Chesapeake Bay planer boards
Made by RDTKL Angler Mate Matt Williams
Context and discussion provided by Capt Frank Tuma - Down Time Charters
36 inches in length
9.5 inch wide boards
3 running boards
All galvanized steel hardware.
Some assembly required after delivery. Boards painted by RDTKL will be SOLID ORANGE. The Planer Boards pictured were custom painted by the buyer. Download Assembly instructions.
Planer Board Basics
Planer Boards have emerged as one of the foremost components for catching fish in the Chesapeake Bay. Trolling larger spreads becomes very workable with a set of boards. The trolling rigs are set out on each side with from 2 to 6 rods on each side.
The concept of using planer boards is two fold:
1) Get more trolling rigs in the water without tangling
2) Moving the trolling lures away from the boat motors or boat noise.
Offshore anglers and Lakes fisherman have taken on the use of using these larger planner boards for tuna to salmon.
You can easily troll 4+ offshore rigs (ballyhoo, Live bait, etc ) per board as opposed to 2 off the riggers.
When used properly, they have many advantages. Most anglers perceive them to be cumbersome and only workable on larger boats. This theory is no longer true. Things have changed with better designs, new materials and new ideas, all have made it easy for the small boat fisherman to run planer boards.
Rigging Planer Boards.
Setup properly, Planer Boards are can be easy to use and very effective, especially for Trophy Stripers that enter the Bay during the spring migration or trolling multiple spreads. These Boards are designed to run as close to parallel to the boat when trolling as possible. In the Bay our trolling speed is generally 2 -3 knots. Trolling with boards, the higher the speed, the more pull they will have. The further back behind the boat, the less effective they are. With Boards, you are trying to get a wider spread of lures and further from the boat.
Attaching to the boat
The Boards running line should be attached to the boat at the highest point. Boats with T-Tops or hard tops have an advantage. The Board running line will have a bow and may drag the water when out any distance. There are planer board poles that serve to raise the level of the board attachment at the boat. Generally you want the boards to run safely at 75 to 125 feet from the boat and be able to troll 2 to 5 lines. About 100-150 foot of line on each side with boards running out to about 75-125 foot with bow in the running line is more than adequate. Weed wacker planer line, nylon, 300 lb test mono or weed whacker lines in the .95 or larger diameter to attach the boards to the boat. Weedwacker line has become the preferred choice. It generally comes in bulk or 100 ft lengths. and usually available in bright colors fluorescent red or purple, making it easy to see on the water.
Running line storage
Electric cord line spoolers work very well if not spooling on a reel. An old reel to hold planer board line when not in use. Old open face reels work good to store line and keep from getting tangled when retrieving line. This setup is used the same way outrigger lines are stored. They are not intended to reel the boards in, only to store the line. Sorry but the only way to retrieve these boards, is by hand over hand.
Trolling with Boards
Attaching your fishing rigs to the line is fairly simple. Run your trolling rig out to your distance 50’ 100 ‘ . Attaching to the board running line now gets a little trickier. You want the rig to stay at your distance set out. I use Scotty clip to quickly attach my trolling line to the board running line. Letting out the reel line when attached to the running line. I leave my clicker on to avoid a backlash. Let the line out to the distance you feel is comfortable on the running line (see diagram). Set the release and place in rod holder working from outside line to top rod holders, in toward boat.
I use Scotty Clips sold in most tackle shops now with a D-Ring /Carbineer to attach trolling line to the running line of the Board. Quick, easy and consistent. You can use a Rubber band #16 connected with a slip knot in the trolling line and then connected to a metal shower curtain clip or D-Ring/Carbineer clip, which connects to the running line. I found that a 30# fish can stretch a rubber band without breaking.
Safety and Common Courtesy
Boards are hard to see and not recognized in the Coast Guard Rules of the Road as part of your boat! Do not expect other boaters to know you have boards attached when running out great distances. Boards should be brightly marked with a color that shows up at a distance. This is generally Florescent Orange and with a Flag. Many captains use flags on top. I personally like the florescent colors trimmed on top of the boards and a bright color line. White and Black do not show well at a distance. Remember you are taking up over 250 to 300 feet of water with your spread! With the number of boats now running boards in prime areas, it gets very crowded. I have run in these waters for 5 years with boards and never had a problem with other charter boats. Only when people running out beyond 125’ have there been any problems.