Planer Board Tweak For Fewer “Cigar” Walleyes
Lake Erie walleye guide Captain Ross Robertson begins our discussion with an interesting statement: “Chaos causes intervention.”
He’s not talking about drug-addled celebrities or deceitful politicians (although we did discuss the latter)… He’s referring to the ‘chaos’ of the “thousands upon thousands” of small walleyes swimming in Lake Erie right now.
To be fair, let’s preface this “problem” by saying that the healthy young year-class bodes well for Lake Erie and its anglers in upcoming years.
However, right now they’re a nuisance for guides and customers targeting larger fish. Each second a bait is fouled with an under-sized fish is one less opportunity at a Lake Erie giant.
“Recently I caught 30 walleyes that were all 13.5” right on the nose, the kind of fish that barely move your planer board, making it tough to read. Fact is, you can’t catch a 10-pound walleye when you’re towing a 10-inch walleye around all day. And the Great Lakes have A LOT of undersized walleyes in the system right now.”
Yet, like other walleye fishing puzzles he’s encountered, Robertson has figured out a creative and effective work-around.
“The Church TX-22 Special planer board has been my go-to 99% of the time, with a little DIY modification that involves shaving an ounce off them to reduce drag and improve balance. But you can still drag around a small walleye, which makes you paranoid to the point you’re reeling in and checking your lines all the time. Not efficient.”
A lightbulb went off when Robertson found a Church TX-12 mini planer board in his garage, a board designed for lighter tackle and ultra-thin braids like the 16-lb. Sunline SX1 Sunline braid Robertson has been using to get cranks down to deeper-than-usual walleyes.
“Figured I’d give the TX-12 a shot, even though it’s not quite half the size of the TX-22. First thing I did was run one side of my Ranger with 22’s, the other with 12’s. The difference was immediate. With the 12, any weed debris or small fish was like dragging around a barrel, especially fished with a flag.”
The result is as psychological as it is practical. “Now I don’t have to worry about reeling in and checking my baits all the time. If a spike hits my bait, I know it immediately, kind of like fishing with a small bobber vs. big bobber. I think a lot of anglers in waters with smaller walleyes would benefit from the same program; I know it’s given me a lot more confidence.”