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Fishing In-line Boards with Tattle Flags

By: Mark Romanack

This close up shows how the spring on the Tattle Flag system has multiple adjustment points making it ideal for using with a wide variety of tackle types and all common trolling speeds.

Truth be told, the first time I saw a Tattle Flag kit mounted on an Off Shore Tackle Side-Planer board, I wasn’t impressed. After spending most of my adult life fishing with in-line planer boards, I was pretty confident I could read the boards and determine when I had hooked a fish.

​I was sadly mistaken. After only fishing with the Tattle Flag kits a short time I quickly began to realize how useful this after market accessory is for a wealth of board fishing applications and how critically important they are for fishing live bait rigs like walleye spinners.


​Let’s back up a second for those who may not know what a Tattle Flag kit is or how to use it. Tattle Flag kits are an after market spring loaded flag kit for the OR12 Side-Planers. It takes about five minutes and a phillips screw driver to install one of these kits that comes complete with linkage arm, a pair of OR16 clips, a flag spring and the necessary hardware. New for 2014 Off Shore Tackle also sells what is called an Economy Tattle Flag Kit for those anglers who already have the necessary releases and simply want the flag, linkage arm, spring and required hardware.

​Once installed, the flag folds down when a fish is hooked and pulls against the linkage system. Even a small fish like a white perch or other undesirable fish pulls the flag down telegraphing the angler that something is up. The Tattle Flag systems are so sensitive that just hooking a small piece of floating weed or a clump of zebra mussels instantly becomes obvious. In short, the Tattle Flag not only tells you when you’ve hooked fish, it tells you when you’ve hooked just about anything!

The author wasn’t originally excited about the Tattle Flag, but he quickly learned this trolling accessory is invaluable.


​Spinner (crawler harnesses) trolling is one of the popular walleye fishing methods that cries out for the Tattle Flag system. Because spinners are trolled at relatively slow speeds, the Tattle Flag makes it easy to determine bites big and small. Anytime live bait is involved in a trolling application, there are going to be non-target species involved. White perch, white bass, sheepshead and a host of other non-target species are instantly detected when fishing the Tattle Flag. Without this spring loaded strike indicator, trolling with live bait quickly becomes a frustrating experience.


​The spring tension used with the Tattle Flag kits depends on the trolling speed and the lures or baits used. For lighter lures or slower trolling speeds, the spring tension can be set light by placing the spring in one of the provided holes along the front edge of the board near the top of the board.

​When trolling diving planers and other devices that have considerable drag or resistance in the water, the spring tension is increased by simply putting the spring in one of the holes closer to the bottom of the board.

​If the factory provided spring is still not strong enough, try hooking the  tension spring around the stem of the board’s flag to increase the tension setting even more.


​ The only thing to keep in mind when fishing the Tattle Flag is there must be slack line between the clip on the tow arm and the clip mounted to the split ring at the back of the board. Without this slack line, the linkage system can’t move and the flag won’t fold down when a fish strikes.

​When setting the Tattle Flag simply put the line in the tow arm clip first by opening the OR16 and putting the line behind the pin in the middle of the pinch pads. Next do the same thing with the OR16 at the back of the board and finish the rigging by making sure there are several inches of slack line between the two clips.

​For anglers who fish with fused or super braid lines, I recommend substituting the OR16 clip on the tow arm of the board with the OR18 Snapper clip designed to hold these super thin and slippery fishing lines.


​These days I won’t fish a Side-Planer at slow speeds without using the Tattle Flag kits. Experience quickly showed me the value of this after market strike indicator. Not only does using the Tattle Flag make it easier to detect bites, if you pay close attention the Tattle Flag can even give anglers a clue to how aggressive fish may or may not be.

​It’s amazingly common to be watching a board and see the flag drop down and then pop right back up again indicating a fish that bit, but didn’t get hooked. Often simply opening the reel bail and letting the board stall in the water for a few seconds, then re-engaging the reel so the board spurts forward again will trigger light biters into striking with more authority.

​When I notice I’m getting bites that aren’t generating hook ups, that’s a tip off that I need to slow down my trolling speed and give the fish a longer look at the bait. Once an angler has fished the Tattle Flags a few times, the value of this simple, but very useful accessory becomes abundantly obvious.





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