BOARDS ARE NOT JUST FOR MULTIPLE LINE WATERS
By Jon Thelen
It does not seem to matter where my travels have taken
me over the last several years; the latest craze throughout
the walleye world is trolling.
While this is obvious from the Missouri River, East through
the Great Lakes, it becomes even more overwhelming when
visiting any outdoor product retailer. Fishing departments
have doubled in size due to the trolling craze. Crankbaits
line aisle after aisle, the television on the end-cap is
showing technique tips for the trolling spinners in open
water and 8-10 foot planer board rods stand tall above 6-foot
This trolling trend has exploded for several reasons. For
one, it is no secret that trolling allows an angler to cover
more water at a faster rate of speed than any other technique.
Secondly, in many, if not most bodies of water, trolling
simply catches more and bigger fish.
In most states across the Midwest there is yet another
reason. The ability to run more than one line per person,
two and sometimes three lines each can easily be accomplished
by using Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side Planer Boards. Numerous
lines can be run off each side of the boat, tangle-free
with multiple yellow Off Shore Boards often resembling airplane
wings out each side.
I do not need to explain any more for the angler in multiple
line waters, it is simple, if you are not using boards,
you are not catching as many fish as you should, or could
Let us look at the less obvious, what about the angler
residing in a "one line per person" state? This
so happens to include myself and although a lot of my fishing
would simply allow me to throw two lines over the gunnel
and take off; there are reasons for which boards are almost
always over my shoulders!
For starters, let's talk shallow fish. From early spring
through the first part of June and again in late summer
through fall, lakes throughout the Midwest host a shallow
water bite. I am talking 10 feet or less, but there are
variables. Take the typical Minnesota Lake with a weed line
which forms in 9-12 feet of water. Early in the season running
small crankbaits along and over this emerging weed growth
can be deadly.
Even if I am fishing alone, with the use of an OR12 Side
Planer board, I can get my bait to run above the weeds,
out to the side of my boat, without spooking the baitfish
which the walleye are keying on or the targeted walleye
themselves. As friends and/or clients are added to my boat,
I can run multiple planer boards out to the weed line side
to keep all of my lines equally productive.
When fishing weedy areas, converting your boards with the
OR12TF Off Shore Tackle Tattle Flag Upgrade Kit is a must.
There is no better way to tell if you have a "fish
on" than being able to watch a flag go down. But for
me the Tattle Flag serves another equally important role.
It is no secret that a lure inadvertently pulling weeds
will be ineffective. With the OR12TF Tattle Flag Kit installed,
I can tell if my lures have picked up any debris. When fouled,
the flag will slightly pull down or pull down and pop back
up. In either of these scenarios, I know that I may have
picked up some weeds and I need to reel in and clean my
Deep water presents altogether different challenges and
scenarios. Lakes like Mille Lacs in Central Minnesota boast
clean and clear water. With water clarities being what they
are, schools of roaming walleye suspend as if they were
transplanted from the Great Lakes. There is a simple rule
of thumb here. The clearer the water - the more a walleye
is apt to rise up and use the whole water column to feed.
The solution seems easy, simply throw out a couple of lures
and pull them several feet over the top of these suspending
fish and you should find success, right? Maybe, maybe not.
Fact is, suspended fish can be both the most aggressive
and yet the most spooky at the same time. Aggressive, in
the sense that they will explode in chase of a fast swimming
crankbait from long distances away, although, spooky enough
that the shadow of a boat or noise of an outboard can send
them on an equally explosive retreat.
It's time to get the boards out again. I use the same Off
Shore Tackle OR12 (yellow) Side Planer boards although I
do make one slight adjustment. I replace the standard OR14
Releases with either OR19 Releases or the OR18 Snapper Adjustable
Tension Release. Either one of these higher tension releases
will handle the ferocious hit of a larger suspending walleye
which has quit often come full throttle from a long distance.
It doesn't matter whether I am alone or have 4-5 people
in my boat, when in open water I run all of my crankbaits
behind boards. I use the fish that I graph under my boat
to figure the correct depth at which to run my lures at.
I also know when I am graphing fish that others are scattered
out below my boards and that more are spooking from under
my boat out towards my lures.
Here is another seldom thought of factor. If I make a pass
through a school of fish without a bite, I go through my
list of most common changes, lure color and/or size and
speed adjustments. These changes often produce bites but
if they don't, I adjust my distance between the boat and
my planer boards.
There are times, especially when the fish are really high
in the water column (I am talking about the top third),
that walleye may be spooking further to the sides of the
boat than which I am running my boards. By the time that
my baits reach the zone, the fish may have already spooked
to the outside of my line sets.
In this situation I simply send my boards out further away
from the boat. I work in 10-20 foot increments. While this
in 100% trial and error, this additional adjustment has
made a difference for me on many occasions. Adding this
trick to your trolling arsenal will undoubtedly pay dividends,
especially on bright sunny days in clear lakes!
All said and done, Off Shore Tackle planer boards will
help every angler catch more fish. It does not matter what
state I may be in or how many lines I am allowed to use.
When I am trolling, there are almost always boards over
Back to Top
CRANKBAITING WITH SNAP WEIGHTS
By Mark Romanack
Crankbaits are amazing fishing lures. It's hard to imagine
a lure that has a more impressive list of fish catching
credentials. Amazingly productive in a wide range of conditions
and deadly on just about anything that swims, crankbaits
bring a lot to the party.
Heading up their list of unique features, crankbaits enjoy
the widest range of effective trolling speeds. From less
than one mph to speeds upwards of five mph, crankbaits catch
fish! In addition to covering all the common trolling speeds,
crankbaits can be used to reach any depth from the surface
down to 50 feet! If this wasn't enough, crankbaits are so
consistent they can be used to target specific depths over
and over again simply by controlling lead lengths! Now tack
on the fact that crankbaits come in every imaginable size,
shape, action and color and the picture becomes clear. Crankbaits
rule as fish catching tools.
Crankbaits come to life when they are trolled or cast and
retrieved. It's the diving lip that brings these lures to
The size and shape of the diving lip plays a major role
in the action a crankbait delivers and also how deep it
can dive. Baits with small and/or narrow diving lips reach
modest depths and tend to deliver tight actions. The larger
and wider the lip becomes, the more pronounced the wobble
and diving depth become.
Of course there are literally endless combinations of lip
length, width, bait size and shape to contend with. This
is in part why so many anglers are intimidated by crankbaits.
There are simply too many to choose from!
Admittedly crankbaits can be intimidating, but for the
most part these lures can easily be categorized into two
useful groupings. Most crankbaits fall into one of two basic
categories, including models that float at rest and dive
when pulled or models that sink and achieve their depth
based on lure weight and speed.
Floating/diving models enjoy the largest following and
also these lures are the most consistent in their depth
diving abilities. Most anglers understand that water pushing
against the lip causes the bait to dive into the water.
What they don't realize is that at the same time friction
from the line being pulled through the water and the buoyancy
of the lure creates an opposing force. As the force that
pushes the lure down into the water, stabilizes with the
forces working to push the bait back to the surface, something
Every floating/diving crankbait will dive to a predictable
depth. This depth is influenced by two simple factors including
lead length and line diameter. If these two variables are
controlled, it's possible to predict the precise running
depth of literally every crankbait fished at all the common
Lures that sink are more complex in that their depth is
controlled by not only line diameter and lead length, but
also by boat or retrieve speed. Sinking lures fish deeper
when trolled or retrieved slowly. At faster speeds these
same lures sacrifice running depth.
Because sinking lures are more difficult to control, they
have never achieved the popularity of floating/diving models.
These striking bits of information form the foundation
for the popular crankbait guides Precision Trolling and
Precision Casting. Collectively these user guides have documented
the running depths of countless crankbaits and helped thousands
of anglers maximize their time on the water. A simple XY
style graph is used to depict how much lead length must
be used to achieve specific target depths.
