August 02, 2012
Planer boards for trolling walleyes incorporates a blend of traditional longline trolling with precision depth coverage, eliminating vast areas of unproductive water to zero in on sections that hold fish. Planers take lines and lures out to the sides of the boat, allowing anglers to cover a wider trolling swath, simultaneously run multiple baits, and minimize spooking fish in clear or shallow water. They're particularly effective when walleyes are moving between areas. At other times, fish may be attracted to a general area by structural features like points, humps, islands, or channels, but they suspend when they're not relating to the structure itself. Any time walleyes roam the basin, down-and-out trolling tactics can score big.
Tackle--Rod: 7 1/2- to 8-foot medium-power casting rod with a parabolic action. Reel: Large-capacity baitcasting or line-counting reel with a smooth drag. Line: 10-pound-test monofilament or fused superline.
Rigging--In-line planers clamp onto line with one or more release clips. Run your lure behind the boat at a slow trolling speed until it reaches the desired distance, then engage the reel. Add a snap weight with a pinch-on clip 50 feet ahead of the lure for fishing deeper than the lure can run on its own. Next, clamp the planer to the line, selecting a left or right model depending on which side of the boat you want to run your line. Lower the planer into the water with the rod and disengage the reel. A slow trolling speed creates enough drag to pull line off the reel and angle the planer off to the side of the boat. Once the planer reaches the desired distance, engage the reel and set the rod in a rod holder.
Presentation--Strikes aren't always obvious, so watch your boards carefully. Sometimes the planer bobs and weaves, dropping back when a big fish hits your lure. Other times, the board barely lags or rocks as a hooked fish swims along with the boat. When a fish hits, shift the engine into neutral. Take the rod out of the holder and begin slowly reeling in. Don't pump the rod. Your drag should be set light enough to slip under fairly light tension. Continue reeling until you can reach the board, then pop it off the line. Follow the same procedure with your snap weight. Then land the fish.