Board Fishing For Salmon
A lot of anglers are fishing sinking lines for salmon these days, but many don’t realize how much weight the standard OR12 Side Planer will carry. The OR12 will pull up to 300 feet (10 colors) of lead core line easily.
With summer upon us a lot of anglers will be targeting Great Lakes salmon, trout and steelhead. In recent years sinking lines like Tuff Line’s Micro Lead Core, Torpedo Diver’s weighted stainless steel wire and Howie’s Tackle copper wire have literally stolen the show. Historically it was the downrigger and the diving planer that ruled the Great Lakes, but these days sinking lines fished in combination with in-line boards are getting the job done everywhere trout and salmon are found.
SEGMENTED SINKING LINES
All three of the commonly used weighted trolling lines, including lead core, weighted stainless wire and stranded copper wire, are rigged and fished in a similar fashion. The reel is first loaded with about 200 yards of backing line. Some anglers favor 20 pound test monofilament for backing and others prefer 40-50 pound test super braid.
The backing line is tied to a pre-determined length of sinking line. Most anglers rig up their sinking lines in pairs, for example with lead core anglers often fish a pair of 5 colors, a pair of 7 colors, a pair of 10 colors, etc. With copper and weighted steel lines common set ups include 100, 150, 200 and 300 foot segments.
Once the sinking line is spooled on the rig is finished with a 25-50 foot length of 20-25 pound test fluorocarbon line. When fishing these rigs the lure, leader and sinking line are all played off the reel. At this point an in-line board like the popular Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side-Planer is clipped onto the line and the whole rig positioned out to the side of the boat.
To be as efficient as possible, savvy trollers stack two or three sinking lines per side of the boat by running the most shallow running lines on outside boards and progressively deeper rigs on the middle and inside board lines.
A popular set up is for anglers to run a 5 color on the outside, a 10 color on the middle board and a 300 copper or weighted steel rig on the inside board. This set up saturates the water column from about 25 to 60 feet down.
Mature kings like this one caught near the Niagara Bar on Lake Ontario are suckers for sinking lines fished on the Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer and SST Pro Mag boards.
When fishing sinking lines with in-line boards it’s important to rig the outside boards so they can release when a fish strikes. The OR12 comes factory rigged with an OR19 release on the tow arm and an OR16 Snap Weight clip on the back of the board. Rigged in this manner an angler can release the board by giving the rod tip a sharp snap. The board quickly spins around in the water, but remains fixed to the line thanks to the Snap Weight clip at the back of the board. Once tripped, the board is no longer planing and is much easier to reel in. Also, because the board is not planing it quickly drops to the back of the boat where it can be reeled in without tangling in other board lines. Slick!!
The OR12 does an excellent job on lead core set ups up to about 10 colors and the more modest copper and weighted steel set ups. For longer lead core rigs, long copper and weighted steel set ups a larger board is required to plane all that weight out to the side of the boat. The Off Shore Tackle SST Pro Magnum is ideal for fishing heavier sinking line rigs.
Any sinking line set up longer than 300 feet is a prime candidate for the SST Pro Mag. This board handles heavy weight gear so well creative anglers are actually using it to troll divers like the No. 3 and Magnum Tadpole out to the side of the boat!
TATTLE FLAGS FOR SALMON
The Tattle Flag system was designed around light biting walleye, but it also has merit on the big pond. The new Tattle Flag system features a tab on the flag stem with four additional holes designed to add spring tension to the Tattle Flag system. The added spring tension keeps the flag vertical even when pulling 10 color lead core set ups. Even better, the second a fish is hooked the flag folds down, making it easy to tell when even small fish like immature salmon, pinks or small lake trout are hooked.
FINE TUNING BOARDS
The OR12 and SST Pro Mag fish great right out of the package, but anglers love to tweak their gear. One of the nice things about these boards is they can be rigged in a number of ways and with different releases for different applications.
The new OR12 boards feature an open channel in the bottom of the board that allows the ballast weight to be slid forward about an inch. This step helps to keep the nose of the OR12 down and planing out to the side better when pulling heavy loads copper or weighted steel wire.
The SST Pro Mag comes factory supplied with a OR18 Snapper Release on the tow arm and a OR16 Snap Weight Clip at the back of the board. Guys who troll using braid as a backer line might want to explore the option of moving the Snapper to the back of the board and substituting a Silver Horde Sam’s release on the tow arm. This jettison style release handles braid nicely and allows anglers to release the SST Pro Mag when a fish strikes without fear of losing the board. Having the Snapper Release on the back of the board absolutely guarantees the board will remain fixed on the line.
SUMMING IT UP
Love them or hate them, sinking lines are here to stay. As the Great Lakes continue to evolve, in-line planer boards like the OST OR12 and SST Pro Mag are a salmon fisherman’s best friend. The ability to fish down in the water column and stack multiple lines out to the side of the boat is simply death to salmon, trout, steelhead and brown trout.