Years ago I bought a fishing reel and a planer from a man I saw walking along a beach on the Indonesian island of Lombok. I first noticed a wake a hundred yards or so offshore, moving parallel to the beach. It stood out dramatically on the clear, still water on a windless day.
“Look!” I exclaimed to my companion. “A big fish, or a porpoise, or a turtle – or something!” My puzzlement grew. Something was making a significant wake, but I could not tell what kind of marine creature it was. Then I noticed the man walking along the white sand beach which curved for nearly a mile below our rented, thatched roof, bungalow.
I ran down and followed the man who was carrying a crude handline spool carved from a short section of large diameter bamboo. A segment of the bamboo, below the piece which had the line wrapped around it, was carved into a pointed vee shape which reminded me of the sand spikes surf fishermen use to hold their rods while they wait for a strike.
A light monofilament fishing line stretched out toward the wake which paralleled the man’s path, slightly behind him. As I looked more closely I could see three more tiny wakelets, evenly spaced, between the shore and the larger wake.
A hundred yards before we reached the rocky headland at the end of the beach the man stopped and drove the spike at the bottom of reel into the beach sand. He continued to walk slowly as he pulled in his fishing line, which he laid out along the beach, a couple of yards above the wet part of the sand.
As the closest of the tiny wakes approached the shore I saw that a dropper line trolling a small homemade feather lure was tied to the main line. The fisherman laid both the dropper line (and lure), and main line on the beach and continued to walk along and pull in his line. Two more dropper lines and lures were laid on the beach alongside the main line before the large wake approached the shore and its secret was revealed.
A piece of a wooden plank had been carved into a fish shape with a short piece of wooden dowel protruding from the centerline one-third of the way from the head to the tail. The main line was attached to the end of the dowel.
The carved fish functioned as a side planer dragging one lure directly behind, and several more from the dropper lines. Walking the beach he could troll for fish at several distances from shore .
To fish back up the beach the fisherman rotated the symmetrical carving so it faced in the opposite direction, but with the dowel still protruding toward the beach. He lifted the line from the beach and paid it out as he walked along. Because of the way he had placed the dropper lines and lures on the sand he had only to pick up each lure as he came to it and flick it into the water. He was soon trolling all his lures. Halfway back I watched him catch a small jack that reminded me of a blue runner on one dropper lure.
I suspect that the price we finally agreed upon for me to take possession of his simple but sophisticated and lovely tackle was the most cash money he had ever owned. I had already seen his small son with a simpler, less ornate, version of his father’s tackle so I knew their ability to earn a living was not compromised and we both seemed happy with the bargain we struck. I KNOW I still treasure the tackle and the memory.
Today planers are a common and often essential item in tackle boxes. They are usually constructed of metal or plastic and have some method of being “tripped” so that once a fish has struck the planer quits trying to dive down or pull out to the side and offers less resistance to being reeled in to the boat.
Planers which angle off to one side are not common among big game anglers but are used quite effectively in lakes. Anglers trolling lakes use side planers to troll in shallow water or over submerged weed beds or reefs which the boat cannot cross over.
Diving planers have a myriad of applications along with, or in place of, down riggers used for species as large as bluefin tuna and marlin or as small as trout or land locked salmon. Any time a lure or bait needs to be trolled well beneath the surface a planer may make the difference between being “skunked” and a limit of your favorite fish. Your local tackle shop will gladly sell you the planer and lures or bait you need, and will give helpful hints on productive areas and tactics.
For a complete list of our other featured blog posts and to see the full line of Guy Harvey Sportswear, please visit: www.guyharveysportswear.com
- Old Dog New Tricks
- Small Lures For Billfish
- You CAN Fish in Rough Water
- Peter B Wright’s Lure “SPREAD”
- What Marlin See