Do you know how to use a downrigger? If you have been inshore or offshore fishing for a while, you may have heard of the downrigger setup. Downrigging, introduced in the ‘60s, is one of the most effective trolling methods that anglers use to control their depth.
How does a downrigger work? A downrigger has a cannonball that’s attached to an electric or hand-powered winch that carries the line. It helps anglers lower a saltwater or freshwater lure to a specific depth of their choosing.
Learning how to use downriggers for fishing can be beneficial for you, most especially in the summer season as target fish start roaming deeper water layers in search of temperatures that are most optimal for them.
Knowing how to rig a downrigger will open up myriads of opportunities for you to find a wide range of species. In order to help fine-tune your knowledge and technique on using a downrigger setup for fishing, read on!
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How to Use Downriggers for Fishing
Using a downrigger can actually be simpler than it sounds! But, before you start, you have to ensure that your cannonball hangs at the end of a fishing boat and near the water surface.
Pick Where You Want to Fish
The first step in learning how to use a downrigger is to select the specific area that you want to target.
The ideal place for anglers to start is at approximately 80 ft or 24.4 m. It’s always better to fish in areas with fairly flat bottoms and zero obstructions.
At a Trolling Speed, Place the Line in the Water
Switch the reel to a ‘free-spin.’ This is done by releasing your drag clicker so you let the fishing reel spin and release line.
Place the reel in water and allow for the release of 20 ft of line. Then, lock the drag clicker and place your rod in the holder.
Clip the Line
Grab the line that’s beyond the tip using one hand. With the other hand, grab your release clip then clip the line. Once that’s done, lower the cannonball to the water.
For hand-powered setups, these are what you’ll have to do:
- Release the brake while you’re gripping the reel handle firmly.
- Lower the cannonball onto your preferred depth. Use the available depth counter that’s on the spool for this.
- Secure or lock the spool’s brake so you can keep the cannonball at your desired depth.
For motorized setups, these steps will work for you instead:
- Flip the switch which will initiate the lowering of the cannonball. Watch the counter. Make sure that you stop the cannonball at the depth that you prefer. Just flick the switch back.
- Any fishing line that’s slack should be reeled up so a bow is on the rod.
- As the fish strikes, remove the fishing rod from its holder. Jerk the rod upwards and do so swiftly so you can free the line from being clipped by the release clip.
- Flip the switch so you can bring up the cannonball as you focus on taking in the hooked fish.
Tips on Using a Downrigger Setup
Now that you know how to use a downrigger, we’ll give you tips to increase your success using a downrigger setup!
Choose the Right Setup
Downriggers have become increasingly popular within the angling community. That said, there will be several for you to choose from.
They differ in size and shape to reflect the personal preference, fishing style, boat style, and budget of the users.
There’s an electric setup, which is convenient as it allows for a hands-free operation and easy gear retrieval. Its downside is that it needs a stable source of power and wired installation.
A manual downrigger is also an option and it’s the more affordable and portable option. It does the job right; however, you’ll have to exert more physical labor for its operation.
Get the Correct Downrigger Cable
Apart from the fishing line, you’d also need the right downrigger cable. The fishing line has to be attached to the cable. Your main options are synthetic braid and stainless-steel cables.
Apart from being a lot easier to use in comparison to a steel cable, a braided line will require less maintenance. It has a thinner profile so it features less resistance when you’re trolling.
A braided cable doesn’t kink as well. Its synthetic material doesn’t carry any electrical charge. This means it’s safe to use when you’re saltwater fishing. Of course, it has a disadvantage. It’s more likely to break when it’s nicked.
Stainless steel cables have a much stiffer nature. They don’t tangle easily and they usually transmit electrical charges. This attracts certain species of fish.
The main drawback with stainless steel is it produces a hum that some find annoying when trolling. They also require more maintenance so they don’t rust. It’s recommended to replace the cables every year.
Mount the Release Correctly
The purpose of a release on downrigger setups is to firmly hold monofilament or braided line until the fish that’s being targeted strikes.
It also creates enough resistance for hooking the fish. The release can be mounted anywhere along the wire or in between the cable and the weight.
Attaching the release at whatever location allows you to fish multiple lines off with just one downrigger. You can fish at various depths, which increases your catch.
A downrigger setup will be able to increase the likelihood of you catching fish if you’re aware of the exact depth at which the target fish typically hang out.
We’ve shown you in this article that it can be very easy to learn how to use a downrigger. The tips we mentioned will boost your chances of landing fish, so keep them in mind.
Using the tips and practice should be enough to turn downrigging into one of the most reliable fishing techniques for you.
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