At a glance anglers can consult the "Dive Curve"
and determine within inches how deep their lures
are running. The information provided by Precision Trolling
and Precision Casting is invaluable to anyone who takes
fishing seriously. Not only does this trusted science allow
anglers to know with confidence how deep their lures are
running in relationship to fish or the bottom, it allows
a multitude of lures to be trolled at target depths and
virtually eliminates costly snags.
Precision Trolling and Precision Casting deal primarily
with crank baits that float. This handy fishing guide also
explores the dynamics of adding weight to the fishing line.
If you have ever wondered what happens when weight is added
to a fishing line, read on.
SNAP WEIGHTS AND CRANKBAITS
Crankbaits are amazing fish catching tools, but they have
limitations. Every crankbait has a limit to how deep it
will dive. Not always do the popular crankbait brands and
models reach the necessary target depths. When a crankbait
falls a little short on depth, there is a simple fix.
Sooner or later just about everyone who trolls comes to
the conclusion that adding weight to the line is necessary
at times to reach target depths. There are lots of ways
to add weight onto a fishing line, but nothing is as easy
or more effective than an Off Shore Tackle Snap Weight.
The OR16 (red) Snap Weight clip is the heart of this simple
system. Designed to clip weight on and off the line as needed,
the jaws of this clip are rubber coated to protect the fishing
line. A small pin in the upper jaw indexes into a hole in
the lower jaw. When the line is placed behind this pin,
the Snap Weight is effectively held in place on the fishing
Changing weight sizes is as simple as threading different
size weights onto a split ring attached to the OR16. This
simple weight clip allows sinkers ranging from 1/2 to three
ounces in size to be placed literally anywhere on the fishing
Putting the Snap Weight on or taking it off the line only
takes a second, but the rewards are many. Adding weight
in front of a crankbait adds versatility to a lure group
that is already a capable fish producer. Depending upon
how much weight is used, most any crankbait can be deployed
to depths up to 50 feet!
Again the Precision Trolling guide is an invaluable tool
for determining how adding weight influences the running
depth of crankbaits. The "20 Plus Method" described
in Precision Trolling outlines in detail how adding one
ounce of weight using a Snap Weight increases the running
depth of floating/diving crankbaits by approximately 1/3
the normal running depth.
Here's how the "20 Plus Method" works. Pick your
favorite floating/diving crankbait and let out 20 feet of
line. Attach a one ounce Snap Weight onto the line and let
out an additional 100 feet of lead length for a total lead
of 120 feet.
Now consult the Precision Trolling guide to determine the
normal running depth of your specific lure at 120 feet back.
If that lure runs 15 feet deep at 120 feet back, it will
run an additional 1/3 deeper when the one ounce Snap Weight
In this case a 15 foot lure will run 20 feet deep simply
by adding a one ounce Snap Weight. A bait that runs 18 feet
would run 24 feet with a one ounce Snap Weight, etc. Across
the spectrum of floating/diving baits this simple to use
formula is amazingly consistent, accurate and useful.
Of course adding more than one ounce of weight will increase
the diving depth more. The "20 Plus Method" is
a good starting point, but anglers are encouraged to use
lighter or heavier Snap Weights as conditions dictate.
TIPS FOR FISHING SNAP WEIGHTS
A good rule to follow when fishing crankbaits in combination
with Snap Weights is to strive for consistent trolling speeds.
The "20 Plus Method" is based on a constant trolling
speed of two mph.
Adding Snap Weights to crankbaits works best when fishing
for suspended fish or for species found on flats and other
areas where the bottom depth is rather consistent. Bottoms
consisting of sand, silt, clay or gravel are ideal places
to use Snap Weights in combination with crankbaits.
If you're unsure how deep a particular crankbait is running
with a Snap Weight attached, fish this line straight out
the back and monitor the lead length closely. Slowly let
out additional lead length until the rod tip indicates the
bait is hitting the bottom. Reel up a few turns and you
can feel comfortable the bait is running near bottom.
DON'T OVERLOOK BOARDS
Crankbaits fished in combination with Snap Weights are
a natural for fishing with in-line boards. Combining Snap
Weights, crankbaits and in-line boards like the Off Shore
Tackle OR12 Side Planer or OR31 SST adds up to a deadly
system for walleye, pike, trout, striper and many other
species. Both of these popular boards will easily handle
Snap Weights up to three ounces.
SUMMING IT UP
Crankbaits are deadly fish catching tools. Snap Weights
are the easiest way possible to add weight to a trolling
line. Together crankbaits and Snap Weights are a natural
choice anytime it's necessary to get a little extra depth
from your favorite crankbait.
Back to Top
By Larry Hartwick
As gas prices continue to rise, the trend has been in many
cases to replace the large gas guzzling boats with more
economical vessels. A smaller boat is easily towed in comparison
and often by a more fuel efficient vehicle. While there
are up sides to this thinking, there are also down sides.
Storage is the largest issue that you will face when downsizing
a boat. Riviera Trolling Systems understand the limitations
of smaller boats and has worked to eliminate a lot of the
problems that might arise when downsizing.
First we have developed a collapsible planer mast that
is only 4 ½ ft tall for storage and extends up to
7 feet when in use (Riviera Model numbers DPMKA and DPMPA)
. Why is this a big deal? While a 7 ft. mast on a larger
boat that sits further out of the water may not be a huge
advantage, in the case of an 18-22 foot boat, every inch
of extra height is a big deal. Planer boards go out the
side of the boat better, they maintain a better angle to
the boat so releases slide down the tow line better and
everything in general just plain works better because there
is less contact with the water by the tow line.
As nice a feature as this is, it is only part of the equation.
We also offer the option of 4 different seat mounts in addition
to our normal base mount models listed above. This gives
you the option of using your existing front seat base to
insert the mast into for easy use. Why is this a big deal?
You don't need to drill any holes in the boat to use a mast
and it frees up the bow of the boat in case an electric
trolling motor is needed. Just a couple reasons that many
people think is important.
Riviera offers 3 different Springfield Marine adapters
(Taper-Lock, Spring-Lock, and Uni-Lock) and a Swivl-Eze
2 3/8" adapter. These are all of the popular seat mounts
that the current boat manufacturers are using. If you aren't
sure which seat mount that your boat has, you can either
email a photo of the base to firstname.lastname@example.org or
call 989-738-5700 and we will be happy to assist you.
The price of the seat mount adapters is included in the
price of the mast, giving you the option of any of our 5
bases for the same price. For a complete list of all masts
with the various seat mount adapters, see www.rivieratrolling.com
Back to Top
TROLLING THE EUROPEAN WAY
By Mark Romanack
Trolling is such a popular and productive fishing technique,
anglers on both sides of the big pond practice it routinely.
No matter which side of the globe you may be fishing on,
one thing never changes. The fastest way to a limit catch
is a trolled line!
Across northern Europe a growing number of anglers troll
for salmon, zander and northern pike. These fish are found
living in both fresh water in-land lakes and brackish seas.
The popularity of sport fishing has expanded in recent
years due in part to the robust economy Europe has enjoyed
for some time. The typical European worker is well compensated
for his work hours and gets a nice benefit package that
includes six weeks of paid vacation per year! With both
time and money on their hands, what better hobby to explore
Not surprisingly, a lot of the methods used for trolling
up popular European species are similar to those we use
here at home. Downriggers, planer boards and lots of rod
holders are common sights on a recreational fishing boat
in Sweden, Finland, Germany or Poland.
A number of popular American based lure brands are also
marketed widely across Europe. Just about every tackle shop
in Europe sells Bomber, Storm, Reef Runner, Bagley, Luhr
Jensen and other popular American made fishing lures.
