Best Rated Downriggers 2020 – When you’re angling in deep water controlling the depth of your lure is key. If you’re not using a downrigger your lure can drift up towards the surface away from the fish. But when you fish with a downrigger your bait goes where they are and stays there while you troll.
Here’s how it works. First you need to connect your fishing line to the downrigger to start attach the weight to the downrigger cable. Then connect it to your fishing line with a pinch release. Now that your rigged up you can place your rod in the holder. Next you’ll use the downrigger to lower the weight and your lure to the right spot.
Using your fish finder identify a depth where the fish are. Then use your downrigger to lower your lure to that depth as the weight lowers your fishing rod will bend. A line counter on the downrigger will tell you exactly how far down you are. So you can hit the perfect spot.
While your trolling the downrigger keeps your lure at that depth and allows it to move naturally through the water. On some downriggers, you can cycle the weight up and down to cover more area or keep it at a set distance from the bottom for suspended fish.
Once a fish takes the lure the pinch release lets go of your fishing line. And your rod will spring up telling you the fish is on. Remove your rod from the holder. Now that it’s just you and the fish it’s up to you to reel them in. That’s how a downrigger helps you master control depth fishing by getting your bait where the fish are and keeping it there.
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10 Best Downrigger Trolling Tips
Trolling Tip #1:
Test your trolling lures over the boat side before sending them down and back with your downrigger. Do this to make sure the lure wiggles and wobbles properly without going belly up or wandering off. Some lures can be adjusted, fine tuned actually, to impart maximum action. For example, a slight bend in the tail of a trolling spoon or twist of the hook eye in the nose of a plug can make a noticeable difference in how the lure performs.
Also, when running two or more lures, make sure the offerings are compatible. Lures that run out of harmony with each other are bound to tangle and that means wasted time to straighten out the mess. Testing them first will avoid the problem.
Trolling Tip #2:
Consider different sizes, shapes, and colors of trolling lures. No one has ever figured out with precision what makes a fish strike or snub a lure. There is no doubt, that matching the forage (minnows, crayfish, etc.) in color, shape, action, and size can help trigger those strikes from hungry fish. On the other hand, if fish such as bluegills, small mouth bass or Coho salmon are protecting spawning beds, they may attack whatever is threatening. So, bright colors in trolling lures may out produce bland colors.
Trolling Tip #3:
Vary trolling speeds. Goosing the engine now and then or slowing to a crawl every so often will change the action of the trolling lures and may get fish to strike them.
Trolling Tip #4:
Vary trolling patterns and lead lengths. The amount of line you let out often determines how deep the lure will run and, to some extent, what degree of action it will impart. For starters, consider running lures about ten feet behind your best downrigger weights. If flat line trolling, put them back about fifty feet, then experiment depending on what the fish do.
Trolling patterns affect lure action too, that is why some anglers like to wheel a lazy S course. On turns, outside trolling lures will speed up momentarily while inside trolling lures hang for a moment or two. Fish may nail trolling lures that change speeds. Also, zigzag patterns allow for more water coverage, plus it keeps lures out of propeller boil, an important consideration for browns and other wary species.
Trolling Tip #5:
Locate fish on a vertical plane. Place trolling lures in areas where fish might be. Skilled fishermen call these areas the “strike zones”. They include the edges of the week beds, structure along bottom, drop-offs, preferred temperature of the target species, and the thermocline. Remember that fish occupy certain areas for certain reasons (sources of food, protective cover, preferred temperatures, etc.).
Trolling Tip #6:
Consider special knots and swivels. A good ball bearing swivel will all but eliminate line twist and will aid in getting maximum performance from a trolling lure. Many anglers add the tiny swivels to split rings already on the trolling lure itself. On the other hand, a swivel may dampen the action of a sensitive lure, such as a Rapala. Some fisherman tie tiny improved clinch or loop knots. Loop knots in particular may enhance up and down and side to side action of trolling lures. Any good fishing manual will explain how to tie these and other knots.
Trolling Tip #7:
Consider downrigger releases for flatline trolling. A good tip is to secure a piece of downrigger cable or heavy monofilament to the water ski hook or handle below the transom of most boats. To the other end of the mono or cable, add a pinch-r-release. After letting out your lure to the desire distance, put the rod in its holder, then bend the tip and secure the fishing line in the downrigger release.
