I had a hard time figuring out what a “Stern Planer” could be used for when I first saw the press release about this new product from Church Tackle, but probably because I couldn’t wrap my mind around a product called a planer that doesn’t “plane” to the side, but follows along behind the boat.

Then I talked to Capt. Coho Bob Lausman, who is on the Church Pro Staff, and it all got clear why many of us Michigan trollers will add these devices to our salmon, steelhead, and walleye arsenal in the coming season.

Basically, the new 007 Stern Planer just attaches ahead of your lure, then trails on the water’s surface in a nice straight line behind the boat. When I saw Coho Bob trolling for steelhead with a pair of them behind his vintage Starcraft on the St. Joseph River a week ago, their practicality became crystal clear.

To explain:

Say you want to run a high-action, deep-diving crankbait in a shallow river to provoke a strike from a lethargic steelhead. Just clip the Stern Planer on your line six feet or so in front of the lure, let it behind the boat as far as you want, and you’ve got a hard-wiggling lure diving just three feet deep—and way behind the boat where the fish won’t spook. Coho, who was fishing with Bill Church, the product’s designer, said a lure behind the Stern Planer was the hot deal of the day, responsible for four out of five fish.

Church Tackle’s 007 Stern Planer.

Now, think about this for the big lake. Say you want to run a couple of wiggly Lindy River Rockers or a deep-diving Reef Runner for spring coho in shallow or for offshore steelhead that are high in the water column. The Stern Planer makes it easy as pie.

Designer Bill Church says the Stern Planer will be able to float and tow heavy copper and leadcore lines, which will let you run these weighted lines down the chute. Get a fish on another line, and you can let out line to drop the Stern Planer behind the fish-fighting area. Some guys on Lake Ontario tow copper line behind big muskie bobbers suitable for floating big suckers. When they get a fish on another line, they can let out the bobber so it stays behind where they fight the fish. This 10-inch-long, three-ounce Stern Planer ought to do that job better.

Church’s biggest name walleye pro Mark Martin, a champ from Muskegon, Michigan, outlined some other cool things about how these things can be used:

  • The TX-007 Stern Planer can be staggered, allowing for more lines to be run out the back of the boat.
  • You don’t have to retrieve or reposition the TX-007 Stern Planer when retrieving your side planers, giving you added fishing time.
  • It’s great for trolling in congested areas and for more effective contour trolling along drop offs, contour lines, reef edges and weed lines in rivers, lakes or the ocean.
  • It takes advantage of the prop wash, which moves disoriented baitfish, sediment and bugs around and attracts fish.
  • Although its primary use is as a stern planer, it can also run off of outriggers or even be used as a marker buoy.
  • You can also use it to drag the memory out of monofilament line that has been spooled a long time on a reel.

I really think a lot of different troller-types are going to like this. I can see it being used by Lake St. Clair muskie anglers, who can set a high-action muskie plug behind the boat so it runs just behind the prop wash—which at times brings muskies in. Crappie anglers will even like it for dropping a little crankbait high in the water column behind the boat.

The Stern Planer attaches to the line with a clip on the nose and a snap swivel in back for simple attachment or removal.

I’m looking forward to running these in the spring on Lake Michigan, along sandbars with a goby-colored Shad Rap for brown trout. According to Lausman, the TX-007 Stern planer has so little drag you can still see the action of the lure at the rod tip.

The price of this 007 Stern Planer hasn’t been established yet, as the tooling is still under construction, but the folks at Church say they’ll be on the market in time for spring fishing. For more info, check out www.churchtackle.com.

Every once in awhile, a new, truly innovative product comes along that all sorts of anglers are going to like and use. I really think that the Michigan-made Stern Planer is one of them.

For more information on Michigan fishing go to michigan.org.

Images courtesy Dave Mull and Church Tackle

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