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Mark's Mailbag - Rigging up the Starcraft Freedom 180

Mark's Mailbag are occasional posts to the blog in response to questions people submit on the Fishing 411 website.  Mark personally responds to the question and when relevant, we repost his answer here.  If you have a question you would like to ask Mark, please visit us at
The Freedom 180 is a lot of boat for not a lot of money.

On January 20th, Kevin wrote -  
Hi Mark. I'm having to reorganize my fleet of boats(different size lakes some electric only etc.) due to my age and hand troubles so I'm selling 3 boats and I replaced them with a Starcraft Freedom 180 tiller that I just ordered two days ago. I came across your 411 videos and studied how you have your Freedom 180 rigged and I have a few questions. 

I noticed on your bow it appears you have some kind of black pad under your Minnkota on the deck; why and what is it? I also noticed you have your bow sonar unit mounted on the face of the deck instead of on top and wonder why you did that. I also noticed that there are silver metal rods sticking out from your Evinrude Motor and wondered if those are to be attached to a kicker if not what are they? 

Announcement - Pro-Cure & Fishing 411 Reach Marketing Agreement

Mark Romanack the Host and Producer of Fishing 411 TV is proud to announce that Fishing 411 recently reached a marketing agreement with Pro-Cure Inc.

“Pro-Cure is an industry leading manufacturer of fishing scents, fish oils, sauces, bait and egg cures,” says Romanack. “What sets Pro- Cure apart from the competition is they produce their scent products using 100% natural forage species including alewives, smelt, shad, crayfish, shiners, anchovy, leeches, nightcrawlers and more. Pro- Cure is the only company who has engineered a way to stabilize these natural forage species into a convenient to use assortment of fishing scents that enjoy a five year shelf life.”

The Fishing 411 staff has been using Pro-Cure products for about a year since they were first introduced to the brand on a filming adventure to the Kenai River in Alaska.

What Can I Catch on a Planer Board?

By Mark Romanack

Planer boards are the key to open water trolling success. Just about
everything that swims can be caught using in-line boards like the
ones picture here. 
As the popularity of in-line planer boards continues to expand, lots of folks are asking....”what can I catch on a planer board?” The answer might surprise you.

In-line boards are routinely used to catch fish like walleye, but what a lot of anglers don’t realize is just about everything with fins can be readily caught trolling with in-line boards. Personally, my list of fish that have been taken with the help of an in-line board reads like this.... walleye, pike, musky, steelhead, brown trout, lake trout, king salmon, coho salmon, pink salmon, Atlantic salmon, brook trout, splake, black crappie, white crappie, white bass, striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish. Maybe I’ve forgotten a few, but the point is boards catch fish and lots of them.

The “Just Right” Planer Board

Bruce DeShano “The Chairman of the Boards” holds the
new SST Pro Mag board which was designed to carry
 heavy loads of lead core, copper line and also divers for
off shore trout, salmon, musky and saltwater
trolling applications.
By Mark Romanack

In the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks repeatedly had three options. In each case she ultimately found one that was just right.   

Fishermen searching for the “just right” in-line planer boards are faced with a similar situation. Off Shore Tackle, the leading producer of trolling products in America now offers three different in-line planer boards and each fills an important niche in trolling.

As the name implies Mini-Boards are small, lightweight and designed to be fished with light tackle. Designed around the rapidly growing crappie trolling market, the Mini-Board is ideal for pulling small crankbaits, spinners, spoons and jigs. 

“The cool thing about using the Mini-Boards is they don’t require owning matched sets of trolling rods and line counter reels,” says Nick DeShano of Off Shore Tackle. “A Mini-Board can be fished with any rod and reel an angler might own, making it easy to get started in the game of board trolling.”

Understanding the Power of Flash

By Mark Romanack

Warm water species like this walleye are very attracted to flash in the water.
Captain Jake caught this nice eye trolling a Fish Flash attached direct to the
back of an Off Shore Tackle Tadpole Diver. By simply adding a six foot leader
this rig can be used to fish spinners, spoons and shallow diving crankbaits for
Flash is a powerful fish attractant. A host of lures depend heavily on
 flash to lure in fish including crankbaits, spoons, spinners and even attractor
style jigs get in on the act.
There is little doubt that lures and attractors that give off flash in the water help us catch more fish. Flash helps us catch fish because these pulsations of light closely emulate the natural flashes that occur when game fish slash into a school of bait fish. As the bait ball scatters to avoid whatever predator is on their tail, light is redirected and strobes or flashes of light explode into the water.

When game fish see these strobes of light it’s like the dinner bell is ringing! Because flash penetrates the water almost as well as sound, lots of   fish species depend heavily on this visual stimulant to find food. Bass, walleye, trout, salmon,  pike, musky and even panfish species like crappie are helplessly attracted to flash in the water.