp and penetrates with the slightest pressure. To make this hook grab and hold even better, take a pair of needle nose pliers and bend each hook point slightly outward. When one of the hook points bites, this slight modification causes the hook to rotate and allow other points to also penetrate into the fish.


Walleye are notorious for following a bait that making a half hearted effort to strike. Often the result is a lightly hooked fish that almost immediately shakes free.

The OR12 Side Planer telegraphs these light strikes by sliding backwards in the water momentarily, then pulling forward again. If the OR12 has a Tattle Flag (OR12TF) attached, the flag will go down for a couple seconds then pop right back up.

When you see the board move or the flag drop and pop back up, immediately free spool line from the reel for a few yards. This allows the board to lay stationary in the water and the trailing spinner to flutter and stall. When the reel is popped back into gear and the board suddenly jerks forward, trailing walleye will often strike at the rapidly escaping lure. This simple trick really works to trigger strikes from lethargic or otherwise light biting walleye. Try it.

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By Mark Romanack

Trollers have a need for speed. No matter if the target fish are walleye, pike, muskie, salmon, trout or any number of other species, trolling speed influences important variables such as lure depth and lure action. Trolling speed also creates what anglers refer to as a strike triggering response or reaction strikes.

A number of things can trigger a strike response from fish including lure flash, color, action, shape, smell and of course lure speed. Most anglers rank speed near the top of this list and anyone who has spent much time on the water knows that trolling speed is often one of the most important variables to recognize and control. Trolling speed is also one of the easiest variables to experiment with.


The major problem with trolling speed is that communicating this important information with other anglers can be difficult. Trolling speed is most commonly measured by using one of three different types of trolling speed indicators. The most common type used are mechanical spinner wheels that are mounted to the transom of the boat and interfaced with a sonar unit. The second type are after market spinner wheels that mount on the transom and incorporate an independent dash mounted read out. The third type of speed indicator are Global Positioning Systems that record trolling speed simply as boat speed over ground.

All of these trolling speed indicators are accurate and reproducible relatively speaking. However, since these different types of units are not calibrated against one another, the speed reading of one device rarely matches that of another. You can prove this fact to yourself by incorporating two or more speed indicators on your boat and noting how the read outs rarely jive. Again this is largely because the many different brands and models of speed sensing devices do not have a standard they are all calibrated against.

Therefore it's safe to say that unless the person you're trying to share information with is using exactly the same brand and model of speed sensor, you're probably talking apples and oranges when you share details about trolling speed.
It's also important to note that wind and wave conditions can have a huge impact on trolling speed. It's inherently easier to monitor and maintain a specific trolling speed when fishing downwind or with the flow of the waves. Trolling into the waves causes the boat to periodically slow down or hesitate because of wave pressure striking the hull. Also the boat doesn't follow a direct course when traveling into the wind, but instead wanders left and right of intended line of travel further influencing forward speed.

Even if the help of an autopilot is employed, trolling speed is almost impossible to maintain when trolling into the wind. It's for this very reason that all the testing for my popular book Precision Trolling is conducted in calm seas or downwind in light seas. Precision Trolling is a user guide that provides accurate and easy to understand depth diving data for over 300 different crankbaits, snap weights and other common trolling gear. The new 8th edition also provides useful dive curves created using super braid lines that appear right on the Dive Curve, not a difficult to understand conversion chart. For more information check out www.precisionangling.com or call 800-353-6958 and visit with one of our staff members.


Most anglers are of the opinion that lure speed has a significant impact on lure diving depth. This is only partly true. Lures such as crankbaits that float at rest and dive when pulled through the water do not dive deeper as the trolling speed is increased.

When trolling a crankbait, water resistance striking the bill of the lure forces the bait downward in the water column. Meanwhile an equal upwards force in the form of increased line friction prevents the lure from gaining depth despite the fact that speed has been increased.

The primary ways to increase diving depth of floating/diving lures is to lengthen the trolling lead or to reduce the line diameter (thus reducing friction) used while trolling.

Any lure or trolling device that sinks is speed dependent as relates to running depth. The slower these devices are trolled the deeper they run and the faster they are trolled the less depth they achieve. In short, trolling speed has a greater impact on lure action and how fish relate to this action than the depth achieved.