The Europeans however favor baits with an old world feel
and ones they are more familiar with. The top trolling lures
across Europe are produced by Salmo, Rapala and Nils Master.
Fortunately, these same brands and baits are also widely
available in America.
THE IMPACT OF WEATHER
In some ways European anglers have an advantage over the
typical American angler. Fishing pressure is light compared
to that seen on most popular American lakes. Because the
fishing pressure is light, some huge zander and northern
pike are routinely taken by European anglers.
On the down side, Northern Europe is plagued with some
of the most unstable weather in the world. Cold fronts and
low pressure weather systems come and go so quickly that
locking down on any particular fishing pattern is difficult
Any good angler knows that weather dictates a lot in terms
of fishing success. Since it is impossible to impact or
change the weather, European anglers have developed some
no-nonsense methods of fishing that enable them to keep
their lures in front of fish regardless of changing weather
During a cold front or low pressure system, most fish react
by becoming more lethargic and also moving to deeper water.
European anglers compensate for these conditions by trolling
slower, using weights in front of their lures to control
the fishing depth and also by using lures with a more subtle
SLOW AS YOU GO
The more inactive fish become, the more that trolling speed
plays a major role in fishing success. Early and late in
the year when water temperatures are cold, most anglers
recognize the need to troll slower. However, the same holds
true even in midsummer when a cold front drops the water
temperature even a few degrees.
Slowing down a few clicks when the weather turns sour increases
the amount of time the lure is in front of individual fish.
This in turn gives the fish more time to react. Think of
trolling slower as a way of teasing fish into biting.
During mid summer when trolling speeds are typically 2.5
to 3 miles per hour, it makes sense to slow up .5 to one
MPH during cold fronts. During the cold water months, a
trolling speed of 1 to 1.5 MPH will produce the best trolling
results in most cases.
Adding trolling weights to the line is one of the easiest
ways to control lure running depth. Snap Weights, or other
trolling sinkers are designed to increase the natural running
depth of crankbaits, spoons and other lures.
Fixed weights like keel sinkers are popular and normally
rigged on the line approximately six feet in front of the
lure. Compared to keel and other fixed weights, Snap Weights
are unique in that they can easily be placed anywhere on
the fishing line from a few feet in front of the lure, to
100 feet up the line if desired. It's also easy to change
the size of the Snap Weight as needed. Not so with keel
weights, rubber core sinkers, bead chain sinkers, split
shot and other weight systems.
By simply adding more weight to the split ring, a crankbait
fished in combination with a Snap Weight can be fished to
progressively deeper and deeper depths as dictated by fish
mood and location. The weight doesn't change the lure action,
just the depth the lure is running at.
SUBTLE ACTION LURES
When fishing conditions are ideal, faster trolling speeds
and high action lures normally produce the best catches.
In cold fronts or when fishing cold water, lures that produce
a more subtle wobble or action become the clear choice.
Using crankbaits as an example again, high action lures
feature wider trolling lips. The wider the lip, the more
pronounced the side to side wobble becomes. The most aggressive
crankbaits have both a wide lip and often a short stubby
body. When running in the water these lures stand on their
nose and wobble aggressively. A good example of a high action
crankbait would be a Salmo Hornet or the Storm Hot n Tot.
Both these lures are an excellent choice for trolling at
faster speeds and during stable weather conditions.
Subtle action crankbaits have smaller and narrower lips.
The longer and more slender the body shape, the more subtle
the action becomes. Lures in this class have less of a side
to side wobble and more of a roll or modest quiver in the
water. These baits also travel through the water in a horizontal
plane instead of standing on their nose.
Good examples of subtle action crankbaits include the Salmo
Stinger, Rapala No. 18 Floating Minnow, Smithwick Rattlin
Rogue and Reef Runner RipStick.
BOARDS ALSO HELP
Catching fish in cold front conditions is rarely easy.
Snap Weights are a simple fix for adding additional weight
that allows anglers to ply deeper and deeper water as necessary.
Fishing deeper and slower during cold fronts is critical.
In the same token, it's important to also increase lure
coverage by using in-line planer boards. The Off Shore Tackle
Side Planer and SST boards are inexpensive and effective
ways to gain additional lure coverage.
Both boards function in a similar manner. The desired lead
length is selected and the appropriate sized Snap Weight
added to the line. Next the line is placed into the release
on the tow arm of the board. The Side Planer features a
release on both the tow arm and back of the board. Place
the line in both releases.
Fixed to the line in this manner, the Side Planer functions
as both a method of getting lures out to the side of the
boat and also a strike indicator. When a fish strikes, the
board is pulled backwards in the water by the struggling
fish. The angler simply reels in the board and fish together
until the board is close enough to remove from the line.
The SST board is designed a little different and rigged
so the board releases at the strike. A release is mounted
on the tow arm and at the back of the board a pigtail swivel.
Put the line into the release and then thread it through
the pigtail swivel.
When a fish strikes, the angler can trip the board by popping
the rod tip sharply. Once the line pops free of the tow
arm release, it will slide down the line via the pigtail
swivel. To prevent the board from sliding all the way to
the lure, rig a Speed Bead (OR29) in line about three feet
in front of the lure.
The release and slide method described with the SST board
is most commonly used when multiple boards are fished per
side of the boat. The SST board is also the logical choice
for larger fish like salmon, striper or trout.
If only one or two boards are used per side, the fixed
method described with the Side Planer is preferred. Walleye
anglers favor the Side Planer.
Both these handy boards can be rigged in a number of ways
for different species and fishing situations. Off Shore
Tackle produces a wealth of releases and line clips suitable
for all trolling applications. Both boards are capable of
handling all the common trolling speeds and with Snap Weights
up to three ounces.
SUMMING IT UP
European anglers spend much more time using weights in
front of their favorite trolling lures than American anglers.
In part this is because the average European angler is dealing
with poor weather more often than those who fish on the
American side of the pond. Also, European anglers are practical
in their fishing approach. It's simply easier to add weight
to the fishing line, than to experiment with deeper diving
lures that may or may not trigger strikes.
Good weather or bad, adding weight to a trolling line is
one of the easiest and most efficient ways of manipulating
lure depth. Instead of reaching for a deeper running lure,
consider adding a Snap Weight to the line and let the lead
do the work.
Back to Top
ICE OUT TROLLING TACTICS
By Mark Romanack
Trolling among icebergs may seem a little extreme for the
typical angler. After all, how well can fish be biting in
water that's cold enough to make ice? The answer may surprise
you. For certain species like brown trout, lakers, coho,
steelhead and king salmon cold water should not be viewed
as a deterrent to fishing success. These species remain
active late into the year and as soon as the ice breaks
up in the spring, fishing action can be red hot.
Categorized loosely as cold water species, trout and salmon
aren't the only fish that bite well when the water is frigid.
Other species like walleye, pike and muskie also feed actively
in cold water. While these species are technically considered
warm water fish, they are actually most active when the
water is cool. Even in very cold water this toothy trio
can be caught by simply using lures with a more subtle action
and slowing down a notch or two.
Trolling speed is one of the most important considerations
for the cold water angler. Not only does trolling speed
control lure action, it also speaks directly to the activity
level of various species.
A wealth of popular fish are active in cold water, but
active should be viewed as a relative term. All fish are
cold blooded creatures, which means in extremely cold water
they are going to be somewhat more lethargic than they would
be in warmer water.
Slowing down trolling speeds is a simple and effective
way to present baits that offer strike triggering actions
at a more enticing speed. It's amazing how tweaking the
trolling speed just a couple tenths of a mile per hour can
play a huge role in triggering strikes.
