Crappie Basics February 2020

Crappie Basics #205 – To Plane or Not to Plane

crappie now, crappie lures, crappie fishing, crappie techniques

Sometimes the decision to use planer boards trolling for crappie is simply “personal preference.” But in other situations, planer boards can be essential. (Photo: Richard Simms)

Planer boards are a mystery to many crappie anglers but sometimes there are important reasons to use them.

By Richard Simms

Folks who enjoy trolling for crappie have a variety of techniques, but one of the biggest decisions they must make is whether or not to troll straight lines behind the boat or whether to use planer boards.

Here are some Pros for planer boards: (1) They move your baits far outside the path of your boat. This is especially critical if you are fishing shallow water where a boat passing overhead might spook crappie, or even if fish are suspended fairly shallow over deep water. (2) Planer boards are often a “must” if you are trolling very shallow water when crappie are spawning at five feet deep or even far less. The boards allow you to suspend jigs shallow yet still troll slow. Trolling long lines in very shallow water won’t work because you have to move extremely fast to keep jigs off the bottom and crappie simply won’t hit a fast-moving jig. (3) The boards provide more line separation so lines are less likely to get tangled when you catch a fish.

But there are also some Cons: (1) It’s more hassle. More equipment to keep up with and putting lines out – rigging and dropping the boards as opposed to simply casting a jig or crankbait behind the boat. (2) Planer boards aren’t as much fun when reeling in fish. The drag and resistance from the board sometimes means you are fighting the board more than the fish. (3) Landing fish is more difficult, especially if you are dropping baits 10 or 15 feet behind your boards. It requires anglers to either unclip the board or use a long-handled net or even handline fish to the boat the last few feet.

Personally, I often use a combination, running four long lines without boards behind the boat (but a long cast away from the boat), while running two planer boards. Using the combination also tells me what they fish want. There are days the boards are hot; in which case I’ll add more boards. Other days the boards are cold while long lines are hot.

Learn more about crappie trolling boards from our friends at Offshore Tackle.

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