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Hot Shot Side Planers In Rivers

By Luhr Jensen, 🕔Mon, Mar 21st, 2011


A wish has finally come true for river bank-bound anglers. Now it's possible to fish Hot Shot ® plugs just as effectively from shore as it is from a drift boat or a jet sled . . . without the boat!

This Luhr Jensen Tech Report explains how to use the Hot Shot ® Side Planer, and get your lure out in the river where the big ones are!

For years, boat fishermen pulling Hot Shots ® have been outfishing and thus frustrating bank anglers. The reasons they could cover more of the right kind of water, and they could hold their lures in that fishy water for as long as they wanted. As a result, three things have been on every bank angler's wish list: the ability to use a plug like the boater; the ability to reach fish-holding water that boats could, but which were out of normal casting range; and the ability to keep a lure in that fish-holding water, if and when it got there. The Hot Shot ® Side Planer is the answer to all three wishes.

The proven effectiveness of another product, the Hot Shot ® diving plug, prompted our tackle developers to research, design, test and manufacture a product that would allow any bank fisherman the ability to fish plugs with the same productivity as that enjoyed by boat anglers. The result the Side Planer, a buoyant, surface-planing, five-inch long device that will pull a plug (or other lure) 100 feet or more out into the river. . . and keep it there!

The obvious advantage to the shore-bound angler is the ability to fish a Hot Shot ® in the same manner and in the same water as that used productively by boaters. It also has some interesting advantages for boat fishermen, such as being able to use multiple rods and work a wider swath without tangling lines. It also works for forward trolling in lakes and reservoirs.

The boater will quickly discover the Side Planer's many advantages, but it was developed for the bank fisherman and this Tech Report is about that fishing style.

If you've never seen a Side Planer in operation, or talked to an angler who's used one, you may think it's just another gadget designed to catch fishermen and not fish. The difference, however, between the Side Planer and other "gadgets" you may have seen or tried over the years is . . . THIS ONE WORKS!

For several years now, river fishermen throughout the United States have been increasing their catches by using a Side Planer and Hot Shot ® combination and they've been doing it from the bank. The ability to fish with plugs gives the bank angler access to the most productive river fishing technique used by professional guides and boat anglers . . . "Hot Shotting."

You no longer must rely strictly on drift tackle. The Side Planer gives you the ability to add boat-type plug fishing to your arsenal of techniques and you'll find this method paying off when others fail. In fact, many anglers have switched to side planing as their No. 1 river fishing technique, but whether you use it exclusively, or along with other methods, you will want a Side Planer handy at all times.

The Side Planer allows you to position your plug in fish-holding water and work effectively through it, covering every inch. It also gives you the ability to fish with plugs on rivers where boats are not allowed or in areas where boat fishing is difficult. Side planing is a great way to prospect a stretch of new, unknown water quickly and efficiently.

Some additional advantages of the Side Planer are: It disassembles into a small package for easy storage; it attaches to regular line and tackle; it is free-sliding and runs down the line after a strike, allowing you to have as much line between the plug and it as you wish; it has an adjustable leader lock arm; it can be set up for either left hand or right hand running; it comes with a small fin for fast water and a large for medium to slower currents; it acts as a bobber on the strike; it has minimum friction in the water after the fish is on (no more than a 1 1/2-in. cork float) and it can be used successfully by ANY angler.

Before rigging up the Side Planer, it is critical that you tune your Hot Shot ® so it will have the correct, fish-catching action. Place the plug you've selected in the water and pull it through, observing its diving action. If the Hot Shot ® dives straight and true, it's ready to fish. If it dives off the left, then, with the bill facing you, turn the screw eye slightly clockwise. If it dives off to the right, turn the screw eye slightly counterclockwise. Adjust the screw eye until the plug dives absolutely straight down. A properly tuned Hot Shot ® will outfish any other lure of its type.

After you've done it a few times, rigging your Side Planer will only take a few seconds. Assemble it according to the direction you wish it to fish, with the rudder facing away from the planer body. The rudder must be placed on the planer body in the direction you wish it to go with the round end of the main planer body facing (pointing) upstream. Run your main line (12- to 20-lb. test) through the tripper arm, down through the front fin line guide and then through the eyelet at the base of the planer. Thread a 5mm bead on your line, then tie it to a #5 McMahon barrel swivel. The bead and swivel will act as a stopper when the Side Planer is tripped and will keep it away from any hooked fish. To the other end of the barrel swivel, tie a 24- to 36-inch leader (lighter test than your main line) and to the end of this leader, tie on your favorite Hot Shot ®, being sure to use the round eye Luxon ® snap provided with each lure so you get the absolute best plug action and vibration.

