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By Off Shore Tackle Staff

For over three decades the Off Shore Tackle sunburst has stood for quality fishing tackle. When the now wildly popular OR12 Side-Planer was introduced a few years ago, what other color would it be than yellow? Last year the introduction of the OR31 SST planer board changed the color blindness of open water trollers. Now in-line planer board fishing can go yellow or orange. Call it angler's choice!

Designed for two different trolling niches, the OR12 Side Planer and the OR31 Side Planer SST are essentially the same in-line boards, but rigged differently for different species and fishing conditions. These factory rigged options make it easy for anglers to choose the board that's right for the kinds of fishing they do most.


The OR12 is the perfect in-line planer board for trolling up walleye. Not only is this board the overwhelming choice of professional tournament anglers, the OR12 has found it's way into more fishing boats than any other planer on the market. The FLW tournament circuit recently rated the OR12 as their top choice among in-line planers and we agree.

The sight of these little yellow boards bobbing around in the water has become so common, one might wonder why confuse things by introducing a second board in a different color?

The answer is simple. The OR12 comes rigged for walleye fishing with two OR14 releases mounted on the tow arm of the board and at the back. When the fishing line is secured into both the front and back releases, the board is pinned in place and can't slide or pop off the line.

Keeping the board fixed on the line is a rigging option that is favored by most walleye trollers. Rigged in this fashion, the OR12 not only deploys lures out to the side of the boat, it doubles as a strike indicator.

When a fish is hooked, the OR12 gets dragged backwards in the water, making it easy to tell when a fish has been hooked. At this point the angler reels in both the board and the fish together. When the board is within reach of the boat, it's removed and the fish is fought to net. It's that simple.

For fishing in waters known for small fish, I recommend adding the popular Tattle Flag Kit (OR12TF) to your Side-Planer. This after market kit comes complete with a pair of OR16 Snap Weight Clips, linkage arm, spring and the necessary hardware to complete the installation. It takes about five minutes to install a Tattle Flag on an OR12 Side-Planer. The time it saves anglers and the fish it accounts for are invaluable.

Once in place, the strike indicating ability of the board is vastly enhanced. Even a little perch that gets accidentally hooked will be signaled by the spring loaded flag folding down. This highly useful accessory allows trollers to tell without question every time one of their lines has hooked a small fish, weed or another piece of debris in the water.

The value of the Tattle Flag can't be underestimated. Anytime anglers are trolling in waters plagued with small fish or floating vegetation, the Tattle Flag is a must. Also, for fishing live bait rigs the Tattle Flag signals the presence of bait stealing fish like perch or drum that could otherwise spoil a day on the water.


For years we recommended a specific rigging of the OR12 for trout and salmon fishing called the release and slide method. Because anglers after trout, salmon and steelhead tend to run multiple lines per side of the boat, it's critical that the in-line board be rigged to release and slide down the line at the strike. To accomplish this requires a special line release on the tow arm of the board and a snap swivel or corkscrew swivel mounted to the rear of the board.

Now anglers don't have to worry about rigging their in-line planers for salmon, striper, and trout. They can simply purchase the SST board that comes in the package rigged and ready for action.

On the tow arm an OR19 (orange) line release has the correct tension for trolling at high speed and in rough water. At the back of the board a corkscrew swivel allows the fishing line to quickly be looped into the swivel. In addition, a few feet in front of the lure, a Speed Bead (OR29) is threaded onto the fishing line to stop the board from hitting the fish.

When a fish is hooked, the line can be triggered free from the tow arm release by simply snapping the rod tip. Once the release is popped, the board slides down the line to the speed bead. This allows the board to swing to the back of the boat and away from other planer lines.

This rigging method is the preferred way of fishing for browns, kings, coho, steelhead, lake trout and striper when these fish are found feeding near the surface.

So why is the SST board orange? In part the orange color is to keep from confusing customers who are familiar with the OR12 board. Also, the bright orange color shows up well on the water, helping anglers keep tabs on all those boards bobbing around in the water!

The good news is anglers can choose from either the OR12 for walleye fishing or the OR31 SST for big game species. Both boards function flawlessly for their intended purpose. All Off Shore Tackle Company LLC in-line board accessories can be used with either the OR12 or OR31. A set or two of these boards may well be the best investment any open water troller can make.


The OR19 release that comes standard with the SST board features a very strong spring tension. For the best results, we recommend taking the fishing line and folding it over an index finger. Next spin your finger a few times to form several wraps in the fishing line. Pinch the wraps between the thumb and forefinger of your other hand and put these wraps between the jaws of the OR19 release. This simple rigging trick allows the line to be popped free from the board much easier than if a single length of line is placed in the release.

Also, remember that this line release and most others function best when used with quality monofilament line.

These days it's color me yellow for walleye or color me orange for trout, salmon and striper. Either way these products are winners and guaranteed to put more fish in the boat. Now there is no need to be color blind when you're trolling.

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By Bruce DeShano

The invention of the dual planer board revolutionized open water trolling. Not only do planer boards reach out away from boat noise, the ability to fish multiple lines and lures makes this popular form of trolling literally one of the most efficient ways of catching fish short of using a gill net! No species is safe from planer board trolling tactics. Walleye, trout, steelhead, salmon, striper, pike, muskie and a wealth of salt water species are fall victim to the powers of planer board fishing.

All dual board planer systems function the same. The planer board itself is attached to a tether line made from either heavy nylon weed whipper line or strong braided nylon cord. This tether line is stored on a set of wheels mounted either to the hard top of the boat or a mast system that is in turn mounted near the bow.

When the board is dropped in the water and line played out, the planer works its way out to the side of the boat. Once the board is positioned the desired distance out to the side, individual fishing lines are deployed by attaching a line release to the tether line and then clipping the monofilament into this line release. Again, as line is played off the fishing reel, the line release slips down the tether line and out towards the board.

By simply staggering lines with a little space between, up to six lines per side of the boat can be fish with a dual board system. The power of eight, 10 or even 12 lines fishing a variety of water depths is a powerful fish catching system that can't be matched by any other trolling tactic.

Planer board fishing is a beautiful thing, but the weakest link in the whole planer board program boils down to the method used to attach the fishing line to the tether line. Known simply as line releases, the fishing tackle market is flooded with various types of commercially produced line releases. A number of anglers also make their own crude releases from various materials.

Over the years I've seen just about everything imaginable used as a planer board release. From office rubber bands to alligator clips fitted with shrink tubing the problem with "home made" releases and many commercially produced products is they don't take one important part of planer board fishing into consideration.

The key to making a planer board system work is to have a line release that provides the correct amount of tension or grip on the fishing line. If the release loses its grip too easily, fish that strike will not be hooked solidly and likely escape. If the release is stubborn and won't relinquish it's grip, hooked fish are dragged along and the risk of breaking the line becomes a real threat to fishing success.

Developing a planer board release with that "just right" amount of tension is hardly a simple task. A complicated mixture of tension, line diameter and pad grip must be taken into consideration. Not only does the release tension have to be perfect for the particular line diameter being used, the pads must hold the line without causing abrasion that can lead to broken lines and lost fish.

Off Shore Tackle manufactures the widest assortment of planer board style line releases on the market. The reason so many different releases have been developed and marketed is because no single release can handle every planer board trolling application. The releases suitable for trolling up eating sized walleye are vastly different than those needed to hook and land monster muskies. One of the easiest ways to understand line releases is to organize them by species.


Walleye are one of the most popular species targeted with planer boards. Places like Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay, Little Bay de Noc, the Bay of Quinte, Lake Winnebago, Lake Mille Lacs and many other world class walleye fisheries have been the proving grounds for planer board trolling tactics.

Depending upon the average size of the fish being targeted, one of several line releases is ideal for open water planer board trolling. The classics OR10 (yellow) is the lightest tension release in the Off Shore Tackle line up. Designed to hook small (eating sized) walleye and then easily release, the OR10 features two tension settings. When the spring is slid into the forward position the tension is increased. By simply sliding the spring backward in the housing, the tension is reduced. This simple feature is one of the most handy tools a planer board angler has.