Controlling trolling speed isn't as simple as pulling back
on the throttle. For most boats equipped with inboard/outboard
engines or a larger outboard motor, the slowest possible
trolling speed isn't slow enough for fishing in icy cold
water. Using a sea bag to slow up trolling speed becomes
The problem with using a sea bag is the drag or resistance
tends to pull the boat one direction or another. This forces
someone to stay at the helm all the time to keep the boat
One way to reduce this problem is to rig two sea bags,
one on each side of the boat, to make tracking easier. Another
way is to position one sea bag directly under the hull.
This is easily accomplished by attaching the bag to the
bow eye of the boat and then using guide ropes attached
to either side of the bag to center it under the hull. The
rope attached to the bow eye is used to position the bag
amid ship. The guide ropes on either side of the bag are
then used to position and keep the bag dead center of the
hull. Once the bag is positioned correctly, the guide ropes
are tied off to cleats on each gunwale.
Rigging a sea bag this way takes a few minutes, but it's
amazing how much control it provides in regards to both
speed and the boat's turning radius.
Smaller boats are best controlled with a small gasoline
kicker motor. Not only do these motors use less fuel, they
allow the angler to tweak trolling speed as necessary. If
the idle is set correctly and the engine running smooth,
a kicker motor can be used to troll as slowly as one MPH.
These days most kicker motors are four stroke technology,
which means the engine is quiet, smoke free and they squeeze
a lot of trolling out of a gallon of fuel. Because four
stroke engines burn straight gasoline, most anglers rig
the kicker motor into the main fuel tank to save space in
the boat. Some walleye boats feature a built-in kicker tank.
A kicker motor can be easily mounted on the transom and
rigged on either the port or starboard side of the boat.
Steering the boat can be controlled by the handle on the
kicker itself, or by using a bar that connects the kicker
to the main outboard. Rigged in this manner, the boat is
controlled by simply turning the main steering wheel.
A kicker solves the speed control issues on most boats,
but there are times when even a kicker can't go slow enough.
When trolling down wind on a rough day, it may actually
be necessary to run the kicker motor in reverse to slow
the boat down to the target speed.
On a rough day, it's also a good idea to put the kicker
motor in reverse when fighting a big fish. This takes some
of the pressure off and allows the angler to gain line quickly
on the fish.
WHAT TROLLING SPEED IS BEST?
The best trolling speed varies from day to day and also
from lure to lure. Certain baits require certain speeds
to bring out their best action. The best way to determine
what speed matches best with what lures is to observe them
at boat side.
Trolling style spoons are the big issue when it comes to
boat speed. Many models of spoons simply have no wobble
or limited flash at slower speeds. Experiment with spoon
sizes and brands until models that have good action at slower
speeds are discovered. For cold water trolling a spoon that
has good action at 1.5 to 2 MPH is required.
One of the best spoons for slow trolling is the Wolverine
Tackle Mini Streak. Recently redesigned to be even better,
this Great Lakes staple works well on a wide variety of
Crankbaits are less speed sensitive than spoons. Many crankbaits
will deliver satisfactory action at speeds as slow as one
mile per hour. The crankbaits that seem to produce best
in cold water are long, minnow shaped floating/diving models.
Looking down on these lures in the water, they rock back
and forth along the centerline, but deliver little side
to side motion. Usually the diving lips on these baits are
longer than they are wide and the best action is achieved
at speeds ranging from one to two MPH.
Baits with a wide diving lip tend to generate a wider and
more aggressive side to side wobble. In general, it takes
a little more boat speed to bring out this pronounced wobble.
As a result crankbaits with wider diving lips don't enjoy
a generous range of productive trolling speeds for cold
IN-LINE BOARDS ARE BEST
Long lining lures straight out the back of the boat is
a popular method for cold water trolling. To be effective,
these lures must be set 200 or more feet behind the boat.
A more practical approach is to use in-line boards like
the popular Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side Planer or OR31 SST
models. By incorporating in-line boards into an ice-out
trolling pattern anglers can gain invaluable lure coverage,
troll at slow speeds and contact fish using shorter lead
The OR12 Side Planer (yellow) was designed for walleye
fishing and comes equipped with a pair of OR14 (black) releases.
The OR31 SST board is similar, but comes factory rigged
a little differently. Designed for trout, striper and salmon
fishing, the SST board is orange, does not have a flag and
is armed with an OR19 heavy tension tow arm release. A pigtail
swivel comes in the package so the angler can rig the board
to release and slide down the line. Rigged in this manner,
a Speed Bead (OR29) should be positioned a few feet in front
of the lure, to prevent the board from sliding down all
the way to the fish.
Walleye anglers favor a rigging method that keeps the board
fixed to the line. When a strike occurs, the fish and board
are reeled in at the same time. The board is removed from
the line as it approaches the rod tip and the fight continued.
Trout and salmon anglers tend to fish three or more boards
per side. To avoid the need to clear lines when fighting
fish, the OR31 SST board can be rigged so the line pops
free of the tow arm release when a fish strikes. The board
then slides down the line via the pigtail swivel. Meanwhile
the angler reels in the fish without having to clear any
To insure a smooth and consistent release, Off Shore Tackle
recommends using monofilament line. Twist the line a few
times around your finger and place the twisted portion half
way into the rubber pads on the OR19 release. Rigged in
this manner the board will remain fixed in place on the
line until a strike occurs. If a small fish is hooked, it
may be necessary to pop the rod tip to trigger the release.
SUMMING IT UP
A solid layer of ice is about the only thing that puts
an end to the trolling fun. No matter if you're fishing
late into the fall or early in the spring, trolling in cold
water is an ideal way to target a wealth of species.
The keys to success include trolling slowly, paying attention
to lure types, monitor lure actions closely and don't forget
to use in-line planer boards.
Back to Top
PLANER BOARD RELEASES AND CLIPS, THE GOOD THE BAD AND
By Bruce DeShano
Having fished various planer board releases for over 20
years, there is one thing I know for sure about these trolling
aids; planer board releases can be described as the good,
the bad and the ugly. Some of the bad ones aren't much to
look at either!
In seriousness, a functioning planer board release is an
engineered piece of fishing equipment. The level of function
the release provides is determined by how well engineered
it is. To think for a second that an ordinary office rubber
band or alligator clip can perform the same function as
a release designed solely for the job of hooking fish is
There are many reasons that rubber bands and alligator
clips make lousy line releases. Most importantly it is essential
to understand that one size can't fit all when it comes
to line releases. The release that works perfectly for walleye
is not going to function well on large fish like salmon.
To make the most of the fish that bite, anglers need to
arm themselves with high quality line releases that are
designed to catch the species targeted.
This is the very reason Off Shore Tackle produces so many
different models of planer board releases. No matter what
species you're after, Off Shore Tackle has the line release
The popular yellow OR10 is all about panfish and walleye
fishing. Designed to be used with 6-20 pound test monofilament
lines, this versatile release has two tension settings making
it ideal for targeting "eaters" and also larger
fish. To adjust the tension, simply slide the spring forward
towards the pads for increased line gripping power or backwards
to reduce the tension.
The OR14 picks up where the OR10 leaves off. Standard equipment
on the OR12 Side Planer board, the OR14 is also favored
by many walleye anglers who troll dual board mast systems.
The OR14 has a slightly heavier spring tension than the
popular OR10. Like its brother the OR10, this release can
be adjusted for tension by sliding the spring forward towards
the pads or back. When walleye trolling with deep diving
crank baits, mini-disks or larger size Snap Weights, the
OR14 is ideal.
