Releasing the OR12 Side-Planer
By: Mark Romanack
After catching literally thousands of walleye using the “loop trick” and releasing the board when a fish is hooked, there is little doubt this rigging method is effective, makes trolling more efficient and is easy to learn. Even better, if you fish with monofilament, co-polymer or fluorocarbon lines, no after market line clips or releases are required.
Not long ago I made a Facebook post inquiring how anglers prefer to set up their in-line boards. The conversation was designed to see if anglers prefer to run their shorter lines on outside boards or on inside boards. With more than 100 written comments it was obviously a topic anglers feel passionate about.
My take away from that particular Facebook post was how many anglers are rigging their Off Shore boards to remain fixed on the line and planing while fighting hooked fish. As the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat, but it strikes me curious why so many avid anglers still think it’s necessary to keep the board fixed in place on the line once a fish has been hooked.
For those who may not know, there is a reason the OR12 Side-Planer comes factory rigged with a OR19 (orange) release on the tow arm and an OR16 (red) Snap Weight Clip at the back of the board. This rigging option is provided from the factory so anglers can release their boards when a fish strikes without having to purchase any after market line clips or releases. The combination of the OR19 up front and the OR16 at the back door also makes it possible to troll for a wide variety of species while using all sorts of lures and terminal gear. This factory rigging makes the OR12 versatile while at the same time allowing anglers to enjoy the benefits of releasing the board when a fish strikes.
Releasing in-line boards such as the Off Shore OR12 got started among walleye fishermen, but the author finds releasing boards works well for other species like steelhead, salmon and trout fishing opportunities.
WHY RELEASE THE BOARD?
The ability to release the board when a fish strikes is a profound advantage for those who have discovered this trolling method. Popping the line free from the OR19, while keeping the board pegged in place on the line thanks to the OR16 sets up a series of benefits.
First off, it’s easier to reel in fish when the board has been tripped than trying to fight the fish and the resistance of the board at the same time. It’s also a more enjoyable fishing experience to release the board because the angler can actually feel the fish struggling at the end of the line. Isn’t that the point of fishing in the first place?
Secondly, tripping the line from the tow arm release stops the board from planing and allows the hooked fish to quickly slide away from other board lines. In turn, this allows the angler to reel in the fish from directly behind the boat. This benefit is profound because it means there is no need to clear or reposition other board lines to fight a hooked fish.
Thirdly, fighting a fish once the board has been released increases the odds of landing that fish compared to fighting the fish with the board fixed in place and planing. When the board is tripped, the fish is pulling directly against the rod, which in turn allows the rod, reel and line combination to function as designed absorbing the shock of a struggling fish. If the board remains fixed in place on the line, the fish is pulling directly against the resistance of the board. This provides the fish more leverage to potentially make a powerful run and tear free.
WHAT ABOUT SLACK LINE
It’s a common misconception that releasing an in-line planer board creates slack line that allows hooked fish to escape. This stems from back in the days when in-line planer boards were commonly rigged to release and slide down the line via a snap swivel. This “old school” rigging method did create slack line and often resulted in boards being pulled under water and ultimately lost fish.
Rigging boards so the line can be tripped from the tow arm release, but remain pegged in place on the line is the modern way of rigging an in-line board to release. This rigging method takes advantage of the natural buoyancy of the board, preventing the board from being pulled under water during the fight.
THE LOOP TRICK
To help make it easier to trip the line from the tow arm release, another simple rigging method known as the “loop trick” is employed. The “loop trick” involves grabbing the line near the rod tip, folding the line over your index finger and using your finger to twist the line a few times, creating a small loop in the process. The twists of line are then placed between the rubber pads in the OR19 release, leaving about one inch of line exposed beyond the release jaws.
The twisted line increases the diameter of the line and provides a greater purchase, eliminating any false releases. The twisted line also makes it much easier to trip the release when a fish is hooked or just to switch out lures or change lead lengths while trolling.
A short snap of the rod tip will pop the line free from the OR19, allowing the board to stop planing to the side. When the angler uses the rod to trip the line from the tow arm release, this process is literally coming tight on the fish at the same instant. No slack line is created and hooked fish are not lost as a result of releasing the board.
FISHING LINE CONSIDERATIONS
The factory rigging option for the OR12 described here is designed to work with monofilament, fluorocarbon and co-polymer line types. For those anglers who prefer to troll with braided or fused lines, the Sam’s Pro Release must be substituted for the OR19 release.
The “loop trick” is easy to learn and it works flawlessly. However, not all fishing lines are tough enough to take the abuse this rigging method deals out. It’s recommended to use hard surfaced lines designed for trolling rather than softer surfaced lines that are designed for casting applications. A few of the lines that hold up nicely to the “loop trick” include P-Line CXX, Maxima Ultra Green, Berkley Big Game and Ande Premium.
SUMMING IT UP
Learning to rig an OR12 board to release is an important step in becoming a more efficient troller. Those anglers who have tried the “loop trick” all agree it works flawlessly and makes board trolling a more enjoyable experience.
One last word of advice. When a fish is hooked, trip the board and for the first few seconds of the fight, reel in slowly keeping steady tension on the fish. This few seconds gives the board time to slide towards the back of the boat and away from other board lines. Once the board has cleared other lines in the trolling pattern, you can reel faster on the fish, remove the board when it gets close to the boat and finish fighting the fish to net. A video in the newsletter does a nice job of explaining the “loop trick” for those who may still be a little confused.