When trolling for a little bigger walleye, the OR14 (black) line release is an excellent choice. Similar to the OR10, but with a medium release tension, the OR14 also has the option of two tension settings.

The OR3 (white) is a larger downrigger style release fitted with a shower curtain hook (quick clip). The increased surface area of the pads, allow anglers to customize the desired amount of tension by how deeply the line is placed in the release. For a light tension, simply pinch the line near the edge of the rubber pads. For a heavy tension, bury the line to the back of the rubber pads.

Captains and serious anglers who troll big water and big seas favor the OR3 because of the positive grip it affords. In many cases hooked fish can't trip the OR3 and the angler will be required to snap the rod tip to gain a crisp release. This means of triggering the release comes in handy when three or more fish are hooked at the same time. The last thing you need are several fish popping line releases and moving towards the back of the boat at the same time. The OR3 allows the captain to release and fight the fish as dictated by conditions.


Bigger and more powerful fish are harder to hook. A line release with more spring tension is required to insure the fish gets enough resistance to drive the hooks home. Using too light a tension release on big fish is asking for missed fish.

The OR-19 (orange) is the same size as the OR10 and OR14, but the spring tension is much stronger. This release also features adjustable spring tension, making it a top choice for everything from modest sized browns to bruiser kings.

Another top choice for salmon and trout fishing is the OR17. This release features the medium tension OR1 downrigger release fitted to a shower curtain hook (quick clip). The ideal combination of pad size and tension this unique release can be used in literally any situation from calm seas and modest fish, to rough seas and the biggest king salmon.

The strongest line release in the Off Shore Tackle line up is the OR30. Designed for salt water applications, muskie trollers on Lake St. Clair swear by this release. The extra strong spring tension allows large baits to be trolled at maximum speeds. When a monster muskie or barracuda grabs a hold of a lure attached to an OR30, he's about to get the jolt of his life!


Over time, the pads used on line releases are going to show some wear and tear. All Off Shore Tackle line releases feature pads that can be replaced, adding to the value of purchasing these products in the first place. By simply (and carefully) using a knife blade or a straight screw driver to pop out the old pads and replacing them, a release that has provided years of trustworthy service is once again ready to fish it's heart out.


Planer board trolling is a fish harvesting systems, but when the line releases don't function properly this machine breaks down. Quality line releases aren't cheap, but they provide years of faithful service, hook the most fish and in the end make fishing what it's supposed to be..... FUN! Don't leave the dock without a good assortment of Off Shore Tackle line releases.

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By Larry Hartwick

The trolling invention known as the downrigger has been in active service now for nearly four decades! The ultimate in depth control fishing, downriggers are most often associated with trolling for Great Lakes trout and salmon, but the truth is these trolling aids are just as useful for catching striper, walleye, muskie, pike and a wealth of saltwater species.

Like planer board fishing, downriggers require quality line releases to function properly. Equip a downrigger costing more than a grand with a line release worth pennies and a recipe for disaster is created. Getting the most from expensive downriggers requires using the best possible line release systems.

Off Shore Tackle manufactures five different kinds of downrigger style releases designed to match literally any kind of trolling chores. For small to modest sized fish and normal trolling speeds, the OR4 (white) Light Tension Downrigger Release is ideal. Used most commonly for trolling walleye, coho and brown trout, this versatile product is also ideal for trolling striper/white bass hybrids and land locked trout species. Designed to function best with lines from 10-25 pound test in diameter, the OR4 is a workhorse among downrigger releases.

The same release used on the OR4 is also offered in a stacker release called the OR7. Stacker releases allow two fishing lines to be fished from a single downrigger. Stackers are easy to use and they double up the effective powers of any downrigger.

The OR1 was the original trolling product introduced by Off Shore Tackle and continues to be a top seller more than 30 years down the road. This medium tension release is perfect for trolling steelhead, kings, coho, lake trout and striper. Designed to function best with 10-25 pound test line, the OR1 is the best selling downrigger release of all time.

The OR2 is the stacker release version of the OR1. Again, stackers are an invaluable trolling aid that allows multiple lines to be fished with a single downrigger.

The heaviest tension downrigger release in the Off Shore Tackle line up is the OR8. Designed for salt water applications, this extra heavy spring tension release is designed to hook the biggest and meanest species. In addition to salt water trolling, muskie anglers swear by this extra heavy tension downrigger release. Designed to function with monofilament lines 20 pound test and larger, the OR8 can't be beat for trolling at high speeds or for big game species.

Getting the most from downriggers boils down to using quality line releases and stacker releases. Without these invaluable accessories, those expensive downriggers won't function properly. Get the job done right and invest in quality Off Shore Tackle release aids.

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By Gary Parsons & Keith Kavajecz

We've all heard the familiar saying, "Necessity is the Mother of Invention". No where is that more true than in fishing. It would be tough to argue that anglers are among the most "inventive" folks around. If something doesn't work quite the way you'd like it to, find a solution and implement it. Anglers have been doing this ever since man first tied a hook on a line. A good deal of inventiveness has come when anglers combine two different fishing applications in order to more efficiently catch fish. Example: trolling in-line planer boards and trolling with lead core line for open water walleye.

Now you might not think combining two such fishing presentations would be any big deal; that is unless you've tried to run lead core line on in-line boards. You can attach lead core directly to an Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side Planer and it will still plane to the side, but just not quite and efficiently as it normally would. The added weight attached directly to a board tends to cause it to tilt slightly and not plane out as well as it should. It can be done however, and in fact we do it with some regularity, but only in what could be described as a "fact finding" phase of a day on the water.

What we often do while prefishing for tournaments is run reels fully spooled with lead core line (ten colors) and attach the lead core directly to the boards while trying to figure out how much lead core line we need to get our baits to a desired depth to trigger bites. Once we figure that out then we switch to what's called "segmented lead core" which allows the boards to set perfectly in the water and work to plane the lines out to the side of the boat more effectively.

Segmenting lead core is a method of splicing sections of lead core line in to your standard fishing line. Lead core line, for those of you not that familiar with it, is basically Dacron line with lead running through the center of it. The outside sleeve of Dacron is color coded every thirty feet, which is very helpful in setting out lines and determining how much lead core to use for particular applications. The most common size used in walleye trolling is 18# test.

All the weights higher than 18# have the same size of lead insert, but sport heavier Dacron coatings. Therefore, 18# has the thinnest diameter for the amount of lead used. A key advantage to this is that you can get more of it spooled on a reel, another is that it sinks the best with the least amount of drag. This stuff is bulky by nature, and we recommend using large capacity trolling reels for your lead core set-ups. For segmenting lead core, the amount of lead core you splice in depends on the depth you are trying to achieve with the presentation. The general rule-of-thumb is that for every color of lead core (30 foot section), you'll gain an extra five feet of running depth at 2 miles per hour trolling speed.

The basic set up for fishing segmented lead core goes like this; First of all you will want to spool your reel with a "backing". In most cases we'll use ten pound test Berkley FireLine, because its small diameter allows us to put more line on the reel. However, if we're only going to be splicing in two or three colors of lead core, we may spool up with a mono line like Berkley Trilene XT in ten pound test. The mono has stretch, where as FireLine does not, and that stretch can be helpful when fighting in big fish when you have a lot of line out. Once the backing is on the reel, then we'll connect the lead core segment we want.

To do this we use a 18# ball bearing swivel and tie that on the end of the backing. Then we'll peel back about four inches of the Dacron from the lead core and remove the lead. We then use the Dacron end to tie to the swivel, using a clinch knot with five wraps (The clinch knot is much less bulky than the improved clinch and therefore goes through the rod's guides much easier). At the other end of our lead core segment, we again remove four inches of lead and tie in another swivel. Finally, we attach our leader, typically fifty feet of ten pound test Berkley Trilene XT, our lure, and we're ready to fish.

Now all that needs to be done is let out the lead core and enough backing to reach the desired depth, attach the board to the backing and continue to let out line until the board is running where we want it. By segmenting the lead core, the boards can be run further out to the side than they can using straight lead core, allowing us to cover more water and increase our chances of contacting more walleye. It's an inventive way to solve one of fishing's many challenges.


