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All Hands In



Shute Leadin

    I am going to get right down to it. When fishing for most offshore pelagic species, especially tuna and wahoo I always like to run one of my lines deep so I can cover more of the water column. One of the most effective ways to do this is by using a planer.
    There are a few different methods you can use with planers in order to achieve the depths you want. One is by using a planer rod set-up and a wind-on bridle system. This way of fishing planers works extremely well but will cost you a lot of money. Another method is by using a downrigger to pull your planer on. This too works well but can be rather costly. The third method is by using a hand line. This method is very good at deploying planers, it is east to stow away when not being used and is very inexpensive compared to other methods.
    First, let me go over how to put a planer hand-line together and how to properly deploy and retrieve the planer. When making a planer hand-line I start with a 9 inch plastic hand reel. This is what I store the hand-line on. It makes for easy storage and easy deployment of the planer.
    Next I use a 7-foot length of quarter-inch or 3/8th-inch nylon rope to attach the hand line to the cleat of the boat. On one end of the rope I make a 10-inch loop using just a simple double overhand knot; on the other end of the nylon rope I tie a 500-pound-test ball bearing swivel using the same double overhand knot. To finish the knots and to keep the tag ends neat, I use waxed floss to whip the tag ends. Next I tie a length of 300-pound braided line to the other side of the 500-pound swivel using a uni-knot. Depending on the depth of water you will be fishing in, you will need anywhere from 100 to 200 feet of the 300-pound braided line. I generally use 100 feet of braided line. On the other end of the braided line which will attach to the planer, I first slide on a large oval bead. This will act as a stop, which I will talk about in a minute. After the bead goes on the line I slide a 1.6 double copper sleeve on to the braided line. Next I tie a 400-pound ball bearing snap swivel to the end of the braid using a uni-knot. After the swivel has been tied to the braid I will take the 1.6 double copper sleeve and slide it 18 inches up the braided line away from the 400-pound snap swivel and crimp it down just hard enough so it will not slide on the braid. The bead combined with the sleeve will act as a stop, keeping my fishing line from getting too close to my planer and possibly getting tangled in the planer itself. Your hand line is finished.
    Now this is very important: When winding the hand line onto the plastic reel, take the loop you made in the rope and pass some of the rope through that loop, forming another loop. This loop goes around the 9-inch plastic hand reel and snugs up tightly onto the reel. Then wind all the rope and braided line on top of the reel. This is a very important step in deploying the planer.
    When it comes to choosing a planer for handlining, the only brand I use for this tactic is the Old Salty planer. Old Salty planers are the only ones I have used that can be consistently tripped while your boat remains underway, which keeps you from having to stop your boat to retrieve your planer. There are a few different sizes of Old Salty planers that I use. The No. 32 Old Salty will give you the greatest depth. When used with a hand line that has 100 feet of 300-pound braid, the planer should get between 40 and 50 feet deep depending on your speed. Usually I will not exceed 9 or 10 knots when pulling a planer this big due to the pressure that it puts on the braided line. Normally I will pull my planers at around 4 to 6 knots.
    One thing to remember when pulling planers is in large sea conditions, going down sea off a wave puts added pressure on the braid and will sometime even pop your braided line due to the extra pressure. I would recommend slowing down when fishing in following sea conditions.
    Normally when fishing off smaller boats such as center consoles or even a larger boat with a narrow beam, I will only pull one handline planer at a time. Pulling two planers on a small boat can create tangling problems. When fishing off a larger boat with a wide beam, you can pull two planers. In that case I pull a No. 32 Old Salty on one side and a No. 12 Old Salty on the other. This way the No. 32 planer is going deeper and the No. 12 planer is running shallower, so when you have to turn there is a reduced chance of tangles and you are covering two different depths in the water column.
    When you are setting and deploying your planer, to start with, your boat needs to be going ahead at trolling speed. Open the snap swivel on the end of the hand line and snap it through the large brass ring on top of the planer. Slide the brass ring back to the sharp bend in the metal rod where the rod goes into the blade of the planer.

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