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planer fishing with downriggers in the spread
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Planer Fishing With Downriggers

Planer fishing with downriggers is a really great way to get a bait down deep. Where you probably run No. 4, 6 or 8 sized planers on your rods, with the downrigger, you are running No. 12 or 24. This gets you well down in the water column. There are going to be times when the fish are suspending much deeper than your smaller planers can reach. You will need something substantial to reach those fish. This is where the downrigger comes into play.

If you have spent anytime planer fishing on smaller boats where space can be limited, you are probably familiar with the hand line planer. With this setup, you have about 15o feet of cable that attaches to a planer and is cleated off on your boat. As the name implies, this is a line that you will hand line in. You use a yo-yo to wrap this line up and it is stored on the yo-yo. You will see what I am talking about in the video.

The downrigger is an improved version of the hand line. The spool takes the place of the yo-yo and there is never any line on the deck. All the line is stored on the spool, keeping it from tangling. You also have the benefit of the boom arm which keeps the planer from hitting your boat. The downrigger can also handle the heat of pulling a giant planer. Perhaps most importantly, it is a lot easier to reel the line in than it is to pull it by hand.

In this In The Spread fishing video, we are going to delve into the planer fishing with downriggers relative to the rig and the mechanics of how to drop baits back, as well as setting and tripping the planer. This is very easy.

Starting with the No. 24 Old Salty planer, we work our way up the line pinpointing each component of the rig. You can most certainly use a No. 12. We used the 24 for the visual effect. For the presentation the line on the downrigger spool is high vis dacron. This allows the boat driver to see the line a little better and gauge the angle of the line. The angle at which the line is entering the water will tell you whether you have a fish on. So, it is important to see it. You will also see at the end of the boom there is a swivel tip. At the end of the line, there will be a ball bearing swivel and a lead just above that. The lead helps to prevent cranking the swivel up into the boom tip.

When attaching your shock cord to the planer, you will notice a few in-line swivels. You can not have too many swivels for this. The absolute last thing you want is for the shock cord to get twisted up. The swivels prevent this from happening. The is no difference than using a rod, in terms of how the shock cord and planer connect. The only difference is the downrigger with the large extension boom.

You will see how to drop the planer back in the set position and how to trip a planer or set it after it is deployed. These are all super useful fishing tips. Trolling a downrigger with a larger planer will create a lot of tension on the line. So, trying to trip it or set it needs to be executed with care. If you follow the steps demonstrated, you will find it a deliberate yet straight forward process.

An extra point to make on this style of fishing. With so much tension on the line, it is harder to tell when you get a bite. You will notice the line entering the water at a more aggressive angle than that of a typical rod. This is a result of the larger planer digging into the water. When a fish strike the planer tripping it, the line will rise up. The whole “planer is up” phrase comes from this. You will learn to notice when the planer is up and when it is digging.

Planer fishing with downriggers is a clean and easy way to get baits well down in the water where bigger fish or schools of fish may be suspending. Having the ability to reach these fish gives you a significant advantage. Learn these methods and start using them.

Be a lifelong learner and as always, Fish Smarter!

Watch other planer fishing videos in our Saltwater Fishing Techniques library.

Total time: 06:54
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