Trolling Tip #8:
Add a weed guard. Having trouble with weeds hanging up trolling lures? Consider tying a three-inch piece of monofilament a foot above the trolling lure. Leaves, smaller weeds and other debris may catch here momentarily then fall off to the side of the lure without tangling. Weedless lures are another smart consideration. The best downrigger cables are effective weed catchers when trolling for pike, muskies, or bass in weed-infested lakes.
Trolling Tip #9:
Add a stinger hook. When fish short strike, slap at lures without becoming hooked, adding a stinger hook can solve the problem. Simply tie a treble hook to one end of a four inch piece of monofilament and then tie the extra hook to the last gang of hooks on your trolling lure. The stinger hook, which trails the trolling lure, provides extra insurance.
Trolling Tip #10:
Keep your hooks sharp. Some of the best fishermen sharpen all hooks after every fish caught. Hooks get dull through both use and misuse, and probably more fish are lost to dull points than anything else.
Understanding downrigger blowback
Simply stated, blowback is what happens to the downrigger weight when you pull it through the water behind your boat. As your speed increases, so does the horizontal distance between the weight and your best downrigger. The faster you go, the farther the weight is behind you. The farther the weight is behind you, the shallower the weight is. The following charts provide you with blowback information for three sizes of downrigger weights pulled at three different speeds with no lures attached and with no current.
Current drag, water salinity and the use of different downrigger products will affect your actual trolling depth. As an example, the first chart shows that if you are trolling at 4 MPH with an 8 pound weight and you have 100 FT. of cable in the water with no current; the downrigger ball is actually at a depth of about 80 FT.
Introduction to Downrigger Fishing
Undoubtedly there are many fishermen familiar with the methods and use of controlled depth fishing. During the mid 1960’s the state of Michigan introduced Pacific salmon into the Great Lakes in an attempt to revitalize its sport fishing industry. From this successful transplant, new fishing techniques and equipment were developed. One such method was controlled depth fishing which enabled fishermen to place a lure at a desired depth by utilizing downriggers.
Because of the varying factors (water temperature, thermocline, weather, tides, time of day, or time of year) it is necessary for successful fishing to maintain specific water depths that coincide with fish movements and feeding patterns. One essential feature of the downrigger is the depth meter or gauge that indicates lure depth. This allows the angler to control as well as return to specific depths where fish have been caught.
Due to the success of controlled depth fishing, downriggers are now being used throughout the world to catch a wide variety of species in both fresh and salt water. Whether fishing for blues off Rhode Island, walleyes in Lake Erie, sailfish off the coast of Florida, or stripers in Tennessee, the use of downriggers will make your fishing more successful and more enjoyable.
Best Downrigger Mounting on Boats
A downrigger should be mounted where ever it is easy to operate and observe. You want to be able to see your fishing rod and to react quickly. So, choosing a good spot to mount your downrigger on your boat is 99% of the job. Due to the great variety of boats available, mounting your downrigger can be a dilemma. Having proper mounting accessories is essential. Most downrigger manufacturers has a complete line of mounting accessories to conveniently mount your downriggers on any boat.
Operating Your Downrigger
After mounting the downrigger to your boat, release some line from your rod and reel so that the lure is anywhere from 5 to 100 feet behind the boat. This is called drop back. Attach the fishing line firmly into the line release. Press and hold the toggle switch down to lower the weight to the desired depth as indicated on the depth meter. Place the fishing rod in the rod holder and reel up the slack so that your rod has a slight bend in it. When a fish strikes the lure, the line will separate from the downrigger release. Then you will be free to fight the fish and bring it in on your rod and reel.
Downrigger Frequently Asked Questions
What is downrigger blowback?
Simply stated, blowback is what happens to the downrigger weight when you pull it through the water behind your boat. As your speed increases, so does the horizontal distance between the weight and your downrigger. The faster you go, the farther the weight is behind you. The farther the weight is behind you, the shallower the weight is.
What is the main advantage to using an electric downrigger?
The main advantage to running an electric downrigger is when it’s time to bring the weight to the surface. Simply toggle the up switch and walk away – a short stop feature will automatically stop the lift motor when the weight hits the surface of the water. With manual downriggers, you manually raise the weight by turning a crank handle. Deep water fishing is when you will really appreciate an electric downrigger.
What are the advantages to having a downrigger spooled with monofilament?
First, cable tends to act like a long guitar string when it’s pulled through the water, creating an audible hum that can spook fish. Mono runs silent when pulled through the water. Second, kingfish anglers like the ability to quickly cut their downrigger line if a fish makes a run toward it, to prevent them from losing it. It is much quicker and easier to cut mono than it is to cut braided stainless steel cable.