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Planer Board Techniques for Walleyes
by Greg Horoky Professional Walleye fisherman Greg Horoky

At almost every sport show or appearance fishermen approach me asking the same question: What are these planer board things and do they really work?  The answer to the latter is yes a definite yes.  They work so well that every touring professional has them and use them.  The answer to the former is the subject of this article. The simple answer to the in-line planer boards question is that they are a device that allows fishermen to troll beside the boat as opposed to trolling behind the boat.  It is as simple as that .   They attach to your fishing line on the line and when placed in the water while one is trolling pull the line out away from the boat allowing ones lures or bait to be unaffected by boat noise or prop wash. It is as simple as that.  The applications are as simple or as complicated as the angler decides to make it  . There are a number of brand name boards on the market and I use the  IN-LINE PLANERS.  I have found as have about 90% of the P.W.T. and N.A.W.A. professionals that the OFF SHORE brand is without a doubt the easiest to use of all the models.  OFF SHORE uses the press pad release that was developed for down riggers.  They snap on and off your line so effortlessly that they are a joy to use.  No thumbscrews to fight with just snap on snap off.  Very little line wear is experienced with the pads so one does not have to worry about line fatigue and the line breaking with a big fish.Off Shore IN Line planer board In-line boards, as I said earlier, allow one to troll beside the boat instead of behind it.  This allows us to use multi-rod presentations without tangling lines.This also, allows us to fish previously unfishable waters that may be too shallow for our boats, too dangerous because of stumps, rocks or obstructions.  I can remember the days before boards, attempting to make a turn with 4 lines out.  In doing so, I also remember untangling and/or cutting lures free from balls of line.  Planers boards allow us to make those turns, never tangling.  What an advantage for those of us that fish from a 14 foot deep V with three of our friends. What baits can we fish off in-line boards  ?  What baits do you have?  I fish crankbaits, spinners, bottom bouncers, spoons even surface jerkbaits and sometimes combinations of the above.  You can fish the deepest crankbaits like the Mann Stretch 25Õs over 70Õ of water or the shallowest Manns Loudmouth Jerkbait over three feet of water.  Almost any lure you have in your box can be fished off of in-line planer boards. A typical trolling situation might be as follows.  Let us say we are on a natural lake with a basin bottoming out at 27 feet in depth.  On our Lowrance Electronics the walleye pro's choice 350A depth finder we see fish suspended just off the bottom at about 24 feet up to about 10 feet under the surface.  You and I and two of our friends are fishing from my Tracker Boats Targa 2000, so we can run 4 rods.  We don't know which of the fish we see are active between 10 and 24 feet,  so we run a variety of different diving crankbaits.  The first lure we put in will be a Stretch 20.  We'll let 120 feet of line so we get maximum depth off the dive.  This lure will get down to about 24 feet on 15 lb test Stren Fishing Line Hi Impact line.  To the line we attach a Off Shore board and let the board out about 75 feet off the side of the boat.  On the other side while we were doing our thing, our partners were letting out a WallyTrac that dives about 15 feet  at maximum depth.  Likewise our partners put on a board and ran it out about 75 feet the other side.  On the inside line on our side we'll put on a Stretch 10, that gets down to about 12 feet and attach a board and run it out about 35Õ off our side.  On the other inside board they will put on Stretch 15 that will get down to about 18 feet and they will also put on a board and run it out 35 feet.  If we could see ourselves from above the boat we will have lines spread covering a spread of about 180 feet wide. 

If we could see through the water from the side we could see we are covering all the depths where the fish are suspended. Off Shore In Line planer board in use We have at this point the almost perfect spread.  After we caught our second fish on the same lure we would switch all of the lines to that particular lure. What we have done is to identify where the active fish in that water column are this day, then we have concentrated on those active fish.   We could have done the same thing with the snap weight 50-50 system using the in-line boards  .
I'll touch on that in a future column but the point is that all successful trolling patterns with multi-lines depend on the in-line boards.  In alot of situations we will find fish tight to bottom.  We just rig bottom bouncers and spinners and spread them out on boards away from the boat. A word of caution when using boards, when a fish picks up the bait be patient allow it to take the board back a considerable distance.  There is no need to hurry because the fish will set the hooks themselves.  Pick the rod from the rod holder and just crank in the board to the boat, your partner will release the board allowing you to fight the fish on long line. Don't set the hook you will knock the board off the line and you have to go pick up the board after you have landed the fish. The in-line planer board is one of the greatest innovations ever to enter the world of walleye fishing.  The little boards for a walleye fisherman is like that credit card they advertise on TV, never leave home without them and you to can catch some fine walleyes like this oneGreg Horoky with a fine Planer board Walleye.

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