Planer Board Basics
What Are Planer Boards?
Planer boards are an effective way to fish additional lines when trolling. Planer boards push your line to the side of your boat. This allows you to cover a wider area and also helps spread out multiple lines to prevent tangles.
When Should I Use Planer Boards?
Planer boards work best when the fish are in the top of the water column. This is typically in the early spring or late fall when the water temperature is colder. Have you ever noticed a lack of fish on your fish finder in an area that you know there should be some? When the fish are near the surface they will get spooked by the boat as you troll through them. They will generally come back into position to chase your lure, but you need to give them about 30 - 60 seconds to do so. This is why you want to have 100+ feet of line out when fishing in the top 15 ft of water. Using planer boards allow you to get your lines to the side of the boat and either push the fish you spook to them or quietly get the ones in position without scaring them away with the boat.
Note: Because you will be spreading lines potentially 50-100 ft+ to the sides of your boat I would discourage using them on days with heavy boat traffic.
How Do I Use Planer Boards?
First, you will want to pick a lure that will position itself to the depth you want to target. If I'm using a traditional Kokanee setup with a dodger and lure, I will generally pick a heavier dodger that will naturally pull the line down to the 5-10 depth. For other species you can use Rapala type lures that will dive to your desired depth. I have also found it very effective to use clip weights to get your lure down a little deeper if necessary. Here is link to a video that I show how to use clip weights - How to Catch Kokanee Without Downriggers.
Second, after you have your lure selected and tied onto your line, I like to put about 50 ft of line out. Planers are labeled either right or left. You will need the proper one so that it drifts away from your boat. If you are facing the front of your boat and you want the line to go to the right pick the one labeled right. If you want it to go to the left pick the left planer. Once your line is out you will clip it into the 2 clips on the planer board. There is a little nub in the middle of the clip. Make sure you clip it behind that nub, so the planer doesn't accidentally get detached from your line.
Third, once the planer is clipped onto your line you will slowly let more line out and let the planer drift out to the side of your boat to the desired distance.
Forth, as you troll watch your planers. If you see them dart back or swing towards the boat, you are getting bite or have a fish on. Reel in as you normally would and unclip the planer as you are brining in your line.
Here is a video where I go over the whole process:
Last, where do I get them? There are several different brands of planer boards available. My preferred ones are the ones made by Off Shore. Click on the photo for more details and links on where to purchase them.