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Old 12-23-2013, 11:11 PM   #1
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Default Downriggers

My brother surprised me with a Cannon downrigger after hearing me talk about wanting to learn how to troll (mostly a bottom fisherman). I don't read much on PFF about downriggers and was wondering if many used them? Any advice / experience is appreciated.
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Old 12-24-2013, 12:46 AM   #2
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If youre just wanting to get out and troll for kings and what not on those hot, still summer days, a down rigger will REALLY increase the number of strikes!

Sorry I cant be too much of an assistance on the down riggers use further offshore as Im a kayak fisherman but I suspect the same concept applies.
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Old 12-24-2013, 12:55 AM   #3
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Just do an advanced search on downriggers in both the offshore and Bluewater Q&A sections. Plenty of info there
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Old 12-24-2013, 07:17 AM   #4
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I have never used downriggers in the gulf. I am from up north (Michigan) and we use downriggers to target King Salmon here all the time. Kings here will regularly surpass 20 lbs, upper 20's is common and 30 lbs are not unheard of.

Here is what I have learned. First, releases are critical. I use rubber bands on Big Jon band buster releases. I have yet to use a release set up that gets a better hook up ratio. Plus they are simple stupid in design and there is nothing there to fail. Blacks and Chamberlians are also good but I find they do not have as good a hook up ratio. The rubber bands have to stretch and break before the line releases. So the whole time the band is stretching it is driving the hook in. I would recommend #32 bands, They will break on most any fish over 15 lbs. Also, with other types of releases (pinch pads excluded) if a fish strikes, doesn't break the release and then follows or runs toward the boat you will never see the strike. You may drag a fish for a while before you realize something is amiss. On a rubber band the initial strike will bounce the rod tip so you know you got popped. I do not recommend the half hitch method for bands either. If you send me a email at [email protected] I will explain in detail how to wrap the bands for a better hold. I am not a fan of pinch pad releases. In my experience they are way to hard to set consistently and they often cause false releases

Next use as heavy a downrigger weight as you can. It will reduce blowback and track better. I use 15 lbs Michigan Stinger pancakes on my cannon MAG10's with no problem. I don't like the standard round cannonballs you will see out there. They don't track to my liking and cause to much blow back.

Get a weight retriever for your rigger weight. It allows you to pull the weight right up to the boat. This makes setting lines much easier in rough seas. Nothing worse than leaning over the side trying to set a line in three footers. Not worth going for a swim. I use the Scotty weight retrievers and they work better than anything I have yet to find. Most have a pulley on the rigger wire and the wire sooner of later will jump off the pulley and now you have a problem. The Scotty's just have a plastic ring. Plus on the Scotty's nothing to rust they are all plastic and composite.

When running rigger rods I recommend installing a separate rod holder that is adjustable in multiple directions. This allows you to lay your rod over closer to the water reducing slack in the line on the strike. Good examples of these holders are Cannon multiple axis holders or Traxstechs new holders that are made like the old Vectors. I use Traxstech and they are bulletproof. If you send me a email I will get you a picture of how I run my rods close to the water. It really helps keep the rod out of the way and reduces slack on the release.

Also on riggers you want to set your drag light when the rod is in the holder. Set it as light as you can and keep tension on the fish. If you set it to hard the fish will strike not pull drag and start bouncing the rod and this can cause them come unbuttoned. If the drag is a little light the fish just runs and peels drag. Once you got the rod in hand you slap the drag shut on them and set the hook and good. You also want to reel all the slack out of the line to the rigger release and have that line tight as a drum from the rod tip to the release. This is another area where rubber bands shine. You can really crank the rod tip down and not release the line. The reduction of slack puts the fish on the drag just that much quicker. In my opinion nothing sillier that guys who have their rods straight up in the air with slack in the line between the rod tip and release. The fish strikes, breaks the release and now the fish has 20 to 30 feet of slack before they hit the rod tip. Just doesn't make sense to me when guys do that and then complain about not getting good hook ups.

Good luck out there


Last edited by Combat Pay; 12-24-2013 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 12-24-2013, 11:24 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies! There's a lot of good information out there. And I'm looking forward to giving the Cannon a try (and posting some trolling pictures ... thinking positive). Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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Old 12-25-2013, 10:29 AM   #6
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I have used them down deep for Wahoo and they work very well..!
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Old 12-25-2013, 11:03 AM   #7
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Down riggers will add a new dimension of fishing to your arsenal. What I would recommend before you deploy out where the big boys swim is to practice getting the DR ball out with some of the rigs you are going to use. You will find that it takes a bit more of action and coordination to fish with the DR since you may have to retrieve that too as well as handle lines. In a CC I think it is more difficult than on a larger boat with a roomy cockpit.

As your fishing "team" be that family or friends gains proficiency the process will smooth out. If you think a stretch 30 is a fish catching lure, wait until you get it down on the DR, it is even better.
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Old 12-25-2013, 11:26 AM   #8
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they will also help u find bottom spots u wont believe the snappers u run over in 50 to 90 ft that bite king baits 25 ft off the bottom and like ocean master stated when u get around the edge wahoo and blackfin love those deep baits they are best used live bait troling slow also the same technique will pull keeper jacks of public spots enjoy
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Old 12-25-2013, 11:54 PM   #9
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If I'm slow trolling a live bait deep, how far back should the bait be from the ball? Does one bait perform better than another? And does a live bait ever tend to spin (if so, how do you control it)? Sorry for all the questions, I guess the positive replies got my "fishing wheels"
turning ... thanks again!
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Old 01-11-2014, 11:14 AM   #10
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I don't know how far most people run their baits back and I've only fished on my boat with down riggers but I usually put them 30-40 ft back and have caught some on them.

Baits spinning is a whole new learning curve that I haven't mastered.... I usually tryto get them to swim straight but rarely succeed. Best luck I have had is by chin weighting the baits.

I also always reel my line tight to my release so that my reel always has tension....

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