Fishing on a higher plane

This catfish fell for a bait being pulled under a planer board.

Using planer boards to separate trolling lines is a tactic that has been around for a long time, but anglers continue to re-invent it, tailoring it to the species they are targeting.

Bruce DeShano of Offshore Planerboards in Port Austin, Mich. (, has seen just about every species of fish caught on a lure or bait deployed behind one of his boards.

“In any situation where you have current, either generated by the boat or the water you’re fishing, you can use planer boards to separate your lines and move them out away from the boat to get more coverage and to prevent spooking fish by the presence of the boat,” DeShano said.

For catfish-specific tactics, using a planer board with a slinky weight creates two bends in the line between the fish and the end of the rod. Guide David Magness said that’s not an issue of concern when trying to get a good hookset.

“We’re using big natural baits, so there’s no reason for the fish to want to spit the bait,” Magness said. “His instinct is to grab the bait and turn and go back to his hiding spot. With the boat in forward motion, there will be sufficient tension for the hook to set itself. Most of the time, when you see the board moving backwards, he’s already set the hook.”

Phillip Gentry
About Phillip Gentry 368 Articles
Phillip Gentry is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer who says that if it swims, walks, hops, flies or crawls he’s usually not too far behind.

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