Of the three common types of speed indicators, I favor the after market types that feature an independent needle style read out. Based on thousands of hours of on the water research for Precision Trolling, I have come to the conclusion that the data provided by most sonar mounted spinner wheels fluctuate too wildly to be useful. These constant fluctuations in trolling speed read out makes it difficult to determine an accurate trolling speed or to maintain a consistent speed.

Moor Electronics produces three after market speed and surface temperature units that are high quality, accurate and dependable. The least expensive is the Osprey. When running at high speeds, the spinner wheel on these units must be removed from their housing to prevent damage. For a little more money the Kingfish and Tournament Kingfish offer trolling speeds from 0-6 mph and operational speeds up to 60 mph, making them convenient to use and hassle free.
The large dial of the Kingfish units resembles the speedometers found in older cars. When the spinner wheel which is larger in diameter than other brands of spinner wheels begins to move, the needle on the Kingfish unit responds instantly. Because there is considerable space between the numbered speed graduations it's easy to monitor minor changes in trolling speed at a glance. Also, this important feature allows anglers to maintain a desired speed with less oscillation. These units can be deck or flush mounted as desired. For more information on these machines, log onto www.moorelectronics.com.

Another speed control option is simple to use. Luhr Jensen produces a speed control unit that mounts to the side of the boat and features a lead weight the dangles into the water. The faster the boat moves, the more this lead weight swings backwards, moving a corresponding needle that indicates trolling speed. While the Luhr Jensen product may not calibrate exactly with other speed units on your boat, it is a good indicator of minor changes in speed.


For most trolling situations surface speed is what anglers should be most concerned with. However, when faced with deep water trolling chores, such as downrigger fishing on the Great Lakes, a sub surface speed indicator can be invaluable. Sub surface currents are more common than many anglers realize and the direction of the water flow isn't necessarily downwind as you might expect.

Sub surface currents are caused by thermal barriers in the water column. Significant currents associated with these thermal barriers may flow in any direction of the compass and are completely unpredictable. To identify these currents, a sub surface speed indicator is essential. Most of the major downrigger companies sell sub surface speed and temperature probes. Moor Electronics also produces a popular unit known as the Sub-Troll 900.
When fishing in deep water it's important to monitor sub surface currents and how these currents relate to lure trolling speed. For example imagine your boat moving in a north direction at a surface speed of 3 mph. Fifty feet below the surface where your downrigger lines are fishing, a sub surface current of 2 mph is moving south. The colliding sub surface current and surface boat speed effectively cause the trailing lures to move only 1 mph, not 3 mph like the surface speed suggests.

Lure action is greatly influenced by trolling speed and a great deal of lures only function within a rather narrow speed window. Without the help of a sub surface trolling speed indicator it's impossible to determine either the speed or presence of sub surface currents. It's like trolling in the dark.


Trolling speed indicators are often delicate and easily damaged. Also, if these units are not properly installed they will not yield accurate or consistent results.

The spinner wheel style indicators must be mounted on the transom of the boat at the point where the transom and hull meet. The bracket should be attached to the transom, while the spinner wheel is exposed slightly below the hull so it responds properly to water moving over the hull. On aluminum boats make sure the speed indicator is mounted well away from rivets, keels, chimes, outboards, livewell intakes or anything else that disturbs the smooth flow of water.
When spinner wheels are used with trailerable boats, it's a good idea to wrap a rubber band around the wheel to prevent it from spinning needlessly as the boat is trailered down the highway. If this simple step is not taken, eventually the bushings will wear out and the spinner wheel will become less accurate. Hitting these spinner wheels occasionally with a spray style lubricant also helps to clean and keep them spinning smoothly.

Most subsurface trolling speed indicators operate using an antenna mounted to the downrigger and a sending unit mounted to the downrigger cable near the weight. The cable serves as a transmitter wire. This style of trolling speed indicator is relatively trouble free and only requires a 9 volt battery to be replaced about once a year.

The trolling speed readings provided by GPS units are based on satellite data that is constantly changing. This is why you can often sit motionless at the dock and note that the GPS speed over ground actually says you're moving. At high speeds GPS speed over ground is very accurate, but at the trolling speeds the speed over ground indicated will fluctuate not unlike spinner wheel style speed indicators.

Anglers who take a serious look at trolling speed will find that this easily manipulated variable is often the best way to trigger more strikes and catch bigger fish. Everyone who trolls has a need for speed.