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By Mark Romanack

The trolling game is constantly evolving. I remember years ago the first time I used an in-line planer board to troll for walleye after dark. As the sun went down, I used a powerful flashlight to keep tabs of the boards and to determine if a fish had been hooked. Pretty crude, but it worked and I caught fish. Hooked on the concept of night trolling I started looking for better ways to fish.

It wasn't long before I graduated to using the glow style cylume sticks taped to the planer board. The cylume stick worked great, but they were expensive, hard to find and only lasted a few hours. That proved to be a major problem for an avid angler.

The next progression in the walleye night bite came in the form of clip on battery operated lights produced by Off Shore Tackle. Designed to blink, these little round lights were clipped onto the flag of the planer board. The battery power lasted a long time and because they could be turned off at the end of the evening, they cost a lot less to use than cylume sticks.

Off Shore Tackle improved upon those blinking lights by coming out with the latest lights to hit the planer board market; the new Off Shore Tackle OR32 (Night Light 2) and OR33 (Night Light 3) night lights. The best way to describe these unique planer board accessories is they look like a lighted bobber mounted on the top of the flag used on the OR12 Side-Planer. Indeed, these new lights are just that. Available in both red (OR32) and green (OR33) (color coordinated for you to comply with the nautical rules of the road) these after market items screw right onto the board and can be seen from a full 360 degrees.

No more blinkers. The new OR32 and OR33 are solid lights that are easy on the eyes and simple to operate. The batteries fit into an O ring sealed chamber. Just twist the bubble and the light comes on. Twist it back and the light goes off. Slick, waterproof and most of all everyone can now see the light!

The OR32 and OR33 night lights can be fit to the OR12 Side-Planer or the OR31 SST board. These useful trolling lights can even be retrofitted to other board brands.


A lot of trollers are in the dark both literally and figuratively when it comes to fishing walleye after sundown. This fishing method has grown in popularity, but many anglers simply don't know where to begin.

Trolling after dark can be about fishing structure or it can be about fishing the surface film. Those who fish structure find that running a crankbait or other lure flat out the back of the boat is the best way to maintain contact with cover like weeds, rip rap or sunken timber.

Adding a planer board when a lure is likely to snag any second just doesn't make a lot of sense.
Where planer boards do make sense is when fishing walleye in open water. In the spring of the year, walleye move into shallow water to hunt for smelt and other minnows. Trolling with boards is the best way to target these fish.

Later in the summer, boards can be used to fish over the top of cover like dense weed patches where walleye feed actively all night. Shallow diving crankbaits set to just skim the top of the weed cover make for a great way to target fish overlooked by other anglers.

In the fall, monster Great Lakes walleye spend a great deal of time feeding on shad, alewives, smelt and shiners near the surface. Because of the ultra clear waters found in most Great Lakes fisheries, much of this action takes place after dark. Popular destinations like Lake Erie, the Bay of Quinte, Saginaw Bay, Little Bay de Noc, Mille Lacs and many other walleye fisheries offer spectacular night time trolling opportunities for walleye.

Most of these fish are taken by trolling oversized shallow diving crankbaits often referred to as stickbaits or jerkbaits. Some popular lures that catch lots of fish include the Rapala Husky Jerk, Reef Runner RipStick, Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue, Storm ThunderStick, Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows, Dave's Lures Nitro Shiner and Rebel Minnow.

Each of these shallow diving minnow baits feature the subtle action necessary when trolling slowly at night. The most productive leads tend to be from 50 to 100 feet. Adding an in-line board like the OR12 Side-Planer allows more water to be covered and to contact fish that haven't been spooked by the boat. Trolling after dark with lighted boards is a sweet way to target trophy sized walleye other anglers only dream of catching.

Besides targeting the right areas with the right lures, night trolling for walleye is a game that requires a lot of organization. A boat littered with unnecessary accessories or cluttered with gear is a nightmare to fish in. In the dark anything that can go wrong usually will. Keep these issues to a minimum by only taking the necessary gear along and keeping things stowed neatly away until needed.

A battery operated lantern provides just enough light to do necessary chores including tying on lures or monitoring the lead length on line counter reels. When you're actually fishing turn off all lights except the bow and stern light required by the USCG.

A hand held Q-Beam style light is the perfect tool for shedding a little light on the subject of landing hooked fish. These lights are powerful, light and they can be plugged into an accessory port on the console. Most models offer both a high intensity beam and a wider flood. The flood feature works best for landing fish. The beam feature is handy for locating boat launches in the dark and zapping your buddies when they get too close to your fishing action!

Anytime you go fishing it's a good idea to tell someone where you're going and when you expect to return. This goes double and triple for fishing after dark. Should you run into a problem in the dark, chances are they won't come looking for you until daylight. Go prepared with a flare kit, anchor and long length of anchor line. If you have engine problems and are forced to anchor up for the night, that's a lot better than drifting away into the blackness.

Keeping boat batteries and other gear in top working order is always a good idea. When you fish after dark, it can be the difference between catching fish and having fun or spending a miserable night stranded on the water. The best advice is to go prepared.

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By Mark Romanack

Rigging a boat is a personal experience. In part this is because different anglers favor different fishing methods and or species. While there is no one right way to rig a fishing boat, there are some pitfalls to avoid that can save a lot of frustration and wasted time, money and fishing opportunities.


The best advice about boat rigging is to have a plan before accessories are purchased or the first hole is drilled. Take a minute and sit in the boat. Imagine how different fishing presentations will be conducted and try to get a feel for where key pieces of equipment should be mounted and how these accessories can best be rigged for function, utility and convenience.

Take a roll of masking tape (I like the blue no mar type) and tear off pieces that represent the approximate size of gear that will be added to the boat like rod holder bases, planer board brackets, downrigger swivel bases, sonar gimbal mounts, etc. Stick the tape in position and write on it what will be mounted at this particular location. Once everything is laid out, it will be clear if certain pieces of gear must be moved to provide the best function.

This simple step saves time by insuring everything works well together. Nothing is more annoying than having to use a graph that's angled slightly in the wrong direction or a rod holder that blocks the opening to a dry storage compartment. Even worse, who wants to drill a hole in a new boat, then discover the holes are in the wrong location? Ouch!


The accessories used in boat rigging can get expensive. In part this is because quality gear comes at a premium, but it's also because a lot of the items used in boat rigging must be purchased in multiples of two. Rod holders are a good example. Any boat that will be used for trolling will need at least four rod holders and most would be better equipped with six, eight or even 10!

When the reality of this financial dilemma sets in some anglers opt for selecting accessories that are long on price savings, but short on function. Saving money in this way is truly penny wise and dollar foolish. Take a hard look at the quality of various accessories before opting for savings over function.


The only thing worse than rigging something in the wrong spot, is finding out later you can't move things or add new gear as the budget allows. This is the very reason I'm sold on the track system for mounting critical accessories like rod holders, electronics bases and downrigger brackets.

Track mounting systems accept a wide variety of fixtures and accessories. The track system produced by Bert's Custom Tackle is a good example of how to accomplish the rigging job with a clean and professional touch, yet leave your options open for changing systems and adding new gear down the road. One the track is purchased and mounted, anglers can install rod holders, drink cup holders, tool caddies, electronics bases, swivel downrigger bases and on and on from the same basic system. The importance of this flexibility can't be overstated because no matter how much planning goes into rigging a boat, there will always be more gear to add.


Rigging a boat can be a daunting task for those who have never undertaken this kind of project. Personally, I enjoy the process of rigging boats for several reasons. Doing the rigging myself gives me a sense of pride in the boat and of course if something goes wrong I know were to begin the trouble shooting.

Admittedly I'm also very particular about how my boats are rigged, right down to the hardware used. Because I spend a lot of time in my boat and I feel my fishing boat is an extension of my personality, there is no way I'd turn over the rigging chores to someone else.

That stated, it's important to note that having someone else do the work isn't a bad idea in most cases. Frankly, if you don't have the proper tools or knowledge of how to use them, doing your own rigging is going to be a frustrating experience.

