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The Inís and Outís of Boards

By Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz

As Professional Walleye Fishermen we are regularly fielding questions
about different walleye techniques, be it at sport shows, tournaments or
even on our e-mail.

One area of particular interest to many anglers is fishing with in-line planer boards. Any walleye touring pro will tell you, they donít leave home without Ďem. Boards arenít the answer for every walleye fishing situation, but they are an important tool for every walleye anglerís arsenal.

Here we will answer some of the most commonly asked questions we get
regarding fishing with in-line boards.

How far out can you run in-line boards and still have them run effectively?
Spreading lines out to cover more water effectively is the
main reason for using boards. Often, in calm water conditions on big water,
we will run boards as far as 150 to 200 feet off to the side of the boat.
This requires the right equipment. You canít use wimpy rods, it takes good
strong rods 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 feet long with plenty of backbone. When running boards that far out, itís important to set the rod holders so that the rod tips are high in the air in order to keep the line off  the water as much as possible. The board itself can play a major part in how far out you can run it. A weighted board like the Off Shore Tackle and Trolling products for serious walleye fisherman Side Planer is much less likely to "roll" as itís being deployed and once itís set, the ballast keeps the board in an upright position, keeping more planing surface in contact with the water. This feature also keeps the boards level and "waiting" when the boat is put in neutral to fight in a big
fish. Under rough water conditions the "spread out" mind-set is reversed.
Wave action hides your boat presence so subsequently it is possible to
bring the boards in closer. In fact by keeping the boards close youíll maintain much better control over your trolling set. The boards are much easier to read and when a walleye bites there is much less line out increasing the chances of boating your fish. Remember, in rough water it is always desirable to keep the fight to a minimum, because the wind will push your boat faster than normal which consequently puts more pressure on the fish. Minimal fight decreases the chances of torn walleye lips... the end result will be more boated fish!

Can you run snap weights or leadcore line with boards?
Yes and no. Off Shore boards can handle the extra weight of Snap Weights, up to 3 ounces. Weights heavier than 3 ounces tend to tip or sink the board causing it to not run effectively. You can run as much as 5 colors of leadcore behind a board, provided you use a backing of mono or FireLine to the board itself. Attaching the board to the leadcore directly  will again cause it to tip and not run correctly.

When running multiple boards on one side of the boat, how do you get a fish in on the outside board without tangling with the inside board?
This is one of the trickiest parts of running boards, and is probably the one thing that frustrates many novice "board" anglers more than anything else. The easiest method is when you get a fish on the outside board, quickly reel in the inside board (known as "clearing the board") and put the board (still attached to the line) in the boatís splash well letting the lure trail straight behind the boat.
Lay the rod on the floor and proceed to reel in the outside board and fight the fish in. You want to be sure to land the fish off to the side of the boat as to not tangle with the trailing line. Once you have the fish in, reset the board that was in the splash well, that now becomes the outside board. Just keep in mind, things will run much smoother if the boat is leftn in gear until the board with the fish is detached from the line. That will keep tension on the lines and cut down the chances of tangles. If the fish you are fighting is a really big hog, and you do wish to put the boat in neutral to fight it, ballasted boards like those from Off
Shore will remain upright in the water, ready to start fishing again once you land your trophy.

It seems like it can take a long time to set out four or even six board lines. Is there a trick to setting board lines out more efficiently?
You bet! The secret is to be setting out at least two lines at a time. Some reels are equipped with a "clicker" feature. This puts enough tension on the line for the board to be set in the water with the rod placed in a rod holder while the reel is engaged in free-spool mode, allowing the board go out "un-attended" while another board line is prepared. Once the board is the proper distance from the boat, engage the reel and youíre fishing  For reels not equipped with clickers, you can accomplish the same thing by loosening the drag on the reels enough to allow the boards to pull the line out. With two anglers in the boat, it doesnít take long to put out four or even six lines (where legal).  Donít get locked into the idea that board trolling wonít work on your favorite bodies of water either. It may surprise you how often we have used boards in places no one thought they were applicable. And not just for trolling crankbaits, but with spinners, bottom bouncers and live bait rigs too. Running boards is not nearly as difficult or complicated as many fishermen think. A little time spent practicing the "basics" of set up and retrieval and you too can be fishing boards like the pros.

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