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By Larry Hartwick

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

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

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

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

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By Captain Craig MacPhee

I found the 2005 fishing season to be just as challenging as 2004. Just when we'd think we had it all figured out, mother nature would once again show us who the boss was. My home port is Harbor Beach, Michigan, which is on the mid-western side of Lake Huron. The salmon fishery there has greatly reduced over the past few years but the lake trout fishery has been world class. We fished stretches of Lake Huron from White Rock to Port Austin and found quality lake trout to be abundant throughout. Although the fish were abundant, we could tell there was definitely something going on with the bait fish situation in the area. One day the fish would be in Harbor Beach, and the next day the same school of fish would be in 10-15 miles away. We had to constantly stay on the fish that were following the few bait fish that were around.

Although my home port is Harbor Beach, I spent most of my summer tournament fishing the Great Lakes and chartering on Therapy Too, Captained by Al Elzinga out of Port Austin, Michigan. He is the owner of Huron Charter Service and has spent upwards of 25 years in the charter business. Captain Al worked with me showing me the ropes of the charter industry. Our chemistry almost instantly clicked as I was eager to learn and he had a wealth of knowledge to share. We both found ourselves to be very competitive with one another and it pushed us to work harder so our clients could catch more fish. When I combine the tournament knowledge learned from Riviera's well-known Larry Hartwick, and the charter experience I learned from Captain Al, I consider myself to be in the middle of some pretty good company. The experienced gained in such a short time has been unbelievable.

While working those charters we found it necessary to fish deep and utilize the new craze of "cut bait." It was not uncommon for us to be fishing the bottom 10 feet of water in depths of 100-150 feet. To accomplish this we had to slow our speeds down and really target the area holding the fish when we found them. While fishing cut bait, we learned it is not important to throw the whole kitchen sink at them and hope you'll get a bite. The important thing is to fish 6-8 quality presentations in an area you know there is fish, and capitalize when you get on them. It was not uncommon for us to have 3, 4, 5 and even 6 fish on at a time. What worked best for us day in and day out were Opti-Dodgers and Reel Flashers rigged with Shure Strike Ultimate Cut Bait Rigs. To obtain the trolling depths spoken about with these set-ups, it was EXTREMELY important for us to use quality high tension releases. Every boat I was on this year, including my own, utilized the red Off Shore Tackle OR8 Heavy Tension Releases on their downriggers. This was not a coincidence by any means. Once you try them, the difference between what you use now and the OR8 will speak for itself. This release has great holding power even under the pressure of big rotators in deep water. False releases and the agony of re-setting a line 100 plus feet down are a thing of the past. Rock-solid hook-ups are the norm!

In between charter weekends I was on the road most of the time fishing different tournaments. I've got a pretty awesome wife and some pretty generous sponsors that help make it possible.
This year I fished Lake Ontario on both the New York and Canadian side, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan on the entire Michigan border. I do not consider opportunities like charter fishing and tournament fishing "work". Sometimes they are long hard hours, but in my opinion, they are a profession but not "work".

The tournament season for me started off at Port Dalhousie, Ontario, on Lake Ontario. This was my first time ever fishing on Lake Ontario and I was anxious, as well as a bit nervous. After arriving in Port Dalhousie, the nervousness quickly went away. What I learned almost immediately was the Canadian anglers are friendly, genuine people.

On the first day of the tournament we landed on the fish. As I was setting out rod number 1, it took a rip 10 feet behind the boat. I was in shock but we all agreed instantly we were definitely in the right place. We were fishing a surface program using body baits behind Off Shore Tackle Company LLC's OR31 Side Planer SST boards with the OR18 Snapper Releases. As we managed to get 4 rods in the water in a hurry, we had 3 fish almost immediately. This all happened within the first 20 minutes of fishing and this set the pace for the day. The boat I was fishing on had a Lowrance X15 graph and it was set up perfectly. We were only fishing in 20-30 feet of water but that graph did not lie. The X15 would mark a school of fish and 30 seconds later when our planer boards came through we were hooked up. The ease of retrieving and re-setting these boards made our first day a good one. The stealth they provide was the key. Without them, I know we would have ended up very frustrated because our downriggers, although generally effective, did not take a hit.