Either way, if you rig your own or have it rigged the important point is to make sure everyone is on the same page. A boat that's rigged out to perfection is a pleasure to fish from and in the long run you'll catch more fish. Isn't that what you bought a boat in the first place for?

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By Mark Romanack

Remember the Clapper? Who could forget? Turning the lights on or off was as easy as clapping your hands! Trolling spoons, spinners or crankbaits to a variety of depth levels is as easy Snap On and Snap Off!

When the Off Shore Tackle Snap Weight Clip (OR16) was introduced a few years ago it changed the world of trolling forever. No need to use keel sinkers, rubber core, chain bead sinkers and other in-line weights to achieve the ideal depth levels. Just pinch a Snap Weight onto the line and go fishing!

The Snap Weight Clip looks like a planer board release, but with some important modifications. Between the rubber jaws, a small pin indexes into a hole in the rubber pad. When the fishing line is placed behind this pin and the clip closed, the Snap Weight stays right where it was put until the angler removes it. It's important to note that Snap Weights are designed to function with monofilament lines. Super braids and fused lines are slippery and the Snap Weight will slide on these line types. To avoid this, wrap the braided or fused lines twice around the jaw.

The ability to put weight anywhere on the fishing line and then remove it as needed is more useful than a third hand in rock, paper scissors contest! The weight can be placed near the lure or further up the line to avoid any chance of spooking the fish. Snap Weights can be used to target shallow or deep fish. By simply changing the amount of weight used just about any depth from the surface to 50 feet or more can be targeted easily and accurately using Snap Weights.

The Snap Weight Clip is, without question, the most simple and easy way to add weight to any fishing line. Handy for fishing unweighted lures like flutter spoons and crawler harnesses, Snap Weights can also be used to gain additional depth from diving crankbaits or weighted spoons.


When trolling weight systems, trolling speed and lead length both have an impact on running depth. The folks at Precision Angling, producers of the Precision Trolling Depth Guide developed a system for fishing Snap Weights known as the 50/50 Method. This simple approach to Snap Weight trolling controls the key variables and provides a useful depth range for each size weight commonly used with Snap Weight Clips.

"Fishing the 50/50 Method is easy," says trolling expert Mark Romanack. "Select your favorite spoon, crawler harness or shallow diving crankbait and let it back behind the boat 50 feet. At this point, clip on the OR16 Snap Weight and then let out an additional 50 feet of trolling lead. By consulting the Snap Weight chart in the Precision Trolling book you'll be able to determine how much weight is needed to fish various depths."

When a fish is hooked trolling Snap Weights the angler simply reels in the fish and the weight at the same time. When the Snap Weight reaches the rod tip, quickly remove it and continue fighting the fish. Putting a Snap Weight on or off the line takes less than a second! (PHOTO HERE)

Sticking with the basic 50/50 Method is a good starting point and great way for anglers to know approximately how deep they are fishing. "I recommend the 50/50 Method a lot, but I also encourage anglers to use Snap Weights with other lead combinations," says Romanack. "Once you get comfortable fishing Snap Weights there is no limit to the lead and weight combinations that can be used to target all species."


Snap Weights can be fished as flat lines, but to really get the most from these trolling weights, use them in combination with either in-line or dual planer boards. The weight sizes most useful for planer fishing include 1/2, 3/4, 1, 1.5 and 2 ounces.


The clip on the Snap Weight is capable of securely holding up to 16 ounces on a monofilament fishing line. By using three, four, six or eight ounce weights or combinations of these, anglers can target fish in deep water or near bottom at just about any common fishing depth. The best results are achieved when the Snap Weight is fished at least two feet off the bottom. This eliminates the problem of snagging, yet still allows the water column to be saturated with lures.
ôWhen IÆm fishing Snap Weights in deep water, I always use a line counter reel to carefully monitor lead lengths,ö suggests Romanack. ôThe line counter reel allows productive lead lengths to be duplicated quickly and easily. It works best to start at or near the bottom and then work your way up in the water column. This way, you have confidence that the Snap Weight and trailing lure is fishing the entire water column.ö


Snap Weights can be purchased in a convenient kit that contains four clips, split rings and an assortment of common weights. Additional clips and weights can also be purchased separately. The kit is a great way to get started enjoying the benefits of Snap Weights.


No matter how you fish them, Snap Weights are powerful trolling aids. Used as flat lines, in combination with planer boards or to dredge up deep water species, Snap Weights are effective and as easy to fish as clapping your hands. Snap On, Snap Off.

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By Dave Dybowski, Eagle Bay Outfitters

Protecting your favorite fishing rods is a simple matter, will provide years of pleasure, and protect your investment. The following are simple maintenance tips that will protect your fishing rods for years to come.


Fishing rods are meant to get wet. Don't be afraid to clean your rods. To clean cork grips and return them to like new condition simply run them under warm water and lightly scrub with a Brillo pad. Rinse with clear cold water and let air dry. When dry your cork grips will look like the day you bought them. For foam grips, run under warm water and use dish soap with a foam pad to scrub. Rinse with cold water and let air dry. When scrubbing grips be careful not to scratch the blank (rod body) or reel seats with abrasive solutions. To clean the rod blank (body) itself, use a simple dish soap solution and sponge to do the job. Wipe dry with a soft non-abrasive cloth or towel.


The ferrule is where the sections of the rod connect. Dirt and grime often builds up in those areas and makes tear down difficult. To remedy simply wipe the connection clean. Once the area is dirt & grime free apply a light lubricant to the male end of the ferrule. The absolute best lubricant I have found is the oil found on ones nose area. That's right, simply rub the rod on the area where the side of your nose meets the cheek and you will have a perfect lubricant for your connection. Commercial lubricants are too oily and slippery and will cause your connection to come apart while casting.


The guide that receives the most wear and tear on a fishing rod is the guide at the tip of the rod. This guide is called a tip-top. They can easily be replaced by lightly heating the old one and slipping it off the rod. Buy some tip-top cement and reapply the new guide. Keep the cement in your tackle box for emergency use while fishing. Do not use a permanent glue to attach tip-tops. The only way to remove a guide that was permanently glued is to cut the tip of the rod off. Save that method for car doors and trunk lids.


If you encounter a stubborn rod that doesn't want to come apart, here is a simple, safe, effective way to take the rod apart. Place the rod behind your back and parallel to the ground. While crouching down grasp the rod with both hands (one on either side of the ferrule) and pull with an outward motion (each hand pulling out to each side of your body). This method will apply even pressure with both arms and the rod should come apart quite easily.


When you purchase a fishing rod follow the line weight recommendations that are printed on the blank (rod body). Probably the fastest way to break a fishing rod other than the car door and trunk lid is to use a line too heavy for your rod blank. Pay attention to line weigh recommendations and your fishing rod will last for many years.

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By Mark Romanack

Sometimes the only way to get something done right is to take matters into your own hand. In the case of river walleye fishing, a length of stainless steel wire adds up to a handful of fishing fun.

The art of handlining or wirelining as it is sometimes called is without question one of the most unique ways to target walleye. As effective and efficient, as it is unique, handlining is one of those fishing methods the majority of anglers don't understand or appreciate. After all, how much fun can fishing be without a rod and reel?

The answer is don't knock it until you've tried it. Handlining is not only fun, it's one of the best ways to target river walleye in all fishing conditions. No matter how cold the water gets or how the clarity suffers, handlining will produce fish. Plain and simple.


For those wondering what's a handline, imagine a spring loaded fly reel. These reels are designed to pick up slack line quickly, without having to turn a spool handle.

Handline reels function much the same way, but they are larger and loaded not with fly line but rather stainless steel wire. At the end of the wire line is a heavy duty snap that attaches to what handliners call a shank. A shank is nothing more than a short leader with clevices attached at key points that work to separate monofilament leads.

The heavy snap clips to one end of the shank and a heavy weight clips to the other end. In between a couple different clevices provide an attachment point for two different lengths of trolling leaders.

The clevice closest to the weight is 18-24 inches off the bottom and accepts a leader about 20 feet long. At the end of this leader a shallow diving stickbait becomes the bait.

Another 18-24 inches up the shank is a second clevice that accepts a longer leader. This leader is normally 40 feet long so the attached crankbait can dive down near the bottom.

