Planer boards help prevent spooking. They're primarily thought of as an open-water midsummer tool, used to spread lines and search for suspended basin walleyes. But they can be a powerful tool in the early season when walleyes are shallow and bottom conditions favor their use. Find the right conditions on the Great Lakes or small natural lakes--like sand, clay, mud, or gravel--and some argue that boards can be used any time.
"Look at the structure, to determine whether you can use boards at all," says Professional Walleye Trail veteran Gary Parsons. "If you're dealing with shallow rocks
or any snaggy bottom, boards can be a hassle. But in locations where you can bump crankbaits or bottom bouncers off the bottom without getting hung up much, boards can be the ticket to getting your lure into shallow water without spooking the fish.
"When I'm trying to find roaming schools of fish in a large area," Parsons says, "the first thing I do is spread out as many lines as I can, as wide as possible, to contact walleyes. If I catch a few fish and get a sense for where the fish are located, I revise the board layout to pull the baits right through the fish.
"Walleyes have a limited sight zone and a limited range they're willing to move to bite. If I can get four lines into their zone, I've maximized my odds of catching fish."
Crankbaits and spinner rigs are perhaps the most popular lures to use with planer boards.