What sets the OR3 apart is the larger pad diameter. This
release can be used with a wide cross section of monofilament
line sizes. To adjust the tension, simply control how deep
the line is placed between the rubber pads. This no nonsense
line release is a favorite of walleye anglers, those who
target spring browns and cohos with their Riviera Dual Planer
The OR16 isn't a line release at all, but rather a line
clip. Designed to hold the Snap Weight trolling system on
the line, these clips are also widely used by OR12 Side
Planer users to insure their boards stay put on the line
regardless of trolling speed or wave conditions. A small
pin indexes through the center of the rubber pads, insuring
that once the line is placed behind the pin, it can't pop
This medium tension planer board release is built with
salmon fishing in mind. Like the OR3 the larger pad size
on the OR17 provides ample surface area to insure a firm
or light release as selected by the angler. This popular
release is designed to function with monofilament lines
ranging from 10-25 pound test. A great release used with
your Riviera Dual Planer Boards.
The OR19 comes as standard equipment on the OR31 SST in-line
planer board. Also sold in packages with a quick clip for
traditional planer board fishing, the OR19 has the same
spring tension as the OR16 Snap Weight Clip, but WITHOUT
the pin protruding through the center of the pads. This
release is ideal for salmon, striper, lake trout, muskie
and for lead core fishing applications.
OR18 SNAPPER (BLACK)
Like the OR16, the Snapper is a special purpose line clip.
The cam action of this clip allows the tension to be adjusted
for a traditional release on monofilament lines, or the
tension can be increased enough to hold even the most slippery
super braid lines. Most often the Snapper is used in combination
with the OR12 Side Planer or OR31 SST boards to insure the
board stays on the line when trolling with super braids.
The Snapper is also commonly used for fishing lead core
line that's equipped with a super braid backing.
The OR30 heavy tension release has the strongest spring
tension of all the Off Shore Tackle releases. Built to insure
maximum spring tension for hooking toothy critters like
lake trout, trophy pike, muskie, striper and saltwater fish,
the OR30 is designed to be used with 20 pound test monofilament
or heavier lines. This release is without question the heavyweight
on the block and a great asset used with Riviera Triple
Planer Boards. This release is superior when fishing dodgers,
flashers and rotators for suspended salmon.
SUMMING IT UP
Quality line releases cost more than rubber bands and alligator
clips, but they work better and in the end hook more fish.
After all the purpose of a line release is to hold the line
until a fish strikes, then provide just the right amount
of tension to insure the fish hooks itself.
If the release pops too easily, the fish won't be hooked
securely and likely escape. If the release is too strong,
hooked fish will simply get dragged along for the ride.
Effective planer board fishing is all about selecting the
line release that is "just right" for the job.
Think about it. Who makes more line release models than
Off Shore Tackle? No one; that is why Off Shore Tackle is
"The Leader In Trolling Technology".
Back to Top
GETTING THE MOST FROM LEAD CORE
By Mark Romanack
Anglers have lots of options available to them when it
comes to controlling lure depth. Downriggers, diving planers
and Snap Weights are just a few of the popular options.
Another option known as lead core fishing line has also
gained in popularity recently. Lead core is simply a fishing
line made from soft lead wire with a protective braided
nylon coating. The coating protects the soft lead wire from
damage and yields the necessary tensile strength. The lead
wire of course causes the line to sink.
Lead core is normally sold on spools that contain either
100 meters or 200 meters of line. Different pound test lines
ranging from 12 to 45 pound test meet just about any trolling
needs from walleye to salmon and deep water lake trout.
The most popular size lead core line is 27 pound test.
Popular with salmon and trout anglers, the 27 pound test
size is also widely used by walleye anglers. The next most
popular size in lead core line is 18 pound test. This size
is favored by walleye anglers and to a lesser degree by
salmon anglers who are targeting fish higher in the water
column. These sizes of lead core are popular because they
offer the ideal combination of both weight (trolling depth)
HOW IS LEAD CORE RIGGED?
Because lead core line is rather thick and stiff, it's
not practical to tie lures directly onto lead core. Instead,
a leader of monofilament or better yet fluorocarbon line
is added. Fluorocarbon gets the nod because it is tough
and very difficult to see in water.
The leader length varies depending upon the fishing conditions.
For open water trolling a leader of 50 feet is customary.
This long leader allows the angler to cut and retie frequently.
For structure fishing, a shorter leader of 10-20 feet allows
for more precise depth control.
For trout and salmon fishing a leader of 17-20 pound test
is recommended. For walleye trolling the leader is generally
10-12 pound test.
Lead core line can be fished by simply letting out specific
amounts to target specific depths. Every 10 meters the line
coating changes color making it easy to monitor how much
line is being deployed.
Another rigging option is to add backing material onto
the lead core line, so that the entire amount of lead core
can be deployed. Known as segmented lead core, this is the
most popular way of fishing these weighted lines. By letting
out all the lead core line, maximum depth is achieved. Also,
the depth can be increased by letting out additional backing
The backing material can be either monofilament or braided
lines. Monofilament is a little less expensive and more
user friendly, but braided lines are thinner in diameter
and allow more line to be spooled in the limited space available.
For walleye fishing, 10-12 pound test monofilament is a
favorite backing material. With a monofilament backing,
lead core rigs can easily be adapted to fishing with either
in-line or dual board planer systems. When monofilament
backing is used no special purpose line releases are required.
Salmon fishing poses a different issue. Because salmon
anglers are targeting deeper water, maximum amounts of lead
core line must be used to achieve these depths. This leaves
little room on most reels for backing material. Super braids
are the answer because these ultra thin diameter lines allow
a significant amount of backing to be spooled on without
using up much line capacity.
A common backing line among salmon anglers is Power Pro
in the 30 pound test size. This line has a diameter equal
to eight pound test monofilament!
A WORD ON TROLLING REELS
Lead core line is thick stuff and it takes a substantial
reel to hold any significant amount of lead core. Obviously,
the more lead core that's required, the bigger the reel
must be to hold the necessary leader, lead core and backing
Because lead core is color coded, it's not essential to
use a line counter style reel for fishing lead core line.
A quality level wind trolling reel like the Okuma Convector
or Catalina works well with lead core. The size 20 level
wind reel will hold all the lead core and backing a walleye
angler will need. For salmon fishing the size 45 will easily
handle 100 meters of 27 pound test lead core and 100 meters
of 30# test braided backing. For fishing 1.5 or 2 cores
of lead line, the larger size 55 reel is required.
Line counter style reels can be handy when it becomes necessary
to let out all the lead core line and a substantial amount
of backing. Use the line counter reel to monitor the amount
of backing being deployed and simply duplicate what works.
ATTACHING LEADER AND BACKING TO LEAD CORE
Lead core line is a useful fishing tool, but when it comes
to tying leaders and backing material to lead core the fun
is over. Chip Cartwright of Wolverine Tackle has some tips
on rigging lead core to leaders and backing that take away
a lot of the frustration.
"Most of the knots designed to attach lead core to
other lines are either hard to tie or they produce a knot
so big it catches in the reel guides," says Cartwright.
"To tie a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader to lead
core, start by removing about three inches of the lead wire
from the protective coating. Next take the desired leader
material and thread it into lead core coating until the
leader bottoms out against the remaining lead wire. At this
point simply tie an overhand knot in the lead core near
the point where the lead core and leader meet."
This simple leader rigging method yields a knot that's
smooth and a leader to lead core connection that is very
strong. "One of the tricks to this rigging method is
to cut the leader with a sharp razor blade," advises
Cartwright. "This leaves a clean cut that will slide
into the lead core coating easily."
Unfortunately this leader rigging method doesn't work with
braided lines. "To rig a braided line backing to lead
core, start by first removing about three inches of the
lead wire from the protective coating," adds Cartwright.
"Next take a two foot length of 20 pound test fluorocarbon
line and insert the leader into the lead core until it bottoms
out against the lead wire. Tie an overhand knot as before,
making sure the knot is in the lead core coating near the
point where the leader and lead core join. Now you've got
a short length of fluorocarbon attached to the lead core
which can in turn be knotted to the braided backing material."
