Planer Boards for Crappie

planer board crappie

I got an unexpected phone call from my friend David Jones to see if I would be interested in chasing some crappie using planer boards. David Jones is a crappie guide on Green River Lake visit to book a trip. David is also the 2014 Crappie USA Classic Champion and Green River Lake record crappie holder. It didn’t take long to accept the invitation.

David informed me that we would be using planer boards to catch suspended crappie. It would be an excellent opportunity to gather content for an article about a lesser known or used tactic for catching more crappie. I knew this was going to be a great trip to learn from one of the best crappie anglers in Kentucky if not the country.

By this time of year, crappie has moved out of the spawning bays. They follow the baitfish to deeper water and suspend in the water column. By now the crappie can be a little skittish as the boat approaches them, especially in clear water. The new Minn Kota Ultrex is super quiet and that helps a lot, but just the shadow of the boat can spook fish in clear water. You could be fishing all around the crappie and never get a bite. Leave it to a few serious crappie anglers to figure out how to catch the crappie they are spooking. By using Planer boards.

David informed me the night before that we would be using planer boards for suspended crappie. That morning, he dug out several Offshore Tackle planer boards from a bag. The great thing about the Offshore Tackle Planer Boards is that you can set each one to run left or right depending on which side of the boat you set them on. With a couple of spring-loaded clasps on the planer board, the line is attached to the desired depth that you want your bait to run. Different lengths of line are let out on each rod to stagger the baits as the planer board pulls further from the boat as you increase the amount of line let out.

When set up correctly, the planer boards on the left and right form a V behind the boat. This technique keeps all your baits away from the boat. It also presents your baits up to a 60-foot spread, or more, to cover more water. This is vital when the crappie schools are scattered, following the baitfish.

Determining Optimum Depth

There are several ways to determine the best depth to fish when longlining for crappie with planer boards. One way is just trial and error. This is the way I do it for the most part and while it works it does take a little time to get it tuned in for all lines. By running each line at a different depth, you will find that one will get more bites than the others. You can then set all rods to that depth to target those active fish. I will usually run one line shallower or deeper, just to keep them honest.

If you are serious about longlining with planer boards then there are a couple of things that can really help you quickly determine where to set your lines to run at a certain depth. There are apps that tell you how much line to let out for a specific crankbait or jig size to put it at a certain depth in the water column. One great app is the Precision Trolling Data App. It has many of the most popular crankbaits listed and even compensates for line size and more. This app takes all the guesswork out of trolling depth.

Another great tool for longlining with planer boards is line-counter reels. With a line-counter reel, you know precisely how much line you have out on each rod. By keeping a consistent amount of line out you can keep your baits in front of the fish. When using planer boards all you have to do is let out the prescribed amount of line for the depth you want your bait to run.Attach the planer board then letting out the line needed to stagger the boards. By keeping the line distances the same on both sides of the boat you can maintain a clean spread and keep your planer boarding smooth and efficient.

Mix it Up

Planer Boards are a great way to troll crankbaits. Crankbaits are a popular presentation here on Kentucky Lake in the summer. Sometimes mixing up the spread with a few running jigs and a few running crankbaits can help put more crappie in the boat. The best color will vary with the day so run a few different colors to see what the crappie wants that day.

If you are running crankbaits, with or without planer boards, there is a little tool that you should consider for your tackle box. It is the Offshore Tackle Crankbait Tuner. When trolling crankbaits at speeds, often above 1 mph, a true running crankbait is mandatory. A crankbait that isn’t running straight will fail to reach its depth potential as well as possibly tangling in your other lines.

The crankbait tuner is a tool that gently repositions the eye on the crankbait to get it running perfectly. So often we try to bend the eye with a set of pliers and end up over bending it. Too many of these corrections and the eye will break right off. The crankbait tuner eliminates this and saves those valuable crankbaits from the trash bin.

If your lake is seeing a little more pressure and you want to catch some of those finicky crappie, then give planer boards a try. They take a little more effort. There is a slight learning curve, but they might just pay off for you and help you catch more fish.

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