Planer Fishing: Reach Suspending Fish
Planer Fishing in Saltwater
What is planer fishing and why would you want to run planers behind your boat? Planer fishing is the practice using a hydrofoil to get a bait deep in the water column. It is basically a stainless steel wing with a little weight that will run at a forty five degree angle to the direction of the water flow. It is like a kite, except the planer moves down instead of up. As your boat moves forward, the water forces the planer to dive in the water column. How big the fishing planer is determines how deep it will run and the depth of your bait. The reason you would use a is to get bites. Your presentation needs to be down where the fish are suspending.
Many gamefish prefer to suspend at depth. Kingfish, wahoo and stripers are known to hang deeper in the water column and hammer bait from below. Many times there will larger schools of bait fish down deep. This is particularly relevant in the summer months. As the air temperature and intensity of the sun increase in the hot months, bait will move lower in the water column during the day in search of a cooler environment. Much of the time, those kingfish, wahoo, stripers and even tuna will also move deeper to avoid the heat and stay close to the food.
Trolling in the summer can be tedious. If you aren't out at dawn or dusk when the bait is near the surface, the bites can be few and far between. What is going on, you may ask. Fish seek refuge lower in the water column, as the water heats up, and that is where your baits need to be. If you are running baits on the surface, you can be missing all the fish. Go deep. How do you get baits to run at a specific depth? With a lot more fish holding down in the water column than there are feeding on the surface, planer fishing is the easiest way.
Mechanics of Planer Fishing
If you have not fished with planers, it is really not the complicated. The mechanics of what is going on is pretty straight forward. You drop a device into the water that will dive to a given depth and hold you bait there. You can run your bait at whatever distance behind the boat you desire and it will still stay at depth. There are two main planer fishing techniques. The first application is the in-line technique for smaller planers and the other is the downrigger style for larger planers.
Running a planer in-line means the planer is attached to the main line on one end and on the other end a long leader is run between the planer and the lure. When a fish strikes the bait, the planer trips going from a diving angle to a flat position. In the flat position, there is far less resistance and you can reel the planer up to the tip of the rod and then hand line in the fish with the leader.
When you are running larger fishing planers at speed, so much resistance is created that you need a much heavier outfit just to handle the pressure. You could run this in-line, but your tackle will take a lot of heat. You drags will have to be set so high to keep the planer from pulling drag that when a fish does strike you bait, it will probably be ripped out of the fishes mouth. There will be no give in the line. A better solution is to attach the big planers to a downrigger line. Your lures or baits are then attached to the downrigger line with a simple release system made up of a double snap swivel and a rubber band. In essence, you have the downrigger line with a large planer on the end which is running at a specific depth. You take the line from the rod and reel you are fishing and attach it to the down line with that release rig, so the planer can pull it down. It is like a sliding rig. Wrap a rubber band around your fishing line and attach it to one side of a double snap swivel. The other end of the snap is closed around the line between the downrigger and the planer. The pressure of the water at trolling speed will pull the swivel down the line to the top of the planer along with the line running to the bait behind the boat. Upon a fish striking your bait, the rubber band breaks releasing the line from its connection to the planer. Now, you are fighting the fish like normal.
Planer Fishing Video
Our In The Spread Planer Fishing video will show you all the tackle, how to rig planers, how to fish planers, how to setup a planer fishing spread, staggering your planers, boat driving, bait rigging and more. We will cover both big boat and smaller boat planer fishing. This is a super comprehensive video with over 2 hours of learning.