Pulling Planer Boards with The Crappie Magnet Team – Part 1
In the first of a 2-part series, B’n’M pros Corey Thomas and David Jones from the Crappie Magnet team are redefining the use of planer boards for long lining jigs and the results are amazing.
By Phillip Gentry
B’n’M pro-staffer Corey Thomas is a busy man. When he is not competing in professional crappie fishing tournaments, he is guiding clients on Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee and Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. When Thomas is crappie fishing, especially during the spring, he is often sharing water with other anglers and other boats. While there is plenty of water to go around, Thomas hit on an idea to use fishing pressure to his advantage.
“I learned about pulling planer boards around 10 years ago down on Lake Weiss in Alabama,” said Thomas. “Some guys were using them to pull jigs right up against stumps.”
Thomas said he saw the use of planer boards well beyond fishing structure. In fact, one of the behaviors of pre-spawn crappie when a boat passes to close is to either move down in the water column or avoid the passing boat altogether and swim out to the side of it.
Deploying up to three small planer boards on each side of his boat, Thomas can target crappie that are shying away from boat traffic.
“You can see this on Live Scope,” said Thomas. “You get out on one of the community fishing holes and there might be 20 boats out there and the fish are avoiding them.”
He explained the use of planer boards in pressured, pre-spawn crappie fishing locations is that it allows the angler to work the areas in between. The small 6 – 8-inch boards do not create the noise or cast the shadow of a 20-foot Lund fishing boat, but when properly deployed, pull out to the side of the boat reaching areas that even a 20-foot fishing rod can’t reach.
Thomas said this revelation has changed the way he and tournament partner David Jones long line troll.
“I always noticed our better fish tend to come on the longest rod when we are long lining jigs, said Thomas. “By using planer boards, the closest board to the boat is fishing water that we were reaching with our longest rod. Now we are expanding from there on out.”
B’n’M’s Crappie Wizard rods provide the perfect blend of strength and sensitivity to handle the big jobs like pulling planer boards and landing slab crappie.
Other than attaching a board and using the same length rods for all their planer board fishing, the team is pretty much following the standards that most long line angler use – light line, single jigs, similar trolling speed and the same amount of line out.
“Some guys move up to 6- or 8-pound test and beefier rods when pulling boards but that’s not how we do it,” said Thomas. “We have a whole selection of B’n’M rods at our disposal and found the best fit for us to be the 7 ½ foot Crappie Wizard rod.”
Designed by Richard Williams, a renowned guide on Kentucky Lake, Crappie Wizard rods are constructed with high modulus IM7 graphite to provide a fantastic blend of strength and sensitivity for those who prefer a slightly stiffer action. The handle is made of genuine Portuguese cork for maximum sensitivity and a lightweight feel. The rod comes in 2 section, 7 1/2-foot lengths and fits the bill nicely for pulling smaller planer boards without having to resort to heavier line.
Thomas said planer board usage has waned in popularity over the years but expects that catching fish like these will provide a resurgence in the tactic.
Thomas commented on the rising popularity of planer boards for crappie fishing.
“I know they’ve been popular before and some local guys started making boards to fit one style or the other, but I think we’re going to see people taking more interest in using planer boards,” said Thomas. “There are a couple of garage businesses that still make them, and they can sometimes be hard to find, but I expect with the resurgence of anglers using these (planer boards) to fish out away from the boat, someone will come out with a brand that will fill this market.”
Next time: B’n’M pro-staffer David Jones will provide all the details into how he and Corey Thomas pull planer boards for pre-spawn crappie.
Guided fishing trips on Dale Hollow Lake or Lake Cumberland can be arranged by contacting Corey Thomas at (270) 566-1152.
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