When this whole handlining system is in the water and fishing, the weight is lowered until it ticks along the bottom. The trailing crankbaits on the respective leaders fish just inches over the bottom, where walleye can see them!


One of the benefits of wire line trolling is bites are easy to determine. The lack of stretch in wire telegraphs even the most subtle strike right to your fingers.

When a fish is hooked, the angler allows the wire to be coiled up inside the spring loaded reel. When the shank comes within reach the weight is lifted into the boat and the angler pulls on both leads to determine which one has the fish on it.

The leader that doesn't have a fish is looped over the angler's head to keep it out of the way while the fish is pulled in hand over hand. When the fish gets to the boat, a quick pull is all that's necessary to literally flip the fish right into boat. It's that quick and easy.

The lure that caught the fish is removed from the fish and returned to the water. The second leader is unlooped from around the angler's head and the weight is lowered back over the side of the boat. As the weight is returned to bottom, the trailing lures are put back to work.

Leaders are fashioned from heavy 20-25 pound test monofilament line that is resistant to kinking and tangling. Thinner leader material quickly ends up tangled or broken.


Handline trolling can be conducted both upstream and downstream, but most anglers favor upstream trolling. This is especially true early in the spring when the water is cold and a slower presentation will trigger more strikes.

Moving upstream the angler doesn't simply troll aimlessly, but rather keeps track of subtle changes in the bottom depth and follows these depth changes as closely as possible. River walleye travel along the bottom at predictable locations. Anywhere the bottom shows contour, walleye are likely to be close by. Channel edges are top fishing spots, but even a subtle depression in the bottom can hold a number of fish.

No other form of fishing allows anglers to develop this intimate sense for the bottom composition or how fish are relating to these structural elements.


Almost any boat can be used for handlining, but smaller models that allow the angler to sit in the back of the boat and easily reach over the side and touch the water are best. The boat can be powered by a tiller outboard or a small kicker motor.

Normally two anglers fish together, both facing forward and one sitting on the port side of the boat and the other on the starboard side.

The handlining reel functions best when mounted just above the gunwale of the boat about half way between the transom and the bow. This rigging location keeps the handline reels out of the way for other fishing applications and works to reduce the chances of getting the wire caught in the outboard motor.

Bert's Custom Tackle, www.teclausa.com produces the best method for custom rigging handline reels to fishing boats. The Bert's system incorporates a short track that is mounted to the gunwale of the boat. The track accepts a reel mounting bracket designed especially for handline reels.

The reel bracket serves several purposes including raising the reel above the surface of the gunwale, positioning the reel in an upright orientation and aligning the wire line slightly off the side of the boat. This placement is perfect for keeping the wire running smoothly and avoiding tangles. When it's time to put the handline reels away, the whole system can be removed in seconds, leaving nothing but a handy step pad behind. This rigging method is as affordable as it is slick and efficient.

Guys who do a lot of handlining like to keep their boats organized and clean. Anything left laying on the floor or deck of the boat is likely to get tangled in one of the leaders. Being organized is the best way to fish without tangles that can turn a fun day of fishing into an afternoon of frustration.


Every tackle show isn't going to stock the unique products required for handline fishing. Riviera Trolling Systems Incorporated produces a handlining kit that includes a Kachman Automatic Reel loaded with 200 feet of 60# coated wire, Tempress Rod Holder Adapter, Allen Wrench, Aluminum Clamp that rail mounts ¾" to 1 ¼" rails, a shank and a 1.25 pound weight. This ready to fish system only requires the angler to add his own leaders and lures. For more details on dealers that stock these kits or how to purchase directly from Riviera log onto www.rivieratrolling.com.


Most river anglers are jig fishermen at heart. Handlining couldn't be more different than jigging, but in the same token this unique form of fishing has advantages jigging doesn't offer. The only way to fully appreciate handlining is to try it and see for yourself. You might just discover that the best way to catch walleye is to take matters into your own hands!!

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By Mark Romanack

Open water walleye fishing continues to grow in popularity. The art of catching these popular fish suspended in the middle of nowhere may seem foreign to many, but developing the skills of a master troller is as easy as 1-2-3. Three simple lure groups are all a troller needs to catch open water walleye no matter where he or she may travel. Crankbaits, trolling spoons and crawler harnesses or what walleye guys simply call spinners are the tools of the open water trade. Regardless of the body of water, depth the fish are holding at or their attitude, one or more of these lure groups is going to get the job done.


Of the three lure groups useful for open water trolling, crankbaits are the most complex. Available in literally every size, shape and color imaginable, crankbaits suitable for walleye trolling are best categorized in three different groupings that focus on both shape and action. All of these groups are made up of lures that float at rest and dive when trolled. Sinking style crankbaits typically make poor trolling lures because it's more difficult to predict their respective running depths.

Of the three crankbait categories in question, baits that feature a slender minnow shape or profile top the list, followed by shad shaped lures and finally by fat body baits. Among these lure shapes, the more slender minnow shaped lures produce the most subtle or tight wiggling action. Shad lures feature a little more open wobbling action and fat body lures have the most aggressive side-to-side wobble of all crankbaits.

Which lure shape and respective action that's likely to work best depends on the water temperature and the specific attitude of the fish. In cold water, subtle minnow lures are by far the best producing lures. Subtle action combined with modest trolling speeds usually add up to the best cold water success.

As the water temperature warms into the 50 degree range, both minnow and shad body lures are good choices. The added action shad baits provide can really pay off in spring and fall when the water temperatures are cool, but not cold.

As summer approaches and warm water temperatures rise above 70 degrees, all three lure groups can potentially produce well. Often fat bodies with lots of action are the prime lures for warm water trolling, but both shad and minnow lures can also be productive in warm water.

The rule of thumb is that in cold water the best trolling speeds are 1-1.5 MPH. In cool water trolling from 1.5-2 MPH usually works best with both minnow and shad lures. When water temperatures spike above 70 degrees, faster trolling speeds almost always produce better than slower speeds. An average speed of 2.5-3 MPH represents a good standard for trolling minnow, shad and fat body lures in warm water.

Understanding the dynamics of how crankbaits work is critical to getting the most from these lures while walleye trolling. Two simple factors control the diving depth of all crankbaits. Lead length is the primary factor that determines how deep a crankbait will dive. Longer leads allow lures to achieve more depth, while modest leads restrict the diving ability of a crankbait. By simply manipulating lead length, an angler can literally target his or her lures to precise depth levels.

A line counter reel is the best way to monitor trolling leads and also to duplicate effective leads. There is simply no substitute in trolling for owning and using a good set of line counter reels.

For more details on crankbait depths, line counter reels and other trolling facts, check out the web site www.precisionangling.com and the book Precision Trolling. This unique user guide offers up accurate running depths for nearly 400 different popular crankbaits and other trolling gear.

The second factor that influences on crankbait diving ability is line diameter. Thin diameter lines have less resistance in the water and allow these lures to dive deeper than the same bait fished on thicker lines.

A wealth of quality lines are marketed towards walleye trolling. Some of these lines represent the highest technology ever offered in fishing lines, yet even with the advantages of modern science it's hard to beat nylon monofilament as a trolling line. Monofilament lines are relatively thin in diameter, strong, the have good knot strength, controlled stretch and they are reasonably priced. Brand loyalties aside, good trollers tend to favor hard surfaced or abrasion resistant lines. A 10 pound test monofilament is the perfect choice for nearly all open water walleye trolling applications.


Like crankbaits spoons come in a lot of shapes, sizes and colors. Many of the spoons on the market are not designed for trolling, but rather casting. Thin, flutter style spoons are the best choice for open water walleye trolling.

Despite the huge assortment of flutter spoons on the market, an amazingly small selection are suitable for walleye fishing. Most spoons are designed for trout and salmon fishing. These spoons are designed to imitate larger forage species like alewives.

Because walleye tend to feed on smaller minnow species, a smaller spoon is required to consistently catch them. Of the brands available, two dominate the walleye trolling scene including the Scorpion by Advance Tackle Company and the Jr. Streak produced by Wolverine Tackle Company. Both are downsized spoons that have good action at a wide variety of speeds, making them useful for fishing in both cool and warm water conditions.

