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With one of the best Spanish mackerel bites in memory going off this summer, we’ve done a lot of trolling with planers lately. You know the gig: number one, two, and three planers get rigged in-line, and dive to keep your spoons 10 to 20 feet down as you troll. It seems simple enough. But even after many years of using in-liner planers, using them so often (six out of the past eight days alone!) I’ve learned a few interesting tidbits. Are you about to try trolling with planers? If so, keep these things in mind:
Planers are incredibly effective – and these tips will help you catch more fish the next time you deploy them.
- Tangles with planer lines are an utter disaster. Not only do they trash rigs and force you to spend valuable fishing time straightening out the mess, a planer can cut the line if it rubs up against another one. Net result: you get a tangle and you lose an entire rig. These tangles come most often when a planer gets tripped and rises to the surface, allowing the lines to cross one another as the boat turns. A key factor in avoiding them is to constantly watch your rod tips, so you see the stress on the line lighten up if a planer trips but doesn’t have a fish on it. When this happens it’s critical to straighten out any turn you may be making at the moment, and keep the boat perfectly straight until the planer’s been re-set.
- Speaking of re-setting, sometimes a jig of the rod tip is all it takes, but other times the planer may play hard to get. (The bigger planers are usually tougher to get re-set by jigging). When a planer won’t grab again, take three or four very fast cranks on the reel, then jerk back and try another jig. Sometimes getting them moving a bit faster before slacking the line helps.
- Use long leaders of at least 15 to 20 feet. Shorter leaders behind the planer simply don’t catch as many fish.
- Use slow-action rods when trolling planers. The limber tip bent way over makes it much easier to spot a tripped planer, and quickly determine if there’s a fish on the line or if it was a swing and a miss.
- Deploy your larger planers closer to the boat, and smaller planers farther back. This will help reduce crossed lines.