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Planner Board Rigging is Simple

After you have let out the line to the distance you would like, attach the board with the clip provided by the manufacturer. Once the board is attached lower the board into the water allowing it to run off to the side of the boat. When the fish strikes you may do one of two things. Do not release the board just reel the board to the rod tip and hand release it. Then finish reeling in your fish. A second option is to release the board, which slides down the line toward the inline weight and stops. The board is reeled in with the fish and the fish is netted.

Getting started With planner Boards

Equipment for getting started

While there is some expenses involved the rewards will be great. Initially two boards will get you going. Expect to pay between $25 and $35 each for individual board with many more or less expensive choices. I will give details on my first choice and then offer some others.

There was a time when long lines with weight were the standard for getting the baits well behind the boat. This is a system of inline weight attached to the line about four feet ahead of the bait. By changing the weight size you will raise or lower the spoon or bait in the water column.

The function of a planer board is to increase your odds by moving the bait off to the side of the boat. By presenting lures outside of the boat’s path in undisturbed water you will find them more likely to bite. Each board is made in a way that when trolled behind the boat it will move to left or right of your travel path. Some boards, like the Church Tackle TX 22, are reversible allowing you to run them left or right.

Primary Trolling Tool For Fishing

Water in our ecosystem has gone from low visibility to extremely clear. With this change of environment the angler must evolve in his presentation to produce consistently. This article will talk you through a very effective way to meet these demands for sunny conditions with spooky fish.

Now is the time to move to the next generation of presentations. If you find yourself behind the pack when it comes to putting fish in the cooler, a system of planer boards will improve your learning curve.

Allow me to outline and give details of several options in planer board fishing. This will provide some ideas you may want try in the upcoming season. I highly recommend them.

Board Fishing Get That Speed Down

Most boats have trouble trolling slowly.  When I purchased my new boat, the Blue Max with two 454 engines, trolling slowly was a problem for me.  I then added a drift sock to slow down my presentation.  Without this tool you will not be successful every trip out.  If you adjust the idle down too low on your motor, you will most likely have spark plug fouling or worse.  Slow trolling with planer boards is the way to go in spring or any time the water temperature is below the temp range of the fish you are after.  In spring keep it slow, small and bright to be productive.

   I run a mix of minnow type lures, crankbaits and small spoons.  The lures you run is all about the amount of light, baitfish size and the size of fish you are looking to catch.  Mix it up!  When one lure produces I would double up on that lure.

    The Badger Tackle Reaper Peacock, Big Joe and Fish Fry spoon in regular size sold at are a popular option.  Good luck Captain Jim. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at  Copyright© 2009, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

Spring Salmon and Trout Lures By Temperature

You have your boards set up and rods rigged let’s continue with lure selection, colors, boat speed, and lure action for spring.  The cold water slows down the metabolism of the fish; this in turn requires you to slow down your presentation. I select lures that are small and work well at slower than normal boat speeds.  Your adjustment to these variables is different depending on the preferred temperature of the target species.  Brown trout like the warmest water of the five game fish in Lake Michigan and they are looking for above 60-degree water.  When you find 60 plus water, fish them as you would in summer.  Below 60 degrees the way you fish should be adjusted.  Most active Browns in spring will be found in the top 20 feet of water where bright lures like the Badger Tackle Vulcan OL Sherbet or Orange Slush are best.   I slow my boat speed to below 1.5 mph.  The small lures become very effective and run well at this speed.  Does your boat troll at 1.0 to 4.5 mph?  If it doesn’t, you will find it difficult to produce all the types of fish in all types of conditions.  Continued tomorrow please come again