Unlike a crankbait that has a lip that allows the lure to dive to a particular depth, flutter spoons have no natural dive profile. Instead, walleye trollers use a couple key products that help deploy spoons at the precise depths required to catch open water fish.

Two styles of diving planers work well for spoon fishing. The first group is known as mini divers. These trolling aids are essentially smaller versions of divers popular among trout and salmon trollers. The fishing line is attached to the mini diver and a six foot leader added to the back of the diver. The spoon is then attached to a ball bearing swivel at the end of the leader. These pint sized divers range in size and also the depths they achieve. For most open water walleye applications the small or medium size disks work great.

The Luhr Jensen Jet Diver is the second diver useful for trolling walleye spoons. Like a crankbait that floats at rest and dives when trolled, Jets have the advantage of being buoyant. A spoon attached to a six foot leader is tied to the back of the Jet and the main line attached to the front. Trolling depth is controlled by the size of the Jet and also the amount of lead length used. The most popular sizes of Jets include the 10, 20 and 30.

Mini disks and Jets perform nearly identical functions. Neither of these designs offer a clear advantage over the other. The top names in mini divers include Luhr Jensen, Big Jon and Walker.


The third lure group every open water walleye angler should be familiar with are harnesses or spinners. A rotating blade with a few colorful beads and a fat nightcrawler represents an almost impossible to ignore combination. Of the three primary lure groups, spinners work the best when walleye are playing lock jaw. During cold fronts open water walleye can often be difficult to catch. Spinners are the answer more days than not when walleye fishing gets tough.

Like spoons, spinners have not natural dive profile. They need to be fished in combination with divers or weight systems to achieve the necessary depths where walleye suspend.

Without question, Snap Weights are the most popular system for trolling spinners. A Snap Weight is little more than an OR16 Snap Weight Clip (it looks like a small planer board release) that has a strong spring tension and a plastic pin that protrudes through the rubber pads. When the Snap Weight Clip is opened and the fishing line placed behind the pin located in the center of the rubber pads, the OR16 is held firmly in place on the line. Weights are added via a split ring, making it easy to add or remove weight as needed and also to position the Snap Weight literally anywhere on the fishing line.

The versatility of the Snap Weight is a major reason this simple trolling system has become so popular. The best way to get started fishing Snap Weights is to purchase a Snap Weight Kit complete with four OR16 clips and an assortment of weights ranging from 1/2 to 3 ounces. More clips, split rings and weights can be purchased separately as needed.


All of the lure groups used for open water trolling are best when fished in combination with in-line planer boards like the popular Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer and SST boards. Each of these are designed to transport one line out to the side of the boat. Once the board is deployed out to the side, it doubles as a strike indicator.

When a fish is hooked the weight of the struggling fish pulls against the in-line board. The board in turn is pulled backwards in the water making it easy to determine when a fish has been hooked.

The angler responds by reeling in both the board and the fish at the same time. When the board nears the boat, it can be quickly removed and the fish fought to net.

The typical walleye troller fishes two Side-Planers per side of the boat. Should a fish get hooked on an outside line, the inside line is quickly reeled in to prevent lines getting crossed.

When clearing an inside line, there is no need to remove the planer board. Simply reel up until the board touches the rod tip and then lay the rod down on the opposite side of the boat. An extra rod holder is the best way to keep this line free of others and out of the way.

Once the fish has been landed, the line that was cleared can be dropped back into the water and allowed to work out to the side. This flip flop approach makes it easy to keep lines fishing effectively without fear of tangles.


Understanding and using the three major lure groups, incorporating mini divers and Snap Weights into the trolling program and using Side-Planers to gain additional lure coverage are the most important aspects of mastering an open water trolling program for walleye. There is no substitute for spending time on the water refining these fishing skills. Remember it's a fundamental understanding of the basics that puts fish in the boat. Save the razzle dazzle for the dance floor.

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By Larry Hartwick

Riviera first offered a dual planer board back in 1992. The initial planer design was quite revolutionary because for the first time, planer boards could be easily folded and stored, instead of being a cumbersome nuisance for half of the season. Now you didn't need to sacrifice valuable space on the boat to insure that you had a full arsenal at your disposal. I can remember vividly when we used stationary wood planers that took up half of a cabin bunk. After fighting them for a month after the fish went deep, we would invariably leave them on shore for the balance of the summer. That was usually when the lake would roll over and we would find cold water on the surface and have no planer boards on board. We don't have that problem anymore due to the fact that the planer boards now require a fraction of the space they used to take up. If you are still fighting with non-collapsible planer boards, you should really consider the options available.

Someone who looked at the first model that came out and the model produced today wouldn't see a lot of difference in the outward appearance in the planer board. There are however, major changes that have been implemented over the course of fifteen years of manufacturing. Every one of these changes is in response to trying to make the best possible product for the money that you spend. If we see a way that we can modify a product for the better, we have never hesitated in doing that even if additional tooling costs have been incurred.

I like to compare the changes that we make to the ever changing automobile industry. They have come a long way in fifteen years in terms of reliability and longevity of their products. We have also.

The changes to the DPB (Dual Planer Board) for 2007 are mainly things that the eye can't see. The ballast has been changed along with the foam flotation as well. These changes will improve the amount of weight that can be towed from the planer tow lines. These changes were actually implemented in the middle of 2006, so if you purchased them last summer, you probably have the latest updates. It should be pointed out however that the DPB's were never designed to pull Dipsey Divers and #40 and #50 Jet Divers. Anything that pulls like the bottom of the lake is definitely going to pull the DPB backward. Dual planers are designed to pull crankbaits, Jet Divers up to #20, lead core, copper , wire line, Diver Discs and an array of various devices and lures that don't exceed the pull of a full lead core.

The changes in 2007 to the TPB (Triple Planer Board) are more dramatic. The tow arm is now molded out of polycarbonate (Lexan). What this means to the consumer is that the arm is virtually indestructible. Is Lexan more costly? Yes, but in terms of strength, there are few materials that are stronger. We have actually bent the arm around until the inside and outside boards touched and the arms simply spring back to their original shape. That's tough! The ballast has also been changed in mid season in 2006. This is an ongoing quest to increase the performance level of the TPB. While I hesitate to say that this is the last ballast change, it is for the foreseeable future. The TPB is literally awesome in big or small water. I am actually amazed at what can be pulled by it in terms of sheer weight. We started out pulling four full lead core rigs easily. Now the Striper anglers in the famous Chesapeake Bay are pulling two of their huge umbrella rigs that weigh 2 pounds apiece. They then add 1-2 pounds of weight in front of the rigs to get it down! If this doesn't sound like a lot, consider that your favorite salmon rod probably isn't up to the task of pulling one. The drag is unbelievable, but the TPB will pull them. If you are pulling baits the dual boards aren't up to, the triples will get it done.

Big fish require big baits and these anglers are taking 50 pound fish every year now. The Chesapeake Bay is a modern day success story and those of you that haven't had the opportunity to sample it are missing out on truly a world class fishery. The Stripers come back to the bay as the water cools down in the fall and within 3 days, the bay will have fish the entire length of the bay from Rhode Island to Virginia. October and November are usually the peak months.

Happy planer board fishing!

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By Dave Dybowski, Eagle Bay Outfitters

Here are a few tricks that will hopefully change the minds of many anglers who seem to think lake trout are an unworthy opponent. The lake trout in my mind is the most underrated fish that swims our waters, not to mention one of the best tasting fish one can enjoy. They have provided many anglers with a great day on the water when some of the other species we so actively pursue come down with a severe case of lockjaw. They can be a more than worthy opponent if we take a non typical approach to these great game fish.

I'm not talking about lakers on lead core or lakers on wire three hundred feet behind the boat. I'm talking about a dedicated approach to get the maximum experience that lake trout have to offer.

Before we continue I know that some of the purists out there will think what they are about to read is totally absurd. The following is for the anglers out there that want to get the most bang for their buck. If tried, I'm sure more people will give the lake trout the respect they deserve. I've used the following tactics to offer my clients a great day on the water. Give them a try and you too will see what thinking outside the box can do to enhance your Great Lakes fishing experience.