A small barrel swivel works for this union or a nail knot
is a good choice to join a small diameter braided line to
a larger diameter fluorocarbon line.
"The other benefit of this rigging method is the short
length of fluorocarbon makes the ideal place to attach an
in-line planer board like the Off Shore Tackle OR31 SST,"
says Cartwright. "I use an orange OR19 release on both
the front and back of my SST boards when I'm fishing lead
HOW MUCH LEAD CORE?
Depending on what species you're targeting the amount of
lead core line can vary widely. "I carry four different
lead core rigs on my boat," says Chip Cartwright. "I
spool up a couple reels with two colors, three colors, five
colors and 10 colors of lead. The five and 10 color rigs
get the most use, but at times two or three colors is just
what it takes to catch fish.
Captain Russ Clark of Sea Hawk Charters (www.fishseahawk.com)
runs a slightly different lead core approach. Russ favors
just two set ups using three colors and eight colors of
27 pound test lead core.
"I like to fish both three and eight color lead core
lines at the same time," says Captain Clark. "The
three color rig is set to the outside and the deeper running
eight color set on the inside. I normally use an Off Shore
Tackle OR31 SST board to present both these lead core combinations.
If a fish is hooked on the outside line, I can reel it in
without having to clear the other lead core line. This is
because the eight color rig runs deep enough to stay below
and clear of the three color rig."
Lead core is ideally suited to fishing with in-line boards
like the Off Shore Tackle OR31 SST or OR12 Side Planer.
Most anglers let out all the lead core and attach the board
to the backing material. If braided line is used for backing
an OR18 Snapper Release grips and holds braid better than
any other release on the market. If monofilament line is
used the OR16 Snap Weight Clip or OR19 Heavy Tension Planer
Board Release as they work exceptionally well.
It's not practical to rig an in-line board to release and
slide down the line when fishing lead core. Instead use
a release on both the front and back of the board to hold
it securely onto the backing.
One final tip for board fishing is important. "A critical
time in the fight occurs when the board starts to get close
to the boat," says Captain Clark. "Lower the rod
tip as the board approaches the boat to keep the board in
the water. If the board starts jumping out of the water,
it can catch a wave and dive. Lowering the rod tip until
the board is almost within reach eliminates this problem."
SOME FINAL TIPS
Fishing lead core line requires the angler to use some
specialized gear and rigging options. If rigging knots with
lead core seems too much to tackle, consider using Mason's
Redi-Core. These lead core rigs come pre-spooled with a
monofilament leader and braided backing already factory
installed. All the angler has to do is spool it onto a reel
that's capable of handling the line capacity and go fish.
Redi-Core comes in a wide variety of lead core lengths and
If all you have are 10 color lead core rigs and the word
is the fish are biting on five colors, don't hesitate to
modify your lead core lines as necessary. If you cut off
a piece of lead core line, save it. This line can later
be spliced back into place by simply removing a little of
the lead wire and tying a double overhand knot into the
Lead core isn't always pretty, but it just about always
catches fish. It's hard to imagine anything that has as
much versatility of old fashioned lead core line.
Captain Russ Clark, www.fishseahawk.com
Wolverine Tackle, www.catchmorefish.com
Back to Top
RIGGED FOR SUCCESS, IN-LINE BOARD OPTIONS
By Mark Romanack
Part of what makes fishing with in-line boards so deadly
is the versatility these fishing tools bring to the party.
In-line boards are ideal for fishing all the major species,
a wealth of lures and special purpose gear like lead core
line, Snap Weights, jets and mini disks. In short, there
is a board and rigging method ideal for just about anything
In addition to being versatile, in-line boards are functional.
For the money nothing works better at gaining outward lure
coverage, increasing the size of a trolling spread or targeting
spooky fish. Investing in these boards is money well spent
and an major step towards fishing success.
OFF SHORE TACKLE OR12 SIDE PLANER
The familiar yellow OR12 Side Planer is the board that
started the in-line craze. Designed with walleye anglers
in mind, the Side Planer can be fished at all trolling speeds
from crawler slow to spoon fast. In addition to walleye
applications, the Side Planer is also ideal for targeting
brown trout, pike and even for heavy duty jobs like pulling
lead core or trolling with muskie sized crankbaits!
The Side Planer comes factory equipped with a pair of OR14
releases. This release configuration is designed for fishing
with monofilament line in normal trolling situations. Many
walleye anglers upgrade their boards by adding an OR16 Snap
Weight Clip to the tow arm. The OR16 has a stronger spring
tension and a pin that prevents the line from popping free
of the clip even at high speeds or in rough water.
Anglers who fish with braided lines will want to upgrade
their boards to include an OR18 Snapper release on the front
tow arm. This unique product is the best solution for fishing
with hard to hold super braids. The OR18 Snapper also works
exceptionally well with monofilament lines.
TATTLE FLAG UPGRADES
The Side Planer comes with a factory installed orange flag
that makes it easier to spot and monitor the board on the
water. The OR12TF Tattle Flag Upgrade Kit takes board fishing
to a whole new level. Included in the Tattle Flag Upgrade
Kit are two OR16 Snap Weight Clips, linkage arms, spring,
flag and the necessary hardware to convert an ordinary Side
Planer into a Tattle Flag Side Planer.
The Tattle Flag is a spring loaded strike indicator. When
trolling, the flag remains in a slightly angled position
until a fish strikes. The flag pulls down when a fish is
hooked, making it easy for even a novice to determine they
have a fish on!
The Tattle Flag is adjustable for tension settings and
highly sensitive. Even if a small perch is hooked it will
cause the flag to fold down. This unique feature enables
board fishermen to troll with the confidence that their
lures are working properly 100% of the time!
A must for trolling crawler harnesses and other live bait
rigs, the Tattle Flag kit has become a "must have"
item among serious walleye anglers. It only takes about
five minutes and some basic tools to rig a Side Planer with
a Tattle Flag kit.
OFF SHORE TACKLE OR31 SST BOARD
The OR31 SST board has salmon fishing written all over
it. Designed to haul lead core, Snap Weights, mini-disks,
keel weights and other trolling gear, the bright orange
color of the SST board forms a striking contrast against
In the short time this board has been on the market, it
has already become the "go to" board among charter
captains who fish lead core or segments of copper wire.
The size and ballast design of the SST board enables it
to effectively troll even two full spools of lead core line!
Rigged from the factory with an OR19 heavy tension release
on the tow arm and a pigtail swivel on the back of the board,
the SST is factory set for fishing with monofilament lines.
For fishing with super braids, the factory recommends substituting
an OR18 Snapper Release on the tow arm. This release is
designed especially for fishing with super braid lines.
SUMMING IT UP
The OR12 Side Planer is the popular choice of walleye anglers,
while the OR31 SST board is favored by trout and salmon
trollers. Both boards accept a wealth of line clips, releases
and factory upgrades designed to make the Off Shore Tackle
family of boards user friendly on any species or trolling
situation. When it comes to in-line boards, Off Shore Tackle
wrote the book on success.
Back to Top
FISHING 411 DEBUTS
Starting January 2008, a new fishing program hits the air.
Fishing 411 hosted by Mark Romanack will be broadcast on
the Sportsman Channel during the first and second quarters
"Like the name suggests, this program is all about
fishing and sharing information with fellow anglers,"
says Mark Romanack. "Every episode we tackle a different
species, hot destinations, new techniques and insider tips
that will help anglers make the most of their time on the
In the first season anglers can look forward to segments
that include exciting fishing action and hot tips for walleye,
yellow perch, steelhead, lake trout, coho, king salmon,
panfish, trophy northern pike, ice fishing and much more.
