Planer Fishing - Downriggers

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Instructor: RJ Boyle

Planer fishing with downriggers is essential for catching big fish and schools of fish. These larger, hard-driving planers require maximum tension on gear and allow for easy cranking. To attach the planer to the shock cord, use high-vis dacron, swivel boom tip, and small lead. Use ball bearing swivels to prevent line twisting and drop the planer back from the set position.

Description / Review / Instructor

Planer fishing with downriggers is a fantastic method to get your bait deep into the water. Typically, you might use No. 4, 6, or 8 sized planers on your rods. However, with a downrigger, you can go for No. 12 or 24. This ensures your bait reaches deeper layers of the water column. There will be instances when fish are suspending deeper than what your smaller planers can access. That's when the downrigger becomes essential.

Hand Line Planer

If you've done planer fishing on smaller boats where space is a constraint, you're likely familiar with the hand line planer. This setup involves around 150 feet of cable connected to a planer, which is then cleated to your boat. As the name suggests, you'll have to hand line this in. A yo-yo is used to wrap the line, which is then stored on the yo-yo itself. A video will provide a clearer understanding of this.

Downrigger: An Upgrade

The downrigger is essentially an advanced version of the hand line. The spool replaces the yo-yo, ensuring no line is left on the deck. All the line is neatly stored on the spool, preventing any tangles. Additional benefits include:

  • A boom arm that prevents the planer from striking the boat.
  • Capability to withstand the strain of pulling a large planer.
  • Easier reeling in of the line compared to hand pulling.

In The Spread Planer Fishing Video

In our In The Spread planer fishing video, we'll explore planer fishing with downriggers, focusing on the rig and the mechanics of bait dropping, as well as planer setting and tripping. It's a simple process.

Starting with the No. 24 Old Salty planer, we'll move up the line, highlighting each rig component. While a No. 12 can be used, we opted for the 24 for visual clarity. The downrigger spool line is high-vis dacron, aiding the boat driver in line visibility and angle assessment. The line's entry angle into the water can indicate a fish catch. A swivel tip is present at the boom's end, with a ball bearing swivel and a lead just above it at the line's end. This lead prevents the swivel from entering the boom tip.

When connecting your shock cord to the planer, you'll observe several in-line swivels. These are crucial to prevent the shock cord from twisting. The connection method remains the same as using a rod, with the only difference being the downrigger's large extension boom.

You'll learn how to set the planer in position, trip it, or set it post-deployment. These are invaluable fishing tips. Trolling a downrigger with a bigger planer exerts significant tension on the line, so tripping or setting it requires caution. Following the demonstrated steps ensures a smooth process.

Additional Point

With the line under such tension, detecting a bite becomes challenging. The line enters the water at a steeper angle due to the larger planer's drag. When a fish strikes, causing the planer to trip, the line rises. This phenomenon is where the term "planer is up" originates. You'll gradually recognize when the planer is up or digging.

In conclusion, planer fishing with downriggers offers a streamlined method to reach deeper water layers where larger fish or fish schools might be suspending. Mastering this technique provides a significant edge.

Remember: Always strive to learn and, as always, Fish Smarter!

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