Planner Boards For Salmon Fishing

Here’s How To Set Up For Boards

    I run a 1/4 to 1 ounce bead chain trolling sinker at the end of the 20lb main line to avoid line twists and get the depth I want.  From the sinker to the lure I use 7ft of a 15lb fluorocarbon and a small round cross lock snap.  When the fish hits, the board slides down to the trolling sinker.  With the sinker in line, it will not knock the fish off as it would if the board ran down to the lure.  When setting this presentation, I set my boat speed at 1 to 2 mph and let out my lure about 30 to 100 feet and attach the board.  This distance will change with the amount of light, type of lure and depth you want to fish.  When action is slow, adjust this distance and see what happens.  Once the board is attached, carefully lower the board into the water and let out enough line to allow room for more boards, between that board and the boat.  Boards should be spaced about 30 feet apart. Important, put the boards with the least amount of trolling sinker weight on the outside board.  When a fish hits, the board releases and it will drop back behind the boat.  Land your fish and reset this board by letting out enough line to allow the board to fly back into the same spot it came from.  Avoid changing out to many lures if you are getting action because at times one lure feeds off another.  By this I mean, a spoon may be attracting the fish but they will hit the crankbait next to it.

Clean Rigging for Spooky Surface Fish

 Spring in Milwaukee Wisconsin provides world class action on Lake and Brown trout, with the other species available but not as active. Most of my charter trips limit out in spring. Browns and Lakers, this time of year, will come on similar presentation with a preference to different lures.  I set up 90% of my lines on planer boards working the top fifteen feet of water.  The remaining 10% of my lines are on diving planers or downriggers for deeper fish.  The lake will be very cold, well below the preferred temperature of your target fish.  I fish the surface down to fifteen feet with planer Boards.  My first choice is Church Walleye Boards.  I find it easier to run a small board on each line rather than a large board with releases on the towline.  I do feel it is important to run all the same type to get a presentation that is easy and productive.  On all my rods in spring, I run a 20 pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon.  Starting out this way I will have the rods loaded with the correct line for most presentations through out the season.  In spring fishing the clear surface water leaves you with a visibility factor to consider, and smaller crank baits do not run well on heavier test lines. I will explain rod set up in the next article

    The new Badger Tackle Vulcan glow in the dark lures sold  at are an excellent option for first light or stained water board fishing. They are offering a buy 4 get 1 free at this time. 

    Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at  Copyright© 2009, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved. Good luck Captain Jim

Planner Boards Basic Rods and Reels

The Correct Rod Adds To Success

Purchase two 8-foot medium action trolling or downrigger rods for board fishing. They will give you all the versatility and power you need throughout the season. There are good quality fiberglass rods starting a $30 each. Line counter trolling reels are important to precision and don’t cost much more than reels without line counters. Look for a quality based on the amount of times you expect to use them each season. A basic bushing or one ball bearing reel is affordable and will last a long time with good maintenance. Reels that will hold 300 yards of 20-pound test has the capacity for all mono or fluorocarbon set ups you may want to try down the road. A slightly more expensive but worth while option is to try the advantages of fluorocarbon line. The low stretch near invisible Seaguar Invizx will put more fish in the cooler. This is one of the most basic combos for anytime fishing for salmon and trout on Lake Michigan. To be continued tomorrow please come again  

Planner Boards For Fishing

The tool you need and must have for spring salmon fishing is Church Planner boards. There is no simpler and more productive presentation for any time you target fish in the top 25 feet of water. Allow me to explain the how and wow of this tool for spring.

Getting Started Basic Rods and Reels

To start let’s cover the basics for one person fishing out of a small boat. In the state of Wisconsin on Lake Michigan we are allowed three rods per person. You could buy three rods although I believe when fishing alone or even with one other person more tackle means more expense and not necessarily more enjoyment or fish on. In recent years the buzzword on the water is stealth. Clean presentations offered a good distance from the boat would take more and bigger fish and that is where planer boards are the right tool. Too much tackle will often turn the fish off. To be continued tomorrow please come again

Lake Trout Hot Lures Define The Day

Let’s wrap this up with my favorite lures. For surface to 25 feet crankbaits, minnow type lures and small spoons like the regular size Reaper. In deep presentations 8-inch glow flashers and dodgers with glow flies or squids. My best spoon color near the surface is the Reaper purple/chartreuse Big Joe Silver regular size. Down in the deep dark water Magnum Reaper Green Fox Glow blue/green/white glows the best and glows the longest. Baitfish size should be considered when selecting your spoon size. Vulcan and Reaper spoons are both sold by Good Luck! Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at Copyright© 2009, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved Tomorrow Ups & Downs of Planner Boards don’t miss it please come again


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