View Full Version : Using Planer Boards for Crappie

07-06-2017, 10:11 AM
Hi all,

I purchased a couple smaller planer boards recently, and I'm looking to see if there any special techniques people use to target crappie with these. I know walleye fisherman use boards all the time, but wanted to hear of any tip when using board with light tackle. Any advice would be appreciated.



07-06-2017, 10:26 AM
What brand size did u buy?

07-06-2017, 10:28 AM
Church Tackle Co. TX-6 Mini board

07-06-2017, 11:27 AM
Try the Ready Rigs, much better (Stealth Planer Boards)

07-06-2017, 12:20 PM
Thanks for the info!

07-06-2017, 12:30 PM
I'll try and do my best based specifically on what I use. Please keep in mind that there are many planer boards out there on the market. Everybody will try and give their advice and opinions based on what they utilize. Remember, many of them have NOT tried every brand on the market so they are only speaking based on what they know.

For me, I utilize Off Shore tackle boards. I have utilized several other versions on the market and, for me, and the style of fishing that I do, the Off Shore boards are better (again, for ME). When dealing with crappie fishing, there are two different styles of board on the market that you can look at. One is the more popular OR-12 planer board. These boards are designed to run everything from light weight tackle all the way up to heaving diving rigs, baits, and lead and copper lines. The prodominately excell at pulling crank baits, bottom bouncers, JET divers, and dipsy divers. They CAN run the bigger stuff such as lead core lines greater than 5 colors and copper lines however, Off Shore has produced the SST board for specifically running that sort of stuff. I will not concentrate on the SST boards.

The OR 12 can be setup with a tattle flag kit and is "highly recommended" for fishing crappie. Their light bites don't always have the ability to pull the board back far enough for you to tell there is a fish on there. This would be the reason for the tattle flag. A fish hits your offering and the flag will dance letting you know there is a fish on the line. They come pre rigged with an OR19 clip (orange clip) in the front of the board and an OR 16 (red clip) in the back of the board. There is also an option on the board for you to run them directly on your line however this method has been outcast by most within the last 10 years.

The OR 16 clip in the back has a pin in it which allows you to set your board at a specific distance from your offering. You put the line "behind" the pin. This way it cannot come out. The OR 19 orange clip does NOT have a pin. You pinch your line in the center. When a fish hits, you snap your rod releasing the front portion of the board and allow the board to fall to the back of your spread and also allowing you to reel in the fish through the gut or the center of your spread. Once in, you unhook the red clip and fight the fish. Putting the boards out can be in any order and you will get good at putting one back out in the middle of your spread.

The OR 12 does NOT come with the tattle flag installed. It DOES come with a flag but not the required componants to change it over. Off Shore sells an economy upgrade kit to be able to upgrade the board quickly.

In recent years, they came out with the OR34 MINI planer board. These were designed for the smaller, lightweight baits and fishing for smaller fish (crappie). They were also designed to be utilize in river situations to get baits away from the boat. Unlike the OR12 board that requires speeds above about .8 (really 1mph), the mini boards can be ran at speeds down to about .3 mph.

New for this year however is the Ultimate crappie board. It is the same design as the OR34 mini BUT it has a chanel on the top of the board. This allows the board to stay vertical no matter how fast you are going. You can actually cast this board with the right rod! If you stop, the board will NOT fall over. This allows you to basically run at any speed down to zero. They are ran the same as mentioned above. At the present time, there isn't a tattle flag system but there really isn't a need for one as the smallest of bites will send the board backwards and out of the formation.

Unlike the OR12 board that is purchased as a "Side specific" model, the OR34 or the Ulitimate crappie board is interchangable. In other words, you do not need to purchase a left board or a right board.

I could go on and on for days on the specifics of setup and how to run them. The best I can tell you however is to checkout the 411 website or get on to the Off Shore facebook page. There are tons of tips, tricks, and tactics put out by todays best prostaff members. Mark Romanack and his son Jake (along with wife Mari) put on the 411 series and also help with the "Off Shore Release" which is an annual publication put out by Off Shore featuring tips, tricks and tactics by the top prostaff members fishing with planer boards around the world.

Bruce and Nick DeShano (owners of Off Shore) are member sponsors on this site. Please keep in mind that I am NOT trying to sway you into purchasing something else. I am only talking about the products that I know and use daily. I cannot, in good faith, compare Off Shore products to other products on the market because I do not know what they can and cannot do. I can only speak of what I know. I point you towards their site because I do know the DeShano family, the Romanack family, and many of the Prostaff members that contribute to the above information I provided. This information can transfer to ANY board that is used. I just happen to point to where I know it is all compiled.

I AM a Prostaff member for Off Shore. I do NOT get paid to tell you any of this. In fact, I've been using their products long before I became a Prostaff member. I do fish professionally and competativly and get the pleasure to write about many different great products on the market. This just happens to be one of them. Feel free to ask me any questions and I will do my best to answer them. As I stated, I cannot specifically comment on the boards to which you use as I do not have or use them. I can only guide you in advice based on what I utilize.

07-06-2017, 12:46 PM
As far as tips are concerned, it really depends on where/how you want to target crappies while pulling boards!

Until 2013, pulling boards for crappies was not something that was widely known. It wasn't until the crappie masters when Tommi Scarlis won while pulling Off Shore boards did the world kind of sit back and take notice. That isn't to say that others were not doing it, because they were. It just wasn't in the main stream.

There are tons of ways for people to pull small crank baits. Some in the south will push baits (from the front) while other will pull or long line from the back (or a combination of both at the same time). Planer boards gave another option to get your offerings out to the side and cover a much wider swath of property! Another advantage. Unlike our brethren in the south that fish a lot of dirty water where fish are not spooked by the boat, lakes to the north (like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota to name a few) are clear. Many fish (including crappies) that suspend in the water column, are prone to spooking. Spider rigging isn't a prefered method in these areas simply because of this. As a result, the boards really shine.

We run cranks next to lilly pads or weed edges. Our boat might be 80 feet or more from the edge. By using a board, we can set our bait right up next to the weeds if we want simply by how much line we let out. Utilizing things such as the "Precision trolling guide" allows us to know exactly how deep a crank bait will dive based on the amount of line put out. We let out or line to reach the desired depth, clip on our boards, and send them out. Some days we try several depths, once we find the zone, we adjust our baits accordingly.

In recent years, we have been playing with pulling jigs tipped with soft plastics and road runner style rigs. Even crawler harnesses. We will run 1/16oz, 1/8oz, and several others until we find the right depth, speed, and setback from the board. Once we locate the area and the depth, we can blanket a wide swath with boards!

Another favorite of mine that I have been doing the last few years. Utilizing a crawler harness with no weight. We cast it out, clip on a board and run it right overtop of weeds. Sometimes the weeds are within 1 foot of the surface. The harness keeps the bait above the weeds and the boards allow us to spread the offerings out over the weeds. I've caught some giant crappies on this tactic in lakes where others have thought the population was stunted! This was all done pulling boards at around .4mph or so.

Another tactic is fishing overtop of flats in the evenings in mid summer. The fish oftentimes can be scattered. By utilizing boards and trolling these flats, I can send a large amount of baits blanketing a large area. Soon, picking up those 1's and 2's doesn't seem so bad when you are covering 100ft on each side of the boat!

One last tactic is the usage of Off Shore Tadpoles. These are diving type weights that allow us to put baits at specific depths based on speed. When I'm fishing deeper water and I know I cannot get a crank bait or small jig down to that depth, the Tadpoles come out of the box!