Lake Erie Walleye Online Magazine
The Complete Fishing Scene on Lake Erie

Subscriptions  | Fishing Reports & Message Boards | Charters  | Lodging | Dockage | Boats for Sale
Guest Book       What's New      Contact Us      Current  Lake Conditions     Advertising    Shop Online                   

Western Lake Erie
Fishing Map on CD


Spring 2003 Issue
Join Today and enjoy password access to Hundreds of articles from the "WALLEYE ARCHIVES"

Scorpion Stinger Spoons

Lake Erie Fishing Maps

Central Basin - West
Central Basin -East


Planer Board Basics
Bruce DeShano

Few anglers would argue the effectiveness of planer boards. In fact, many would argue that planer boards are the most deadly lure delivery system ever invented. Not only do planer boards enable anglers to fish multiple lines and lures, the amount of water that can be quickly covered with a planer system is second to none.

In addition to straining water and offering multiple lines, planer board fishing is also the best way to tempt strikes from wary species such as brown trout, steelhead or heavily fished walleye; However, these sought after species aren't the only targets of planer board fishing. Hardly a fish swims that doesn't regularly fall prey to anglers using a planer board system. Salmon, trout, walleye, steelhead, muskie, pike, bass and even large panfish such as crappie and white bass are commonly taken with the help of these trolling aids.

Planer boards are effective and easy to use. To get the most from these trolling aids, anglers must understand a few of the basics of planer board fishing.


Different types of planer boards are designed for different fishing applications. Anglers can choose from two types of planer boards. The most popular type of planer board system are dual boards or what some anglers refer to as mast systems.

A dual board planer system includes a set of boards that feature two runners attached parallel to one another. The Riviera Dual Planer Boards are collapsible, making them easy to store even in small boats. These boards also feature three tow point adjustments for different wave conditions and a durable maintenance free design. A dual board system also requires a six foot planer mast that mounts near the bow of the boat. A tow line/reel system attaches to the mast and allows the planers to be easily deployed and retrieved.

The boards of this type of planer system are normally set to run 50-100 feet out to the side of the boat. In calm water the boards are set out the furthest. Fishing lines are attached to a dual board system by using specially

designed spring loaded pinch pads. These pinch pads with the fishing line secured between their jaws are then attached to the tow line using a shower curtain hook (aka quick clip). As the boat trolls forward, line is played off the fishing reel allowing the line release and lure to work down the tow line towards the planer board.

Commonly called planer board releases, Off Shore Tackle is the worlds largest manufacturer of planer board releases designed for all types of fishing situations. The size of these line releases, pad diameters and tension settings vary depending on the size and type of fish to be targeted. The line release has two functions. First it must hold the line securely while trolling at a variety of speeds and varying line diameters. Second this fishing aid must release its grip on the line once a fish strikes. Designing a release that masters these functions is no easy task. A quality release provides enough tension to insure fish are solidly hooked before the line slips free. It's also essential that the release function over and over again without damaging the fishing line.

Most releases on the market either have too much tension, or not enough. Many of these products abrade the line and few can withstand the tortures of day to day fishing. It's important to note that no single release is universal to all types of fishing. That's why Off Shore Tackle produces a wide variety of line releases that are suitable for all trolling applications.

When targeting smaller species such as walleye, lighter tension releases are employed. The OR-IO release is the best selling walleye release on the market. The sliding spring allows the tension setting to be easily adjusted as desired. When fishing in rougher water or for larger walleye, the OR14 release is the ideal choice. Like the OR10, this release has a sliding spring adjustment. The slightly heavier spring tension of this release allows anglers to troll in rough water or at faster speeds without false releases. .

Larger species such as trout or salmon require line releases with more spring tension. The OR-3 was designed especially for anglers who target steelhead, brown trout and trophy walleye. The larger pad diameter of this release increases the friction on the line without having to significantly increase spring tension. The amount of tension desired can be adjusted by how deep the line is placed in the rubber pads. The deeper the line is placed in the pads, the more tension it requires to trigger the release.

The OR-17 is similar to the OR-3 except the release has stronger spring tension. Ideal for high speed trolling or when fishing in rough water or when pulling large plugs, dodgers and other attractors, this product has been an immediate success with salmon anglers. For muskie anglers, the OR-30 is the most requested planer board release. This release is similar to the OR-3 and the OR-17 but it has the heaviest spring tension available.

Also available is the OR-19, a small release with a very strong spring tension. Popular with charter captains who prefer a release with extra tension, the OR -19 insures positive hooksets and the maximum number of landed fish. Often when a fish strikes a lure attached to the OR- 19, the line doesn't pop free of the rubber pads. The angler however can easily trigger the release by simply snapping the rod tip quickly toward the release. Triggering the releases as desired helps charter captains manage lines and reduce tangles better when two or three fish may be hooked at the same time. Matching line releases to the target species insures that anglers will enjoy the best possible success."

Dual board systems can be used on virtually any boat and for any species. The primary advantage of this type of planer board system can't be disputed. Once a fish strikes and the line is popped free from the release, the angler is free to fight the fish. This convenience is the primary reason so many dual board systems are currently in use.

Dual boards also have the advantage of being able to deploy large numbers of lines. Many anglers fish up to five lines per side with the help of dual boards. Anglers who are often faced with rough water also favor dual boards. The larger board size helps this planer system plow through rough water when fishing both with and against the waves. The versatility of the dual board system is a major reason why so many anglers swear by them.


In-line boards such as the Off Shore Tackle OR -12 Side Planer have seen significant increases in sales in recent years. Price is one of the major reasons these small boards have caught on so quickly. For less than $50.00 a pair an angler can get started planer board fishing. Compared to dual board systems, in-line boards are less expensive. In-line boards also have some other unique features that has helped them carve out a significant niche in the planer board market.

Because in-line boards attach directly to the fishing line, the board becomes a strike indicator that makes it easy and fun to tell when a fish has been hooked. The weight of a struggling fish causes the board to surge and sag backward in the water. When two or more of these boards are being fished side by-side itís especially easy to tell when a fish has been hooked.

When a fish strikes and is hooked, the board"and fish are reeled in together. " Depending on how the board is attached to the fishing line, the angler can either reel in the board and quickly remove it, or release the board and allow it to slide down the line while fighting the fish. We'll get in more detail on how to rig in-line boards in another feature.

Walleye anglers are some of the most devoted in-line board users, but these smaller sized boards can be used effectively on any species of fish. The important thing to know about in-line boards is not all are created equal. A good in-line board should be large enough to support the weight and drag of common trolling tackle such as deep diving crankbaits, snap weights, lead core line, attractors and other gear. Many boards simply aren't big enough to get the job done.

An in-line board should also be ballasted properly. The OR-12 Side Planer is carefully weighted so the board rides nose high and always rights itself in the water. Boards that aren't ballasted correctly tend to dive inrough water causing all sorts of problems.

Because in-line boards are small, they can be tough to see on the water. The OR-t2 features a bright red flag that contrasts with the yellow board, making them easy for other anglers in the area to spot The OR-12 is also versatile enough to be rigged in a number of ways suitable for walleye, salmon, trout and a wealth of other species.

We all know that planer boards are the fast track to better fishing success. If you're new to fishing, a set of in-line boards is a great way to test the waters and see for yourself how effective planer fishing can be. If you're Serious about fishing big water and big fish, a dual board system is an investment you'll never regret. Here's to more and bigger fish.

This article reprinted courtesy of Off Shore Tackle and first appeared in the Off Shore Release, Volume X, 2003