With normal use, the “pointy” end of your boat is the location on the outside of the hull most likely to be subject to normal wear and tear as well as abnormal distress.
Until I found a healthy chip in the gelcoat of my boat close to the water line, right at the bow, I hadn’t given this much thought. I have no idea of whether the ding was caused by running into one object one single time while running at speed or hitting dozens, maybe hundreds of miscellaneous chunks of flotsam or jetsam.
Regardless, I fixed it, but the repair left me wondering how long it would be until I’d need to fix it again. I found the answer at the ICAST show a week or so later at the Gator Guards’ booth. Never!
Among the Gator Guard products on display was KeelShield. KeelShield is a six-inch wide, roughly quarter-inch thick, incredibly tough, flexible polymer strip which bonds to the boat’s pointy-end to protect it from impact with floating items—as well as docks, boat trailers, concrete ramps or rocky shorelines.
KeelShield will adhere to aluminum boats from most manufacturers and all fiberglass hulls. Following the detailed instructions, I was able to install a KeelShield on my boat in about an hour.
Surface prep is simply cleaning the area with a scrubby pad (included) with isopropyl alcohol (not included). Once the keel is ready, just follow the steps to carefully remove a thin backing to expose the 3-M bonding surface as the KeelShield is pressed in place. If you can stick packing tape on a box, you can stick a KeelShield on your boat.
The product is exceedingly tough and if you manage to wear it out (doubtful), it comes with a lifetime warrantee. I chose a navy blue color that matches the accent stripes already on the hull of my boat. KeelShields come in nine colors to mix or match, and various lengths depending on the size and slope of your boat’s bow. Get KeelShields online at www.gator-guard.com or amazon.com. It’s also sold at marine retailers and big-box outdoor outlets.
Perhaps this fishing tool would have a better following if Church Tackle could come up with a more descriptive name. The Stern Planer doesn’t plane. It just drags along back behind the boat. Perhaps the name is just a marketing ploy. Would you buy a Stern Dragger?”
Regardless of the name, what does it do? You attach a planer to keep trolled lines from simply dragging straight behind the boat’s stern. If a troller wants a lure to troll straight behind the boat, why not just let it out and stick the rod in a rod holder? What advantage does the Stern Planer offer? More than you might guess.
I didn’t understand the concept of a Stern Planer until I fished with Lance Valentine (see the feature, “FORGET WALLEYE SPEED” elsewhere in this issue). Lance didn’t use SPs, but he did use a measured amount of line between his in-line planer boards and the lures we were trolling. The measured length of line kept his lures swimming at specific depths.
Bingo! The light bulb in my mind clicked bright.
There are charts which will show the trolling depth various lures will achieve with more or less line is deployed (measured from where the line enters the water to the lure.) Say you want your lure to troll 12 feet deep. The chart shows you need 50 feet of line in the water. Let out 50 feet of line, attach a side planer (or the Stern Planer) and it’s set perfectly.
Let out 50 feet of line without the SP, then put the rod in a stern-mounted rod holder and 20, 25 or 30 feet of the line will be out of the water. So let out more line but how much more? There’s no chart for this. The depth of the lure on the stern line is little more than a guess.
On my boat, I don’t often run an unweighted stern line, but I do often put a six to ten color lead core line “right down the chute.” Right down the chute often means “right in the way” when a fish bites one of my other lines and it’s being reeled into net range.
The Stern Planer comes in two sizes (TX-005 is small, TX-007 is large). The TX-005 will tow any sort of crankbait or other lightweight lure. The large size will pull 10 colors of lead core line. When I have a chute line out, the Stern Planer not only makes it easy to spot where the stern line enters the water, but makes it possible to just let out 25 or 30 more yards of line so the fish being caught on other lines can be fought under the stern line, not along side it.
PEG FLUTTER SPOONS
There’s probably not an ice fisherman in North America who doesn’t use products manufactured by the Clam Corporation. So when I approached Clam’s new product display at an outdoor writer’s meeting I was surprised to see a line of salmon/steelhead trolling spoons on display.
I asked the Clam rep at the booth if they are starting to branch out into the Great Lakes lure business. He looked at me as if I’d just asked if they planned to start selling designer coffee products. I quickly grabbed one of the Peg Spoons being displayed and simply asked, “What’s up with these?”
Back on a familiar topic, the Clam-guy said, “These are our new Peg Spoons, the name “Peg” being short for Lake Winnipeg where they use this sort of spoon regularly when ice fishing for walleye.”
I’m far from being up on the latest ice fishing tactics, especially at Lake Winnipeg, but I’ve attached similar-looking flutter spoons to my salmon and steelhead trolling lines thousands of times. Maybe walleyes will gobble them eagerly in Winnipeg or elsewhere; I was sure early season coho on Lake Michigan and browns and steelheads in all the lakes would find them equally attractive.
I was right—at least about the Great Lakes cohos, browns and steelies where I tested the spoons. Available in eight colors, I used the Rusty Craw (orange/gold/pink) and the Orange Tiger (chartreuse/orange) with good success in the chalky, churned-up water I fish at the beginning of the season when bright colors always do better. I know the other colors would be equally successful in areas where clearer water conditions prevail.
At 3 1/4 inches, the Peg is stamped from a zinc alloy which makes it slightly lighter than steel or brass spoons. I couldn’t detect much difference in the action from the similarly sized spoons of other brands but humans don’t view spoons and other lures the same way as fish.
The next time you are in the ice fishing aisle at your favorite tackle shop (or heading for Lake Winnipeg) check out Clam’s Peg Spoons in your favorite salmon and trout colors.
- as featured in Tackle & Toys by Capt. Mike Schoonveld