Day two was completely different. We went to our GPS marks from day one and made a pass. The Lowrance X15 graph was blank but we "just knew" the fish were there. Well, ultimately, they weren't. What we learned from this tournament was if you have a Lowrance Sonar graph, ALWAYS trust it, and to follow your pre-determined "plan B" program; which we did not have.

I spent the next few months chartering and fishing various tournaments throughout the Great Lakes. In one way or another, the team I was on cashed checks just about every time. Our best results happened when we fished Port Darlington, Ontario, on Lake Ontario.

Gearing up for this tournament, we did a bit of team re-structuring and came up with a good combination as a whole. Right off the get go we all agreed to keep it "light" on the boat and to listen to each others input whether it was good or bad and make a team decision based on the scenario. Our new Lake Ontario team consisted of myself along with fellow Off Shore Tackle pro staffer, Lance Valentine, and two of Canada's very own Deryk Hastie (Big D), and Skeiner. If anyone was to call Skeiner by his own name of Adrian I doubt they'd get his attention.

Once again, Canadian hospitality paid off for us. We had never fished there before and did not know anything about the structure or fishery. As we were launching my boat "Sick Time" we met a guy named "Jim" as he recognized our Off Shore Tackle attire and asked if we were fishing the tournament. We told him we were and asked if he had any advice. He advised us he wasn't fishing the tournament but just limited out on a school of big kings. With Jim's information, within 10 minutes we were in the middle of a nice school of mature kings. My new Lowrance X26 color sonar graph really helped take the guess work out of where the fish were at in the water column and the size of the fish we were dealing with. After figuring out it was a cut bait bite, we figured out the right combination and put it to them. We quickly caught and released 10 kings and were feeling pretty good about the information we had. Our effective program was running Shure Strike Ultimate Cut Bait Rigs with herring strips behind "Reel Flashers" on each rod. The fish were devouring the cut bait.

The fished stayed in that same area for the next two days and then a strong wind worked up overnight with sustained gusts up to 40 mph. The fish were being pushed even further away from Port Darlington, but we stuck to our game plan.

As we moved to another location, we re-rigged our cut bait rigs with new herring and got our Riviera Triple Planer Boards ready to fire out once we stopped. As we got to our location, it was like a light turned on. We saw nothing but big red and yellow hooks (fish marks) on our graph. This time we made sure to rely on our graph again. The X26 did not let us down. We marked a school bait fish that contained 12 big fish in the middle of it. The color separation IS that good with this graph. We were able to keep making passes through the bait we marked with 2 downriggers rigged up with the Ridgeback Rattlers (to get the fish to look at our spread) and cut bait, two mono dipseys with cut bait, and 2 leadcores with cut bait off the Triple Planer Boards. We picked off individual fish as we went. We could see the fish hit our lures on the graph before our downrigger and dipsey rods went off. Everything seemed to come together at once. Finally!!! Within 30 minutes, we landed 4 fish over 20 pounds. Our biggest was just under 26 pounds. We circled that same school of fish until there was only one big mark left. We caught 11 fish at or near 20 pounds within 3 hours. I guess the one remaining fish was "no fool." He realized he was now by himself and decided he was not all that hungry after all. The weigh in was an adrenaline rush as the competition was very close. We capitalized on our opportunities and were able to move from 11th place on day one to winning the tournament on day two.

I wish we could take all of the credit ourselves but we know without the help of our sponsors and our conversation with "Jim" at the boat ramp, or without our quality equipment, this win may have never been possible.

The more I learn about salmon and trout fishing, the more I realize the importance the flexibility, and the willingness to explore new ideas. You have to be willing to take the ups and the downs in stride and learn from your mistakes. Keep it light on the boat and don't take anything personal during the heat of the battle.

I'd like to thank Bruce DeShano (and entire Off Shore Tackle Company LLC Staff) and Larry Hartwick (Riviera Trolling Systems Incorporated) for believing in us enough to let us use your products. We truly believe in the quality products that both of you provide and recommend them to our "friends." I would also like to thank Jim McConville from Lowrance, John and Heidi Stieben from Opti-Tackle, and Chip Greene from Ridgeback Rattler Downrigger Weights for the opportunities they provided us as well. If any of you reading this article see us on the tournament trail this year or see us speaking at seminars please do not be afraid to say hi or ask any questions. We always have time to meet new friends and share new ideas.