Off Shore Tackle is a proud sponsor of Fishing 411. Other
industry sponsors include Starcraft Boats, Mercury Outboards,
Salmo Crankbaits, Rivers West Clothing, Jay's Sporting Goods,
Bert's Custom Tackle, Okuma Fishing Rods/Reels, Lowrance
Electronics and Precision Angling.
The Fishing 411 program and the Sportsman Channel can be
found on both Comcast and Charter Cable. "I'm excited
about being featured on the Sportsman Channel," says
Romanack. "This is one channel that's all about fishing
and hunting. There are no paid programming, prospecting,
off roading or other programs to sort through. It's all
fishing and hunting all day!"
The Fishing 411 program airs on Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m.,
Saturdays at Noon, and on Sundays at 5:30 a.m. For more
information check out www.thesportsmanchannel.com , www.buycomcast.com
or www.charter.com .
Off Shore Tackle is also sponsoring Jay's Outdoor Magazine
television with Mike Avery. Jay's Outdoor Magazine has also
moved to the Sportsman Channel. This unique mix of fishing
and hunting adventures set across North America has become
one of the most popular outdoor programs on television.
Tune in on Wednesdays at 8 p.m., Mondays at 11:30 a.m.,
and on Sunday at 3:30 a.m.
If your cable or satellite provider doesn't offer the Sportsman
Channel you can watch programming anytime from your computer
via on line broadcasting. For a nominal fee of $4.95 per
month you can enjoy all your favorite outdoor programs right
at your personal computer. For more details on how to get
on-line broadcasting, check out www.thesportsmanchannel.com
and click on the on-line broadcast menu.
Back to Top
THE SCIENCE OF HOOKING
By Mark Romanack
Thousands of fish are hooked and lost each year because
anglers take their hooks for granted. Ironically, the hooks
that adorn our favorite lures and live bait rigs are the
most important yet most frequently overlooked aspect of
fishing. Don't worry, the following isn't another lecture
about the virtues of sharp hooks. Sharp hooks are mandatory,
but there is much more to the science of hooking than simply
keeping a file handy.
HOOK SIZE MATTERS
Anglers make the same mistake over and over again. They
choose hooks that are too small for the job. Walleye anglers
are perhaps the worst in this department.
"Walleye fishermen have seemingly always used small
hooks," says Mike Avery the host of Jay's Outdoor Magazine
television. "The theory is that small hooks are easier
to hide in the bait. Hiding the hook sounds good in theory,
but using small hooks to catch fish equipped with hard,
bony mouths breaks all the rules of common sense."
An avid walleye angler, Avery rarely uses a hook smaller
than a No. 4 when walleye fishing and often uses No. 2 and
even No. 1 sized hooks. "Oversized hooks make sense
because they're large enough to reach back into the softer
and more easily penetrated part of the fish's mouth,"
explains Avery. "Walleye have a large, bony mouth that's
resistant to hook penetration. "The first step toward
achieving higher hooking ratios is going to larger hooks.
The second step is understanding the two stages of hooking
Simply setting the hook hard doesn't guarantee you'll catch
more fish. To hook more walleye you first have to stick
the fish with the hook point. In order to land more fish,
the hook point must penetrate deep enough to insure the
hook doesn't slip or tear free.
Avery explains that there are two vital parts to the science
of hooking. Sticking or embedding the point of the hook
is only half the game. Hook penetration is what prevents
the fish from being able to shake the hook and escape.
"Unfortunately, most hooks are designed to only stick
the fish that bite," says Avery. "Hooks designed
to offer a needle-like point stick the hard tissue inside
a fish's mouth effectively, but they don't penetrate well.
During the fight, the bite of the hook is easily lost and
the fish escapes. To penetrate and hold effectively, a hook
must have a knife-like cutting edge or a point that's otherwise
modified to improve penetration."
The instant the angler feels a fish bite, he rears back
on this rod and sets the hook point into the fish's mouth.
In response the fish realizes that something is wrong. The
fish responds by opening his mouth and forcing water out.
If this doesn't dislodge the foreign object, the fish begins
to shake its head violently.
Meanwhile, the angler leans into the fish and puts pressure
on the hook point. If the hook has a sharp cutting edge,
it starts to work deep into the tissue of the fish's mouth.
Every time the fish shakes his had back and forth, the hook
cuts deeper and eventually penetrates to the barb.
On the other hand, if the hook were one with a needle-like
point, it probably pricked the hard bony surface of the
fish's mouth, but wasn't able to penetrate deeply. If this
is the case, chances are good that the fish will be able
to struggle until the hook eventually loses its grip.
Leading hook manufacturers are taking the science of hooking
to even greater levels. Using a specially designed computer,
manufacturers have conducted tests with many different hooks
to measure the grams of force needed for both point and
"Fish hooks featuring a knife-like or cutting edge
penetrate with two-and-a-half times less force than traditional
needle-point hooks," says Skip Mortensen, of Mustad
a major manufacturer of walleye fishing hooks. "The
future of fish hook design is definitely heading toward
cutting-edge and other ultra sharp hook styles."
Cutting edge style hooks are a good thing, but many of
these hooks are designed for bass and other fishing applications.
It's important to select a hook model and size that's designed
for walleye fishing. The type of bait to be used, the cover
to be fished and the actual presentation determine the best
possible hook choice.
HOOK SHARPENING TIPS
A growing number of hook designs are being produced commercially
as "cutting edge" style hooks. Unfortunately,
not every hook style a walleye angler is likely to need
are produced using these progressive designs. Sharpening
a hook by hand is a good way to convert just about any hook
type into a cutting edge hook.
Filing or honing a hook to maximum sharpness is easy. Hold
the hook between your thumb and forefinger with the point
facing away from your hand. Stroke the file/stone along
the edge of the hook towards the point. Two or three strokes
on each side of the hook is usually enough to create a sharp
cutting edge hook point with a file. A few more strokes
may be needed when using a fine grit stone.
After giving the hook a couple strokes try a thumbnail
sharpness test. If hooks are sharpened properly, they should
be sticky sharp and easily penetrate into the surface of
Even factory produced hooks featuring a cutting edge will
need to be touched up with a file occasionally. Go easy
with the file. Removing too much material will ruin the
Between factory designed cutting edge hooks and hooks that
are properly sharpened to deliver a sharp cutting edge,
a wide variety of hook styles can be made to perform well
Lots of anglers sharpen the treble hooks on their crankbaits
and spoons, but few go the extra mile and replaced those
hooks with models designed to hook and hold better. Unfortunately
many of these popular lures come factory-armed with hooks
that are adequate at best. A few lure manufacturers have
discovered the advantages of producing their lures using
high tech wide bend style hooks that stick like glue. Mustad's
Triple Grip, Matzuo's Sickle and Eagle Claw's Wide Gap Kahle
are examples of premium quality treble hooks that do a better
job of holding onto the fish that bite.
Premium hooks are expensive, but anglers shouldn't pinch
pennies when it comes to replacing treble hooks. After all,
what good is a lure if fish strike it but aren't hooked?
On many models of crankbaits and spoons, the hooks can
be switched out for models one size larger. Even a slightly
larger hook will produce significantly more fish.
A word of caution. Tread easy when switching out hooks.
Some lures have delicate actions that can be destroyed by
using too big a hook.
Replacing the back hook on crankbaits is the most critical.
It's especially important to upsize the hooks on fat-bodied
cranks. Wide-bodied cranks are notoriously lousy hookers.
When the lure's width exceeds the hook's width, a hard-mouthed
fish, such as a walleye, will either be lightly hooked or
won't be hooked at all.
Replacing treble hooks can be expensive and time consuming,
but taking this important step insures that crankbaits and
spoons will produce maximum benefits.
