By the time March rolls around, crappie fishermen across the southeast are chomping at the bit for waves of slabs to invade the shallows. And even though tight-line and long-line trolling techniques are proven winners, guides like Brad Taylor are adding another wrinkle, using planer boards to spread baits out even farther from the boat and access territory otherwise out of reach.

Most anglers would agree that spring crappie fishing is an endeavor where every inch matters — corroborated by the 16-foot rods that sprout from the bow of a serious tight-liner’s boat. The question is, how many split seconds can you give a fish to eye your bait before the hum of the trolling motor, hull slap or even the ping of a transducer give you away? 

Planer boards take boat noises out of the equation.

“It’s not a lazy man’s game at all,” said Taylor, “but it’s a very good way to catch those spawning fish. You can get a bait up there in shallow water where you couldn’t get a boat without spooking the fish or places where you wouldn’t want to take the boat — like a submerged stump field.”  

Taylor’s long-line trolling spread consists of three planer boards off each side of the boat. The first runs about 20 feet out, the second 30 feet out and the third 40 feet out, each staggered slightly behind the other due to the length of line necessary to add the distance from the boat. The rod whose bait is farthest from the boat is set in a rod holder closest to the stern, with the others staggered forward. This keeps boards and baits apart and cuts down on tangles when a fish is hooked.

Taylor said the tips of his rods should be raised slightly to lift more line out of the water so the planers cut into the water and fan out. In addition to planers, Taylor often