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By Mark Romanack, Gary Parsons, Bruce DeShano, Jim McConville, Captain Jerry Lee, Dr. Steven Holt, and Keith Kavajecz

Open water walleye fishing is the "final frontier." Sprawling lakes and reservoirs that support enormous schools of trophy walleye have taken center stage as the fishing grounds of the future.

Pardon the Star Trek vernacular, but the one fish that most anglers consider to be the ultimate bottom dweller is actually an opportunistic feeder. The always hungry walleye is as likely to suspend in the water column as it is to hug the bottom at dinner time.

Once anglers understand that walleye are not necessarily structure fish, nor are they always found suspended in the water column, they have the knowledge to search out these fish even in the seemingly endless space of open water. Few absolutes are associated with this unique species, but it's safe to say that walleye prefer to feed in areas that provide the most readily available food source and that often means open water.


One look at the wide open spaces walleye call home suggests that trolling is the only practical way to search out and pattern these fish. No matter if the fish are suspended in the water column or found belly to bottom, trolling is usually the best way to catch them.

Keep in mind that walleye are constantly roaming in search of food. The hot spot today may be a complete zero tomorrow. This fact of open water fishing means that anglers face a daily struggle to find and stay on fish. To the die hard structure angler, this wanderlust approach can seem a lot like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.
"Straying into open water is a leap of faith for the average walleye angler, but the rewards are worth the change in mind set," says Gary Parsons an expert open water angler. "One of the biggest advantages of fishing walleye in open water is these fish are usually motivated to feed. Walleye use open water for one reason, to feed. When a group of fish is located, chances are they will bite and bite often. Limit catches are more common than not when all the pieces of the open water trolling puzzle come together."

"It's important to understand that open water trolling is practiced on both a horizontal and vertical playing field," explains Parsons. "Planer boards reach out to cover water on a horizontal plane. Meanwhile, lures and other diving devices do their part to reach the vertical depths. Collectively these trolling aids cover water in an efficient way that forms a solid foundation for success."


Open water trolling requires some specialized pieces of fishing gear the average walleye angler may not own. Line counter reels are a good example of the specialized gear trollers require. Line counter reels feature a digital counter that records lead length as line is played off the reel. Monitoring lead lengths makes it possible for anglers to predict the running depth of their lures and also to duplicate productive lead lengths as needed.

Daiwa was the first to introduce a functional line counter reel, but today a number of manufacturers including Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops, Okuma and Shimano produce excellent line counter reels suitable for open water walleye trolling.
Planer boards are the second piece of specialized gear instrumental to open water trolling success. "Planer boards present lures out to the side of the boat helping to cover more water and contact more fish," says Bruce DeShano of Off Shore Tackle Company, one of the leading manufactures of in-line (AKA Side Planers) planer boards and other trolling gear. "In-line style planer boards designed to attach directly to the fishing line are inexpensive, easy to use and a highly effective way of trolling open water. These mini boards have literally stolen the open water trolling show. Simply let your lure out the desired distance, clip the in-line board onto the line and let out more line until the board reaches the desired outward coverage."

In-line planers also have another function. "In addition to presenting lures out to the side of the boat, these trolling aids also become strike indicators," explains DeShano. "When a fish is hooked, the board gets dragged backwards in the water as the fish struggles. Meanwhile, the angler reels in the board and fish together while to boat continues to troll along. When the board is retrieved to within reach of the boat it is removed from the line. It only takes a couple seconds to remove the board and continue the fight. Because the boat is moving forward as all this is happening, a hooked fish never gets an inch of slack line making them a favorite among tournament pros who hate to loose fish."

A third piece of specialized gear aids the open water walleye troller. "A combined sonar/GPS navigation system isn't a luxury, but rather a necessity for fishing walleye in open water," says Jim McConville, Regional Sales Manager for Lowrance Electronics. "Walleye can't hide from high quality sonar units. Sonar plays a major role in pinpointing the location and depth of fish in open water. Just as important, a Global Positioning System allows anglers to record the location of fish making it simple to insure successive trolling passes hit the mark."

Without a GPS unit fishing open water walleye is like fishing blindfolded. Combination sonar/GPS units represent the best value in marine electronics. The brands of electronics most often used by open water walleye anglers are Lowrance and Garmin.