By going light I'm talking about equipment. Who said you can't load up a downrigger with a rod typically used for steelhead fishing on the rivers. We're talking light line and very forgiving rods. This approach requires using Off Shore Tackle's OR1 Medium Tension Downrigger Release, very sharp hooks and you must reduce the number of rods you use.

What we do is just run two riggers down with these rods and release combination, add trolling spoons and that's it. By doing this when we get a hook-up we can put the boat in neutral without having a big mess with a lot of baits dangling below. You don't have the boat resistance and it's just you and the fish. To land a fish like this takes teamwork from the entire crew but it is a fight you won't soon forget. A fly rod can also be used for this providing it has a long enough handle to put in the rod holder. I'm sure we just lost the purists but those that have an open mind keep reading.


Put some meat on them and hit the bottom. I'm talking big jigs that will go down 100 feet or more. This approach requires calm water with very little current. If the conditions are right and you are over fish (preferably lots of fish) put the boat in neutral, drop your jigs over the side and jig with three to five foot jigging motions. Pause between jigging motions and be prepared for anything from a light tap to some pretty vicious strikes. Braided or super lines work well for this type of fishing. It's best to watch your electronics and when you come over a lot of fish on the bottom go to work.


The latest craze the past couple of years has been pulling rotating attractors with gaudy flies attached to entice salmon to strike. This is nothing new to the lake trout or the anglers chasing them that were present in our waters way before our silver transplants. What is commonly known these days as a salmon set-up is absolutely deadly on lake trout. The trout taken with this approach are often times your bigger fish and can be caught anywhere in the water column from up high to right down on the bottom.

Now that we have covered a couple of unconventional ways to maximize our fishing experience, I would like to give the readers techniques to maximize the trout as table fare. This is another area where the lake trout is greatly misunderstood. I stand behind the claim that properly prepared lake trout is the best eating fish that our offshore anglers can enjoy.


First and foremost the lake trout as any fish needs to be taken care of properly once they are caught. Aside from placing your fish on ice until they can be cleaned, many anglers (this one included) believe that bleeding out a fish once caught greatly enhances the fish at the table. This is accomplished by cutting the gills and dragging the fish through the water a minute or so until blood is no longer streaming from the fish. This not only provides you with a better fish for the table, it also will keep your cooler much cleaner throughout the day on the water.

Now it's on to the fish cleaning station. To maximize the quality of your fish for the table I am a firm believer that the best way to clean a fish for the table is by filleting, skinning, and removing the lateral line. Fish cleaned in this manner can be cooked anyway you desire, including frying, boiling, grilling and smoking. Many of our clients want the skin left on for smoking. Once they try smoking fish with the skin off they see the advantages of having the skin removed.

Once your catch is cleaned and rinsed properly I feel the absolute best way to freeze fish is to use a vacuum sealer. They are relatively inexpensive and will preserve fish longer than any other method I have seen. This is a good inexpensive way to save your catch for later use.

So far we have caught the fish, cleaned our catch and prepared our catch for future use. Now it's time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. I like to prepare fish according to the size of the fish. A general rule of thumb is the bigger the fish the more oily the fish. This holds true for all fish, not just lake trout so I group my catch in size ranges and act accordingly.

Since we are talking lake trout, here is a general rule I follow. Trout up to seven pounds I will either grill, or deep fry. Seven to ten pound fish I will use for fish boils and fish upward of ten pounds I smoke. As you can see, the bigger the fish, the more oil I try to remove from the fish. By following these simple guidelines you will never look at a lake trout the same way. Prepared properly they will provide you with many great meals. The following recipes are some of my favorite methods of preparing lake trout.



Lake trout cleaned as mentioned and then cut into 1" cubes
Drakes Crispy Fry Mix
Vegetable Oil
Cayenne Pepper (optional)


Add a box of Drake's Fry Mix to a plastic food storage bag and place cubed fish into this mixture. Shake the cubes in this mixture and place in refrigerator for about an hour. Heat oil in your deep fryer to 400 degrees and slowly add fish to oil. Fry until golden brown and remove to a platter covered with paper towel to absorb any oil that may remain on the fish. When the fish is first removed from the oil is the time to sprinkle on cayenne pepper (if desired); the fish is delicious without adding the cayenne pepper as well. Serve with tarter sauce and enjoy. For this recipe I will use fish that are up to seven pounds. I was first introduced to this recipe at a local restaurant that cooks your fish for you. Their recipe has more spices to the mixture and is great, but this is a good way to try at home.



Cubed fish slightly larger than 1" cubes
Table salt
Carrots cut to serving size
Red skin potatoes peeled and quartered
Onions quartered
Melted butter
Lemon Pepper


Bring salt water to a rolling boil (about 1 cup salt for 2 to 3 gallons of water). Once water is boiling add carrots, potatoes and onions. Bring water to a rolling boil for 11 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove vegetables, keep warm and add cubed fish. Bring fish to a rolling boil for 11 minutes or until cooked through. Serve fish and vegetables together and drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle lemon pepper on top. This recipe is great for larger groups and a turkey fryer used outside will work well for this recipe. Any leftovers can be used later the same way you would prepare canned tuna or salmon. I use fish up to 10 pounds in size for this recipe.



Lake trout fillets (skinned and lateral line removed)
Kosher salt
Apple Juice or apple cider if available
Brown sugar


In a non-metallic bowl add ½ cup salt, 1 cup dark brown sugar and 1 gallon apple juice. Let the fish refrigerate in this mixture overnight. Remove fish and rinse with cold water. Place fish on smoker racks and rub brown sugar on the fish. After adding the brown sugar drizzle the fillets with honey. Place in the smoker and add wood.

I've tried every wood imaginable from drift wood to pecan wood and blends of them all. I have finally come to grips, after 30 years, that for my taste hickory is the best wood for smoking fish. If you want to kick up your hickory, soak the wood in bourbon for a couple of days before using. The aroma from this soaked wood while smoking is unbelievable. Every smoker is different so keep an eye on your fish often. The fish will only absorb the smoke for about the first couple of hours before it seals off. The rest of the time is just needed to finish cooking.

Once I remove the fish from the smoker I put them in either a plastic storage bag or Tupperware type container and place in the refrigerator. The sealed off warm fish placed in the refrigerator will add moisture to the finished product. The smoked fish also freezes well (by using a vacuum sealer) for later use.



1 pound of the smoked lake trout flaked
16 oz softened cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
½ Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dill weed
Few pinches black pepper


Add all ingredients in food processor or blender until blended well. Use as spread on your favorite crackers. This recipe was originated by Auk Nu and Allen Marine Tours of Juneau, Alaska. Their recipe is for sockeye salmon. I simply used lake trout instead and it is delicious.

Hopefully this article will change some ways of thinking and bring the awesome lake trout to the top of the list of fish to catch, where it belongs. There is no doubt that salmon, steelhead, and brown trout are awesome fish and each has their unique qualities. These are just a few options to try the next time you think a lake trout is a sub-par opponent.

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When out hunting, take an OR32 Night Light 2 (Red) or OR33 Night Light 3 (Green) out with you in the woods. Once you have had your successful hunt, turn on your OR32 or OR33 and place the light by your game so that when you come back to retrieve it from the woods, you'll be able to see the light to easily find your trophy!


With the OR32 Night Light 2 and OR33 Night Light 3 having a 360 degree visibility, not only will you be able to keep a visual on your boards but the other anglers will be able to see your boards as well so they can avoid running over your boards and lines!

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By Mark Romanack

In the course of a year I do dozens of fishing seminars and answer countless trolling related questions via the internet. Overwhelmingly the most common questions deal with fishing lines. More specifically, trollers what to know what lines are best for specific trolling applications.

The simple answer is it depends. Sound like a cop out? It isn't. To get the most from fishing lines anglers must take a close look at each presentation and then decide what line type is best suited to the challenge. No single line type can be recommended for all trolling situations, unless compromise is a part of the equation.