SUMMING IT UP
Advancements in hook design are changing the way walleye
anglers think and fish. The trend in walleye fishing is
toward bigger hooks and hooks that feature cutting-style
knife edges. Taking the science of hooking seriously has
immediate rewards. Nothing puts more fish in the boat that
a sharp and properly designed fish hook.
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OFF SHORE TACKLE ATTENDS 2007 NATIONAL MEDIA EVENT
By Bruce DeShano
The last days of June 2007 brought a week of phenomenal
fishing on Minnesota's Mille Lac Lake. Off Shore Tackle
and myself were guests of McQuoid's Inn, located on the
southeast corner of this famed walleye factory.
I made the trip on the invitation of Off Shore Tackle National
Team Member and 2007 PWT Championship Qualifier, Jon Thelen.
This event was one of his annual National Media Events sponsored
in part by Shakespeare Fishing Tackle Company. Thanks Jon,
you did a great job for all of your sponsors at this event!
The event brought together individuals from various outdoor
media outlets including, among others, television personalities
Keith Warren (Outdoor Adventures), O'Neill Williams (O'Neill
Outside), Mike Simpson (People Who Fish), and Midwest Outdoors
Television. Also attending were various writers including
Jeff Knapp who is a regular contributor to In-Fisherman
and Walleye Insider. Tony Puccio and I fished together for
several days and caught both walleye and smallmouth bass.
McQuoid's Inn owners, Brad and Melissa Johnson and the
whole staff at this first class resort provided an excellent
venue for this event. From the hotel and beautiful condos
to the 5 star catered meals, I would recommend McQuoid's
Inn to anyone searching for the ultimate fishing vacation.
McQuoid's Inn also owns Angler's Paradise which is located
just ¾ of a mile up the road from the hotel. Angler's
Paradise boasts the largest launch boat fleet on the lake
(five boats with capacities up to 35 people each) as well
as serving as the launching port for McQuoid's private guide
service. For information regarding McQuoid's Inn and its
fishing services, go to www.mcquoidsinn.com or give them
a call at 800-862-3535. They have quite a few Ice Houses
for winter fishing as well. Call them about a winter weekend
This event offered opportunities to catch walleye using
various techniques. The trolling bite was on and we took
full advantage. Jon was able to shoot 2 trolling shows featuring
Off Shore Tackle products for Midwest Outdoors and Keith
Warrens Outdoor Adventures, while Tony Puccio and I were
able to film segments with "People Who Fish TV"
and one with Bob Jensen's "Fishing The Midwest".
"People Who Fish" and Keith Warren's "Outdoor
Adventures" can be seen on the Outdoor Channel while
"Midwest Outdoors" and "Fishing The Midwest"
can be found on various stations throughout the Midwest.
Watch for these action packed shows to air throughout 2008!
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TRIPLE PLANER BOARDS STILL GET R DONE
By Larry Hartwick
2005 was first year that the Riviera Triple Planer Boards
were available to the public. They definitely have filled
a gap between what dual planer boards would do and what
anglers wanted them to do. With the resurgence of lead core
line and the ever increasing clarity of the Great Lakes,
anglers have been seeking alternative methods to deploy
more lines. It has been no secret that too many lines in
the water during the mid day periods would usually spell
out "NO FISH" in capital letters. Another thing
that also is not a secret is the reluctance of anglers to
take lines out of the water. The TPB (Triple Planer Boards)
have cured most of that problem by allowing anglers to spread
out their lines over a much greater distance to the side
of the boat. The TPB will easily handle 4 full core rigs
without giving up much distance from the side of the boat.
Anglers fishing the famed Chesapeake Bay are also jumping
on the TPB band wagon in their quest for huge Striped Bass.
These anglers use some serious lures with some serious weight
when compared to what we use in the Great Lakes. One of
the common lures is an Umbrella Rig which can weigh 2 pounds.
That is the equivalent weight of 4 full core rigs. These
are serious rigs and I can tell you that I haven't talked
to many anglers fishing the Chesapeake Bay that were willing
to only fish one rig per side of the boat. These dilemmas
are normally what inspire changes and this was no exception.
The TPB got a new ballast system during mid season in 2005.
The results were excellent and the TPB can haul a lot more
"junk" thru the water than ever before. In fact,
we applied the same ballast changes to our Riviera DPB (Dual
Planer Board) for 2006 and you will see increased performance
from them as well.
One word of warning, the TPB is a serious planer board
that pulls out to the side of the boat very well. It can
be too much planer for some of the early mast set ups. At
Riviera Trolling Systems, we spool all of our masts with
200 pound test Dacron planer line because we don't want
to hear how many releases went in the water when the tow
line broke and we believe in using the best products that
are available. If your mast came with 135# test line it
would be wise to change to the better stuff.
We will never be content to sit back and watch. We are
constantly looking at new products and new ways to improve
our existing product line with the end result being to make
your time on the water more enjoyable. Fishing is supposed
to be fun! Enjoy it!
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DUCK HUNTING AND OFF SHORE RELEASES
By Dave Dybowski, Eagle Bay Outfitter
Any duck hunter that spends any time at all waterfowl hunting
knows what a tangled mess decoys can get. Here is a way
to keep your decoys tangle free and add a great presentation
to your spread.
Using braided decoy line, tie loops in the line about three
feet apart and as many loops as you like. Attach your Off
Shore OR1 Medium Tension Single Downrigger Releases to the
front of your decoys and use the clamp portion (pinch pad
end) of the release to attach to the loops in your decoy
line. Attach an anchor line to the front decoy and add a
weight heavy enough to keep the entire set in position.
I use a downrigger cannon ball for this.
This is the most effective set-up I have seen for both
puddlers and divers. The nice thing about this spread besides
the ease of attaching tangle free decoys to your line is
that it will automatically change your spread to proper
position with wind changes. Once set, you never have to
leave your blind to readjust your decoy spread.
I have found that strings of twelve to fifteen decoys works
best for divers. Divers will almost always come in from
the back of your string and move towards the front so situate
your diver strings accordingly to offer you the best shot.
Puddlers seem to just want a landing spot so I set four
or five strings consisting of three to four decoys and situate
them into the wind so they have a nice landing area within
When your hunting day is done, simply unclamp all the decoys
except the front anchored decoy. Once unclamped wrap your
line around the front decoy and you are ready for your next
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GARY PARSONS SETS NEW PWT RECORDS
Off Shore Tackle Company LLC and In-Fisherman Professional
Walleye Trail pro angler Gary Parsons set an unprecedented
record - he won three Johnsonville Angler of the Year titles.
His sixth place finish at final Super Pro tournament, the
Optima/Berkley Pro-Am on Cass Lake presented by Minn Kota,
sealed the record.
He also won the $35,000 Angler of the Year prize: $25,000
from Johnsonville Brats and a $10,000 bonus from Mercury
Marine, the powerful outboard brand he has used since his
first foray on PWT waters.
During 2007, the Glidden, Wisconsin pro has a win on Lake
Winnebago, an eighth place finish in Dryden, Ontario, two
ninth places at Chamberlain SD and Escanaba, Mich., the
sixth place trophy at Cass Lake, Minn., and a 28th money
finish on Mille Lacs, for nearly $140,000 in winnings this
His PWT lifetime totals are nearly $600,000. This year
he also captured the Regional Series title, presented by
MotorGuide. He was Angler of the Year in 1993 and 1994,
won three PWT tournaments on South Dakota's Lake Oahe, has
27 top 10 finishes, and has cashed checks in two-thirds
of the 109 PWT tournaments he's fished. Only two other pro
anglers, Mike Gofron, Antioch, Ill., and Ron Seelhoff, Burlington,
Col., have two Angler titles.
Press release provided by Professional Walleye Trail. For
more detailed information, please visit www.professionalwalleyetrail.com
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