Line counter reels, planer boards and sonar/GPS units are all vital pieces of gear for open water trolling. Just as important is the knowledge of knowing how deep the popular lures and trolling devices used by walleye anglers will dive.

"Two landmark books produced by Precision Angling Specialists, LLC answer the question of depth for just about anything an angler might want to troll," says Bruce DeShano. "Precision Trolling provides the diving depths of over 300 popular crankbaits, while Precision Trolling Big Water Edition offers depth data for open water gear including diving planers, snap weights and lead core line. Together these two books are nicknamed the "troller's bible" because they answer the question every troller wants to know. How deep does that dive?"

The "Dive Curve" charts in the Precision Trolling books show at a glance how much line must be deployed to achieve specific target depths. With this bit of invaluable information anglers can literally "aim" their lures at fish spotted on the sonar.


Faced with the challenge of presenting a wide variety of lure types anywhere in the water column, requires versatile trolling hardware. Three types of trolling aids step up to the challenge. Mini disks, snap weights and lead core line are among the most popular ways to target open water fish.

"Mini disks are a relatively new phenomenon," says Captain Jerry Lee a 30 year walleye veteran based out of Lake Erie. "Smaller versions of the directional style diving planers popular with trout and salmon trollers, mini disks do a great job of reaching the depth ranges walleye are most likely to call home. The typical mini disks range in size from the diameter of a quarter to that of a silver dollar."

Three major manufacturers produce these disks including Big Jon, Luhr Jensen and Fishlander. "All three brands of mini disks are similar," adds Lee. "The fishing line is attached to a snap on the front of the diver. At the back of the diver a second snap accepts a six foot leader. At the business end of the leader small spoons, shallow diving crankbaits and crawler harnesses are the most popular lures."

"Mini disks have a directional setting like their bigger cousins, but the outward tracking ability of these small disks is minimal," explains Lee. "I set the mini disk on the zero setting so it dives straight down into the water and then use a planer board to get the necessary outward coverage."

Snap weights are clip on style trolling weight that have become very popular among open water trollers. "The beauty of a snap weight is they can be placed anywhere on the line between the lure and the rod tip," says Bruce DeShano. "Clipped to the line by means of a pinch pad line release similar to those used for downrigger fishing, snap weights feature a split ring that makes changing sinker sizes easy."

"When a fish is hooked using a snap weight, the angler simply reels until the weight comes to the rod tip," adds DeShano. "Then with a pinch of the thumb and forefinger the weight is removed from the line and the fight continued. Slick and easy, snap weights also work well in combination with planer boards."

Another benefit of snap weights is they rise and fall rapidly in the water as boat speed fluctuates. Trailing lures are constantly fluctuating in the water column, hunting for fish. For this reason, snap weights work best when fishing in the top two thirds of the water column. Trying to fish snap weights too close to the bottom can lead to annoying snags.
Lead core line is the third method used to deploy open water trolling lures. A thin lead wire covered with a coating of braided nylon, lead core line isn't exactly new. Widely in use since the late 1940's, lead core comes in various break strengths like monofilament. The 18 or 27 pound test sizes are the most popular among walleye trollers.

"Lead core is most commonly fished as a segment of weighted line sandwiched between a monofilament leader and backing," says Dr. Steven Holt co-author of the Precision Trolling books. "The lure, leader, all the lead core line and varying amounts of backing are deployed to control the running depth."

The variations used with lead core are endless, but a common rig consists of a 50 foot monofilament leader, connected to three colors (30 meters) of 18# test lead core, matched to 200 yards of 10# test monofilament backing.

"Because lead core line distributes the cumulative weight over a greater distance, it runs at a more consistent depth than snap weights," says Dr. Holt. "Lead core gets the nod when fishing near bottom or when it's necessary to keep a lure in a precise depth zone."

Like mini disks and snap weights, lead core line can also be deployed using in-line planer boards. Each of these three trolling aids are invaluable for open water walleye situations.


Three trolling aids handle the necessary depth chores and three lure types produce the best on open water walleye. Flutter style trolling spoons, open water crawler harnesses and shallow diving stickbaits are the baits of choice for open water walleye trolling.

Flutter spoons bring with them a lot of flash and action. Designed to be fished a little faster than other trolling lures, a good spoon has an effective speed range of 1.5 to 4 MPH.

