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Understanding Planer Board Sizes

By: Mark Romanack


The OR12 is the planer board all others are compared to. Not only has this board been on the market for decades, it continues to be the overwhelming choice of walleye anglers coast to coast!


You may have noticed that in-line planer boards come in a host of different sizes these days. The major manufacturers of in-line boards offer two, three or even more different board sizes to choose from. The 98 cent question becomes, do I really need all those different board sizes?

The answer to that question depends on how an angler fishes, the different species they target and also the terminal tackle they routinely troll with.


STANDARD BOARD SIZES

The angler who fishes big water walleye on Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay, Green Bay or the sprawling western impoundments will find that the standard size boards are the work horses in the walleye game.The Off Shore Tackle OR12 Side-Planer is the in-line board all others are compared to.

Not only is the OR12 effective, it’s versatile and can be rigged a number of different ways for different trolling applications. This board is large enough to handle deep diving crankbaits, sinking lines like lead core, weight systems like Snap Weights and even small to medium sized diving planers like the Tadpole Diver, the Mini-Dipsy, Big Jon’s Mini Disk, the Luhr Jensen Jet Diver and the Tru-Trip Diver.

The OR12 also readily accepts important after market accessories such as the “Tattle Flag” a spring loaded flag system that helps anglers detect light strikes or when debris such as floating weeds have fouled the bait. While the OR12 can do some heavy lifting in terms of presenting heavier gear, it’s also light enough that it fishes flawlessly with light lines including 10 pound test monofilament or 10/4 super braids. For the angler who wants to own just one type of planer board, the OR12 is the obvious choice.


Large species like this chinook salmon commonly require trolling with heavy gear such as sinking lines. The larger SST Pro Mag board is the ideal choice when trolling big lures or other heavy trolling gear.


MAGNUM BOARDS

For some types of trolling it’s go big or go home. This is particularly true of salmon anglers who spend a lot of time fishing long lengths of sinking lines such as lead core, stranded copper wire or the new Weighted Stainless Steel wire by Torpedo Diver. All of these sinking lines create a lot of drag or resistance in the water.

When longer lengths of sinking lines are used for salmon, the standard size planer boards simply don’t have the muscle to pull these lines out to the side of the boat effectively. In this situation a larger board such as the Off Shore Tackle SST Pro Mag is required to spread out lines and cover the maximum amount of water.

Like it’s smaller brother the OR12, the SST Pro Mag can be fished with a number of different line releases making it possible to rig this board for monofilament, fluorocarbon and also super braid lines. The SST (salmon, steelhead, trout) Pro Mag was build with trout and salmon fishing in mind, but this board is also ideal for targeting musky when trolling with oversized crankbaits, buck-tail spinners and spoons. The SST Pro Mag can handle these larger baits and even extra weight in the form of trolling sinkers designed to target deeper water.

A third group of anglers who target trophy class catfish are also singing the praises of the SST Pro Mag. Anglers who target big cats often troll with large cut-baits and also in-line trolling sinkers that allow them to target different levels of the water column.

By slow trolling with cut-bait and sinkers including 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and even 16 ounce weights, cat fishermen can target fish in any water depth and even in strong current.


Bruce and Nick DeShano of Off Shore Tackle recommend tailoring your trolling gear to use board sizes that are appropriate for the trolling chores as hand. The OR38 Awesome Crappie Board is ideal for pulling small crankbaits and jigs for panfish. Meanwhile, the OR12 is a work horse for walleye fishing and also a lot of salmon trolling applications.


MINI BOARDS

The Off Shore Tackle OR38 Awesome Crappie Board was designed with the idea of trolling small crankbaits and jigs for suspended crappie. This “pint sized” board has undergone a few modifications over the years and currently features a buoyant float that fits to the top of the board. The added buoyancy makes the OR38 easy to set and this board can be fished with light lines down to six pound test if desired.

The allure of light line and light or even ultra light action rods makes the OR38 literally a blast to fish with. Not only does this board work wonders for open water suspended crappie, a growing number of anglers are using the “mini boards” for targeting steelhead in rivers and also white bass, wipers and stripped bass in rivers.

Any time it’s important to troll with light line and smaller lures, the OR38 is up for the job.


SUMMING IT UP

The truth about in-line boards is that size does matter. No single board size can fish effectively for all trolling applications. By matching up the board size appropriately to the types of trolling at hand, anglers will find the most success on the water. If that means investing in two or even three different sizes of boards, so be it!

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