Part of the confusion over fishing lines stems from the many different kinds of lines introduced in the last few years. The flood of fishing lines that new technology has made possible is seemingly growing faster than anglers can digest these products. Currently anglers can pick from nylon monofilament, co-polymer monofilaments, fluorocarbon, fluorocarbon/monofilament blends, spectra braids, fused fiber lines, stranded steel line, solid steel line, stranded copper line and lead core line. See what I mean about confusing options?

The questions becomes where do you start and at what point do you draw the line? Obviously it's not practical to own and use every one of these line types. Allow me to shed a little light onto this gloomy subject.


It's important to note that despite the many technological advances fishing line has made in recent years, garden variety nylon monofilament is still one of the most versatile products available. What makes ordinary monofilament useful are its combined properties. Monofilament line is relatively thin and strong for it's diameter, it holds knots well, is abrasion resistant enough to hold up to hard fishing, comes in a wide variety of colors, contains a satisfactory level of stretch and the cost involved with filling multiple trolling reels is reasonable.

Line manufacturers are fond of promoting their newer products as if they were the best thing to hit fishing since hooks! In reality the degrees of improvement in these lines compared to ordinary monofilament is in some cases marginal.

Co-polymer lines are a good example of this. These highly toted fishing lines are similar to nylon monofilament but produced using slightly different chemical formulations that enable the line to be slightly thinner in diameter for the rated break strength and/or to produce a little less stretch. These are good properties, but the increased cost of these lines hardly justifies these modest improvements.

Marketing campaigns, slick advertising and high dollar personal endorsements are what fuel the popularity of these new products, not their greatly improved performance on the water.

A lot of confusion also exists between spectra braided lines and fused lines. Spectra is a super strong and thin fiber that when wrapped into a braided line creates an exceptionally strong line with super thin diameter and nearly no stretch. The primary disadvantage of this line type is the poor knot strength. Because spectra is a slick material, ordinary knots tend to slip and fail with this line. Special purpose knots like the polamar, work well when fishing spectra braids.

Fused lines are made from a different fiber known as microdyneema. Instead of the fibers being braided, they are fused together. Fused lines have a little more body than spectra braids and they can be produced in smaller break strengths. Fused lines have nearly zero stretch and are thin in diameter, but they tend to fuss up and abrade fairly quickly. Like spectra braids, fused lines require the use of special knots.

The cost of both spectra braids and fused lines is nearly triple that of monofilament lines. This alone is the biggest disadvantage to using these lines. Loading four, six or eight high capacity trolling reels can cost a small fortune.

Stainless wire, copper wire and lead core are specialty lines that have their place in trolling. While these line types are useful, the majority of trolling chores can be handled with either monofilament or one of the low stretch braided or fused lines.

The best way to get the maximum value out of fishing lines is to break down the respective uses, application by application. Downrigger fishing for example requires a line that is abrasion resistant, functions well with various line releases, has good knot strength and a controlled amount of stretch. Hands down, nylon monofilament is the top choice among serious downrigger fishermen.

Because line diameter plays a minor roll in this deep water fishing style, select a line that is plenty heavy for the job. For most downrigger fishing a quality 17 or 20 pound test line works best. While this line is heavier than necessary for many species, there is practical value in using one heavier line for a multitude of species.


Anglers who fish dual planer boards routinely fish with three, four, five or even six lines per side! The shear cost of loading all these reels with fresh line almost mandates the use of monofilament line. Despite the cost benefits of monofilament, this line type is the obvious choice for fishing planer boards because it offers controlled stretch, it functions well with most line releases, is relatively thin in diameter, knot strength is excellent and monofilament can stand up to the abrasion issues of using line releases over and over again.

For smaller species like walleye or brown trout a quality 10 pound test line is ideal. Fished in combination with OR10, OR14 and OR3 line releases are recommended. For larger species like trout and salmon, bumping up to 17 pound test is recommended and also using OR19 or OR3 line releases.


Like dual boards, in-line board fishing is another job for nylon monofilaments. Smaller species are easily handled with 10 pound test and 17 pound test is the best choice for steelhead, salmon or trout fishing. The ideal line release for walleye is the OR16 Snap Weight Clip and for salmon and steelhead the OR19 works great.

A growing number of anglers are using spectra braid or fused lines in combination with in-line boards. The primary reason these ultra thin lines are selected is to allow crankbaits and other lures to achieve maximum depth.

When these low stretch lines are used on in-line boards, special line clips must be employed that are designed to hold these thin and slick lines. The Off Shore Tackle Snapper (OR18) has emerged as the best line clip for fishing these lines. The cam style jaw can be adjusted to hold these thin lines securely, eliminating the problem of the line popping free from the board.


Full sized diving planers like the popular Dipsy or newer products including the Slide-Diver and Walker Diver can be fished on a number of lines effectively. Monofilament in the 25-30 pound test range has always been the standard for diver fishing, but the stretch in monofilament makes it difficult to trip a diver when a long lead is deployed.

More and more anglers are discovering that the spectra braids are the ideal line for fishing divers. A 30# test spectra braid has a diameter equal to about eight pound test monofilament! This extra thin diameter allows divers to reach substantially deeper depths, increasing their versatility.

Fused lines can be used for diver fishing as well, but spectra braids are more abrasion resistant and stand up better with hard use.

Stranded stainless steel wire can also be used to deploy divers. Wire runs slightly deeper than spectra braids because the cumulative weight of the line helps to add a modest amount of extra depth.

Unfortunately fishing stainless line requires rods with roller guides. Stainless line must also be let out carefully to avoid backlashes that are nearly impossible to pick out with stainless wire.

A spectra braid in 30 or 40 pound test is the best compromise when selecting lines for fishing divers.


Mini divers have become very popular for anglers who troll spoons or harnesses for walleye. Like their bigger brothers designed for deep water trout and salmon fishing, mini divers can be used to fish a wide range of depths.

Because mini divers are most often used in combination with planer boards, monofilament line is the top choice for fishing these trolling aids. For walleye and other smaller species 10 pound test is the top choice and for trout and salmon 17 pound test works well.


Walleye anglers spend a lot of time slow trolling bottom bouncers along sprawling flats. This timeless angling technique functions best with monofilament lines when fishing in water from 10-20 feet deep. A quality 10 pound test is the top choice of most serious walleye anglers.

When fishing bottom bouncers in deeper water, super thin spectra braids make a lot of sense. The ultra thin diameter of these lines makes it easier to maintain occasional contact with the bottom. A 15 pound test spectra braid has a diameter of about six pound test monofilament.


Fluorocarbon is the best possible line for all leader chores. Tougher than monofilament and virtually invisible in water, fluorocarbon is the top choice for tying walleye rigs, diver leaders, trout/salmon flies and other in-line leaders. Because fluorocarbon lines are so difficult to see in the water, it makes sense to use a slightly heavier line when tying leaders than would ordinarily be used.

A spool of 17 pound test fluorocarbon leader material is ideal for fishing walleye, trout, salmon and other species.

Fluorocarbon lines are not just sold in leader spools. You can buy filler spools and use fluorocarbon as the main line. Cost is the primary disadvantage in using fluorocarbon as a main line. Because of the abrasion resistance of fluorocarbon, these lines are also stiff and they do not manage well on a reel spool.


Both lead core and copper wire are special purpose trolling lines designed to reach deep water fish. Both are fished the same way, essentially letting out large amounts of these sinking lines to achieve the desired depth. A leader is used at the terminal end and backing of monofilament or sprectra braid used at the back end.

Lead core line is somewhat less expensive and a little easier to work with in terms of loading it onto reels and letting out line while fishing.

Copper is heavier and fishes deeper with less line out making it more practical for fishing in heavy traffic. However, copper must be handled carefully to insure the line does not get kinked. Once the line has been kinked or snarled it is almost impossible to salvage the line.

The most popular size of lead core is 27 pound test and for copper wire trolling the 45 pound is considered the most popular.


Hopefully this helps clear up the murky waters surrounding fishing lines. Monofilament is still the best choice for a multitude of trolling chores, but some of the special purpose lines are carving out more important niches every year. The key is to be versatile and use each line for the purpose it functions best.


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