"The key to catching open water walleye on spoons is to use a lure that closely matches the size of the forage," says Captain Lee. "Most flutter spoons are produced with trout and salmon in mind. These baits are simply too big to interest walleye that feed on smaller forages. Spoons in the 2-3 inch range are the ideal size for walleye. Of the many spoons on the market, only three have proven themselves over and over again. The Wolverine Tackle Jr. Streak, Michigan Stinger Scorpion and Fishlander No. O. are all excellent walleye trolling spoons."

Spoons work best on walleye that are aggressively feeding. Because these lures can be trolled at faster speeds, they are a great tool for covering water when searching for fish. A quality ball bearing swivel is essential when trolling spoons to prevent line twist and allow these lures to achieve maximum action.

Crawler harnesses or what walleye pros simply call "spinners" represent the opposite end of the spectrum. Spinners do a great job of triggering strikes from walleye that aren't aggressively feeding. The combination of the slower trolling speed, a rotating and flashing spinner blade plus the appeal of live bait combine to make these lures legendary walleye producers.

Spinners must be trolled rather slow to prevent line twist. The most productive speeds range from .75 to 1.5 MPH.
"The typical crawler harness will fool walleye in open water, but a few modifications can greatly improve the fish catching ability of these lures," says Keith Kavajecz, host of the TV series The Next Bite. "The single hooks used on most spinners are too small to provide good hooking ratios. A No. 4 or better yet No. 2 beak style hook is needed for open water fishing. Many anglers go a step further and replace the back hook with a No. 6 treble hook to increase hookups even further."

Spinners equipped with treble hooks improve hooking success, but they also increase the likelihood of snags. A good rule of thumb is to use single hook style harnesses when fishing near bottom and treble hook style harnesses for suspended fish.

Crankbaits are the third lure type that the open water walleye angler can't live without. Minnow shaped lures rank among the top producing walleye crankbaits. Lures in this category come in both shallow and deep diving models. Shallow diving models can be used with mini disks, snap weights and lead core. Deeper diving models that have more resistance in the water can not be used with mini disks. Diving crankbaits can however, be used in combination with snap weights or lead core to achieve deeper depths.

The crankbaits suitable for open water walleye trolling are too numerous to mention, but some of the shallow diving classics include the No. 13 Rapala Floating Minnow, Storm ThunderStick, Bomber Long A, Reef Runner RipStick, Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue and Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow. Among diving crankbaits good choices include the Rapala Husky Jerk Deep Diver, Reef Runner Deep Little Ripper, Storm Deep Jr. ThunderStick, Yo-Zuri Deep Crystal Minnow and Rebel Spoonbill. Each of these crankbaits have proven to be consistent walleye producers.


Part of finding success in open water boils down to the willingness to move and move often if necessary. The aggressive run and gun approach is how tournament pros approach open water walleyes. "Finding concentrations of fish is the most important part of the puzzle," says Keith Kavajecz, one of the pioneers of open water trolling tactics widely in use today on the Pro Walleye Trail. "I spend much of my time in open water cruising around watching the sonar unit for pods of fish. Until I find them, I'm not going to set a single line. Sometimes I have to search for hours to find fish, sometimes I find them right away. Every day on the water is different, but one fact doesn't change. You can't catch fish that aren't there."

Kavajecz advises anglers to keep moving until they find fish. He also adds this bit of encouragement. "Once you find a good sized school of open water walleye, they usually aren't hard to catch," says Kavajecz. "The hard part is finding the fish. Once you've overcome this hurdle catching them is often anticlimactic."


The open water trolling arena is complex compared to the typical bottom bumping methods used by the walleye fishing mainstream. The rewards however for straying into open water are many. An untapped open water fishery exists just about everywhere walleye are plentiful. The majority of anglers think of the Great Lakes when talk turns to open water walleye, but trolling opportunities also exists on countless inland lakes and reservoirs.

Getting geared up the necessary equipment is half the battle of open water trolling. The next major hurdle is understanding that walleye can turn up anywhere in the water column where food is abundant.

Take an aggressive run and gun approach to finding fish and then follow up by dissecting the water column with the right kinds of trolling devices and lures. Zero in your lures to the right water depth and the rest as they say is fishing history.
www.catchmorefish.com Wolverine Tackle Company

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