Hold the Side Planer in one hand and with the other hand, place the plug in the water. Then strip out the amount of line you want between the planer and the plug. Most successful anglers use from 20 to 40 feet of line between planer and plug, rigging short for short drifts or shallow water and long for long drifts or deep water.

Once the desired amount of line has been released, secure the line to the front fin tab of the planer with four wraps and snap the locking arm into position. Keeping tension on the line at all times, set the Side Planer in the water and you're ready to go "Hot Shotting" from shore.

Tension on the tripper arm can be adjusted to make it trip with harder or softer pulls by either pinching down, or spreading the bars on the arm with pliers. Most anglers prefer a tighter tension, especially when fishing strong currents, so that water pressure against the planer won't cause an inadvertent trip. Just remember that with tight tension, you'll have to set the hook harder to cause the arm to trip and the planer to slide down to your pre-set swivel.

Now, when you let out a little line at a time, the river current will catch the fin of the planer and slowly pull it and the trailing plug away from you and out into the river. (The Hot Shot ® Side Planer comes complete with two rudders: a standard large rudder and a smaller one for use in fast water).

Fine-toothed files have proved to be the absolute best hook sharpening tools and Luhr Jensen's Sharp Hook File is the ultimate for maintaining super-sharp hooks. Hold the file parallel to the hook point and with gentle, one-way strokes, remove a small amount of metal on at least two sides of the point, producing a sticky-sharp point with a knife-like cutting edge. Keep the file clean and dry and occasionally spray it with a non-corrosive lubricant such as WD-40. Files are available in 5 1/2" x 3/4" or 4 1/4" x 5/8".

Once you've maneuvered the Side Planer and your plug into the head (upstream) end of the water you wish to fish, you can then begin the classic Hot Shotting technique of slowly working the lure down through the drift. Just like working a boat slowly down a river, let the Side Planer slip slowly downstream through the drift.

Take two steps downstream and then stop for a few seconds . . . two more steps and stop, etc., until you have thoroughly worked the drift. Letting less or more line out, you then can work through the drift again if you wish to cover water you might have missed or you can make the Side Planer work a zig-zag pattern the first time through. In any case, the Side Planer will allow you to cover every inch of water in each drift.

A big trick to running a Side Planer is to keep your line up and out of the water so you have a direct line from rod tip to planer arm. You can effectively fish 100 feet or more across from your position on the bank, but your line must stay clear of the water.

If you plan to include side planing among your other river fishing techniques, it also is a good idea to have a pre-rigged leader, complete with a barrel swivel and a round-eye snap, ready for quick changes. The planer can be assembled in seconds . . . add the leader and lure and you're fishin'!

All sizes of Hot Shots ® can be used with a Side Planer but the 25, 30, 35 and 40 sizes are the most popular. Hot Shot ® colors that have proved effective and that we recommend are listed below. You're encouraged to experiment with different colors and sizes to find the ones that will work best for you.
In our plated/metallic series, try the #869 Metallic Orange, #933 Metallic Pink, #922 Gold/Green Pirate ®, #923 Silver/Blue Pirate ®, #935 Metallic Dark Green or #949 Silver/Blue Top. In our painted series we recommend the #863 Orange Crawfish, #943 Red Magic and the new Hot TailÔ #747 Silver/Green Chartreuse, #850 Hot TailÔ Silver/Chartreuse, #851 Hot TailÔ Silver /Fire and #856 Hot TailÔ Gold/Fire.

A special round eye Luxon ® snap (no swivel) comes with each Hot Shot ® plug to produce maximum fish-catching action. The snap is especially manufactured to ensure that only a perfectly-rounded end comes in contact with the lure's eyelet.

Also, the S.E. (Special Edition) Hot Shots ® in the 1/4-oz. and 1/2-oz. sizes are hot, as are the new "Hot Tail" versions which draw fish strikes to the rear, hook end of the plug. For slow water or deep, slow holes, try the K12 Kwikfish ® in a #913 Fluorescent Red "Fire" or #921 Gold finish.

As a final note, we encourage you to be courteous to other anglers when fishing with plugs. Run your Side Planer where it will not interfere with others.

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