Technique- Trolling with Planer Boards- Rick Arnold
22 lb. Kootenay Lake Rainbow caught by John Werwie on a Planer Board and Fly
One of my favorite fishing drills was originally developed back on the Great Lakes years ago. It evolved over time here out west on Lake Pend Oreille and Kootenay Lake for both the giant Gerrard Rainbows and big bull trout. It is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting ways to catch both of these big pelagic trout and char.
The technique involves the use of large, dual planer boards run off a mast system that allows for fishing as far as 150 feet out from the boat. I built my own, but you can purchase them from Big Jon and some other companies. On the mast, usually mounted on the gunnels mid-boat, are large planer reels ( I own a set of Big Jons ) filled with 150 Lb. nylon line to allow the board to reach the length of lined spooled out. The boards working the chop will put an enticing action to your fly or lure that is attached to the line with releases similar to downrigger releases but much smaller. Scotty makes one that is actually metal shower curtain rings with a release slid onto it that works extremely well.
There are variations on the boards that include big water boards for rougher high chop from windier conditions and “flat water” boards which can impart action to a fly without much chop at all. I recently ran a board from Shoo Fly Fishing Company out of Montana that worked as well as any I have ever used. It is a flat water board but can be used on choppy water up to a couple of feet which produced a monster 22 LB. rainbow for my buddy, John Werwie on my most recent trip to Kootenay! It was our maiden voyage with this board, but it performed beautifully throughout a myriad of weather conditions on our trip.
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