Catching Slabs With Planer Boards

Catching Slabs With Planer Boards

With Charles Bunting

Planer Board fishing is another technique that will put a lot of crappie in your boat! Just from doing a little research and having the right equipment, planer board fishing can be as rewarding as any other technique. It is an effective way to land suspended fish no matter what depth, water temperature, or clarity. As a matter of fact, this is a fantastic way to fish clear water without spooking the fish. Planer boards are an efficient way to cover a lot of water while targeting and pin pointing crappie at the exact depths needed to create strikes.

“I credit Tommy Skarlis for helping me get started, and understanding how to set up and catch crappie using this technique. The key is to be consistent with your equipment, such as your counter reels; make sure you are using all of the same brands. Different counter reels don’t measure off the same amount of line as another brands. This can be said for the planer boards also. “We like to use Off Shore Tackle planer boards,” says 2012 Crappie Masters National Champion Charles Bunting. “They make a great product that is user-friendly and it works,” Charles added.

Charles Bunting Off Shore Tackle 400Once you have acquired your planer boards, here is how Charles Bunting and Tommy Skarlis fished Truman Lake with a 43 degree water temperature, and landed some great slabs. Charles stated, “The first thing you need to do is tune your crank baits. Toss out your crank bait and reel it in fast! If it’s pulling to one side or the other, take a pair of needle nose pliers and bend your eyelet the opposite direction until the bait runs true. Once that is completed,” Charles says, “It’s time to use your
Hummingbird electronics and find suspended Crappie.” By using your 2d sonar, you are able to cover a lot of water quickly “zig zagging” across channels, flats, etc… Once you locate Crappie, mark your gps coordinates, and prepare to set out your planner boards and crank baits.” Charles went on to describe the day that he and Tommy Skarlis fished the Tadpole made by Offshore Tackle. (The Tadpole is a sinking planer board that helps keep the bait at an exact depth). “Put that crank bait right in their face!” Bunting says, “Don’t waste time by using the planner boards to locate fish, but locate fish with your electronics, and then fish the crank baits exactly where the crappie are and at the correct depth. This technique used correctly allows you to pin point suspended Crappie, and not waste time.” Bunting added.

Once fish are located and depth is determined, simply toss out your crank bait at the depth you need it to run and clip it to the board at that depth. The bait will run at that depth behind the board. The board will have 2 different clips on it; one will release when a fish is hooked, and the other stays attached so you can reel in the fish and the board without losing the planner board or fish.

Once clipped on, simply determine how far out you want the planner board to run away from the boat, let out that amount of line while the boat is moving at about .5 mph, and then flip the bail. (The planer boards are directional port or stern side.)

Bunting went on to add, “Try this technique and get your lures away from the boat, which in turn, will help you catch more and better fish.”

“Don’t think that crankbaits are the only lure you can use under a planner board either,” Charles said. When they are pulling cranks they use the 300 series Bandits. It’s our favorite lure for that, but we will also use a jig tipped with a Muddy Water on it for color and scent,” Charles added.

As Crappie anglers, we are always looking for methods and techniques to help catch more fish. Planer board fishing is just a another technique to help us do just that. Used as Charles Bunting and Tommy Skarlis do, it’s an exact plan of attack to target Crappie in any conditions, any time of the year.

Do some research and see for yourself how effective the technique can be. It might just be what you are looking for!

Written by:
Tommy Thornton – Senior Outdoor Writer
Bass Pro Shops and Nitro Boats Pro Staff

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